By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
Castlemaine migraine makers DEAD like to do things the unconventional way. Their latest venture is a “Trilogy” with four LPs in it. Go figure.
Released via drummer Jem Moloney’s We Empty Rooms label, the first of the four is a split with Mark ‘D’ Deutrom, Vol 1 – Collective Fictions, which came out last week and is not streaming anywhere.
The second, Vol II – UNTITLE, is out soon, and the rest will come later.
UB practices our sums with Jem…
This ‘Trilogy’ has four records in it? How’s your maths?
My maths is doing really well, thanks. How’s yours? She must be getting on now, started school yet? We have the combined maturity of a 12-year-old boy and it still gives us a cackle each time we refer to a series of four records as a “Trilogy”. But to delve further into something that possibly no-one else cares about, we recorded these over two sessions last year; one in LA with Toshi Kasai and one in Melbourne with Mike Deslandes. For each session we ended up with an album and a half each. I think initially I thought we’d turn that into a series of three LPs but this band gets a great deal of pleasure from doing things the hard way so it turned into four LPs. Mark Deutrom and Wicked City (the two bands we’re sharing the splits with) are just two of our favourite active bands right now. It really is an honour to share these records with them.
Is this project part of your plan to keep doing different / unreal things – not just the typical release a record then wait three years and release another one?
Yes it is. Very much so. It’s pretty obvious this band has never been hip or been able to fit neatly into a mould. There is little interest for us in trying to play the game the way the industry dictates it. We’d rather make our own rules up as we go. As a two-piece we are very tight-knit and have spent a lot of time learning to play together. It gives us a lot of flexibility to work with other people if and when we want to. Our main limitations are time and money since we both have to work full-time and our….“selective audience” means the fans aren’t picking up the recording bill.
The first LP in the series is a split with Mark D… How’d that hook-up happened?
Like a lot of these things, I forget how it came about. In recent years Mark has released some great music via the Austrian label Rock Is Hell (who did our three LP/cassette boxset last year) and I probably emailed him and said I’d like to help release his music. We met up with him in Austin last year when we were on tour and got along well. We never listened to each other’s side until after mastering but we talked about themes we wanted to both cover. Mark is a real master of patience and he executes it well on this release. Our side is two long songs in power trio mode with our mate Ben on keys and it’s also a bit more patient than the stuff we tend to release.
You also had some staunch idea about there only being one review, or no reviews, and that it will not be streaming anywhere online. A prelude to the downfall of Bandcamp and Souncloud? Why don’t these mediums work for you (in this instance)?
That was at Mark D’s request and in keeping with our interest in not following the rules I saw no reason to say no. The very fact it made me nervous was what drove me to do it. I’m continually bemused in this industry at how much we all accept the current advice. Advice which often has no backing in research or which doesn’t apply to bands at our level or is more in the interest of those dishing it out than those they claim would benefit from it. I don’t see why we should have to put everything on Soundcloud or beg some hip website to give us a shitty review of our album from their laptop speakers. I have never had much interest in music media; I have to force myself to read it just so I’m not completely out of the loop. I think for the most part the quality of the writing is awful and it’s hard to know if you’re reading a real opinion or a bought one. It’s liberating knowing we don’t have to deal with any of that crap for this release. On a more practical level, there is only so much time we can invest in these things. Between the two of us we are writing music, booking tours, running the label, producing the merch, doing the artwork, etc. So trying to force our music onto critics who don’t want to write about it anyway is not the most efficient use of our time. I could go on about this topic for days, I really could. But I guess the crux of it is we have nothing to lose by doing things outside of the standard rules; rules which I am sceptical about in the first place. Over these four LPs we are trying some different approaches. The first is analogue only, one at least will probably be available for free digitally, some will be sent to the media for review. I haven’t decided yet entirely but I’m interested to see if there are any different results. We have a core group of dedicated fans and we don’t take them for granted. They’re willing to go with us as we evolve as a band. They’re the only people we aim to please and by please I mean we don’t want to ever rip them off.
In regards to the DEAD material – are the four LPs different? Were they recorded in the same way?
The stuff we recorded in Australia all has BJ Morriszonkle working as a third member of the band. He contributed a lot. Mike as an engineer is very different to Toshi too, so the sounds are different. This is very deliberate. Apart from one track, which is actually the first song we ever wrote (I think), none of the stuff with BJ was ever played live before recording and some of it never will be. That’s generally not been how we’ve operated in the past. The stuff we recorded in LA has Kevin Rutmanis (Cows, Melvins) adding slide bass/noise and Toshi adding guitar, vox and I think some synth. And for the split with Wicked City our side features EMS (Vern from Prizehog) on synth – she really nailed it. I was less in control of the mixing of this stuff and tried to let Toshi do his job as much as I could. But as for what it sounds like to anyone else I can’t really say. It might all just sound like Australian Crawl for all I know.
When is Amateur Hour coming back?
Last I heard from Laura [Imbruglia] she said she wanted me back but maybe in a different role as the two hosts thing was confusing. I think we all know that’s code for telling me the polls came back indicating whilst Walled Aly has moved over to Channel 10 it’s still a little early for a brown bloke to be out front whereas as an Italian she’s just the perfect amount of ethnic. She’s put so much work into that thing, I don’t know when it will come back but she never does anything by halves so I know the wait will be worth it.
Get ‘The Trilogy’ Vol 1 – Collective Fictions LP from the We Empty Rooms site.
The Trilogy is being released over the next six-eight months with each LP in an edition of 200 records in hand silkscreened covers. Rock Is Hell will release a boxset version in an edition of 66.