Music for the MMA Soul
Metal band DeathThrob spreads MMA awareness one note and lyric at a time.
DeathThrob isn’t a group of individuals moonlighting as professional mixed martial artists, but the four musicians do practice in various fighting disciplines and have decided to dedicate their band’s livelihood to the advancement of the sport. The New Jersey metal quartet is so consumed with their mission that they test out their new records by bringing the music to lead singer Ryan Healy’s garage and sparring to it with the sound system cranked to the max.
“We all belong to different fight clubs in the area—professional gyms to learn jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and other martial arts,” Healy says. “But then we all get together and train, blasting our jams and making sure the songs feel good to train to. We don’t release anything until we spar to it and make sure it will get you psyched up.”
Something finally passed their ultimate test—their self-titled debut album. The 12-track collection, which was independently released in July and self-produced at guitarist Mike Morello’s Daywrecker Studios, features motivational lyricism pertaining to the societal acceptance of mixed martial arts over a pulsating array of adrenaline-induced metal melodicism.
“There are a lot of metal bands that talk about negative stuff—we’re all about inspiring. We’re yelling and we’re screaming, but it’s all to inspire,” Healy says. “We’re not trying to talk about anything negative, we’re trying to get average people to want to train and to support mixed martial arts. That’s the whole idea, so when it comes to songwriting, we’re trying to keep it upbeat and write lyrics that are gonna make you wanna participate.”
That is echoed on highlights like “Believe,” “One Swing,” and the uplifting banger “Smashed Up,” the latter of which resonates the idea that gender doesn’t matter and everyone has the right to fight.
Although the group members previously played in different bands, DeathThrob (also comprised of bassist Matthew Menafro and drummer Brendan Healy) formed in August 2012 after UFC 150. The Healy boys, both longtime fans of the sport, were with some of their music buddies watching the fights when they heard something that sparked their creative juices.
“Frankie Edgar was fighting, and he is a big draw because he is from Jersey,” Healy says. “But some of our friends didn’t even know who he was. So we were like, ‘You know what? We’re gonna do this MMA vibe. We’re gonna write all these songs about training.’ It became an outlet for us to watch it more and try to be a part of it.”
Not only did they continue to watch the events and pen songs about the sport, but they also sought out gyms to train at so they could better understand what the athletes go through. Ryan Healy initially worked with Andy Main from TUF 12, and later practiced at Alex Wilkie’s Martial Arts Academy in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
“It just came to the point where we were so obsessed with watching it—that’s all we were doing,” Healy says. “When we weren’t playing, we were following MMA. When it comes to heavy metal music, no one is gonna be able to put songs together like we do because we’re that into it.”
So far, it’s catching on. The Garden State troupe has had their music featured in interviews and video blogs with UFC stars Jeremy Stephens and Mike Pyle. The group also sponsors up-and-coming pro and amateur fighters, many of whom use their songs as walkout themes.
“When you start to see and hear heavy metal in MMA, I want people to connect that to DeathThrob,” Healy says. “I want the songs to create a vibe so that when you think of metal MMA, you think of DeathThrob.”
In addition to their song placements in the fight world, DeathThrob has taken massive leaps forward in the music industry and rocked stages that most one-year metal bands could only dream about. The quartet performed on The All Stars Tour 2013 alongside Every Time I Die, Iwrestledabearonce, and Veil of Maya. They also played at The Summer Slaughter Tour 2013 with Dillinger Escape Plan, Norma Jean, and Animals as Leaders.
DeathThrob plans to build off that momentum by touring in support of their self-titled release, while spreading the word about MMA. “In the next couple of months, we’re gonna try to play at these MMA events because we think we bring a good live show,” Healy says. “The main thing is making sure we bring some entertainment, and the thing about metal is the energy. We want to write music that pushes people to new levels.”
DeathThrob’s self titled debut album is available for download on amazon.com