Dead! is a formidable name, but an inviting sound.
Four young punks with an axe to grind, the band's sound matches the classic against the new, fusing them into something a little different.
Ferocious live - they recently stormed a Clash Live x Metropolis session, for example - debut album 'The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying' arrives tomorrow (January 26th).
We're already enraptured, with the snappy LP nailing their live sound while containing the precision that only the studio environment can afford.
Clash writer Aurora Henni Krogh met up with Alex Mountford to find out more...
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Your album is out soon, how does that feel?
Good, it’s been a long five years. We’re still developing as a band and I think this album is a culmination of the development over the past five years. Maybe we took a little bit longer to grow than other bands do, and a little bit longer to find our sound. I wouldn’t say we’ve found our sound yet, I think that’s a bold claim for any band to say they’ve found their sound.
How was the recording process?
It was wicked. We ended up doing it in Soho in central London. We had a guy called Charlie Russell produce it. In the past he’s worked with Jamiroquai, he’s worked with Take That, so he’s quite a pop producer, which we thought would be quite an odd mix. He wouldn’t say much, but what he did say was really important and was really kind of pivotal in what the song needed.
We’re four lads and we’re a bit lazy sometimes. Having that authority, and that kind of expertise to make a debut record was invaluable for us to be honest. Also, I think recording it in central London was quite important to us as well.
Do you think it’s necessary for bands to come to the capital in order to grow?
Yes, on one hand, moving to a city and doing the whole networking thing is a way of doing it. That seemed like the only way to do it for us at this stage, but you know, there are other ways to do it. That’s the beauty of the internet. The fact that anyone can record a song on their laptop these days and it can be an absolute banger. Some people say that that’s changing music, maybe not for the better, but in my eyes it’s definitely changing it for the better. Suddenly this kid in the ass-end of nowhere can write this incredible song. And if it’s a good song and the right people hear it, it can grow. I think that’s one of the most exciting things about music in 2018.
The title, ‘The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying’, what does that mean to you?
I wrote the song in the town where I’m from. I’m from a small seaside town on the Isle Of Wright called Ryde. I grew up there all my life, and it’s beautiful, but for somebody who’s young or somebody who wants some culture, it’s not the best place to live. It’s still some beauty in these decaying British town. It may not be what you need in your life, but it’s a beautiful place.
You can apply that to everything. Everyone is always looking forward like: “okay I got here, now I gotta get to the next place”, but it’s about taking stock, looking around and appreciating what is here and now. If I look back at some of the festivals we’ve done it blows my mind that we played them, and I just wish I took an extra second to kind of stand and go “Fuck yeah, this is cool”. You’ve gotta take it in and appreciate it.
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What is the most important thing for you that people take away from this album?
If you asked me this question like two years ago, I’d go: “the lyrics”. I write the melody and the lyrics, and I’d like people to get the messages from each song. That is important and a part of listening to music. However, if it created a feeling inside someone, whether that’s a feeling of what the lyrical content is about, or what that bass riff makes them feel like… I just want people to listen to it as a whole.
I hope people see that we are growing. It’s not an album of maturity. It’s not an album of “we’ve figured life out”, cause we very much haven’t. I hope that people who are on the journey of figuring shit out can listen to it and be like “oh yeah, this is a great sound track”.
It’s the kind of – not to be cliché – but the coming of age type album which debuts seems to be.
Yes, completely. It’s impossible to avoid that at this moment, cause it feels like we are coming of age. Life is exciting, but life’s also confusing.. We’re all human at the end of the day and I hope people see this as just another four human beings writing some songs, and that they can relate. It’s very human, it’s very personal.
Releasing your debut is such a milestone, did you feel the pressure of that when you were making it?
I think the pressure came after we made it. For me at least, it felt very organic making it, and it felt like my dream way to make our first record… We were making sure when we were writing it not to think about what will people think. All those angles you can get caught up in if you worry about what people are going to perceive it like too much.
I think that’s an easy trap to get into. I think all musicians at some point, when you’re writing something, and that anxiety switch in your head goes, you end up trying to write for people instead of writing from yourself. That’s an important thing to keep in check, and I feel like we did that well.
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I want to talk about one of the songs, ‘A Conversation With Concrete’. It’s such an interesting track lyrically. What inspired that?
Me, Sam and Louis, we lives in a room together in west London for two and a half years. That put a lot of strain on our relationship. If you’re sharing that space with anyone, it’s gonna put a strain on your relationship. So I ended up spending a lot of time walking around. I have explored the depths of West London, walking around at 3AM quite a lot, and I think it kind of came from those moments.
I was walking around and realising; what am I getting from this, why am I walking around for hours on end and I’m not bored, I’m not frustrated, I’m just here and I’m kind of soothed by walking around. I think the song came out of that.
Also, frustration, which plays a part in quite a few of our tracks. Then again, that’s kind of very human nature to be frustrated. It definitely came out of those walks.
It’s a good thing that you can take negative feelings such a frustration and be constructive with it in a creative way.
Yeah, it’s important to do that otherwise you’re sitting there kind of angry. That’s not good for anyone. People say that music is therapy and listening to music is therapy, and I know I’ve said that before, but I understand what they’re saying.
Whenever you do transform a feeling into something physical, it does make it feel better. That’s why people say if you’re feeling sad you should talk about it. Or, if you’re feeling any kind of emotion that’s not the best emotion you should talk about it, and it does help.
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'The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying' is out tomorrow (January 26th).
Words: Aurora Henni Krogh
Catch Dead! at the following shows:
27 Leeds The Key Club
29 Manchester The Star & Garter
30 Glasgow The Garage (Attic Bar)
31 Birmingham The Flapper
1 London 100 Club
2 Guildford The Boileroom
4 Bedford Esquires
5 Cambridge The Portland Arms
9 Nottingham The Bodega
10 Sheffield Record Junkee
11 Hull The Polar Bear
12 Newcastle Think Tank?
14 Edinburgh Opium
19 Oxford The Cellar
20 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (Downstairs)
21 Bristol The Louisiana
22 Plymouth The Junction
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