The full audio of the interview, which includes segments not published here, along with songs from Dead to Me's Fat Wreck Chords debut Cuban Ballerina, can be found at Sound Scene Revolution. In addition the podcast is running a contest to win a copy of the album, details are listed on the site.
Punknews.org will be streaming Cuban Ballerina in anticipation of its release, while the band has a free in-store performance scheduled for next Tuesday at Amoeba Records in San Francisco.
If we could just start off, introduce yourself, what you do in the band and, I don't know, what you do in your free time.
Chicken: My name is chicken and I play bass guitar and help sing for the band Dead to Me. In my free time I enjoy such activities such as…Let's see, what can I say that my mom won't cry herself to sleep about? I like to ride bikes, throw and attend vegan bar-b-que's and I think that's about it that's PG. The rest is just nasty.
Ian: Why do you got to keep it PG?
Chicken: It's just too out of control.
I think I impregnated one of the members of Strike Anywhere.
Ian: I got to keep my PG rate as well then? My name's Ian Anderson and I play drums in Dead to Me.
Chicken: Why don't you just give them your social security [number] while you're at it? You notice I didn't clear the last name? Do you know how many freaks and perverts are listening to this right now, just dying to get a hold of your personal information? Wow, way to blow it already.
Ian: Let's see…In my free time I like to ride bikes as well. Most things vegan can entertain me. Uhm…Yeah, that's about it.
Well other than Chicken berating you for the first question everything is going good so far.
Ian: That's not going to stop.
Chicken: No, we've only just begun.
Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Chicken: Let's see. Dead to Me started in, I would say, late 2003 but that was with some different members and stuff. I would say this line up, the actual, official Dead to Me line up has being going for what? Two years?
Ian: Almost two years.
Chicken: Almost two years coming up on. We started playing together, me and Brandon from One Man Army, started playing together when I got out of rehab and I was looking for some stuff to do to stay out of trouble. So we started playing together and writing some songs and [Brandon] was like, "I know this guy Jack I used to play in a band with" and I was like, "Yeah, I heard of that guy". Then he was like, "Why don't I see if he wants to play?". So then Jack started to come to practices.
It was really just something to do to hang out and play music together and fuck around and it kind of evolved into the, you know, three person fan base that we have now. Two of which are in the room. So far so good man.
So this is your first official release coming up, right?
That's got to be kind of intimidating your first real release being on such a large scale as Fat.
Chicken: Totally. Well for Jack and Brandon they've had releases on Adeline and BYO, so I think to them it…I don't know if intimidated is the right word for it, we're just really excited and obviously honored to be on Fat. Fat is a very respectable label and they treat their bands well. You ask any band that's ever been on Fat and they'd have nothing but nice things to say about Fat Wreck Chords. And, we're no different. Everyone has been really nice here and really really helped us out a lot.
Now you mention that Jack and Brandon were previously in One Man Army and you're currently in Western Addiction, who do you feel gets more fans based on previous bands? Do you have more One Man Army fans or Western Addiction fans?
Chicken: Yeah. (Laughs) I think it's pretty safe to say. No disrespect to my fellow comrades over at Western Addiction headquarters but come on. Let's get fucking serious here. There's a lot more people that are paying attention to us because of One Man Army as opposed to the three kids that came out to our North Carolina show that Western Addiction played. I don't know, wouldn't you agree?
Ian: Yeah, I would say One Man Army definitely has a bigger fan base.
Chicken: That doesn't necessarily mean anything because there are lots of bands that are fucking huge but that doesn't mean you're good, per say. I personally love One Man Army and I think they're great but there's no correlation between number of fans and if you're any good. We definitely have to tell ourselves that everyday at Western Addiction, because if we believed otherwise we'd be holding each other in tears, I think. Because, I mean, you've heard that band.
And if you've seen us live, holy crap man! That's a whole 'nother beast, that's all I'm going to say.
You haven't witnessed a pit till you've been in the middle of a spin kick in zero gravity. You know what I'm saying? Picking up change? Any asshole can fucking pick up change on planet Earth but when you're doing that shit in zero gravity, that's impressive.
I'm just thinking of all four members of Western Addiction holding each other and it's terrifying.
Chicken: It's definitely romantic man. It's a real special time.
Have you guys played a lot live as Dead to Me?
Chicken: Yeah, I think we've done like six world tours now. We actually toured the Moon once. Which was fucking amazing.
Ian: The kids are out of control.
Chicken: The Moon Pit. You haven't witnessed a pit till you've been in the middle of a spin kick in zero gravity. You know what I'm saying? Picking up change? Any asshole can fucking pick up change on planet Earth but when you're doing that shit in zero gravity, that's impressive.
Ian: It's a whole different level.
Chicken: It's a whole 'nother fucking level. Naw, we've played some shows around. We've played local stuff and done a couple of West Coast trips with Strike Anywhere for….Fuck what seemed like (laughing) an exhausting two days. Which was really trying on the band and on the Strike Anywhere band too. But we forged through it.
