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Dead or American

The recent self promo here of the Souvaris gig with Dead Or American reminded me of the interview I did with the band a couple of years ago which for one reason or another never saw the light of day.

I first saw/met Dead Or American when they played in Colchester as part of their tour with Brendan O’Hare’s band Macrocosmica. I was fortunate enough to be DJing that evening and when I dropped “Uzi Lover” from Brass Eye I was stormed for a copy of the hip hop classic. When it also emerged that in addition to a keen sense of humour they were also big Faith No More fans a life long friendship should have been forged.

When Glasgow was spewing out U.S. indie enthused/infused bands a few years ago Dead Or American complimented with their gnarly post-hardcore onslaught prompting obvious comparisons to D.C. hotbods.

Ladies and gentleman, belatedly, I give you Dead Or American:

What is the brief history of Dead Or American?

We formed in the first week of January 2000, having previously dabbled in some other very embryonic band line-ups. Greg Heuer, the original bassist, left in 2003 and was finally replaced by Pete McCulloch in 2004 following the invaluable assistance of other bass experts and friends in between.

How did the tour with Macrocosmica go?

The last tour with Cosmica went well on an inter-personal and musical level, though unforeseen problems with venues left us with last-minute cancellations and some gaping holes in our schedule. As with any band, it’s a struggle to make ends meet, so it doesn’t help when things don’t go to plan. We’re grateful to all those involved in helping us tour though, especially resident soul-stealer Photey Dave and the worlds most above-average roadie Pet Fleet.

What do you get out of playing live?
The opportunity to communicate our ideas in the most honest and exciting way possible: in person. Recordings are great for taking with you in a car but I’d look at the difference between recordings and playing to a live audience in the same way as a letter from a loved one being great, but rarely a substitute for them being there with you.

What have been the most notable bands that you have played with?

We’ve played with some lauded UK acts, such as Jetplane Landing, who’ve assisted us immensely, and Reuben who are just lovely lovely gentlemen, but the most exciting bands we’ve played with have been some of the local acts we’ve met on our travels. There are too many to mention and its impossible not to offend by omission, so instead I’ll say Post Diluvian, Cat on Form and Fighting Red Adair are three of the most exciting live acts I’ve ever witnessed and all of them are no longer with us. For the rest you can check our links page on the site. The moral of this story is: If you wonder why you never saw these 3 bands then maybe you need to look harder for your new music and get out and watch 3 young bands for a few quid a night rather than one stadium show for £20.

Dead Or American: is that a positive or a negative name/statement?

It’s an observation of the convergence of many societies on our planet towards the “American” way of life at the expense of their own traditions and beliefs. In some cases I think this is slightly beneficial, in many it is not and in others again it has both pros and cons. The idea was to provoke though, not impact an opinion.

Who/what is Predestination Records?

Predestination Records is the label we’re trying to start to release our own and other small releases to the public, though financial means and unforeseen circumstances seem hell-bent on holding us back at every opportunity.

What were your previous music endeavours like?

Rudimentary but fun. Often a very apparent reflection of our musical tastes though I’m glad we had the common sense to delay our entrance into the public domain until this had worn off some. They were also permeated by a lack of direction. Some sounding like Mogwai others like Bad Religion. There had to be some refinement hence its now 2005 and we’re still at it. I hope it was worth the time, because I could probably have made line-manager if I’d stayed at the supermarket by now.

What causes most tension/friction between band members?

Over-familiarity and the lack of consideration for another person’s feelings or opinions that stems from it. We’ve spent a lot of time together and grown quite a bit in that time so it can lead to the sort of family-like arguments where there is no suggestion that you don’t feel love for the other members but you can’t help hating the look on their smug f*cking faces when they piss you off. It’s a heart-warming story, no?

What is your song writing process and how do you record?

It varies. I used to write most of the material and then show the other guys what to do, but that has evolved to the point where we all pretty much contribute our own parts, sometimes from my original idea, sometimes not. When we record we hover tenuously above a CD jewel case, squeeze out one painful dollop of jobby each, shrink-wrap it and bring it to the gigs to sell.

Recording is, without exception, the most daunting and often unpleasant part of being in the band as VERY rarely does it sound the way you imagined it would and that’s like fucking up your lines during a play: people kind of say its good y’know, but you just want to go around apologising for all the shit bits and convince everyone you can really do better. Actually, put like that, recording is a lot like being at school, without the bullying. …..in fact forget that, recording is JUST like being at school.

What have been the biggest obstacles facing Dead Or American?

Our own personality flaws – be it complacency, arrogance or whatever. The more we identify these and sort them out the better we get. The small-town mentality of our origins hasn’t helped

How did you manage to hook up with Lockjaw Records?

We didn’t really hook up with them. They heard our EP and liked it so they asked if we wanted to put a track on their new compilation. Flattered, we accepted. There are no deals in the pipeline.

“Safety In Numbers”: is this a sign of insecurity?

It’s a cynical look at the herd mentality of people. The natural inclination to just go with the general consensus to avoid being singled out. It’s the path of least resistance man, and we’ve all taken it at one point. We in DorA are not exempt, but we are aware of our complicity.

What is the Scottish music scene like these days?

It has bee great for some years now – really innovative and rewarding if you choose to go hunting round the back-street venues for new bands. The world seems to be really freaking out over Glasgow right now, though frankly they’ve passed over the most exciting bands thus far in favour of the more marketable ones.

Do you consider yourselves a hardcore band? (personally I think you’re more inventive, in a way that Fugazi just can’t be dismissed as hardcore, more fitting that horrible tag “post-hardcore”). Have you had much experience of the UK “hardcore community”?

The UK hardcore community are fiercely protective of the tag hardcore and would be spluttering out their cheap lager right now were we to claim to be hardcore. We do incorporate some elements and appeal to some fans of that genre, but we are as easily referred to as Alt Rock or Post Punk or Avant Garde rock. Whatever moniker gets your article finished in time for your deadline is what we say. I think it just sounds like rock music but that’s simply a matter of opinion. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of spurting out band names as comparisons it at least give the virgin listener some idea of whether we’re in the same ballpark as what they might be looking for. The Fugazi comparison is frequently used but I fear it flatters us somewhat.

What other jobs do you do?

Our jobs are, quite simply, shit but necessary. Nothing else.

Generally, is it essential to be creative? (Have a form of expression?)

I think if we were not creating we’d simply be withering away in the stream of controlled labour that has become modern life. That is not to say creating need be through this band, but in some form it is always essential, at least to us.

What advice would you have for other performers?

Remember why you started.

What are you current listening tastes and what are your favourite forms/styles of music?

Personally, many varied styles currently occupy my multi-changer. The Canadian Constellation label has been heavily influential in the past month or so as has some of the more discordant US underground stuff.

What are your plans for the future both musically and personally?

Find out what its all about, man. What other pursuit can there be in life? Get as far down that evolutionary track as possible before you pass on the baton and keel over. This is true both musically and personally because they are the same thing. Also, the opportunity to let people know you care about them is important and should always be taken advantage of – again both musically and personally. I think that’s the lot – I can’t really get any more preachy than that.

And, what was the trial of the century?

The Trial of the Century was and is the challenge to keep your mind open and independent. To be receptive to ideas other than those immediately presented to you and to acknowledge that sometimes you and those around you are wrong. The ability to resist the dumbing down of our society is becoming more and more important. I stole it from The Onion. Though my words are weighty and full of self-importance the ideas was better and more subtly put by another before me. Read the Onion if you never have and it will help the process. That’s my tip of the Day. Goodnight.

- DEAD OR AMERICAN