Fast rising princes of punk-influenced rock ‘n roll talk us through their past, present and future…
When and how did the band get started?
I came to Los Angeles in May of 2009 for a two week pilot project. I used to travel all the time for work. Never being in LA, I thought it would be good to get out as much as possible and meet some people…so I did! I went out every night to hang out see what was going on in the scene. Towards the end of the two weeks I decided to get a tattoo…I didn’t have any at the time…and thought it would be a great idea to get a ¾ sleeve before I left. After searching around for an exceptional artist, I found Zoey Taylor who worked in West Hollywood at Prix Body Adornment. I asked if she could do a sleeve in two days (because I was leaving) and she along with everyone else at Prix Body Adornment looked at me like I was crazy. Well, not knowing any better I told them I could sit for the whole thing. Haha! So after 28 gruelling hours of tattooing I had an amazing sleeve, a new friend and a ton of street cred to boot! Zoey and I started dating so I moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter. She introduced me to her brother Skeeter Joplin and he and I started playing some of my old songs that I wrote on the road. Zoey liked the songs and agreed to join the band. That was the start of Dead Day Revolution.
What have you been up to recently? Any plans for the near future?
Right now we are trying to finish the last few mixes of our debut album “On Our Own” with our producer Larry Goetz. It seems like forever ago that we started recording at his studio, The Lair. Larry has really helped us along the way. He has given us the opportunity to spend the time we need to on making the album the best that it can be. And we are really indebted to him. As soon as we can tie up those loose ends we will be working with a PR firm to help us with the launch. This past year we added a new bass player, Cristian Sturba. He and I have been working on new material for the next album release. The new songs are really going to be cool.
How did your sound evolve… did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do from the beginning?
Coming into it, I had songs already written. Most of them were recorded on acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter-ish. So in the beginning we worked on some of those old songs and made them into what I call “band songs”. Slowly as time went on, I wrote songs from the electric guitar standpoint usually while jamming with Skeeter, and the vibe began to change and possess more of a Rock ‘N’ Roll attitude. Now, I should point out that Skeeter had a lot to do with inspiring my writing and influencing me by constantly introducing me to older artists that had significant impact on other artists not only of their day but also of today. Bands like Suicide, Deep Purple, Arthur Brown, CCR, and The Cramps just to name a few. A lot of these bands I have previously never heard of or actually sat down to listen to. It was those new musical experiences that have helped to mould our attitude and direction. We were never looking to be like anyone, we write what we write…but being inspired by pioneers, those artists who didn’t compromise or give a shit what other people thought of them, really helped me loosen up as a writer.
What can you remember of your first gigs, and what have you learned about approaching live shows since?
I had only played live once before I moved to LA. Skeeter and Zoey played together in bands growing up so they had a lot of experience. I, on the other hand would really stress out and battle with anxiety for each show. In the first year of the band we played venues like the Troubadour, The Viper Room and The Whiskey A Go Go. Let me say that being thrown into situations like that early on really makes you do a gut check. So I focused more on managing my nerves haha. Now, we are turning our attention to the presentation and the flow of our set. Cristian and Skeeter have been good mentors in that department. Those two really love performing, and I’m honoured to share the stage with them.
Do you have any tips for working with promoters?
Sure, most promoters here in LA don’t promote. They book bands and call themselves promoters…and half of the time they can’t even get the bill filled so we end up getting bands to play the show with. I’m not sure why these people call themselves promoters. Not once have I seen them put out an ad, make a flyer or even as much as posting an event on Facebook. That sounds really negative…and it’s the truth. Ask any band around here. However, it’s important to have good relationships with the “promoters” if you have any aspirations of getting out of the rehearsal studio and into a venue! It is what it is, and you have to figure out how to work with what you’ve got. So my tip is be prepared to do the work yourself and make friends!
What do you consider to be your best 3 songs, and tell us the inspiration behind them?
“Bury My Soul”, “Vampyre Blues” and “Wait”. “Bury My Soul” is about temptation and resisting or not resisting certain vices. There is a mysterious, swampy undertone that resonates throughout the song. “Vampyre Blues” tells a story of a guy running from his ex-girlfriend who turned into a Vampire and wants to take every last drop of his blood…It’s a story you would tell your kids when they start dating. Lastly, “Wait” is a reflection of a past relationship that I had with someone. Portrayed here is a thoughtful acknowledgement of the darker side of a dysfunctional relationship.
Describe to us the process behind writing music within your band? Is it a democracy, or a benign dictatorship?
Until now it has been a benign dictatorship! Mostly because I was the only one who wrote riffs or lyrics. After Zoey left the band we had gone through a few bass players until getting Cristian Sturba on board. Skeeter and I have always jammed ideas, arranged songs together and discussed inspirations for song content. But for this next album, we are approaching it differently. It’s really refreshing to be able to sit down with another string player and work on progressions and changes. Cristian has a great musical background and sees things in a different light, often in a more organized and thought out approach. Whereas I am a self taught musician and have no musical theory background. I take a more instinctual and “in the moment” approach to song writing. My process is usually pressing record and playing whatever comes out of my hands, while singing lyrical melodies some of which are real words and others, well sound like they could be words! Then I go back and write lyrics for what I thought I could have been saying or what I thought I meant at the time. Then arrange the song into a more structured piece. There’s a little bit of Voodoo Magic involved when channelling these ideas.
