While 2008 and part of 2009 may have seemed like a down time for Dead to Me, nothing could be further from the truth. In a flurry of activity the band reorganized the structure of the band (with the temporary hiatus of co-frontman Jack Dalrymple), found a new vocalist in guitar player Nathan Grice, wrote and recorded a new album and even started another band, Bad Friends. Somewhere amid the activity Dante 3000 found a chance to talk to the band about the departure of Jack, the new album and even take some time to be insulted by Chicken. (The audio of the interview can be heard in its entirety at Sound Scene Revolution).
We're hanging out here in the practice space of Dead to Me, if we can just go around and have everyone say who you are and what you do in the band. Ian: Hey, what's up? My name's Ian and I play drums.
Nathan: I'm Nathan Grice and I play guitar and sing.
Chicken: I'm Chicken, I play the bass and "sing"
You used the finger quotes on that. Chicken: Yeah, and then I realized no one can see my finger quotes.
We'll include it. We have to express the intention. So for about the last year or so you guys have been a little bit dormant, what have you been up to in that time? Chicken: Uhmm…That's a good question…
Nathan: Practicing every day!
Chicken: Yeah, from where you guys are sitting we've been dormant but from where we're sitting we've been busier than we've been for a real long time. It's been awesome. We've been practicing a ton and writing a bunch and obviously there's a lot of stuff to figure all out. So we figured that out and did what we could do, which is come here and practice all the time. That's what we've been doing. It's been really fun for me, like it's been awesome to play a ton and I feel like a happy kid again, playing this much music. We've basically been writing and stuff.
Nathan: Not to mention, life throws you some curve balls and they all happen real rapidly.
Chicken: Just about everything that could happen did. (laughs)You name it, its been rough.
I know one thing people will want to know about is, Jack right now is taking time out to be a father. Was that a hard choice for you guys to move on with that or would he have wanted that? Chicken: He would never take us not playing. That was never an option. There's very few dudes that I realistically have a fear of physical violence from and he's one of them, for sure. Because he can…He's like our big brother and sometimes your big brother has to kick your ass and that's all there is to it. He definitely made it very clear to me that not playing anymore was not even an option. That Dead to Me had to be a band forever and always and that he's going to be around when he can be around. Right now it's an obvious choice for him and from where we're all sitting. Again I know there's people that aren't in the band and don't live in the same city as us but to us it's all been relatively normal, as far as how that type of situation can go. One of our best friends is having a kid and he's just going to live with his family and do that for a while and it's just like, "Cool, go do your thing" and he definitely wants us to keep doing our thing. All three of us would get a punch in the face from Jack Dalrymple If we tried to not be in Dead to Me, that's for sure.
I'm sure that'd be interesting to see. Chicken: (Laughs) I'm sure there's a lot of people who'd like to see that.
He doesn't strike me as the violent type but I don't know. Nathan: I think I've maybe seen that. (laughs)
Chicken: Yeah, he's gotta either really, really, really, really hate you or like love you enough to kick your ass. And I'd to say that each one of us in this band he likes well enough to break our nose. (laughs) You know what I mean? If that's what it came down to.
So you've written and record the new album and that's slated for October release? Chicken: Yeah
How was the recording process going into that? I know [Nathan] wrote most of the new songs. Nathan: I wrote a few of them.
A few? I don't know the blog post said you wrote a lot of them. Chicken: It did. It said, "a lot" and then you said "most". You come into my practice space and twist my words!
After I said I wasn't going to put words in your mouth (note: a pre-interview statement). Chicken: After he said that!
Ian: He's exploiting us.
Chicken: This guys got a fucking easy job he comes out here and lies to punk bands. Ugh! You got to get up really early to get on by Dead to Me. (laughs) Like yesterday early.
I was not up yesterday so… Chicken: Clearly. Clearly, you weren't.
So the new album, the writing process. Chicken: [Nathan] did write a lot of the songs.
Nathan: And they were like the first songs that I've written. I've never written for a band I've never sang for a band. I've played in a shit ton of bands but never been a singer or writing songs for the band to make it into a band song or whatever. I've never done it.
Were you guys all working on songs collectively one day or did you just happen to have some that you brought in? Nathan: I feel that it was more like, Jack was doing his thing and we were all doing normal jobs but we were all miserable doing normal things like that. So we just started going to practice every day and that started to evolve.
