The Dead Life – Interview


Following on from hearing their terrific new release “Hollow Blood” we were lucky enough to get in touch with them and find out a little more.

Could you tell us about how the band formed and how the name “The Dead Life” came about?

Well we started off when Neil and Dan left Uni a few years back. They got together a group of guys and started writing, eventually they found me through an ad at our practise rooms and we came up with the name after an evening down the pub. It’s one of those 90’s juxtaposition names that ended up fitting in with a lot of the lyrical content of the first songs we wrote so it felt apt and totally worked for us.

You released “Hell of it All” last year, how did you feel when you heard the completed album?

We were completely blown away when we got the record back. We’d invested a lot more into this one and the recording was such a blur that we really couldn’t believe how well the tracks came out. Everything sounded so much bigger than we could have imagined when we were writing in the studio and we felt that we finally had something that really represented what we wanted to do.

Who did you you work with in producing it and where was it recorded?

We went with our go-to producer Paul “Win” Winstanley at Brighton Electric Studios. Win’s basically recorded every metal band in Brighton, and his no-bullshit approach recording means he gets the absolute best out of you, regardless of whether you want to hear it or not.

Are there any personal favourite tracks on it?

I think Hollow Blood and Lunatic are personal favourites for all of us. The riffs are big and the choruses even bigger, which are our main two focuses when we write.

The video for Hollow Blood looks fantastic and catches the mood of the song brilliantly.  How did the working partnership with Dave Neale of Wild Stag Studios form, and how much of an input did you have in the making of the video?

Having never recorded a video before, we had no idea how the whole process would work. All I knew is that this song is incredibly personal, and I wanted the video to tell the parts of the story that the song couldn’t. Dave had done some incredible work for a couple of our friends’ bands, and also worked with Black Peaks so we knew we were in good hands. Dave took complete charge over the performance side of the video, whereas I worked with my video brother Paul Clements to write the narrative side. We basically got drunk and decided we’d shout at each other for a couple of hours until we had enough to cut together and come out with the finished product.

You take your influences from the likes of Tool, Mastadon and Stone Sour, what is about those bands in particular that drew you to their music?

Tool are one of those bands that quite simply can’t be imitated, however Maynard’s incredibly emotional delivery on tracks like “Sober” is something that immediately drew me in. It’s such a visceral, performance that sets the bar so high in terms of putting everything you have into a vocal line. Mastodon are the true progression of heavy metal; album after album they do something completely different and the riffs are just staggering. Plus, their ability to craft such complex arragements and turn it into something with real mainstream credibility is something all of us want to achieve. With Stone Sour, it’s all about Corey Taylor. The man is one of the best metal frontmen in the world and his ability to hold a crowd in the palm of his hand in either Slipknot or Stone Sour is amazing. Plus “30:30 150” is a tune.

Gear question, what do you guys use in terms of drums, amps and guitars?  Why did you opt for those instead of others (so why Blackstar and not say for example Mesa Boogie)?

Dan: I use a Fender Jazz 60’s Reissue. It’s been through the wars but I couldn’t play another bass. The feel of it, the design, it’s all I need. I use an orange bass terror head that’s got great drive and an aggressive attack, but it’s put through a Brighton Bare Faced Audio Big Baby 2. They’re a Brighton based company and nothing I’ve played over the years comes close. It’s reliable, lightweight, and great for touring, but it gives an almighty kick to our sound with great frequency response.

Neil: I use a Blackstar Series One 50w head, combined with a Michael Kelly Patriot Premium guitar loaded with Bare Knuckle Miracle Man pickups.

In our early days in the band I was using a Blackstar HT Dual, and essentially just bought a head that expanded into a more all round amp but with that same high gain grunt that suits our sound.

I was always a Les Paul player in the past, but found the weight and the high fret access restricting, the Michael Kelly combats that with a slightly tapered in body at the neck, and a lighter body, with through-body strings that makes up for the drop in sustain.

The stock pickups were the only thing that put me off, and it must be for other people, or they’d be so much more commonly used. Once ripped out and replaced with the Bareknuckle Miracle Mans’ it suited our drop tuned sound to a tee. Named and modelled after the man with the bullseye guitar who plays in B, the beauty of the clean and lead tones mixed with the brutality of riffs saturated with distortion made me stop looking for my next bit of gear, as my sound was there. After all the work it was still a cheaper guitar than my Les Paul studio, which doesn’t stand a chance any more of being my go-to guitar.

What lessons have you learned since forming The Dead Life? (either practical things such as always having spare “kettle” leads, or just how to approach writing a song together).

Try and get petrol money confirmed in advance! We played a show where we won more on the quiz machine than we got paid by the promoter: £4! I’d say that learning to work with four big personalities is a hell of a learning curve. Everyone’s got their own goals and visions for where they want the band to go, but the important thing is to listen to each other and work together towards a shared goal, otherwise when things start to get serious it’ll fall apart big time. Also check when the car-park near the venue closes. We once had to spend the night on the floor of the venue cos we got locked in the local multi-story.

What have you got planned for The Dead Life next?

We’re planning on getting a video out for Lunatic in the very near future, then we’re getting straight back into the studio to get some stuff together for future releases. We’re hitting 2016 as hard as we can so expect to see some big things coming very soon!

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