Kings Never Die have a new album out titled "All The Rats" and we caught up with guitarist Dan Nastasi and singer Dylan Gadino in late May to put this interview together. Some may know Nastasi from his days in Dog Eat Dog and Mucky Pup, some may recognize Gadino from Robots And Monsters. The rest of the lineup is rounded out by Larry Nieroda on guitar (Murphy's Law, Subzero), Even Ivkovich on bass (Wisdom In Chains) and Danny Schuler on drums (Biohazard). "All The Rats" is super easy to fall in love with as it is chock full of anthems that will undoubtedly go over well live. The band is gearing up for a busy summer with dates all over the Midwest and Northeast with an eye on Europe for later in the year. Graphics by: Paul Turano. All live photos taken by Michelle Mennona at The Meadows in Brooklyn, NY on June 3rd, 2023.  



IE: Hey guys, where exactly are you right now and what would you usually be doing at this time of the day if you weren't answering these questions?


Dan: My home away from home is my office. Whether it’s work or music, I have everything set up here for both. My equipment, little garage band set up to work through ideas, computers and my office and warehouse for Kings Clothing. If not this, I’d be working… gotta hustle.


Dylan: I'm home. Just got back from a run. It's the time of year when I start getting back in shape after a winter of slothfulness. If I wasn't answering these questions I'd be in the woods yelling at birds.


IE: Kings Never Die has a new album coming out which will be out by the time people are reading this. Can you give us a brief rundown of what lies within the 10 new songs?


Dan: The most important part of “All The Rats” to us was that we kept everything real and honest. Musically, we wanted to capture a live feel so we recorded drums, bass and the first rhythm guitar track 100% live. Lyrically we wanted to make sure that every single word mattered and was exactly what we wanted to say. These songs overall send what we feel is a positive message. We wanted those messages to be heard loud and clear and for me personally, that is what I am most proud of about this album.


Dylan: We tracked all of the drum, guitar, bass, and some lead and gang vocals at Shorefire Recording Studio in Long Branch, New Jersey with Joe DeMaio. He was great to work with, very patient. Joe has a very chill demeanor, which is always helpful in the studio. As far as the lead vocals, most were recorded in a storage room at the rehearsal studio we used to practice at which sounds awful but was a great way of doing things. I was able to really refine my vocals and get immediate feedback from Nastasi and Schuler without worrying about running out of studio time. In the end, I really couldn't be more proud of what we did. We created 10 songs that a lot of hardcore fans will love. But I also think if you let someone who's never heard of hardcore before listen to it, maybe someone who's into anything loud like metal, hard rock, whatever… they would find plenty to latch onto. Hardcore or not you can't deny how catchy a lot of these songs are… there's big hooks and melodic parts to sing along to. We hope people feel the same. The record is balanced, ya know? I can't hang out too long if every song a band plays is the same tempo or follows the same arrangement. 


Click the "All The Rats" cover art to listen on Spotify

IE: For people who have not checked out your band yet what can they expect in regards to the style and sound you put out there?  When someone scans over all the previous bands the members of KND have been in they may be a little surprised as Kings Never Die has developed a sound that doesn't lean on any of the band members' previous work.


Dan: It’s funny, because we do not think about style or sound… ever, but, I do think we’ve developed into a product of who we are and what we love musically. Lyrically we are a product of being honest and saying what we think and feel. That is Kings Never Die and “All The Rats” hopefully shows people that. Yes, I agree with you Chris, We DO NOT sound like Dog Eat Dog or Biohazard, etc. and that is all good with us. We sound like who we are now. It’s honest, to the point, our musical feelings and lyrical thoughts wrapped together to make our sound. Not recreating the wheel here… it’s a hardcore album.


IE: How did Kings Never Die and your label Metalville come together?


Dan: Honestly, we started speaking with Holger Koch and Metalville in late 2020, early 2021 well after Covid hit. The “Raise A Glass” EP came out earlier in the year in February 2020, about 6 weeks before Covid basically shut down everyone and everything including our plans, touring etc. It all stopped in its tracks like so many others. I do have to mention and always thank Mario and Kim from Upstate Records for all their work and effort getting that 7” EP out. Our goal was always to work towards the full length album we had a vision to make. The time Covid provided honestly in a strange way may have worked to our advantage strangely enough. We really didn’t have a permanent drummer in place to dig into the final writing and recording process and that is when myself and Danny Schuler started talking about getting together and jamming. That thankfully turned into creating and writing “All The Rats”. Basically, we would get in a room and just broke down each song idea from scratch and rebuilt or in a lot of cases rewrote the songs from the original ideas. We probably had about 14 songs ready for the studio and rough tracking so we just kept the process going and booked the studio time. Also I have to mention that our friends Richie Mancuso, Tim and Soda at Fastbreak Records helped us get “The Good Times & The Bad” EP’ out digitally and CD only last year while we were finishing the full length process. I’m sure you can understand, there are costs involved that we could only absorb so much of. Between our good friend Scott Dottino and Metalville, we were able to finish recording, mix and master “All The Rats”… the album we always wanted to make and for that we are eternally grateful. 


