THEY’RE BUILDING A CULT FOLLOWING FROM THE GROUND UP, CAPTURING HEARTS, MINDS AND IMAGINATIONS. AND OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS, THEY’RE COMING FOR YOU...
Welcome to band practice. It’s in these pokey rehearsal rooms that musicians cut their teeth and set off on their righteous paths to stardom. It’s where songs come to life, and bands forge identities in a marriage of energy, sweat and noise. today, rising London rockers Dead! have opened their doors to Kerrang! to remind us why they’re one of the most important new British rock bands around.and this, as they say, is where the magic happens…
“This is how we started,” shrugs guitarist Sam Matlock. “we were doing this for years before we got picked up on any bigger tours or shows. It was us setting up our PA, in our rehearsal room or at house parties, playing to a few people at a time. The connection is way stronger when you are two feet from someone, shouting in their face!”
“I think bands should be able to grow, so their shows can fit bigger stages,” adds vocalist Alex Mountford. “if you watched Biffy Clyro play a festival years ago, it was so different to how it is now.the stage show has grown organically and naturally. There’s no point in us putting a fucking load of lights up in a tiny room, because we have to hone our craft and make it what it is, which I’m looking forward to doing. One day we’ll earn that full-on production.”
There’s true intention behind those words, as to be expected from any band set on taking such painstaking ownership of their destiny. From leaving footprints on people’s living room ceilings nationwide, to running their own ’zine (Burn The Press) and crafting custom screen-prints and merch, the quartet are evidently hell-bent on going the extra mile when it comes to artistic investment.
It’s the same kind of thinking that turned Creeper into one of Britain’s most treasured bands in recent times. How Dead! operate is a throwback to the glory days of old; when word of mouth served as everyone’s internet browser and legacies were built from the underground up. Sam, though, is quick to stress how a young band in their shoes shouldn’t get too doe-eyed over a past they weren’t there for.
“We could call it ‘the good old days’, but we weren’t around, so how good it actually was is up for debate!” he laughs. “our DIY ethos comes because I don’t understand how you can be in a band nowadays and not do things yourself. I guess the rise of the internet – which has been a very fucking powerful tool for us – has devalued and oversaturated things. there are fewer fans and more bands. Our way out of that is to work hard online, but never relinquish the physical side of things. Bands like The Rolling Stones never changed the world with a sponsored Facebook post. they changed it by writing good music, getting out there and working hard. A good song will always win and get there in the end.”
That faith was put to the test when Dead! released their debut album, the Golden Age Of Not Even Trying; on January 26, its 12 diverse tracks throwing elements of grunge, pop-punk and Brit-rock into a wrecking ball of contagious kitchen-sink energy.
“We’re still figuring ourselves out,” Alex admits. “This album isn’t actually about anything other than growing up. we’re an escapist band, so we don’t want to get caught up in what’s happening right now.we have a punk spirit about how we operate. But there’s a deep appreciation for pop in there, too.”
What, ultimately though, does Dead! stand for? Or, rather, what would they hope to stand for? “The moment that sums it all up for me is the middle of The Golden Age… where it cuts to just vocals, then everything comes back in and just fucking hits,” offers Alex. “it makes me want to kick shit. More than any meaning or lyric, that’s the defining moment for me. It’s about the feeling and the moment, rather than what’s actually being said.”
That’s a pretty brave thing for a singer to admit… “People often describe music as being honest or genuine,” he continues, “and if you’re going to use those two words to describe what you’re creating, there’s no room for arrogance. that’s the complete antithesis to being a genuine creative. when the passion from your little bedroom studio has to go out into the real world, and come into contact with other people’s opinions and perceptions, 50 per cent of the time it’s amazing.the rest is confusing or conflicting. you’ve created this baby, and it’s something so natural that even you don’t know what it truly is, but then you have to start explaining and justifying it. For me, that’s the hard part…”
He need not worry too much about that, mind, because the ideas swirling around this band suggest they will be living in a golden age of their own soon enough. The dawn of the Dead! starts now…