Home > Around Town > Self-Titled: The Dead Records find their sound
Self-Titled: The Dead Records find their sound
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
The Dead Records make music that is hard to define. It's hard and heavy like a classic punk rock record; yet it has pop finesse all over it. Much like a great recipe -where you can taste so many familiar flavors, yet you can't put your finger on just exactly what's making it taste so damn good.
The Dead Records have so many elements in their music but make all those elements their own sound. The band recently released their newest album, a self-titled nugget of urgent, straight up rock and roll that if there was ever an album to push them to the stratosphere, this would be it. I recently got a chance to talk to Sean Richardson about the album, the tragic passing of their guitarist and friend Chad Briner, and the state of rock 'n roll.
"I have never gone through the loss of a friend as close as Chuck before, so the whole experience was new to me and in all the wrong ways", Sean says when I ask how the band is coping with the loss of their friend and bandmate. "Chuck will never be replaced in this band. Aaron and I were friends with Chuck long before The Dead Records were even a thought, so losing a band mate was really the last thing on our minds. The hard part was losing a good friend. With that said, what Chuck brought to our band musically will never be duplicated. Chuck passing away was no doubt the worst thing that has happened to our close knit circle of friends, but we were lucky to have a close knit circle of friends to lean on and share stories and get better. We have no plans of stopping anytime soon. We feel like we have finally found a sound that is ours and what we have always wanted to play and that is good enough to gain recognition from folks outside of Fort Wayne. When we started our goal was to play big venues with big bands to big crowds, we have not reached that goal yet and it remains the same."
The new album, simply titled The Dead Records, is a tour de force of big riffs, blasting drums, and huge vocals. If you've heard any of The Dead Records previous albums, you wouldn't be surprised by this, but this time there seems to be a precision in the delivery that was never this razor-sharp before. They've honed in on the sound they've been looking for up to this point and each track is like a punch to the gut. Richardson explains further, "The thing we are so proud of with this album is that we wrote the songs we wanted to play. We did this with our first two albums, but unfortunately we were not at the musical level we are now so the songs fell a little short of being completely satisfying to the band. Don't get me wrong, we love all of our songs and the process it took to write them, but this new batch of songs just fell right into place. I remember when we started writing this album we had a conversation to play the genre of music that we wanted to play, that we wanted to hear. It wasn't about mimicking what other popular bands were doing, or even trying to find the next big thing in indie rock; it wasn't about reinventing anything. When we wrote these songs it was about writing loud and energetic rock and roll songs. I guess in a way we knew we wanted to go harder on this album, but that was the natural progression for us. There is very little rock and roll on the radio anymore. I feel like most popular music falls short of being naturally aggressive and energetic. I love and listen to music all over the board, but unfortunately I feel like the board is missing some good quality rock and roll music, so hopefully we will be able to fill that void."
And indeed there is more of an aggressive feel to songs like "Better Yet," "Calendars," and "I Want Your Money," but along with that harder edge there's an urgency that's palpable. I asked Richardson if that was indeed what I was hearing. "The urgency from this record is very prominent and it comes from an urgent place. We had a sense of urgency writing this album because we know we can't play at this level forever. We are adults now, we have real jobs and real bills. The plan has always been to figure out a way to pay those bills through music; to become completely independent on our band. After 6-7 years of that not being the case we have started putting pressure on ourselves to make something happen or maybe realize that the end might be near. This album was proof of that attitude because we don't want to stop making music. We love playing music so our choice was to get better and I think we did. We also figured that if we were going to be done as a band at any point in the near future we wanted to go out loud and with songs that we can listen to for the rest of our lives and be really happy with how we played them. If it ended tomorrow we could all look at this new album and say, "this is exactly what I wanted to play," but it will not be ending tomorrow so I guess none of us have to worry about that."
The Dead Records have built their sound around a four-piece. A two-guitar attack is what makes their sound so powerful and visceral. With Chad Briner's passing, they were stuck not only with the loss of their close friend but also with the loss of an integral part of their sound. In May they had their first show without Chad at The Brass Rail as a three-piece. Not knowing what to expect or how they would even pull it off Richardson explains how the show came to be and what a positive experience it ended up being. "We considered going forth as a three-piece, but I don't think that is how it will be. We played the Brass Rail show as a three piece for a few different reasons. I had a handful of shows booked in May and had to cancel all of them because we were not ready to play. I almost canceled the BR show but I just couldn't. We wanted to play so bad and we knew that with what happened with Chad, a show was a good way of reminding everyone that even though the worst things happen to the most amazing people there are things in the future to look forward to. For us as a band it was the ultimate healing process. There is absolutely nothing better than getting on stage and playing as a hard as you can for 30 minutes. We felt like we owed it to ourselves, to our fans, to our friends, and to Chad to get on stage and play at least one show without anyone trying to play his parts.”
“I am sure our set lacked in the overall sound, but that show wasn't really about how well or how tight we were as a band. The BR show was about getting on stage and having a real time of enjoyment in a month that was filled with so much sorrow for so many people who have become like family to us through music. Music is naturally healing. Everyone knows what to play to make themselves feel better, or what to play to make themselves want to punch a hole through a wall. We hope we played the music to make everyone feel a little bit better.”
The Dead Records, if you haven't heard it, is a tight, compact album that goes by quickly which begs for repeated listens. I asked Sean where they recorded this excellent album. "The album was recorded at Digitracks studio here in Fort Wayne. We are lucky to have a friend by the name of Matt Riefler who is way too talented to be recording bands at our level, but that is the way he likes it so I will not argue. We went in late a night and recorded until the morning numerous different nights. Recording with Matt is so much fun, he has tons of energy and since you know he is going to make everything you play sound really good, you want to match his enthusiasm and skill with how you play." And as far as future gigs for The Dead Records, they're in the works. "I am in the process of getting things booked right now, both in town and out of town", says Richardson. "Nothing is in the books yet, but keep checking for posts about shows and what not. We are kind of regrouping and figuring out what to do next."
Before we end our conversation I asked Sean what he wants folks to take away from this new album and the The Dead Records. "We wrote these songs based on how we grew up and the experiences that we gained living in a small town in Indiana, and always dreaming about being something bigger than what we were and still are. This is not to say that what one group of people does is any less important than another group. We think that what we play, what we say, and how we play it deserves to be heard on a national level. We really believe in the importance of music for everyone and the greatest satisfaction you can achieve as a musician is knowing that you helped somebody get over something, or inspired someone to do something by simply writing songs. The lyrics on this album will not lead anyone to answers. The most important thing to take from this album and from the songs on this album is that you are not the only one going through what you are going through. Sometimes just knowing that makes it easier to move on."
Do yourself a favor and pick up The Dead Records. It's what rock n' roll should be: which is no gimmicks, no choreography, and no put-ons. Straight up heart and soul with a one-two punch that'll knock you back a few feet.
Check the album out at http://thedeadrecords.bandcamp.com/ and buy it. Follow the band on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thedeadrecords and check out their website at http://www.thedeadrecords.com/