IE: What are the 3 songs off the new album that get you the most hyped right now?


Dylan: I love "We Need The Truth." I think it's the best representation of who we are. Fast parts, groove, slow melodic parts, aggression. Love it. "Were We Friends At All" is another favorite… it's probably our angriest song but it actually brings fucking joy to me to play it live. And "Stay True" for sure. It's just a great anthem. It's not breaking boundaries but it just sounds like KND.


Dan: “Stay True”… love the songs message and the musical shifts. “Stand For It All”… just a dope track and gets my blood boiling, and if I have to only pick a third, “Never In My Eyes” ties into the “All The Rats” instrumental and ends with it as well. It was originally musically arranged and written to be the first track on the album and the lyrics hold a specific personal place in my heart. After all, that’s what this album is about.


IE: What is the meaning to the album’s title of “All The Rats” considering the title track is an instrumental and does the cover artwork tie into it all as well?


Dan: I feel it does, although maybe more clearly to us. The overall theme of the album is to be honest and true to yourself. When we say “Forget about the haters and their backwards point of view” in the song “Stay True”, we’re saying, disregard or forget about “all the rats”, the snakes and the fakes. Show some pride (the lion) for who you are and be yourself, have your own thoughts and be you. A song Like “Stand For It All” says it as well. “Stand up for what you think is right, or live fake for the rest of your life”. If there is one thing I know to be true, people see right through fake. When you look in the mirror, you wanna know who you’re looking at.


IE: You have already put out two music videos for songs off of the new album. Can you talk about the making of them?


Dan: We’ll one thing I will say is I’m truly grateful to the guys in the band and both Jeff Pliskin who did the “Make Them Anymore” video and Dave Causa who did the “Stay True” video. Unfortunately, I had to find the time in between album deadlines going on to get cervical spine fusion surgery on February 13th. Thanks to the band and scheduling, we were able to film “Make Them Anymore” live at The Bowery Electric show on February 12th the night before the surgery and filmed “Stay True”, 5 weeks after the surgery on the outskirts of Philly. Thanks to Evan for organizing and arranging the shoot and Dave Causa for filming and editing the video in less than 10 days so we could deliver on time and in time for the release date of that single. Scheduling is hard enough, but, Evan, Larry, Danny and Dylan really made it happen by being flexible and taking care of the arrangements. Everything had to fall into place perfectly to stay on schedule. As always, filming was made fun and we are really happy with both videos because Jeff (Raised Fist Propaganda) and Dave are pros and made things really easy. I get to play in a band with 4 guys I really love and respect and that is what it is all about at this point. I am surrounded by great people… I am blessed.


IE: Who came up with the name Kings Never Die?


Dan: Interesting story and not much thought went into naming the band honestly. But have been getting asked this a lot the past few weeks and this is the truth and how it happened. My business is Kings Clothing Co. since 2008. We do mostly athletic apparel for programs, schools etc. Since 2010, our stationery and giveaway t-shirts… company slogan has been (Kings Clothing Co.) “Kings Never Die”. So, when me and Larry had the idea to actually start this band in 2019, I mentioned it and we just went with it. We did put 2 and 2 together and realized that Biohazard had a song title with the same name. Actually, Billy Graziadei told me after I had sent him a few tracks to listen to, and I quickly realized that Eminem did a track on that movie soundtrack as well. If anything, it’s not the greatest because when you search Kings Never Die, Eminem is always gonna win that battle. Ha ha! But, f*** it. Too late now.


IE: I have been following the band since your first release in 2019 and have seen the musical progression especially since adding Evan on bass and Danny on drums. How would you describe the bands growth in the last 18 months from every aspect?


Dan: Chris, that question is truly appreciated and also thank you for the compliment within it. I don’t think we strive to write anthems, but I know my or our goal is to write something memorable. There is no doubt that Danny had a huge impact on writing. First off, we had the time and took the time to re-work every idea. Secondly, we are all the type that there are no egos involved. Most of the songs on this album started with a vocal idea or what I’ll call a (hopefully) memorable hum (ha-ha). I go back and usually start writing the music around that. Even when I had or have what I think is an almost complete idea for a song, that’s when the real writing may just start now. I love bringing something to Danny and letting him strip it down and interject his thoughts and ideas. “Stay True” is perfect example. Danny heard that song idea, he thought it needed to go to that (bridge) heavy riff, he picked up my guitar and just played it. That’s what I love about this band. Whatever is going to make the best KND track we do it. One of the guys may also say, “That sucks”, or they don’t think it’s for us. That’s ok as well. Danny also got involved in the writing of lyrics and got on us about making sure that every word in a song matters. “What are we trying to say”? We needed that and it has made me and Dylan way better lyricists I believe. It made our entire band better song writers. Same goes for every guy, Larry is great at listening to a track and having an additional layer or altering chord structure, Evan feels the flow of song arrangements and we just started writing the new KND material together. He has tons of his own ideas waiting. I feel to make something a Kings Never Die song every guy needs to feel free to add their flavor or ideas into it. In the end, we may not use all those ideas, but the freedom to do it is important and when you hear KND it is the band, a product of all the parts.


IE: Dylan came into the band around the time you were just about to record for your first release. How did he end up joining the band and can you give us some background on Dylan's previous work?


Dan: My side of it was easy. The short answer is I saw Dylan front Robots… I saw him use every ounce of his soul and energy in every word he spoke. The guy is as real as they come. I loved the tone of his voice and I said to myself, “If we ever really start and get Kings Never Die going, I’m gonna hit this guy up. I’ll let Dylan speak on the rest from this from his side. 


Dylan: I'm in a band called Robots And Monsters... it's more of a metal band. We had opened for Dog Eat Dog at a show in Teaneck, New Jersey. What I didn't know then was that Dan and Larry had just gotten together and started writing music and were looking for a singer. I guess after he saw me perform he thought I might be a good fit for Kings Never Die. A few days later, he called me to talk about it. I remember that I was in Brooklyn walking back from a friend's house. We talked for a long time. He told me everything he could about the band up to that point and asked if I'd be willing to give it a shot. He basically said, if you're into it and it works out and we're all happy, great. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. Obviously, it worked. I was a huge Mucky Pup and Dog Eat Dog fan when I was a kid. I was younger than Dan and I looked up to those bands. So being asked to be part of whatever Dan was doing was pretty fucking cool for me. I've played in bands my entire life but never at the level Dan (or, really anyone in KND) has. This whole experience has been strange, in a good way.


IE: We love a good nickname and wanted to ask about your guitarists "Larry The Hunter" nickname as well as Evan's "1" nickname. Any good backstories here and are there any other ones from within KND that we should know of?


Dan: Larry “The Hunter” is what it is. Larry is a born and bred hunter. Always was and always will be. Grew up in Scranton before moving to NYC. When he’s not down by us, he’s up in PA at his place hunting and fishing. We gotta schedule shit around bow season haha!  Evan “One” is probably because nobody can say his last name properly. I’ve seen that written on Wisdom In Chains records so we just go with it. E1 for short. All these cool names, “pick it up D-Lux, yeah” etc. I’m just Dan Nastasi, nothing special!


Dylan: Yeah, I’ll go by Dylan Gadino as well if that’s ok.


IE: Can you tell us what all the members of Kings Never Die do for occupations and what are realistic touring goals considering all or most of you are tied in to jobs and families?


Dan: I’m a full time hustler, haha. Like we spoke about before, I do apparel, I also still coach high school football in New Jersey. Larry works in a metal shop when he’s not in the great outdoors, Evan has his own painting and design business, Danny is gonna be busy with Biohazard on and off for the next few months. That’s a full time job in itself when he’s not working.


Dylan: Technical writer for a company that builds and operates drones.


Dan: As far as touring, we have our record release show coming up on June 3rd at The Meadows in Brooklyn along with MAAFA. That’s the first focus. We truly hope people can come out and celebrate with us. We will have 30 of the limited edition glow in the dark vinyl copies available at that show, CD’s and new “Rats” merchandise. Most importantly, gonna get to get out and play most of this record for the first time after its release. Also, the show proceeds all go to benefit the New York Abortion Access Fund. After that we start on the road on June 24th at Beeracks, Warcock Festival in East Haven, CT and then July 5th at St. Vitus in Brooklyn for Parris’ first Aggros show. We hit the road July 14th playing Cleveland, Detroit with In Cold Blood and illMatic, then Buffalo on July 16th, July 28th and 29th in Washington D.C, Poughkeepsie, NY, and end back in New York City on July 30th at The Bowery Electric. All those shows are with Dog Eat Dog. We are finishing up plans for a European tour at the very end of October into November. Bottom line… if you want Kings Never Die to play, hit us up on Instagram and send us a DM. We travel well and were looking to get out as much as possible.


IE: Can you tell us more about your football background and the fact that you are still coaching high school football?


Dan: Basically, I got into coaching when my 2 sons were very young and wanted to play. I volunteered to help which turned into running the team and that turned into really wanting to understand and learn the game… how it moved and really educating myself mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Long story short, I eventually became a volunteer assistant at RiverDell High School here in New Jersey where my sons eventually played their high school ball at. I then took a job coaching at Bergen Catholic for 5 years eventually becoming an offensive coordinator at West Milford High School and now dialing it back a bit, I've been coaching the freshman offense at St. Joseph Regional High School here in North Jersey. It's basically a passion and the challenge of the chess match etc.


IE: That's all I got. Anything else you wanted to add before we finish up?


Dan: Chris, we want to thank you and thank everyone that took the time to read through all of this and for giving us their time. None of this happens without In Effect and the other media sources. Truly, we are blessed and appreciate the time. All we ask is to please give “All The Rats” a listen whenever you stream music. If you dig it, maybe you want to think about adding the vinyl or CD to your collection. You can order it from anywhere in the world through our website and other outlets such as Coretex, Tower Records, Nuclear Blast, Merch Bar and more!