Chicken: It was just what dudes in bands do, but he did it was awesome. You know what I mean? You're in a band together, dude's gotta come up with songs and he came up with a lot of fucking awesome songs. It just hit right when it should.
Nathan: I felt like I was finally put in a position, in my own personal area playing music, where I had to do it. I had to do something. Like if I wasn't going to do it, it was on two dudes.
So you had to carry the weight. Nathan: Yeah, I had to and I couldn't be more happy that I had to.
Ian: Yeah, and I don't write anything. I write drum parts for songs.
Chicken: But sometimes, dudes like us, that's what it takes. If that's what it took that's what it fucking took and I couldn't be happier. I'm the luckiest kid ever. As soon as the one guy in my band, who was like my favorite singer, bailed and then I get this kid. It's fucking amazing. I'm lucky as shit.
Nathan: Well, I thank my bandmates for giving me the opportunity to even try.
Is it nerve racking at all, this being the first release that you three will have out? I mean, obviously, there will be people that, regardless of how good it is, will be like, "I liked it better when that other guy was in the band". Nathan: That's just inevitable, your know?
Chicken: I don't know, if we honestly cared…(laughs)
Nathan: I don't want to necessarily bum anyone out but at the same time, if that's the only reason they're not going to want to like it then, whatever.
Ian: Plus, we're liked stoked that it's all of our hard work.
Nathan: Yeah. My grandmother liked one of our songs and that's the first time I've been in a band where my grandmother has liked anything we've done. That might make people think it's weird that my grandmother liked the song…
Chicken: Naw, it's a good song.
Nathan: (laughs) that just made me happy that I did something that my grandmother likes. So if someone doesn't like it for whatever reason, that's fine.
How many songs do you demo for your grandmother? Chicken: Actually, his grandmother is a total punk. She has a leather jacket and a bihawk and everything. (laughs)
Nathan: It's true, she invented it actually.
So the estimated release is October and will that becoming out on Fat Wreck Chords again? Nathan: Yeah yeah, that'll be on Fat Wreck Chords.
Ian: On Fat, in time for Fest and Halloween.
Chicken: Yeah, our favorite weekend of the year, as a band, for sure.
Nathan: I can't wait.
You guys are playing this year, it's all set and everything? Chicken: Yeah. Very excited.
Ian: Our other band, Bad Friends, is playing too.
So you guys are going to be playing double duty on that? Chicken: No, each band is only going to play one show. (laughs)
You know, there's a whole thought processes and pattern to this. So you don't know when the set times are or anything? Ian: Nope
Well…Uhm…[Chicken] you threw the whole interview off, I lost my train of thought. I should know better by now, I've talked with you enough. Chicken: (laughs) You'd think. No, I don't even know if The Fest has our set times yet for the Dead to Me show. The Bad Friends show I've got some information about but honestly, I don't know enough to talk about it.
But you're hoping their not at the same time. Chicken: I think Tony, if he could figure it out with all the other 600 bands he'll probably get a way for our two bands not to have the same set times and worst case, I got two fucking hands my man, okay? (laughs) I'll do 'em [both] at once.
Anyone you're excited to see, that you know is playing this year? Chicken: I mean everybody, it's always so much fun.
Nathan: I know some.
Chicken: Do it!
Nathan: to be honest, I'm not exactly positive they're playing but I'm pretty sure they are. There's this band called Pygmy Lush, they're from Virginia. They are absolutely incredible. My boy, Josh Small, I'm pretty sure he's going to be playing. My boy, Josh Small, I'm pretty sure he's going to be playing. Maybe my friend Liza Kate, she may be playing also.
Ian: The Russian Circles
Nathan: I mean there's a shit ton of bands.
Ian: I think Snuff.
Yeah, Snuff just got confirmed. Chicken: Snuff?!
Chicken: Cancel [the show], Snuffs in town! That fucking rules.
Ian: I know, that's fucking awesome. Doesn't the drummer sing for that band.
Nathan: I went to a weird club in Japan with that guy.
You went to Japan with the singer from Snuff? Nathan: Well he was there. He was playing with the Toy Dolls at the time.
Ian: Who else is playing? Strike Anywhere.
You ended up having to cancel out last year, right? Because it was right as Jack was having his kid. Chicken: Yeah it was, right around the delivery date for the baby. It was suspect and we didn't want to…I mean he didn't want to end up in a spot where he was out there and then all, "Huck, sorry I missed your birth". (laughs)
Ian: I was playing The Fest 7
Chicken: But D4 killed it! (laughs) You know what I mean?
