After their opening performance for Fear Factory in Glasgow, and in a noisy merch area, we caught up with Claire and Danny of Irish noisemakers Dead Label. We hugely appreciate their time as they were about to jump in their van to drive halfway to London pretty much overnight. It was good to hear that they made it to their final destination safely!
Last time we spoke to you guys was at Bloodstock. What’s been happening since then?
Danny: We played with Gojira pretty much straight after Bloodstock in Belfast and Dublin, and one festival with Heart of a Coward. We thought that was pretty much it until the end of the year and then these dates just appeared! We had a week’s notice before it kicked off. “Do you want to play with Fear Factory?” Yes we do so I’ll just quit my job, sort some merch – as we had none – and here we are.
How did you get on the tour then?
Claire: We applied for the Dublin support slot thinking that as we’d played for Gojira we might be in with a shout. They got back to us and said that Fear Factory would be having a touring support for all the shows so we thought, ah well – never mind.
Danny: Then it turned into “they’re looking for a band for the whole tour…”. So with a lot of begging and pleading…
Claire: We were expecting the UK at best, but we were told “We’ll see you in Lisbon in a week”! Twenty-three dates.
What’s your best memory of the tour so far?
Both, simultaneously: Paris.
Danny: The chances of playing there were looking really bleak. That whole time around that tragedy we were travelling and had little or no internet. The last time we’d checked in was in Renne, in France, where we managed to check into facebook and let everyone know where we were. We had two days with no wi-fi. We literally crossed the border into Spain and our phone started going asking where we were, if we were OK. The whole way from Lisbon we were wondering if the Paris show would go ahead. Even when we were in France playing the other two dates, we were just assuming Paris was going ahead.
We got to Paris, the show was on to a packed house and the crowd were singing when we got on stage. They didn’t have a clue who we were, they were just singing to the backing tape. We didn’t know what to expect, if people would be too scared to come out but the place was full. It was basically a middle finger to the terrorists.
What’s the most insane thing you’ve seen on the road so far?
Danny: On the European tour we did in summer we saw a truck just burst into flames. Bleary eyed, driving off the ferry on the wrong side of the road, not knowing where you’re going and suddenly just this blazing inferno in front of us. Took us by surprise!
Is Throne of Bones out yet?
Danny: No, it keeps getting pushed but it is finalised, the master is done. So hopefully a January release.
When we spoke to you a couple of months back you said you were already working on material for the next album…
Danny: Yes, that’s true! We’re a band that needs to write. There are always ideas. Even if it’s something we scrap later on, we just need to be writing music.
So no plans to retire if you’ll always have stuff waiting to be released?
Claire: We hope we never retire! We just spent five weeks in a van together and nobody’s dead yet. Despite foreign roundabouts and a lack of sleep!
When we asked you for advice for other new bands, you told us “commitment, hard work and it’ll be worth it”. Is this tour your pay-off for your own hard work?
Danny: Yes, this is our reward. I think part of the reason we got the tour is because people know how dedicated we are, how hard we work. Taking the punch, getting a van, driving across Europe… it shows people that you’re willing.
Claire: Or mad.
Danny: It’s a balance of both. We love what we do, but we’re downright crazy!
And being Irish helps?
There’s been a lot of stuff online recently about female-led bands or bands with female members, and the fact that there shouldn’t be a need to focus on the gender of band members. Dead Label are a little unusual in that you’re not female fronted, you’re more female backed with Claire on the drums. What are your views on this?
Claire: I have an answer, but does it have to be PG rated? No? Good. Unless you’re using your dick to play the drums, it doesn’t matter.
Danny: I would imagine that’s really painful.
Claire: I think it’s getting better. If you’re in a male-orientated world, then you just have to do your best to represent girls properly. If you’re going to compete with very talented people then it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or not, you just do your best. Most of the time I get positive feedback. We only ever had horrible experiences back at the very beginning when we were playing to no-one. When they’d see a girl and just assume you were someone’s girlfriend. There may be something about the girls who sing as they’re maybe meant to present themselves differently, but you can’t see me as I’m hidden at the back!
Do you feel you are or could be a role model for female drummers?
Claire: When I get as good as Mario Duplantier [Gojira’s drummer – Mosh] then maybe! If we as a band inspire anyone to pick up an instrument then that’s wonderful.