Gross Reality Interview With Daniel Powell

Daniel Powell is the lead singer of a great thrash band called Gross Reality. As soon as I head the band’s new album on Divebomb Records I got in touch with him for an interview

Where were you born and where did you grow up? What sort of kid were you growing up?

DB: I grew up in a small town in Southern Virginia, and moved to Raleigh NC when I was 14. I was a typical kid. Decent grades in school. I was kind of a nerd. I had a paper route, loved playing Atari 2600, and spent the majority of my time in arcades.

Was music a big part of your life early on in your life?

DB: Music was a HUGE part of my life from the time I was about 12 years old. Music is what kept me entertained while I delivered newspapers. The first bands that I remember liking were Billy Idol, Elton John, and Van Halen. My first concert was with Van Halen on their 5150 tour. I think I was about 13 years old.

I see besides doing vocals in the band, you also play guitar and bass as well. Which of the 2 did you pick up 1st and all self-taught or did you take lessons?

DB: I don’t play guitar anymore in Gross Reality. All of those licks are credited to Roland Arthur and Dylan Glotzer. I started playing guitar when I was 14. I played in a band named “False Akuser”. We were your average young kid band, that played Metallica covers and had 5-6 original songs. All of the band members are still very good friends to this day. Gross Reality started in 1991 with just myself playing guitar and Jason Wheeler playing drums. We found 2 other guys, Shawn McCoy and Ritchie Peterson, who also played guitar. I got kicked off of guitar and had to play bass because they were better guitar players than me. So, that’s how I started playing bass. I never took any kind of formal guitar or bass lessons. I just learned by ear.

Which was harder to learn bass or guitar? What are some of your favorite guitar and bass players?

DB: Guitar was a lot harder to learn, hence why I am playing bass. My first favorite guitarist was Eddie Van Halen. I used to argue with friends and insist that he was better than Yngwie Malmsteen. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith quickly became favorites once I discovered Iron Maiden, but today I would say my favorite guitarist of all time is David Gilmour. For bass players, I always liked the way Jason Newsted played on “Doomsday For The Deceiver”, and I loved Dan Liker’s bass tone on the Nuclear Assault records.

So now how did you discover the wonderful world of heavy metal? What were some of the 1st bands you heard and are you still a fan of these bands today?

DB: My friends that I hung out with turned me on to Heavy Metal. It started out by watching the “Live After Death” VHS video. The first tape that I ever bought was “Peace Sells” by Megadeth. I was hooked. I still remember how I felt the first time I heard the album “Reign In Blood”. That was a whole another level. Helloween’s “Keeper Of the Seven Keys” was an early favorite as well. I still listen to these 80’s Thrash bands more than I listen to anything else.

Daniel Powell
Daniel Powell

So now when did you discover thrash metal? What were some of the 1st bands you heard? Did you get into it right away or did it take a few listens to get into it and you were hooked?

DB: The first time I heard Thrash was when I walked in on my brother listening to the song “Master Of Puppets”. I saw Thrash for the first time in 1986 when MTV ran a segment on Slayer and Megadeth. I got into it right away, as it resonated with me. When we bought tapes at Camelot Music we would get free compilation tapes. This is how I discovered the band’s Death, Possessed, D.R.I., Nuclear Assault, Dark Angel, etc.

So how did the coming of Gross Reality come together? Did you go through many members before you got to the lineup that would record your debut demo? Even though you don’t sing on it, what are your thoughts on this demo these days?

DB: We have gone through several member changes. It started with just myself and Jason Wheeler jamming in a vacant house. We would play several songs off of the Death album “Leprosy”. Ritchie Peterson and Shawn McCoy joined the band, and we played shows as an instrumental band until singer Glen Crickmar joined. In 1993, Shawn McCoy quit and guitarist Mikey Bruce joined. We recorded a three-song demo with this lineup, but it was never released. In 1994, Glen, Mikey, and Ritchie left the band and guitarist Roland Arthur joined, I started singing, and Shawn McCoy came back. We recorded a 4 song demo with this lineup that was never released. This lineup broke up in 1996. In 2009 Jason Wheeler, Roland Arthur, and myself started jamming again. In 2010, guitarist Chris Mullins, and singer Ray King joined the band. We recorded the 2010 Demo, but it sounds horrible. We only printed around 100 copies and handed them out at shows. My opinion of that demo today? I wouldn’t want anyone to hear it. Ray and Chris left the band in 2011. Roland Arthur, Jason Wheeler, and myself would go on to write and record the albums “Overthrow”, and “Escaping Gravity” between 2012-2017. Guitarist Dylan Glotzer would join the band in 2017 to fill out the roster that wrote and recorded “Return To Ruin”.

How did you come up with the name Gross Reality? Who came up with the logo?

DB: Our drummer, Jason Wheeler came up with the name Gross Reality. It’s a statement of how bad things can get in life. We were friends with the band “Confessor”, and their bass player’s brother designed our original logo. That logo was updated, with the original design in mind, by Ben Chaney in 2013. Ben was also the artist who created the “Overthrow” album cover.

What were some early shows you saw as a fan back then and who were your favorite bands you saw live?

DB: So many awesome live shows! My first Thrash show was Overkill on their “Under The Influence” tour. They played the songs Overkill 1-2-3 back-to-back-to-back. Saw GWAR right before “Scumdogs Of The Universe” came out. Their show was very primitive at the time, but still killer! Saw Kreator on their “Extreme Aggression” tour. Saw Megadeth open for Dio during the “So Far, So Good” tour. Metallica on the “Justice” tour. Saw Dark Angel on the “Leave Scars” tour. Was supposed to see Death on their “Leprosy” tour, but they canceled. I was so bummed!

What was your 1st show like as Gross Reality? Where was it and who did you play with?

DB: Our first show was a local show in Raleigh NC, in January 1992, at a club called “The Fallout Shelter”. We played with a band from Wilmington NC called Betrayer. This show was one of the most intense shows that I ever played, as we had been writing and practicing for all of 1991, and we were ready to throw down hard, and we did! We played that show without a singer.

Now your debut demo. What was the feedback like on it and did you send it out to fanzines and press people trying to get reviews?

DB: We really didn’t receive any feedback on the 2010 demo. We didn’t send it out to any fanzines or press. Only about 100 people got a copy, and all of those are probably in the trash. Seriously, that demo really sucked.

So, we fast forward to 2014 and your EP called “Human Resign”. So now I know by now singer Raymond King was gone. What made him leave and what led to you taking over as the singer for the band?

DB: We were looking for more of a clean style of vocals, and Ray’s vocals were a little more on the harsh side and didn’t fit our style of music. I wasn’t ever supposed to be the singer, I was just the bass player. We tried for years to find a vocalist that would fit our style, but we could never find anyone. Eventually, I just figured that I would try to throw something together. When we went into the studio to record the “Overthrow” album, we were not planning on releasing any of it. We just wanted to have a recording of the instrumentals for ourselves. I had about 3-4 songs worth of vocals written that I was gonna try, but we didn’t expect those vocals to really work, but they did! So, I ended up writing a lot of the vocal parts in the hotel the night before they were recorded.

Now once you got some tunes ready to go, did you feel since it had been a few years now that it was time to release something? What is the reaction from people to the EP?

DB: The “Human Resign” EP is just 4 songs off of the “Overthrow” album. We sat on the recordings of “Overthrow” for over a year, looking for a label. We got impatient and released the EP on our own so that people could start to hear some of it. Reaction was pretty good locally in Raleigh NC, but the most attention that we got was through several internet radio stations.

Were you guys playing some more shows and did you get to open for any signed bands by this time?

DB: We did play a lot of local shows. We got to open up for The Accused, Evile, Death Angel, Lazarus AD, and Bonded By Blood.

What are your thoughts on the EP these days?

DB: I like the fact that it is a cool collector’s item for anyone who was a fan way back then.

Now in 2014, you hooked up with Divebomb Records, who you’re still with, to release your debut full-length called “Overthrow”. Why this title and also who did the cool-looking cover for it?

DB: A guy named Ben Chaney did the artwork for the “Overthrow” album. He also redesigned our band logo. We met him randomly at a pizza joint one night after band practice. That was a very lucky encounter. The title of the album depicts how easy it would be for an advanced alien army to Overthrow planet Earth.

Now how did you end up working with Divebomb Records? Did you find them or did they find you?

DB: We were referred to Divebomb Records via our Record Producer, Jamie King. It’s been a pleasure working with Divebomb Records, as they are fans of Heavy Metal that are just trying their best to provide fans with awesome music. (yes they are-Chris)

So 3 years later, you’re back with a 2nd full length called “Escaping Gravity”. Thoughts on this release these days and how much different would you say that release from your debut?

DB: I still really enjoy listening to “Escaping Gravity”. It is a little more of a mix of Thrash Metal, and Progressive Power Metal. I think we learned a lot during the writing and recording of this album, and the “Return To Ruin” album benefited from a good mixture of the first two albums.

This was also recorded as a 3 piece as guitar player Taylor Veraldi was gone. What happened with him and did you try and even find another guitar player or at this point you decided to go as a 3 piece?

DB: Taylor Veraldi joined the band right after we recorded the “Overthrow” album. He was only in the band for a couple of months and played about 3 or 4 shows before he left to pursue his interests. We still wanted to have a second guitar player so that our live shows would have a full sound and all of the guitar parts that are on the album. When we played live as a three piece there was so much missing. We tried out several guitarists, but none of them quite had the chops to keep up with Roland, so we ended up writing and recording “Escaping Gravity” as a three-piece.

How does the coming of a song come together? How long did the putting together of your 2017 release take?

