Dead! ..on achievements, inspirations and touring
After playing at 2000 Trees Festival, Dead! did a few days round the UK before playing at the famous Reading and Leeds festival. Flick Of The Finger had a chat with members Alex Warren, Sam Chappel, and brothers Louis and Sam Matlock:
How has the reception towards your band been since you guys started playing and have gotten bigger?
S Matlock: There’s always kind of a weird thing to see, like, obviously with a band you start off playing to very few people, and then it gradually gets more. But like band growth, and music growth, because it’s like a leisure activity, and a very word of mouth thing, it’s like expediential growth, it never really goes in a straight line up, it goes in like more of a big curve. It feels like at the moment we’re starting to kind of get on at the start of the curve, we’ve done so much and so many shows where it was DIY and we were the promoters, we’d work our day jobs and then earn the money that we needed to call up and hire a venue in somewhere like Birmingham and then flat out play the shows. Like back then we were playing to like 10/20 people if we were lucky? But lately it’s been a lot more, well I guess we’ll see tonight (chuckles), and as that happens we see that our social networks are getting way cooler, getting sponsors, you know stuff like that.
Okay, so what’s your favourite venue you’ve played at so far on any tour you’ve been on?
Alex: Ever? Pukkelpop! In terms of like the venue and how the festival was, as in how it was laid out was really cool. I would definitely like to go back there again!
Matlock: It sounds like we’re showing off now but we’ve only just started going to Europe, and we don’t cover festivals but Czech Republic we played in an aircraft hanger.
Alex: Oh yeah! That was really cool.
Matlock: Yeah something went wrong with the power, I think someone spilled water on it before we started, but it still sounded brilliant! It was really fun.
Louis: Mine was, we played a little bar down in Denmark Street? Which was cool, we do a lot of weird gigs, like do it yourself kind of ones.
Matlock: It would have been better if the piano wasn’t in the way. (laughs)
What do you think your biggest achievement has been as a band?
Matlock: I dunno, you don’t really see it in terms of achievements do you?
Alex: I was gunna say but I thought it would have been inappropriate, but no you’re right it’s…
Matlock: Making it this far (laughs)
Alex: Especially when you’re doing the really early like first year and second year DIY tours where there is literally nobody there. Like now we say we’ve got a few more people. That’s the hard bit, doing that for like, you know, 3 dates on a tour, but then you maybe hit the fourth date and it’s like ‘Ah, you know, 10 people came tonight!’ You know, and hopefully that does grow every year. And it has, and you still get the bad shows, but the good shows definitely make up for it and its really fun. But yeah it’s tiring.
Matlock: That’s our biggest achievement.
Chappel: What not breaking up? (laughs)
Matlock: (laughs) yeah not breaking up.
Are you able to tell us any current projects you are working on?
Matlock: What in the band?
Louis: Well justice for Harambe for a start.
Matlock: (laughs) Louis’s a big advocate for the ‘Justice for Harambe’ campaign.
(FOTF: Is that still a thing? I can’t believe it is.)
Matlock: (laughs) of course it’s still a thing! It’s always going to be a f*cking thing!
Louis: (laughs) until there is justice for Harambe!
Matlock: So like other projects…well, underneath the surface, it’s not small news anymore, it’s time for Dead! to look towards the album, you know, because people have been very patient and sticking with us. It’s taken us a long time for, you know…some bands come out and they, the way the band looks is perfect, and the music is them? But we’ve taken a little bit longer growing than other bands. Alex was saying the other day when we were getting a quick photo to go on Facebook of the four of us like, if you’d looked at the picture, like a proper promo photo done back then when we started and a picture of us now, you just wouldn’t recognise it. At all. You wouldn’t recognise us at all. I think we’ve changed a lot, so yeah the album is the project, that’s what’s going on behind the scenes. None of the songs we released so far will be on the album, it’s all going to be new.
So what are your future goals for the band? Like who would you really like to tour with?
Alex: There’s not any particular artist that we’re like ‘Oh we’d love to tour with them’, but I’d like to see the band going in a direction that, I think we’re starting to do that with some of the tours we’ve done with varied genres of bands, but I’d definitely like to do tours where people are like ‘Dead! are touring with who?’ Like maybe more pop-ier acts? Or more indie-er acts, acts that are a bit more for left and right and you generally wouldn’t see a punk/rock band with, whatever we are.
Matlock: Well we’ve got an agent, and we say ‘can you try and get us on this tour?’ When we find ourselves asking and that, it’s normally more out of the box stuff, like we tried to get on the Halsey run and things like that. (laughs) I don’t know if anyone would like us!
Alex: Stuff like that where it’s like yeah it’s different genres but it all has a similar kind of vibe, if you look at it? So yeah it would be nice to punch in to them.
Matlock: I mean if you want a band name, we were told that Smashing Pumpkins were playing the Sunday at Download, so we agreed to do a third set on the Sunday…they didn’t play. Someone lied to us, so…
Is there any country you would really like to tour around?
Chappel: Yeah definitely Japan!
(FOTF: Why Japan?)
