DS Exclusive Interview: Dead to Me talks future plans, SXSW, van shenanigans.

DS Exclusive Interview: Dead to Me talks future plans, SXSW, van shenanigans.

Fresh off of SXSW, San Francisco punks Dead To Me had a lot to say about their recent tour. From impromptu performances to certain, err incidents (only a small mention I promise) the guys have definitely been having a busy year. Keep reading and you’ll realize that this is just the beginning.

When the guys played SoCal venue The Slidebar I got to sit down with their bassist and longest standing memeber, Chicken. We talked about their recent tour, upcoming plans, the departure of bandmates, on the road activities, turning a negative situation into an awesome experience and much more. Check the full interview out here.

DS: So for our readers that don’t know, tell us your name, position in the band, and one random fact about yourself.

Chicken: My name is Chicken, I play bass in Dead To Me, and a random fact about me is that my name is Tyson.

DS: You guys just did SXSW. Tell us all about it.

Chicken: That was really fun and interesting. We played the night before in Dallas with Screeching Weasel and that was really cool cause it was the first time I had ever felt, well the first time in a long time since I was probably about 19, that I felt really truly like a little kid at a show, hearing all the Screeching Weasel songs. That being said, the next night we played with them at SXSW and that was pretty weird to say the least. It was a really fun show for all our friends’ bands that played. Banner Pilot were awesome. The Flatliners were great of course, and we had a lot of fun hanging with our friends from Fat Wreck Chords and stuff. We have a lot of friends in Austin so it was really fun, we got to see all the guys from Riverboat Gamblers, the guys from Paint it Black were there playing a show for Shirts for a Cure, so we got to hang out with all those guys. We got to see a bunch of friends, that was really fun.

You’ve already read about all the stuff on the internet what happened that night, (the Ben Weasel debacle.) So that happened, and then the next day, we were supposed to play San Antonio, but it got cancelled so it was kind of out of our control, Screeching Weasel cancelled their show, so we had to quickly find something to do in Austin for an entire day, but we really made the best of it because we got asked to do this barbeque for Altercation magazine, and we played there with our friend Joe Sib from Side One Dummy and Complete Control radio, he did a stand up set which was really cool. Our friend Mike Wieby from the Riverboat Gamblers, did a stand up set as well, that was really cool. We played with some really fun bands, Banner Pilot, Flatliners, got to do a lot of cool stuff that day, and we played a free show there with Broken Gold which is Ian from Riverboat Gamblers other band that he started. So we played a free show there and that was really really fun, a lot of people came out, and it was all just last second. We were on Twitter and text messaging all our friends trying to get people to come out. A bunch of people showed up, we had a blast, they had really good vegan pizza there, so I was personally stoked.

Then we got asked by our friends All Teeth (from the Bay Area back home) to play a free generator show at midnight on this pedestrian bridge in Austin, which was really cool because it was the night of the super moon, and you could see downtown Austin; it’s just this pedestrian bridge that crosses one of the rivers there in downtown Austin. They set up a generator there, there were four bands Circes, Former Thieves, All Teeth, and Dead to Me. We set up one group of instruments, All Teeth went first, they played a song, because we thought the cops were gonna come break us up, they were there when we got there. We were setting up and they were like “If you play, we’re gonna break this thing up.” And we were like “Fuck, all right. What are we gonna do?” So we set up all the instruments, All Teeth played a song, then we played a song, then Former Thieves, then Circes. We just did a round robin thing. Each band ended up getting to play 5 songs, we were there for over an hour. All these kids were there, it was chaotic, it was one of the punkest things we’ve done in a long time so it was super super fun. We had a blast at SXSW this year, it was a really good time.

DS: So some good kinda came out of the bad?

Chicken: That’s true, yeah. It was an unfortunate thing to have happen of course. Had it be otherwise, if no one would have gotten punched at a show in Austin or whatever, but it’s kind of out of our control, so we made the best of a bad situation, and ended up having a lot of fun in Austin.

DS: Well good, now I don’t have to ask my original SXSW question. I know it’s been a while since these guys left, but how’s the dynamic been since Jack (Dalrymple, original frontman) and Nathan (Grice) left?

Chicken: It’s always different when you incorporate new dudes into the band. It was rough after Jack left because obviously those are very big shoes to fill, he is the most talented guy I’ve ever played with and he’s one of a kind. It was tough to fill those shoes. Nathan did such a good job, unfortunately it didn’t work out with him, he didn’t like to tour so now we have Sam Johnson from New Mexican Disaster Squad, and I got Ken from Western Addiction, my old band. It’s really fun for me to go back to having the two guitarists because the songs are written that way, with two guitars in mind. It’s really been cool to have the two guitarists on stage every night, and we have a blast.  I’ve known those guys for a really long time so it doesn’t feel weird at all. It feels really really normal to have those guys there and with me touring and stuff.  They’re both super talented individuals so I personally feel really lucky and grateful that I get to be in a band with both those guys. We have as much fun as you could probably fuckin’ have on tour, I will say that.

DS: So what are some new plans are in store for you guys?