DB: Roland writes most of the guitar riffs, and records mini demos of them, with generic drum parts made from a drum machine. I take a listen to the demos and let him know which riffs I think I’ll be able to put vocals over. We take those riffs to band practice and show them to Jason, and we flesh out the drum parts. We hammer out each song while Dylan adds his harmonies, and other ‘bells and whistles’ that add so much more dimension. Once we have a general blueprint of the structure of the song, Roland records an updated demo version for me so that I can start adding the vocal parts. This is usually when Roland and Dylan start working on the guitar solos as well. We play the songs over and over until everyone feels comfortable with them, and then we hit the studio.

Do you feel you were starting to find the “Gross Reality” sound of sorts with this release?

DB: We feel like we have had our signature sound for quite a while. These songs off of “Overthrow” and “Escaping Gravity” were written in the mid-to-late 90s: “Dirt Filled Skulls”, “Save Yourself”, “Generation 36”, “Overthrow”, “Invitation”, and “Escaping Gravity”. “Solitary Hypnosis”, off of the “Return To Ruin” album, was also mostly written in the late ’90s. Now these songs were not 100% complete back then, but we had a good blueprint of how they would go.

Did you get to play out of town much during 2017 and 2018?

DB: We did get to play out of town quite a bit. One of our favorite gigs we played during that time was “The New Jersey MetalFest”. We became good friends with one of the DJs at Cranium Radio, Jerry Declet, and he is the guy who puts the NJ Metalfest together, so he invited us up to jam. It’s about a 12-hour drive for us, so it was a fun road trip.

I’m gonna fast forward a few years and when COVID hit, besides not playing live, how much did that affect the band?

DB: We didn’t have band practice much during COVID-19, but I think it worked out well because it gave us all a break from it. Roland took that time and wrote a ton of great riffs, as we only had about 2 or 3 songs partially written before COVID. Once we returned to practice, everyone was reenergized and ready to RAGE, and I think that had a lot to do with how well the “Return To Ruin” album turned out.

So when did you get together to start work on your new release “Return to Ruin”. Why that title? Were the songs pretty much ready to go when you went into the studio?

DB: After COVID, I think we started rehearsing again around the beginning of 2021.

The title “Return To Ruin” came from the loosely based story of our 3 album covers. The idea was that on the “Overthrow” album cover the two Astronauts were blasted into a combination of different dimensions by an alien invasion. The “Escaping Gravity” album cover has the Astronauts morphing wildly between dimensions and lost. The “Return To Ruin” album cover continues the story with the Astronauts finding a portal that leads back to planet Earth, but they find their home in ruins.

Yes, all of the songs were very well rehearsed and ready for the studio. We learned what to expect from our previous studio experiences. We had every note and lyric prepared down to the smallest detail by recording demos of all of the songs in our home studios.

How long were you in the studio and did things go pretty smoothly for you overall?

DB: We recorded the album in about seven days. The first two days we recorded the drum parts, and then the last five days we recorded everything else. Dylan, Roland, and I took turns during each day recording our parts. Everything went very smoothly, I don’t think that we ran into any major issues along the way.

Now the album has been out for a few months now. How has the reaction been? I absolutely loved it and was blown away when I heard it.

DB: Thanks for the kind words. We are extremely pleased with the way the album turned out also. Reactions so far have been very positive. We have made several lists for “Album Of The Year 2023”.

Do you hope to do any type of touring behind this release?

DB: Touring would be great, but we all have day jobs. We don’t have any financial backing, so touring is out of reach at this point. I do play the lottery a lot, so maybe there’s a chance.

To someone who has not heard you guys, what would you say you sound like?

DB: A lot of reviewers have been saying it sounds like Devin Townsend. Some of our influences are obviously “The Big 4”, and tons of other old-school thrash bands. Outside of the Thrash genre, some influences would be Mr. Bungle, Pink Floyd, RUSH, and The Police, just to name a few.

What is your opinion of the metal scene these days?

DB: I think the metal scene is great these days. There are hundreds of great new Thrash bands. Although not many of them have gained any commercial success, it is great to see so many bands still grinding out fantastic albums on their own. The Raleigh NC scene has produced some long-standing bands, many of which have been around since the early 90’s, Eldritch Horror, Outliar, False Prophet, and Blatant Disarray. There is also a young new band in Raleigh called Deceptor, that is really starting to make some noise.

Please plug social media sites and websites you might have and also where people can pick your amazing new album.

DB: You can join Gross Reality at the usual social media spots:


Physical copies of “Return To Ruin” can be found here:


Digital copies can be found at any of your favorite streaming sites. Here are just a few:

Daniel horns up and best of luck with the band going forward. Congratulations on an amazing new release. Any last words to wrap this up?

DB: Just want to send out a huge THANK YOU to you for checking out the new album, and reaching out to us. It’s people like you that make this adventure so much more enjoyable. Cheers, and STAY GROSS!!!

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