Chappel: Because it’s Japan!
Matlock: We’ve been before as kids and it’s just another world.
Louis: it’s very cultured, like everything’s clean and everyone’s polite, but they’ll still go crazy at gigs.
Matlock: Unless you’re a whale.
Louis: (laughs) Unless you’re a whale, then they’ll kill you. I don’t wanna get banned from Japan. They’re really nice out there.
Who’s been your biggest musical influence?
(FOTF: God? I didn’t realise he played any instruments!)
Louis: The instrument of life! (laughs)
Alex: It’s always a really hard question because as soon as any band says who’s a musical influence and it’s printed in a thing then it automatically makes people think in a different light I guess.
Matlock: But is anyone honestly actually inspired by bands these days? When was the last time you listened to a song and was like ‘yeah that’s cool’ I’m gunna do something with this?
Alex: Like bands I’ve discovered, not necessarily in the last few years I guess.
Matlock: What you actually listen to the songs and are like ‘yes this’?
Alex: Nah like, Taking Back Sunday! It’s very cliché but I still listen to Taking Back Sunday and I still get the same ‘AHHH’ thing I got when I listened to them first time.
Matlock: I never get that…
Alex: You say movies inspire you rather than musical influences.
Matlock: Yeah, films and sh*t.
(FOTF: What type of films?)
Matlock: Cult films, like everyone says it but I like Tarantino sh*t, like I’m not a huge Tarantino fan, but I can’t think of one Tarantino film where I’ve been like ‘That was rubbish’. I like true romance, and we all like Baz Lurhmman’s take on Romeo and Juliet, stuff like that is quite inspiring and sometimes the backing track and the music they put in films. Sometimes you hear a few notes and together they can just sound really sad but in a cool way, like that’s amazing, and I work out what the two notes are and then I’ll write a rock song based on it.
Favourite moment on any tour?
Matlock: Like musically or stuff he (Chappel) has done?
Matlock: I quite liked the Bones Tour we did in 2013.
Matlock: All of it! There were so many moments.
Alex: Yeah but that was sh*t!
Matlock: At the time is was sh*t but now it’s fun to talk about! Don’t do it again.
Alex: I broke so many bones that tour.
Matlock: He broke a lot of bones, and our guitarist already had a broken foot, and we called it ‘The Beautiful Broken Bones Tour’. We didn’t know he was going to break bones on the tour (all laugh).
Alex: It wasn’t great (laughs).
Matlock: We played a gig in a tiny town up north called Ferry Hill, in like a dive bar, and we were like ‘Oh yeah we’ll stay out for a few drinks and just get a taxi back!’ and it just turned out taxi’s stop at like half 2/3.
Chappel: That’s definitely not a great one. In fact I think that’s the worst one…
Matlock: Well I had a great time, I thought it was funny walking 7 miles back in the pouring rain, showing up to Dundee and Alex being like ‘How drop tuned can your guitars be and still play our songs and see if we can hit any notes?’ and we didn’t hit any notes, and then we still got an encore! Somehow! And then everyone got on the stage! That was probably our first encore to be honest, which was awesome. Just so many moments on that.
Alex: A Scottish guy almost forced us to play ’99 Problems’.
Matlock: Oh yeah that happened in Glasgow! Yeah we done an encore and then he was like ‘Play something else’ and we were like ‘well we know ’99 Problems, we could do a little bit of ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z’.
Alex: We don’t do that anymore, we should.
Matlock: Yeah but that guys not there to shout at us.
(FOTF: I’m sure you could get someone to shout it at you!)
Matlock: (laughs) but then it would be fake!
True! Last question, if you could give any advice to your younger selves, what would it be?
Matlock: Build the barrier higher at Harambe’s pen.
Louis: (laughs) I’m unanimous on that, I think I can speak for everyone on that.
Chappel: Don’t get a proper job (laughs).
Matlock: Don’t or do?
Matlock: You didn’t do that anyway! So why do you need to give yourself that advice? Chill out probably, chill out and think a bit more outside the box. I wish we’d spent more time, people tweet us these days being like ‘the Dead!’s aesthetic is on point’ with fire emoji. I wish we’d like, cared about that more, or spent more time thinking about what we actually wanted it to look like. I wish we’d spent more time on working out…
Matlock: Because the music we play now is so much more us than what we used to play, like I think even, if you could give these songs to us…
Alex: I think it’s good that we got all that out our system though, because now we don’t, well we got the really emo-ey, cheesey songs out the way and we’re not going to write them again.
Matlock: Bet we’d be really good at the music we write now if I’d had 5 years more to practice it. 5 years? 4? Oh my god it’s almost been 5 years!
Alex: Half a decade!
Matlock: That would be some advice, chill out and think about what you actually want, and if anyone from bands reads it I think that’s really important, don’t rush in to it, make sure you’re really comfortable, and if you think it’s good, make it better, because you’re kind of selling yourself in a way, and make sure you’re proud of what you’re selling.
(FOTF: Okay, thank you!)
Alex: Looking forward to a brighter future!
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