Nathan: I crowd surfed for you.
Chicken: Yeah, that was a bummer. We hate saying we're going to do something and then not doing it. And that was a bummer for sure and it was torture getting text messages from friends telling us what they were up to. Ian went, he had a good time. He said, "Fuck Dead to me, I'm going". (laughs) Ian: I had a good ol' time. I got stuck in an elevator with about 60 kids.
Oh, you were there that night? Ian: I pretty much had a panic attack. It's on tape, it's horrible. (laughs)
Chicken: It's on tape, in the elevator. It's a running video that says, "incase of emergency, do not do this". (laughs)
Ian: Someone was recording from the hallway outside and you can just hear me going, "oh fuck! You gotta get me outta here". Just totally freaking out. Then the doors open and I just push everyone out of the way.
There's a pregnant woman and you push here out of the way. Chicken: Beat it!
Ian: It's like when there's a fire in the house on Seinfeld and George Costanzia knocks all the kids out of the way just to get out.
That was the Sunday night when like Var [of No Idea] and Virgil of Suburban Home and everyone and their mother was in that elevator? Ian: Yeah it was pretty bad. There's probably like triple the amount of beers as there were people. Which was good, in case we were stuck in there for a while.
Chicken: That's the beer to person ratio you want.
Going back to the music, a lot of your stuff has had a duality of the personal history that you've had and the politics that you have. They over lap on occasion, but they tend to keep separate, how has that been for the new album? Chicken: Uhm..it's changed a little bit because, I've become interested in making the political songs personal, like personal stories. Like there's some stuff on the new record about a team of German physicists and they had some help from an Austrian physicists, working with nuclear fission and stuff like that. It's definitely a political song, if you know about it and you know about stuff like that but it's personal songs about relationships. Like their relationship with each other and ultimately what physicist chose their science and which physicist chose love and not wanting to be a part of building bombs that will kill millions of people. I was interested in stuff like that. There's also a song about Charles Darwin and some native folks, that he was stuck on a boat with while he was sailing around the world trying to figure some stuff out. I've become fascinated with how personal history is. Behind every historical story and lesson we're taught is always a personal story and people are people and they do what they do for reasons. It's really interesting for me to read about them and try to find out why they do what they do. So that showed up a lot on this record.
Look at you being all well read and shit. Ian: He reads a lot.
Chicken: It's called being unemployed. (laughs) I've been unemployed so I've just been reading.
It seems to have worked out well. Chicken: Yeah, it helps with lyrical content, that's for sure.
Nathan: Keeps the brain moving.
Chicken: Yeah, it keeps the brain working but there's always going to be personal stuff on [the album] too. Like, Nathan has this really rad way of writing personal lyrics that are…A lot of my favorite authors and lyricists, I say this all the time, but they have a way of wrapping really complex ideas up and hitting it with just one or two sentences. Nathan does that and I love the way he does that. He'll have a really pretty song but it's just weird, fucked up lyrics. It's awesome, it just plays really well together.
Nathan: Thank you, Chicken.
Chicken: I love his songs and I'm really stoked to have them on the record. And I'm a stickler for lyrics. I hate shitty lyrics. There's so many bands that dudes are listening to out there that just have terrible lyrics. I'm not saying that ours are rad or good or anything but I'm proud of them and I'm happy, that [Nathan] writes awesome lyrics.
Nathan: Chicken and I force each other to be as good as we can try to be. So that's always nice to have that person.
Chicken: Yeah, really the only people I want to have be sure they like the song are Ian and Nathan. That's it. If it passes that test, I'm happy at the end of the day. Those are the dudes in my band and a band is about playing together and having fun and shit. If those guys love it, it means it's something meaningful when we play it, then fuck that's it. It's cool.
Touching on that, there were a few referenced bands, I suppose, in the blog post, when you were talking about the new album. You make reference to bands who idolize Bruce Springsteen. Chicken: Yeah.
Nathan: That's a lot of bands.
Chicken: That's the thing, is that it is a lot of bands.
Well, a lot of people took it super personal. Chicken: I guess so. I was surprised. I mean, that's their own guilty conscience, I guess.
Nathan: I love Bruce Springsteen.
Ian: Yeah, me an Nathan saw him.
Nathan: Me and Ian totally saw Bruce.
Chicken: Nathan and Ian like him. I totally missed the whole Bruce Springsteen boat.