Chicken:  We’re gonna be busy, doing a lot of touring. We’re going to Europe after this tour, which is gonna be really fun because we’re playing Groezrock with a bunch of friend’s bands. The Descendants are playing, which is really awesome. We also get to play London with those guys and Teenage Bottlerocket too, so it’ll be Descendants and Teenage Bottlerocket, Dead to Me in London, and that’s gonna be really fuckin’ fun for sure. Doing a whole Europe tour and then we come back, finish demoing the new record, and then in the end of June, we go record the new record in Chicago. Our record will come out around the Fest, so we’re gonna go play the Fest this year, trying to get to Japan in fall, if that works out but obviously due to recent circumstances we’ll see how that goes. We’ll have the new record out at the end of this year, and then early next year, tour again all over that. I’m really excited, and it’s gonna be busy, busy, busy for us.

DS: How does African Elephants differ from an album like “Little Brother” or “Cuban Ballerina”?

Chicken: One of the things I really liked about Little Brother is that it was a little different than Cuban Ballerina. And I’ve said this before in interviews, I definitely believe that I don’t wanna put out the same record four or five times. There’s a lot of bands in punk rock that stick to their sound and their formula, and they do it five or six times. It works for them, maybe it’s a bad idea for us, because maybe we’d be bigger if we made every record sound like Cuban Ballerina but I have no interest in that. My favorite bands don’t do that, Fugazi records don’t sound the same, The Clash records don’t sound the same, Jawbreaker records don’t sound the same. All my favorite bands, their records vary from release to release. That’s what I wanna do, it’s fun to write different stuff and it’s fun to push musically in different directions and Little Brother was a little bit of a departure from Cuban Ballerina. And then African Elephants kinda picked up from that same idea of “let’s just write songs that we like. If we like it, keep it.” And that’s really the only thing, we don’t ever once go “that doesn’t sound like Cuban Ballerina” it’s like “I don’t give a fuck.” We just wanna keep writing songs that we like. As long as we like them, and are challenged by the music, and are having a good time, we keep it. And that’s really the only rule about writing songs in Dead to Me.

The one thing I think that stayed the same, I feel is the lyrical content. There’s still a lot of stuff that we talk about. I’ll always be interested in writing about personal and political things, and two things together. I think that will be the one common thread that goes through all records.

DS: Here’s a random question, but what are some thoughts about the current state of punk music, or just music in general?

Chicken: Honestly, I feel like it’s good. I’m actually really excited about it, because when we first started in 2006, we were on tour and it was kind of the end of the whole MySpace band phenomenon, with all these terrible, terrible, hardcore bands with just sugary pop lyrics, and breakdown choruses. It was all just fluff and no substance. I feel like thanks to things like the Fest, it’s gotten a lot more DIY again. I think because of the fall of the music industry as a whole, and a lot of labels just aren’t as big as they used to be, and kids kind of just doing stuff on their own, I think bands like the Mean Jeans to the Menzingers to all of our friends bands, Strike Anywhere, Flatliners, are still excited about the state of punk rock, and I think it’s a good thing. There’s really good hardcore bands, pop punk bands, there’s just really good music out there right now.  I’m really really stoked to be part of it, touring around, getting to see so much good live music.

DS: The reason I asked is because I was just having the same conversation about how all the “MySpace bands” are all dying out.

Chicken: Yeah, it’s kind of gone away, it’s true. Even venues, like the Warehouse at 12th & G in Chino, has had a lot to do with just punks coming out and starting their own band and just doing the damn thing, you know. And I love it, I think it’s awesome that a band like Off With Their Heads got signed to Epitaph. Epitaph was signing some shitty, shitty bands for a long time. And Off With Their Heads are so good, it’s good for punk rock that bands are given attention and given exposure. I’m pretty stoked about it.

DS: It’s something to be excited about. So I know that you guys are recording, how’s that going so far?

Chicken: It’s going really good. We have a lot of songs for the new record. It’s really, really cool for me and my cousin Ian the drummer  to have Sam writing the songs because we’re big fans of Sam. We love New Mexican Disaster Squad, Virgins, No Friends. So it’s really cool to incorporate his vibe to the Dead to Me songwriting process. Keeps everything fresh for us and I’m having a really good time with it. I love writing, it kind of makes me get in my head a little bit and second guess things a lot but I wouldn’t change it for anything. We’re just lucky that there’s even people that would even wanna hear our stupid band, it’s ridiculous. I wrote some songs in my bedroom and now here we are, sitting here, having this interview. I just feel really really lucky that people are even interested in what the hell we’re doing. It’s fun.

DS: I know you kind of answered this a little earlier, but what do you guys do in the van to kill time when you’re on the road?

Chicken: Lots of stuff. Ian’s a big movie watcher, he’s got a laptop so he watches a lot of movies. I am kind of a hoarder when it comes to books, so I read books. I’ll read about five to six books at a time. I try to pass my time doing that, I’m not really big on YouTube or internet. Sam, what does Sam do? Sam smokes cigarettes and sleeps. Kenny gets directions, he’s constantly looking at GPS to see if there’s an alternative route to what we’re doing. I think he takes it as a personal offense if we meet a congested area or freeway. We have this magnet on the side of our van and sometimes we’ll play this game where if you can peel the magnet off in five seconds or less, you get $5. We’ll sing along to songs, we’ll do stuff like that, make fun of each other, we do that a lot, just generally delinquent stuff like that.

DS: All good ideas. And that’s basically it, anything you wanna say to the fans?

Chicken: Thanks for hanging out with Dead to Me, coming to our shows, and listening to our music. And thanks to DyingScene for wanting to do an interview, because we really appreciate it. We just appreciate the interest in general, if it wasn’t for people like you doing what you do, there wouldn’t be kids at shows, and people coming out to hang out with us. So we really do appreciate it sincerely.

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