Donny Hiller


So much time has passed since the US Metal Band Trauma was armed with Metallica's Cliff Burton. As much as I admire the late bass player, he had a really small impact on the band's material, especially their stellar debut back in 1984. Trauma were able to impact on their own back in the day, and now, with a second album after their return, they are on their own and doing quite good. Steinmetal had a talk with longtime vocalist, Donny Hiller, regarding the band's new album, "As The World Dies", songwriting, past choices and the present.
August 18, 2019
Trauma's Donny Hiller: "...Humankind is very challenged. There are so many groups with their conflicting interests and agendas. We have never solved the age old curses of corruption
Hello Donny, it is great having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir?

Hello Lior, I am doing very well and I hope you are also.

Trauma returned to haunt with its third album, "As The World Dies", signed to the German Pure Steel Records. Now, a little more than six months after its release, how do you conclude the reactions to it? Did your fanbase accept it? Did it help you reach additional new fans?

The reactions have been very good. We are pleased with the number of enthusiastic and complimentary reviews from around the world. Yes, we are reaching new fans, as we had wanted to.

You recently recruited the mighty Greg Christian, ex-Testament, and Joe Fraulob, ex-Danzig, for the bass and guitar positions. Can you shed some light about their contribution to the new record?

Joe and Greg complete the sound we have been looking for. Greg is an iconic metal bassist and has been the perfect battery mate for Kris. We love his bass tracks. Joe contributed significantly to the new album. He wrote the music for 6 of the 10 songs. He worked extensively, engineering, producing, and mixing the album, along with world famous Engineer/Producer Juan Urteaga of Trident Studios.

If we are into the songwriting, other than the new members, what do you think that changed in the band's vision, and methods, of how to write songs in comparison to your previous work?

The new members brought with them the same general vision of the 2 guitar classic style Heavy Metal sound. That style is one that we all fall into naturally. One of the things we like about the album is that the songs do not all sound the same, there is a variety to the collection. That is something that happened naturally as opposed to being planned. The project was in large part a studio album, rather than an album whose songs were developed in the rehearsal room. Each band member spent time individually developing their contributions over a relatively short period of time.

In contrast to your previous "Rapture And Wrath", in what musical elements did you focus more while writing "As The World Dies"? More into the NWOBHM, yet with that classic 80s US Metal touch for instance?

Yes, exactly as you say, Classic Heavy Metal with a modern sound.

The picture that has been portrayed within "As The World Dies" is pretty bleak, it seems that critical events such as World War III or a rapid social decay are a midst. Are we that close to become history? How many wake up calls does the world need in order to understand that things are in motion?

It is arguable that we may become merely history with no one to record it. However, Humankind is very challenged. There are so many groups with their conflicting interests and agendas. We have never solved the age old curses of corruption, hatred, greed, disease, racism, poverty, war, slavery, on and on. Add rising temperatures, rising oceans, mass migrations, water wars, animal species extinction, nuclear proliferation, and other atrocities. Countless people on our planet live a nightmare existence.

Which of the album's tracks mean to you more than others? That one track that has that undeniable impact on you and makes you think. Please elaborate on your pick.

Your question is which song makes me think. These are not necessarily my favorite songs. The most visceral songs to me are "Savage" and "Last Rites". It is hard for me to choose one over the other. "Savage" because it is a song of vengeance in the #MeToo era. Time to give respect to the women of the world. We all have mothers. "Last Rites" is a song of remorse. A criminal is dying with deep regret, wishing too late that he had lived a better life. Those 2 songs make me think.

Looking back at Trauma's history, it did cross achievements in its path, yet it simply melted away only to return five years ago. You were probably asked that question, yet I think it is suitable since "As The World Dies" is a pretty good work to call it an achievement, what could have been done differently?

The answer to that is simple. We should have kept the band going for a longer run. At the least we could have re-formed the band sooner.

Do you see Trauma rising into a stronger status outside the US in the coming years? Signing with Pure Steel Records was a first wise move in order to make that happen, yet it is a first step.

We definitely see our influence growing outside the US. We are presently promoting the band more vigorously. We are receiving very enthusiastic feedback on the "As the World Dies" album. We will see where it takes us. We are eager to tour other regions of the world.

As a veteran musician, which have seen legends come and go, which of the newcomer Metal acts have the chance to become the next Metallica or Iron Maiden in terms of magnitude? Is that status of Metal Gods still relevant?

I would not be able to say which newcomer Metal acts will become legends of the magnitude of the bands you mention. I think it takes time, great talent, and perseverance to reach that iconic status. Yes, I definitely believe the Metal Gods are still relevant, and increasingly so

How do you accept, or not, the ongoing changes in music platforms and digitized age?

I accept things as they are. It is very different from the 80s as we all know. There are so many more tools for music production and promotion in this time.

Donny, I wish to thank you for this interview. You guys made a great release, and for an old school fan, it is simply a pleasure. Thank you. Cheers mate.

Lior, thank you very much for reaching out to us. We greatly appreciate your interest in TRAUMA, and hope to meet you in person.

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