Remember when everyone was banging on about how guitar music was over? Turns out they were wrong. With The 1975, Tame Impala and now Blossoms becoming household names, the humble indie-four piece is looking more alive than ever.
However, there is one thing on the scene looking less than alive, and that is new london-dwelling four piece Dead! Terrible puns aside, their future looks bright - signed to Infectious Music/BMG, with a killer debut single and a snappy line in merch, it certainly seems like they've got all their ducks in a row. We checked in with guitarist Sam to see what the deal was...
Let’s imagine you're setting up an online dating profile for Dead! – what goes in your description?
Flaky, introverted, not very tall and looking for existential conversation. Will be late. Likes fire and piña coladas but not a fan of rain.
Let’s get the basics out of the way – how did the band come together? And can we get a roll call of who does what in the band?
Pretty quickly to be honest. We all grew up on the Isle of Wight in separate shitty little musical projects, a few of us moved to Southampton for university [it had an amazing music scene] to start projects with people from another area, but we ended up sticking together and made Dead!, embraced the DIY band lifestyle then followed the cliché of picking up and moving to London to follow the dream. Alex sings, Sam and Louis play the guitars, Chappell plays the bass and we’ve got this hairy guy called Adam on drums. He’s fucking brilliant.
So you grew up on the Isle of Wight, a pretty secluded area in terms of music – did you feel isolated growing up? How did this change when you all moved to Southampton?
The Isle of Wight actually had an incredible music scene, I think myself [Sam] and Chappell were just old enough to catch the end of it. We used to pendulum play above a bowling alley, Enter Shikari did a DJ set behind the bus station, there were little outdoor shows in the fields, valley parties. The isolation was kind of a double edged sword because, yeah, getting shows on the ‘mainland’ was a financial nightmare when you’re 15 years old but, by the same token, it meant you had to think outside the box with regards to venues on the island. The valley parties were just started by some older kids with a generator. One of the most appealing things about Southampton was the sheer amount of venues – they had everything from little 80 capacity rooms all the way up to the 1600 capacity Guildhall. So many touring bands would come through. I remember when Chappell and me moved over we fucked off all the Freshers events to go to some incredible gigs; we must’ve seen something like 40 bands in two weeks. There was just something every night, y’know? I could talk forever about who we saw and haggling with one of the guys from Bloc Party when we were trying to get a Chinese take out …
You’re So Cheap is your debut single for Infectious Music; what is the song about?
I can’t speak fully about the message of the song because every lyric is Alex’s; 90% of the time every lyric that comes out of us is from Alex. The general message is that the song is an ode to the discomfort and anxiety you find grip you in certain situations. We’re quite shy people when we don’t want to put ourselves out there. The whole idea started with all these rock bands releasing ‘summer songs’. I just thought there’s got to be a way to write one that’s cool and grungey and not generic pop garbage. So many ‘rock’ bands just go through the motions. It feels great playing it at sunny festivals so maybe we accomplished that.
You're children of the ‘90s, do you think any pop culture from that era influenced you? How do you feel about the fact that the ‘90s are now considered vintage enough for a ‘revival’ to be considered a musical trend?
It’s something that’s crossed my mind before, but although we were born in the ‘90s we didn’t really grow up in the ‘90s. We were too young to experience all the bands and films of that decade as it was happening. Trends in revivals are always fascinating and brilliant; I suppose the difficulty is that those periods get romanticised when they’re remembered but that works kind of like a filter and it means that the best bits shine through with each reinvention. To be honest I think we’re all secretly big fans of the ‘90s film, fashion and art culture. You’re definitely going to hear more of that in our sound, ha.
You’ve got further festivals coming up this summer, and you’ve already played Download and Slam Dunk – how did your set go down at those? And do you have anything special planned for Reading and Leeds? This year’s festival season is mental for us considering this time last year we hadn’t even signed a management deal. It’s all about getting in peoples’ faces. Download, Slam Dunk, 2000 Trees, stepping across the water and visiting France and the Czech Republic have all felt like massive turning points. Turn outs have been brilliant. It makes our dreams and plans feel kind of tangible? We’ve always adopted the attitude of ‘this is us, this is what you get, take it or leave it’ so I think for Reading and Leeds and any other festivals we’re just gonna go out there and give it our best, play for ourselves and see what happens. Excited would be an understatement.
I saw you post on social media about the plight of record stores, about racial tolerance post-Brexit, about your endorsement of bollocks to poverty – is it important to you as a band to use your platform to speak out about these bigger issues?
Ha ha, you dicks. This is such a difficult question. We aren’t Rage Against the Machine; we aren’t a political band. Some things just get to us as people and we feel like saying something. Actually it would be apt to paraphrase Charlie Simpson from an interview years ago on why Fightstar were going on about global warming and acting like Bono; ‘These days everyone is shouting, some of us just have a plinth to shout from’. That’s kind of us. Sometimes we need to shout a bit.
You’ve also spoken out about Spotify and streaming culture, and how you want music to be given the value it’s worth, and quite rightly so – do you think there’s any way back from streaming culture and, if so, how would you prefer your music to be supported?
It just makes it difficult to do what you love. People like us not only create music but we thrive off the artists we love and we want to see them continuing. No, there isn’t a way back from streaming culture, everyone seems to expect something for free and you just have to push harder on live and merchandise revenue to fill the gaps and make it feasible. That’s fine but we like really thinking about our merchandise and live shows and want to be doing these things because we want to, not because we need money to get to the next venue. The best support is just people enjoying the CD and coming to a show if they genuinely like it. Past that we just roll with the punches.
What can we expect next from Dead!; and is there anything about the band you’d like people to know?
No, not really, just that we’re a hard working rock band. If you want to know anything head to our website and have a listen or come down to a show. What next? Probably more tour dates. I’m not sure when this is going up but potentially expect some new music any day now. I guess its time to set sights on that ‘90s resurgence album …
Listen to 'You're So Cheap' below:
Listen to 'You're So Cheap' below: