“Oh fucking hell, Jesus. It’s something that given to us; someone described us as ‘desert rock’ so we were like; ‘alreyt, we’ll take that’.” No longer does ‘indie’ music have longevity, its quirky hair and pretty face these days rarely maintains people’s interest beyond one NME tour.
And so bands acquire alternatives.
Bernie, percussionist and all round handyman, from Dead Sons further explains the origins of the ‘genre’ they’ve been attributed: “ We’ve got a sort of American style, more drums and riffs but we do put melodies in as well. Desert rock is just dirty, sleazy, riff driven music.”
Dead Sons definitely fit the bill. Fast, menacing, ominous riffs battle for attention with frenzied percussion and drums, all overlaid with wiry and cohesive melodies.
Musically Dead Sons differ from Arctic Monkeys on many levels, more technical, heavier but there will always be assimilations between the two because of the geography which is unfortunate. There are however perks of this symbiosis. In June, 2011 Dead Sons played their biggest gig to date supporting Arctic Monkeys at their homecoming show at Don Valley Bowl.
“Yeah that was fucking reyt good. It was amazing, a bit of a dream come true for me. I’ve not played in a band that’s done as well as that, a couple of the other lads have.” (Milburn)
Not only was the love of performing to so many evident on Bernie’s face, as his grin reached ear to ear, but so was the pride of really getting somewhere: “The whole day was brilliant, it was just nice to be treated as a professional really, turning up and having people take care of you; you turn up and your kit just gets taken away and set up, stuff like that.”
He continues to explain the upsides that hit me more on my level: “There were a free bar. It was a Kelham Island free bar, you pull your own pints. They asked if we wanted a pint and we asked how much it was; Free. Then I asked how many we got and they said ‘free all day’.
Next month on February 18th Dead Sons will release their debut album: ‘The Hollers and the Hymns’ with a special album launch show at Sheffield’s Library Theatre on Saturday 16th.
The album is a culmination of tracks that have been in development since 2010 with the inception of the band, as Bernie explains: “I’d say the album is a collection of the last three years, we’ve just got them all together; there’s quite an amalgamation of tunes on there, some softer ballads too.”
Not only that but the album has already been finished for a good while and unbelievably they’re ready to start on album number two: “ We’ve been sat on this debut album, waiting, we’ve had it recorded for about six months and we’ve just been sitting on it and sitting on it just to make sure everything is spot on. So now we just want to get it out there, get people listening to it, then hit them with the second album.”
As a result of the time it’s taken there’s real diversity in the style of songs, an eclectic mix of pure fast-paced rock and softer melody driven tracks. Songs already out there like room 54 are a million miles from the eponymous hollers and hymns: ‘Room 54’ is a bit fast, a bit driven. We’ve got songs on there like ‘Quest for the Fire’ which is a bit more like an Ennio Morricone, as a Western theme and that’s one of our earlier ones.” But don’t think they’re going to let you off lightly: “We’ve got the heavier ones as well, like the new track: ‘Ghost Train’ which is the first on the album. It’s like a punch in the face, it kicks and just hits you.”
The album may be a good mix but if you catch them on their tour which kicks off in the middle of March a month after the launch then you’re only going to witness one side of Dead Sons, Bernie was pretty assured of that: “ We’ve built up quite a good fan base around the UK now, and people always request some of the slower stuff when we play live but we never play ‘Quest for the Fire’ or ‘Temptation Pool’ live because its hard to pull off. We find the softer songs harder to pull off live because we’re not a soft band. We like smashing the fuck out of stuff and playing real loud and real fast.”
Once the album does finally launch the Dead Sons will be looking forward to touring and as usual have picked out a nice original venue to play in Sheffield. Bernie told us that creating a good atmosphere is a big part of their live shows: “We don’t interact with the crowd, especially between songs; we’re not that forthcoming. There’s no banter. The venue and performance means a bit more to us, not that we’re trying to be moody” He explains it’s just that: “We haven’t got anything to say. I hate the talking in between songs, I don’t wanna know why the song was written, I don’t wanna know if it was written about your ex girlfriend I just wanna hear the fucking song.”
Finding great gig venues has been a recurring theme throughout their shows and sometimes they’ve had to go to pretty long lengths to do it: “In Sheffield we tend to play really weird venues. Our first proper gig was at a place called Montgomery Theatre which was really strange. It was a 400 seat theatre run by nuns, a real Christian venue, I had to lie through my teeth and say it was a showcase for some fine arts thing or something. They kept asking who the bands were and it was us and Wet Nuns so I couldn’t say who were playing or owt. I had to lie to God basically to get us this gig. That was weird.
Everyone was sat down. We like putting people out of their comfort zone, especially at seated gigs, I like to see people who are feeling uncomfortable, they don’t know whether to stand up or sit down. For the gig at Library theatre we’re gonna put signs saying; ‘don’t sit down’, cause we want people to go nuts for it.”
Note: 200 white kids dancing all at once ALWAYS looks awkward. No need to worry if that’s how you feel.