While Indianapolis, Indiana’s punk-smeared rage monsters Deadmen had a short run, the band still managed to create a demo and a brand-new 7” that both pack the same brass-knuckled punch that could be witnessed at their frenzied live performances. I caught up with guitarist Carl Byers recently and he revealed his thoughts on the band’s origins, influences, recordings, upcoming final shows and more.
First off, for those not familiar with Deadmen, could you shed some light on the how the band formed…a brief history, if you will?
Deadmen formed in the summer of 2008. Garrett, Patrick and I had been in another band that had recently broken up and we all wanted to continue playing together. We’ve all been friends with Bob and Nate for a long time and we’d talked to both of them about playing bass, originally. Luckily, Nate was also down to do vocals so we nailed down the lineup and got busy crafting songs.
I think everyone would have a different answer for that, honestly. We don’t aspire to sound like anyone in particular. The main thing for this band in regard to musical direction has been to keep it aggressive, succinct, and intense. We also wanted there to be more of a punk element in the songs, which I think we’ve maintained. If I had to resort to naming names, though, I guess the most important bands would be Motorhead, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, Slayer, Black Flag, Disfear, Metallica, and Poison Idea. We sound nothing like any of those bands in particular, though, which I attribute to striving for some sense of originality (if there is such a thing in punk or metal music in the year 2010).
What are the major, non-musical parts of life that find their way into the Deadmen sound and lyrical content?
Getting fucked over every day by the gamut of conscious existence. FTW is law. Birth, school, work, death. There is nothing else tangible to comprehend and we’re all thrust into the rat race without a choice… “Holy or unholy I’m working till my death – I live and I don’t exist.” The other side of the non-musical influence is having an outlet that isn’t super serious – by that I mean there’s no agenda other than making music together and playing some shows if/when we want to. The lyrics and music are completely serious, but our approach to the band has generally been to let things happen naturally and not set out to play a shitload of shows, etc. and put it in danger of becoming a responsibility or a task.
Possession of the Void is one hell of a package, all around! How did the writing and recording process for the 7” compare to the way the band put last year’s demo together?
Thank you! The writing for the songs on the 7” versus the songs on the demo were more focused in my opinion. The demo songs are the first three songs (in linear order, I believe) that we wrote together. The 7” songs were the next batch, although there’s another new song that didn’t make it onto the record. We also re-recorded the demo material. As for the recording process, it was night and day. I had no idea what the hell I was doing when we recorded the demo and I had extremely limited equipment (hence the noticeable change in quality). It was my first full band project. The demo was recorded using a 2-input recording interface into GarageBand. I had to do a submix of the drums with a 4-channel mixer split into the two inputs when we tracked drums, so there wasn’t any separation or a way to adjust individual levels and EQ without affecting everything. The guitars sounded good, but everything else sounded pretty shitty, in my opinion. Since then I’ve gotten better equipment and learned a lot more, as well as making the switch to Logic to record. The 7” was recorded intermittently over a period of about 2 weeks. I recorded Patrick’s drum tracks in our practice space and then the guitar, bass, and vocal tracks were recorded at Bob’s house. It was laid back and we had a good time. We were well rehearsed, so most of the time spent on tracking was for setup and getting good sounds on the front end. All the guitars were tracked using a friend’s ’78 Marshall JMP 2204 (that sounds like classic ‘brown sound’ on 1,000 pounds of PCP) through my Ampeg V4 and Marshall cabs. Bob finished his bass tracks in 45 minutes. Nate did most of his vocal tracks in one take. Hot fire!
The cover art for Possession of the Void is mind-blowing! What’s the story behind it?
Thanks! The cover art is an idea I had and Dusty Neal completely nailed it. The cover art for old metal records are so great and not many bands pay respect to that stuff unless it’s corny shit like thrash revival. What better visual statement is there to accompany Nate’s lyrics and the songs themselves than a skeletal hand bursting through a burning church, flipping the bird towards the heavens? None. The Ouiji board on the back was Garrett’s idea, which rules. Dusty really came through for us on the artwork and layout. I can’t stress enough just how awesome he is. Everything he does, fine art or tattoos, is golden.
We’d been practicing for awhile, but still hadn’t settled on a name. I was listening to the Dead Boys in my car one day and was thinking about how snotty it sounded calling themselves ‘boys’. Deadmen just sounded cool to me. There are unintentional references, too, like the radio broadcast in ‘Creature with the Atom Brain’ by Roky Erickson & the Aliens (“…Doctor Walker is under the impression that these crimes are being perpetrated by dead men charged with atom rays…”), but I can’t say that the moniker we chose means anything in particular. Everyone was cool with it, so the name stuck.
With members being involved in many other bands, such as Coffinworm, Demiricous and The Dream Is Dead among others, how hard is it to avoid schedule conflicts?
We never have scheduling conflicts because we only practice or play shows if everyone is down. At best we practice once a week and shows have been pretty sporadic. Generally we stick with the once-a-month rule for playing out.
If Deadmen could share the stage with just one of their biggest musical influences, who would it be?
What words would you use to describe the Deadmen sound?
Serrated blade, Phonix, AIDS survival guide, carpet mustache, concert bass, magic JMPson, Pooty Grohl, and BC screeeeechooooraaaawrrr.
What should the unfamiliar expect when they find themselves in the crowd at a Deadmen show for the first time?
Twenty to thirty minutes of punk/metal worship at high volume.
If the members of Deadmen were all in a horror flick, who would be cast as what, and what would the plot consist of?
Probably something ludicrous that wouldn’t even make the Anchor Bay cut. Something along the lines of The Stuff would be perfect. Totally shitty and only entertaining because it’s so bad, except part of it would have to include infected sharks attacking a boat and a cameo by King Diamond (which would be the only redeeming value).
Unfortunately, no. The Possession of the Void 7” looks to be our swan song, as Patrick is moving to Portland, OR at the beginning of August. There’s a possibility that we could do some shows in the future when he’s home, but nothing is for sure. I’ll leave it open-ended…not sure what will happen, but we most likely be done for good after our show on July 31st.
What else does the rest of 2010 have in store for Deadmen?
We’ve got two shows left: The 7” release show on July 25th at the Melody Inn with Sweet Cobra, The Cocaine Wolves, and Chaotic Neutral & then our last show on July 31st at the Casa del Kotex with The Dockers and more.
Anything you want to add, for all the stalkers, fan boys and groupies out there?
We should have the 7” available for mailorder shortly. Check deadmencomesripping.blogspot.com for updates on that and listen to the album cuz it’s bangin’!
Photos: SweetCorrosion Photography