Friends were made. I think I impregnated one of the members of Strike Anywhere on that tour, which would defy most peoples conceptions of what is possible in nature. But, when a love is that strong, anything is possible. You know what I'm saying?
I really don't want to say that I do. Even if I do, I'm not sure I should say so.
Chicken: Yeah, we've done some stuff. We love playing live but it doesn't really make a lot of sense to go out when you don't have a release because you don't have anything to share with the kids or leave them with. We'll be hitting it pretty hard as soon as this record comes out. We plan on doing a bunch of touring this Fall, late summer, fall, winter. Any kind of equinox time, solstice dates, things like that. We'll be hitting it hard.
Did you just create time periods and seasons for you to play in?
Chicken: That's really how far reaching this band is. We don't let things like science and reality hold us back from doing anything.
Let's talk about the album you guys have put together.
So you and Jack are the primary singers on the album. Was that difficult to decide who sang which songs or did it work out pretty evenly?
Chicken: For me, I love listening to Jack sing. He's my favorite fucking singer and I love the way that guy sings. If it was up to me that guy would be singing everything. But, sometimes it's just easier when the guy who wrote the part or the melody sings it. There's some stuff that I wanted to say and some stuff that I just feel would make more sense if it's coming from me and my perspective. Jack is the most humble guy on Earth and neither one of us have any kind of ego about it at all. It's just whatever sounds better. We'll try it bother ways and whatever sounds better. We're pretty agreeable. It's obvious that some parts sound better when a certain person sings it. I personally think it always sounds better when Jack sings it but that's just me. I'm just a Jack fan.
He's such a talented dude. He's always like, "what if I try this thing here" and he'll come up with this amazing melody. I'm just like, "Uhm…Yeah, I think that's going to work". I'm into that. So it's never like a problem where one guy is butt hurt about getting to sing a part or something like that.
Did you guys share song-writing responsibilities or how did that come out?
Chicken: Uhm…Yeah. You know there are some songs that Jack would have like 99% done and he'd bring it in and me and Ian would just tweak it like a little bit and we'd go with that and vice versa. We just like writing as a band because it works better. Me, Jack, Ian and Brandon have always worked really well together, writing wise. There's no egos, no one cares. Like if I bring a song, and it sucks, and they tell me, I don't care. Same thing with Jack, if he brings in a part and we're like, "Eh, not really feeling that", he doesn't care. We just like to go play music and hang out and however it works out is what we like to listen to as a band.
I notice that no matter who's sing the album flows really well. Was it hard to do that with two singers and everyone contributing?
Chicken: Uhm, no. We have a really spiritual, kind of magical connection and we just kind of…
Chicken: Yeah, we do magic. It's just easy. Whatever's fun. Like if we're at practice and something is fun for us we're like, "That's it, let's keep it. That's fun, let's do it". It's never really that hard or an argument. We never argue about what parts should be where or whatever. We just try shit out and work it out.
Ian: We just know.
Chicken: Yeah, we just know. When it's magic you just know.
Ian: Light the candles, light a little incense.
Chicken: Yeah we light some candles and some incense at practice
Ian: It just flows.
Chicken: We let our creative energy come though us and channel some of the rock gods.
Ian: Try not to fight it.
Chicken: Yeah, because I'm just a receiver really. (laughing) I'm just a reflection really. Who am I to own the notes. You know? Who am I to say that I own music or that I created something? Really I'm just a vehicle for music. Think about it, really think about it.
Chicken: I don't know. We're just dudes who go out and fucking play guitar together. Like, whatever happens happens. It's funny, you hear interviews with dudes and they're like, "Our song writing process is really intensive and we sit there and hammer shit out". It's like "dude, fuck you." You and your friends all hang out and you all play stupid fancy guitars and you write songs together. That's just how it is and for some people it works and for some people it doesn't. If we're writing a song and it's not really coming together we just ditch it and go to another one where shit just comes together better. As long as we're having fun that's all I worry about.
Ian: I think it helps that Chicken and I, especially, grew up listening to a lot of the same bands and we definitely have a similar ear. So I think we know what our influences are and the sound we're kind of going for
You hear interviews with dudes and they're like: "Our song writing process is really intensive and we sit there and hammer shit out". It's like "dude, fuck you." You and your friends all hang out and you all play stupid fancy guitars and you write songs together.
Were you two close growing up or did Chicken call you out of the blue one day?
Ian: No, no. I've actually known him all my life.
Chicken: Ever since he was a little guy. No, we've always been real close. It's really weird because we've always played instruments too. Like as long as I've been in punk rock I've been playing instruments and stuff, which is coming up on six months now. (laughs) We grew up listening to a lot of the same bands but for some reason we were always in different bands. Finally, Dead to Me was looking for another drummer and I was like, "Dude, why don't I play with my cousin?". Because he's like my best friend, we're more like brothers than anything. So, it just made sense for us to be in the band together.
