The Dead South head­lin­ing April 4 Blenders con­cert at the Lyric Theatre

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - BY CAN­DACE WOOD­SIDE

If you view the bi­ogra­phies for the four mem­bers of The Dead South on their web­site (www.thedead­south.com), you’ll learn very lit­tle fac­tual in­for­ma­tion.

“Those bios are com­pletely false," ad­mit­ted lead singer Nate Hilts. "That was Colton [Craw­ford]’s mas­ter­mind, he was just sit­ting around and those bios just kind of came to him.” Don’t be fooled. The mem­bers of The Dead South are all na­tive to Saskatchew­an, and they’re do­ing ev­ery­thing in their power to make their home prov­ince proud.

It’s been a whirl­wind two and a half years for the Regina-based group, says Hilts.

“We’ve been very for­tu­nate – we’ve got­ten the chance to play at stuff like The Queen City Rocks Battle of the Bands, so that helped push us a lit­tle bit; we were in the CBC Searchligh­t com­pe­ti­tion last year, so that helped get our name out there a lit­tle more. When we first started, we just had the mind­set that we gotta play as much as we can and work as hard as we can. That al­lowed us to have our name get pushed fur­ther and fur­ther and now we have a record la­bel in Ger­many, Devil Duck Records.”

Hilts says the band re­ally en­joys work­ing with Jorg Tresp, owner of Devil Duck Records. The Dead South will build on that re­la­tion­ship more in 2015.

“Mostly our work with Jorg has been in Europe, we’ve been there twice now, and we’re go­ing back in May. We’re ex­pand­ing over there, which is awe­some. We have played in Ger­many, the U.K., and Switzer­land be­fore, and when we go back, we’ll play those places again and add in the Nether­lands and Den­mark this time.”

The au­di­ences in Europe dif­fer slightly from those in North Amer­ica, ex­plains Hilts.

“Euro­pean au­di­ences, es­pe­cially in Ger­many, they re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate trav­el­ling mu­si­cians. Even if they’ve never heard of you, they’ll take the time to search you up, and learn about you, and travel to come hear you… whereas if a band you’ve never heard of is com­ing to Regina, and you’re in Swift Cur­rent, I think the odds of you trav­el­ling to hear that show are a lit­tle lower.”

Good news for Swift Cur­rent fans of The Dead South, though – the band is head­lin­ing a show at The Lyric Theatre on Satur­day, March 28th as part of the Blenders Con­cert Se­ries.

Hilts says the group is look­ing for­ward to hav­ing lo­cal artist Colter Wall open for them.

“Colter’s dad [Pre­mier Brad Wall] ac­tu­ally no­ticed us a while ago. In our first year as a band, Cre­ative Sask gave us a re­ally cool op­por­tu­nity, we re­ally lucked out, they got us play­ing at the air­port for the Junos [in Regina in 2013] for when peo­ple were com­ing off the plane. So through that, we got con­nected to the Gala for the Junos, and then we met Brad Wall there, and we told him we play blue­grass, and he goes, ‘Oh, I love blue­grass, I’ll get you guys to play some­time.’ So we thought maybe he would come out to one of our shows, but the next thing we know, we get a call from some­one at the Sask-Party, and they asked us to play at the Pre­mier’s Din­ner. Any­way, he in­tro­duced Colter to us, and to our mu­sic, and he sent me some of Colter’s mu­sic a while back and I ab­so­lutely loved it, and I showed it to the guys and they loved it too. We im­me­di­ately said we had to get Colter to open for us, so he’s opened for us a cou­ple of times now.”

The Dead South blend el­e­ments of folk, blue­grass, clas­si­cal, and rock to cre­ate a unique blend of acous­tic mu­sic. Hilts says peo­ple of­ten try to de­scribe their sound, but have dif­fi­culty putting a la­bel on it.

“It’s kind of weird, be­cause peo­ple will of­ten come up to us and say, ’Oh, you’re like Mum­ford and Sons!’ Then you say, ‘Re­ally? We sound like them?’ And they say, ‘No, not re­ally, but we see you have a banjo and a kick drum.’ And it’s like, ‘Ok, well that’s not re­ally a good com­par­i­son.’”

When asked about the most in­ac­cu­rate com­par­i­son to an ex­ist­ing band, Hilts is quick to an­swer.

“The worst com­par­i­son, not about the band, but about my­self once… some­one posted one of our songs on Red­dit, and some­body wrote, ‘I kind of hate say­ing this, be­cause I’m re­ally en­joy­ing the song, but the lead singer [Hilts] re­ally sounds like Chad Kroeger from Nick­el­back.’ I felt like throw­ing up. I said, ‘I quit, I’m not do­ing this any­more.’ Then I started ask­ing peo­ple, ‘Do I sound like Chad Kroeger?’ Ev­ery­one told me no, not in the slight­est. I thought, ‘Good, be­cause if I do, I’m never singing again.’

Clearly, Nick­el­back isn’t who Hilts would want The Dead South to join on tour. On their wish­list for a dream tour? “The Devil Makes Three, that’s one,” Hilts says. “Tram­pled by Tur­tles is an­other, or Old Crow Medicine Show. Those are some huge ones right there. El­liott Brood would be awe­some as well.”

The Dead South may soon see those dreams come true. They’ve been in­vited back to Canadian Mu­sic Week in Toronto in May, in an ex­panded role since their show­case at last year’s event.

“Ac­tu­ally, Canadian Mu­sic Week last year is where we got signed to our Ger­man la­bel – so that was a huge con­nec­tion,” Hilts notes. “It was just good to get our names out there, get­ting agents look­ing at us. We ac­tu­ally signed to a Canadian la­bel called Paquin [whose clients in­clude Jef­frey Straker, Serena Ry­der, the Sheep­dogs, and Old Crow Medicine Show] and we have a manager in Toronto now. Our manager in Toronto is kind of our manager ev­ery­where now. So we still do a lot of busi­ness stuff our­selves, but he does as lot of the big­ger stuff that we have no idea how to get there or how to do it.”

That frees up a lit­tle bit of time for the group, com­prised of Nate Hilts, Colton Craw­ford, Danny Kenyon, and Scott Pringle. Hilts says they each have in­di­vid­ual com­mit­ments above and be­yond The Dead South. “The per­sonal-life side of things is get­ting harder – ev­ery­one in the band has a girl­friend – so you have to make time for that. Also, Danny is a full-time en­gi­neer, so we ac­tu­ally have to hire a trav­el­ling cel­list be­cause he can’t travel as much. Then the other guys [Colton and Scott] are sub­sti­tute teach­ers, and I have one year left of school that I have not yet been able to com­plete be­cause of the band.” A French ma­jor, Hilts says he’d be teach­ing French in schools if not for the suc­cess of The Dead South. “It’s a good fall­back,” he says.

Doors open for Satur­day's con­cert fea­tur­ing Colter Wall and The Dead South at 7:30 p.m. and the show at The Lyric Theatre gets un­der­way at 8:30 p.m. Ad­vance tick­ets are avail­able at Phar­masave or by call­ing Shann Gowan at 306-778-2686.

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