BIGSOUND is a harsh mistress. Thursday afternoon rolled around far too quickly for my liking, however it seems like it had been a long couple of days for DZ Deathrays. Interview after interview, the week of BIGSOUND can take its toll punters, musicians and journalists alike. When Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley walk in, beers in hand, it was time for them to answer some questions that has been on this hardcore DZ fan’s mind for a while. Jake Wilton chats about BIGSOUND, new music and their upcoming Gold Coast gig.
While we’re on the topic, BIGSOUND is where the conversation begins. For 80% of the event’s lineup, playing their designated showcase time is big business as it could land some extra fans or even a potential record deal. For DZ Deathrays, however, it seems like those days are behind them, as now it’s all about whipping out the unreleased music.
“I don’t mind these showcase shows because you can deliberately get in people’s faces and they’ll react to it differently than if you did it at our own headline show,” informs Shane [vocals, guitar].
“It’s a funnier dynamic with these crowds that you can play with,” laughs Simon [drums]. “You get in someone’s face at BIGSOUND and they’re clearly more apprehensive about the performance.”
Having played similar music showcase events around the globe including Austin, Texas’ infamous SXSW and the Great Escape in England, Simon says the comparisons to BIGSOUND are justifiable. While the crowds are not all filled with record producers and A&R staff stroking their beards or having arms folded at the back of the venue, Simon admits that showcases are all about evoking some kind of emotion in the audience.
“You need to approach these shows a little differently to regular tour shows – you need to evoke some kind of emotion. Whether you’re annoying someone, making them feel awkward, or whatever, it’s what you’re there for.”
Having, begrudgingly, missed their performance the previous night, I had to rely on old faithful social media and the general buzz around the Valley for how the set went down. Turns out electro-punk maestro Ecca Vandal appeared on stage to do a Beastie Boys cover which, thankfully, was reprised that same night at DZ Deathrays’ official BIGSOUND showcase.
“We’re going to do some stuff with her in the future,” reveals Simon.
Having already acquired one female voice in the latest batch of new DZ Deathrays music – Bloods’ Sweetie Zamora on new single ‘Blood on my Leather’- perhaps this is an intriguing new lead on what’s to follow.
“I’ve always wanted to do a cover of ‘Sabotage’ so we thought it’d be awesome to have her sing and me party along on the guitar,” tells Simon. “She was into and it was really fun.”
Additional members on stage are no longer a rarity for the Brisbane group as the humble two-piece now has a permanent touring guitarist. Unifying with the band to eliminate the need for any backing track while playing live – even though DZ Deathrays have never resorted to using it – it’s also opened a lot of possibilities in the studio.
DZ wouldn’t be playing these shows nor speaking to me if they hadn’t anything new in the pipeline. At the time of reporting, the duo casually mentioned that a new single would be appearing on digital shelves in ten days’ time with the new album, “still a while away.”
“They are no deadlines,” mentions Shane. “What keeps this band going is doing shows and to do shows you need material. [‘Blood On My Leather’] was released in February we did two US tours and two national tours with Dune Rats and Groovin’ the Moo [behind it]. It proves you don’t need a record to tour.”
‘Blood On My Leather’, a track that came to life through studio sessions, in hindsight, proved to be a big motivator for how the third album is going to sound.
“It’s made me think and work differently for these set of songs,” said Shane. “Simple, but layered.”
Never ones to be pigeonholed by traditional musical genres, DZ Deathrays assemble music outside the square. Making party thrash-rock music but heavily tied to electronic structures such Daft Punk and Justice. DZ Deathrays seem to be syncing their sounds into obscure dance experiments, melded with their trademark cutthroat, crunchy guitar riffs.
Much to the effect of droning, almost repetitive dance music, Shane has been playing with continuous progressions and unconventional song structures; layering more bass lines and guitar effects onto each verse and non-chorus. They even reference Talking Heads at one moment, which I found to be fitting.
It’s an apprehensive time to be a DZ Deathrays fan. With no release date for the untitled, third album in sight but with scattered shows planned until the end of the year, including a Gold Coast stop at Miami Shark Bar, the tension is at a breaking point.
DZ Deathrays plan to enslave Miami Shark Bar Saturday 24 September with locals Von Villains, Yes Sir Noceur, Trapdoor and GD FRNDS DJs.