How would you describe your own/bands sound, or what do you hate being labelled as?
You know a lot of people describe us as being a little bit of punk. I personally never got into Punk music with the exception of The Misfits and more recently Suicide… (In my opinion Suicide is the ultimate punk band!) Skeeter is a different story. He loves punk music… However I think it’s mainly our attitude that gives people that impression. We like to just call it Rock ‘N’ Roll, but you know how complicated labelling music has become these days. Some people say we have a bit of a swampy sound with some soul influences too. I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana before moving to LA. Maybe I took a piece of the swamp with me when I left.
What are your key influences (musical or otherwise)?
My personal musical influences are people and bands like Roy Orbison, Billy Corgan, Suicide, The Cure, David Bowie, Dax Riggs and Francoise Hardy. Skeeter has really brought a cool big band era vibe to the drums. His favourite drummer is Buddy Rich. But he also loves the old school New York Punk bands and really adds a primal rawness to our sound.
Do new acts really need record labels anymore?
Man, I don’t really know anymore what to believe! Technically, no I don’t think you “need” a record label. But labels have specialized skills and networks that most artists either don’t possess or are not driven to learn. We have never been signed. Would we like to be signed? Of course. Why? Because having a team of people working with you on logistics will enable the Indie artist to focus more on song writing and performance. I spend a great deal of my time on my computer promoting, networking, submitting our music to opportunities, booking shows, working with our artist who created our branding etc. It is a lot of work…work that I love and it takes time away from focusing on our art.
Many artists seem to be quite forward thinking when it comes to self promotion, what with the modern phenomenon of blogging, twitter, online releases etc. Do you think it’s important these days for bands to feel less segregated from their fan-base? What do you do to remain connected with them?
At this point in our career, being that our album has not yet been officially released, it has been immensely important and rewarding to focus on social networking. I have dedicated so much time into researching how to set up successful online marketing campaigns, taking time to respond to fans on Twitter and Facebook, and in general putting ourselves out there on the internet. The modern fan/band dynamic has become more detached then I would imagine it was in the old days. With the advent of the home recording revolution, listeners now have an immense volume of music that they can discover online. So it is very important to make a personal connection with a listener when you can. I’ll give you an example. We have been gaining a large number of fans in Iraq. Who would have thought, right? Well, I decided to start posting in Arabic on Facebook. I received a message from a girl there and she was thrilled to see an American rock band reaching out and noticing who their fans are. It’s important to know those things. I asked her if she would help me translate the posts to make sure we were getting our message out correctly because I was using Google Translate to do it. She responded: “Sure I would definitely help you with this :D and your fans appreciate that very much you’re the first band that would do such thing”. :)So that’s proof enough to me that it makes a difference when a band is being intentional and thoughtful when sending a message out on the internet or other form of media that doesn’t involve a face to face interaction with their fans.
So far, what have you found helpful in getting noticed, and gaining fans?
Firstly, I would say playing music that we want to and not following trends. I think that when people have a hard time classifying your music then you are onto something. Second would probably be the print and online reviews and interviews that we have been lucky to be part of. We also take time once a week to run around naked in the rain.
Are there any online resource or sites you’ve found useful in promoting your band? How useful do you find Facebook and Twitter?
A few websites that have helped us are ReverbNation and Sonic Bids. Both of these sites have opportunities that you can submit to from playing shows, music placements to press reviews and interviews. We have been selected for a number of these and it has really helped us gain attention from secondary sources which often times have more clout compared to a band promoting themselves directly. Facebook and Twitter are hit and miss unless you are paying extra to reach a larger audience. We have a little over 100,000 Facebook fans. However, when a Page posts something on Facebook not all of the fans can see the post. If you are a small band it is likely that you are reaching 2% – 3% of your fan base. That is only about 3000 people reached per post. Without nerding out on details, you can see that it’s not as effective as you would think. So it’s important to spend a little more time on those sites and really create a strategy to reach that other 97,000 people or more.
Do you have management at present? If so, how has that changed things for you?
We have been talking with Doug Goldstein, most notable for managing Guns and Roses. At this point it’s more of an open conversation and nothing is set in stone.
What’s your favourite piece of gear, when it comes to live shows?
Well, haha can I only pick one? I love my Orange Thunderverb 50 guitar amp that was modified by Andy Arahood at Revamp in Hollywood, CA. I get a lot of compliments on that amp sound! Skeeter, our drummer, doesn’t leave home without his 1930’s, vintage, 28’ Slingerland bass drum. That thing will punch a hole through your chest! You can find Cristian sporting some real fancy shoes.
Pictures by Mark Maryanovich.