Nathan: My friend Eric Kane, the drummer for Strike Anywhere, is the one who got me into them. He's been obsessed with him since I've known him and I've known him for a long time.
So the next time you say, "punk bands need to stop listening to Bruce Springsteen"… Chicken: No, they don't need to quit listening to him, they need to quit ripping him off.
Nathan: Quit ruining him, for me.
Chicken: Like quit ruining it for people who actually like his music.
Nathan: I really love Bruce Springsteen.
Chicken: It's just hard to explain.
I'm just here to give you a platform. Nathan: I just don't even know what bands you're talking about.
Chicken: Yeah, we were talking about band S . Definitely, like multiple bands. I'm serious, I feel like it's going around. It's always something though man and I like to talk shit. You know that. The last time when [Cuban Ballerina] came out I was talking shit on kids with myspace haircuts and screamo bands and shit. I'm always going to be talking a little bit of shit because it's fun and when I was a kid reading Maximum Rock 'N Roll, that's what bands did. Ben Weasel had a column and it was like a dress code. It was like, "Punks wear white high tops", like nobody does that anymore. Someone's got to stir this shit up, it gets stale. Not like I'm edgy or anything like that. It just shouldn't be such a surprise that bands take the piss out of each other every once and a while and talk shit.
Nathan: Plus everyone is so worried about being nice to each other.
Chicken: I have no reason to be nice to anyone. I'm not competing against anyone. Like I said, I got Ian and Nathan and that's all I need.
While we're on that, has there ever been anything you've said that has just gotten someone super pissed? Ian: Remember that one time with that kid in Wisconsin?
Chicken: Yeah, I got punched! I got socked in the face.
Ian: The kid just came up and touched him on the shoulder and Chicken turns around and the kid just punches him in the face and the kid just runs. It became this huge blowout out front and they're like, "please keep it down because of the neighbors". Because the kid had a rat tail and Chicken was basically saying, "That's fucking awesome that you've got a rat tail". Kid didn't get it. He thought Chicken was talking shit and it just ruined his night. After the show…
Chicken: Yeah, I was listening to fucking Riverboat [Gamblers] and I look at him and we had like a moment, like, "Yeah dude Riverboat! Mike, running fucking crazy, rawr! It's awesome" and then like I look forward and I just feel a tap on my shoulder. Then I'm that guy at the show, after at the party with a fucking bag of peas on his face and shit. "Oh hey guys. Oh yeah, this records cool…Yeah cool show, uh fuck me…", ya know? It's just a bummer but sometimes you talk some shit and a dude will fucking…
Ian: He was like 16.
Chicken: He was young.
And just because you mentioned his rat tail? Didn't be see… Chicken: I think I may have come on to him and that's where the anger came from. I tend to forget we were in Wisconsin.
Sound Guy Nariman: I'd get pretty pissed if someone came on me. (laughter erupts)
So there's no way to follow that, so I'll give you a chance, is there anything you want to plug anything you want to say? This is the open forum section. Nathan: Is there anything I want to plug? You could ask me that at any other time of the day and I'd have an answer.
Ian: We're playing tomorrow in Half Moon Bay.
Chicken: That's right, we are playing tomorrow!
That's right you're playing sort of like a fest. Chicken: If by that you mean Kind of like A Fest, then yes.
Whatever, it's in Half Moon Bay. The details aren't specific. Chicken: (laughs) Oh man, you just lost both of your fans. Where do you go, to shows at Slims and shit?
I grew up in Half Moon Bay. Nathan: Oh no shit, you were a little uneducated on that one, Chicken. Chicken: He grew up there! I was going to give him like the whole big city like, "where do you go to shows, Slims, fancy boy? Why don't you come to the show in Half Moon Bay".
We didn't have much of a DIY scene when I was there. Chicken: That's funny because you say a DIY scene and the scene stands for "yourself". You were like, "no one else was doing a DIY scene". You were looking for a DIT scene, and everyone else was into the DIY scene. You were like, "Where's a good DIT scene. I need some 'Do it Themselves'. I need a bunch of fuckers who do it themselves". It's do it yourself.
I'm here, I'm doing this myself. Actually you guys are just doing most of the work, I'm just here. Chicken: I'm glad you're here. I like your interviews, they're funny man.
Yeah I can tell. With the level of reverence I'm getting. Chicken: That's no joke. Like I said, you've earned our disrespect.