Lucky for you that your cousin's a drummer.
Chicken: And even luckier for him he has a cousin who is an amazing, amazing bass player.
Chicken: Not me. Our other cousin Stevie. Stevie is the shit. He's a phenomenal bass player.
You're just riding his coattails?
Chicken: Basically. We're just waiting till we can kick out Jack and get old Stevie in the mix.
Ian: He basically wrote the record.
Chicken: Yeah, old Stevie wrote this fucking record.
Speaking about the record you seem to reference your stay in rehab at least a couple of times. Was that hard to write about or did it just feel like something you had to express?
Chicken: It wasn't really hard to write about. Any lyrics that I write, personally, I never think about what I want to write about before I write it. I'm usually just writing or have stuff that just works with music. So it made sense to me, it was where I was at when I wrote a lot of the songs on this record. I was definitely in a space of looking back on all that shit and wreckage that I had called and all that stuff. It just made sense, it was where I was at when I wrote a lot of those songs. It's not really hard for me to sing about, it is what it is. I went through it and that's that.
One of the tracks that stands out is "Something New" (which references suicide), is that about anyone in particular or is it just a general song?
Chicken: Yeah, it's about two people in specific. The first verse is about our guitar player Brandon, when he was in a tough spot one time. And the second verse is about someone and I'd rather not say. They don't know it's about them and I think they'd be pretty bummed. And we're not here to bum anyone out, this is supposed to be fun man. In fact, I'm going to smoke some fucking weed, right now! Fuck being sober.
What if I just relapsed in the middle of an interview? Over three years sober; "So why'd you relapse?" "I was being interviewed and I just had to smoke some weed."
It's a hard interview.
Chicken: Even more impressive than relapsing during an interview is like if I relapsed on weed. How horrible. Like fucking bong rips or something. Just like, "Woah dude, I totally took some rips now I'm back to day one dude. Less than 24 hours sober". Oh god that would fucking suck. No offense to anyone out there who has relapsed over weed but if you're going to relapse, I say, go fucking big. That's my personal opinion.
So if you ever relapse it won't be discreet, like no one will wonder.
Chicken: No no no, I've got big plans. I will never relapse, you're not really supposed to say that. I don't ever want to relapse, I'll say that. But, if I do it's definitely going to be a hotel room with large amounts of drugs. Hookers, maybe. Just kind of one last blaze of fucking glory type of deal.
Ian: But that's not going to happen.
Chicken: Not going to happen.
Sound Guy Nariman: Chris Farley style?
Chicken: Like full on Chris Farley style. Like I'm going to put my dick in a hot dog bun and tell people and be like, "Hey look at the hot dog"! You ever hear about that?
I have no idea what that is but…
Chicken: Oh no, Chris Farley was all fucked up one time on Sunset Boulevard or something and he put his dick in between a hot dog bun and he was like showing it to people like, "Hey you want a hot dog?". They would definitely have to get the foot long bun, you know what I'm saying? Just so you could put five of my penises in it. That'd be awesome.
You want the extra room for your penis.
Chicken: Exactly. You'd have to get the foot long bun just so my ding-dong would have nine extra inches of breathing room. Just so the little guy could be comfy in there.
Ian: If you want to put condiments on it, you're gonna want to leave some extra room.
Chicken: Yeah, some relish. Some man-kraut, as it were.
One of the things that really jumped out in the liner notes is you have a quote from Eldridge Clever…
Chicken: Shit, was that Eldridge Clever? It was supposed to be Ward Clever. (laughs) They totally fucked that up. It was supposed to be from Leave it to Beaver. What happened? I haven't even seen our artwork yet (laughs). Naw, that's Eldridge Clever man.
It's really easy to get overwhelmed and distracted from your dreams and I've always held great admiration for the people that can hold on to them.Did one person select that quote, how did it come about?
Chicken: Yeah, I chose that. He wrote a book called Soul on Ice and in one of the first couple of chapters he…there's an entry in there and he talks about his situation and where he's at and that was something the he wrote that I just totally felt. It spoke to me man (laughs). I liked it, I thought it was really cool, because I feel a lot of the time that it's not really smiled upon in our society to be a dreamer or have your head in the clouds or to go for those things that are unreachable, like happiness.
Ian: or peace.
Chicken: Yeah, or peace or creative fulfillment. These are things that are only supposed to be for "these crazy dreamers", but I've always respected people that have had those dreams and lived for them and held on to them despite everything. It's really easy to get overwhelmed and distracted from your dreams and I've always held great admiration for the people that can hold on to them. [Eldridge Clever] was in prison when he wrote and if he can write that I think it speaks to the power of…the power of dreams, man. (laughs) Did I just say "the power of dreams" in an interview? Wow! Who am I?