The Dead Life released new single “Hollow Blood” a couple of weeks ago (scroll down for a listen) and they took time out from their hectic music-writing-and-recording lifestyle to answer a few questions we threw at them…
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Sam: Brighton, but a bit of Medway, Kent.
How did you meet?
Neil: Dan and I met through BIMM [British and Irish Modern Music Institute – Mosh], and decided while trying to drink away our hangovers in a pub on a Sunday not long after graduating to form a band in early 2012.
After lots of jams and auditions, finding a drummer and second guitarist, then dealing with one singer who refused to leave so adamantly that the other 4 of us had to quit, we got together with Sam through adverts at the rehearsal rooms, who then introduced us to his BIMM classmate Callum when the changes rolled.
Callum: I received a text, completely out of the blue, from Sam asking if I wanted to come down for an audition for his band. I looked them up on Soundcloud and immediately I was hooked. I went down for the audition and I felt that we meshed perfectly on a musical level. When I received the message saying I had got the spot I was very pleasantly surprised. They guys had made me feel so welcome and the music they were making really felt like home.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
Neil: Dan and I have played in BIMM exam bands as far back as 2008. This current line up of the band have been playing since Summer 2014.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Sam: I think it’s the mix of the 4 of us having such varied individual music tastes. While we all share a common love of heavy rock and metal, we each have our own influences from a variety of genres that ends up coming together into what we write as a group.
Neil: I think it’s the big riffs and choruses mixed with the dynamic and rhythmic changes, with vocals almost from a different sub-genre of rock/metal altogether, that makes it sound like us. The biggest compliment I had was after a show someone called it “catchy, balls out heavy music, without playing safe”.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes or is each song completely individual?
Sam: The lyrics on The Hell Of It All are all based on overcoming adversity. I had a lot of personal stuff going on and I was dealing with it in all the wrong ways. Tracks like “Sick in the Head” and “Lunatic” address this directly, whereas “Seven Shades” and “Hollow Blood” are about the kind of people who want to stop you from getting to where you want to be,
You yourselves say that your music changed between your first EP and your more recent one, partly down to a lineup change (5-piece to 4-piece). How would you describe that change?
Neil: Character building, haha. It was tough, we tried to find another guitarist but none, however good, just seemed to fit with us, it was disheartening, like questioning the whole band disheartening, but while we were bored, we wrote, then just decided to make it work.
Sam: It straight up sucked. We were starting to gain traction within the local scene and it felt like it all just dropped with the lineup change. It’s a really good thing we’re all as stubborn as each other cos we didn’t want to just stop doing what we were doing knowing we had something special. Neil and I were listening to a lot of Alice In Chains and Pantera at the time, and I was always blown away by the sound they could create with just one guitarist. I kept suggesting to him “Why don’t you just write all the guitar yourself? Why do we need more people in this band and trying to beef up our sound when bands like them don’t need it?” He okayed it and that week turned up to practise with “Sick in the Head” finished and we knew we’d made the right choice.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Neil: Sweaty, I just let rip, though now that we’re all doing vocals it feels that however much I’m jumping all over the place I have to have in the back of my mind how near my vocals parts are in the song and how far I am from a mic, haha.
Sam: I’m normally damper than an otter’s pocket after the show cos we all just go hell for leather. This is all our creative outlet and for a lack of a better word our passion, so it seems stupid to half arse it when it comes to live shows. I think we’ve probably done nigh-on 50 shows by now.
What are you working on at the moment now that The Hell Of It All has been out for a while?
Neil: We’ve got an upcoming video for the second single “Lunatic” as it’s just too good to not have a video for it. Other than that just getting as much new material written before we record again. That EP was everything we had as a 4 piece, but now with the writing it feels it has much more of a signature to it, like we had to explore to find the direction, and now we just want to keep going that way.
Sam: I think with the new songs we’re writing, there’s definitely more direction and focus. We’re exploring bigger ideas and incorporating a much darker tone musically and lyrically.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done on tour?
Neil: I don’t know about the wildest, but I can certainly tell you the dumbest thing we, or at least 2 of us, have done in the band. We were playing in Hastings, Sam and Callum didn’t notice that the car park they chose closed overnight. So after all the bands had played and packed up, Neil and Dan nearly 50 miles away got a text that that they were stranded, we had gear in all other seats so just suggested they cuddle up in a B&B, which were all apparently closed at midnight. They ended up sleeping on the floor of a function room above the venue. We must’ve laughed for the next 20 miles.
Sam: Callum slept in his drum bags and I had to fashion a makeshift bed out of chairs. It wasn’t the best of times.
If you could be part of any 3-band line-up (as support or headlining) who else would you have on the bill?
Neil: For me, Mastodon and TOOL, just so I’d get to watch them, playing would just be a bonus.
Sam: Black Sabbath and Killswitch Engage, just cos I don’t want to miss Ozzy before he snuffs it and KSE cos Jesse is an absolute beast of a vocalist.