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).
Weâre 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, whatâs up? My nameâs Ian and I play drums.
Nathan: Iâm Nathan Grice and I play guitar and sing.
Chicken: Iâm 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.
Weâll 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: Uhmmâ¦Thatâs a good questionâ¦
Nathan: Practicing every day!
Chicken: Yeah, from where you guys are sitting weâve been dormant but from where weâre sitting weâve been busier than weâve been for a real long time. Itâs been awesome. Weâve been practicing a ton and writing a bunch and obviously thereâs 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. Thatâs what weâve been doing. Itâs been really fun for me, like itâs been awesome to play a ton and I feel like a happy kid again, playing this much music. Weâve 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. Thereâs very few dudes that I realistically have a fear of physical violence from and heâs one of them, for sure. Because he canâ¦Heâs like our big brother and sometimes your big brother has to kick your ass and thatâs 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 heâs going to be around when he can be around. Right now itâs an obvious choice for him and from where weâre all sitting. Again I know thereâs people that arenât in the band and donât live in the same city as us but to us itâs all been relatively normal, as far as how that type of situation can go. One of our best friends is having a kid and heâs just going to live with his family and do that for a while and itâs 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, thatâs for sure.
Iâm sure thatâd be interesting to see. Chicken: (Laughs) Iâm sure thereâs a lot of people whoâd like to see that.
He doesnât strike me as the violent type but I donât know. Nathan: I think Iâve maybe seen that. (laughs)
Chicken: Yeah, heâs gotta either really, really, really, really hate you or like love you enough to kick your ass. And Iâd 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 thatâs what it came down to.
So youâve written and record the new album and thatâs 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 donât 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 wasnât going to put words in your mouth (note: a pre-interview statement). Chicken: After he said that!
Ian: Heâs 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 soâ¦ Chicken: Clearly. Clearly, you werenât.
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 Iâve written. Iâve never written for a band Iâve never sang for a band. Iâve 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. Iâve 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? Youâre in a band together, dudeâs 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 wasnât going to do it, it was on two dudes.
So you had to carry the weight. Nathan: Yeah, I had to and I couldnât be more happy that I had to.
Ian: Yeah, and I donât write anything. I write drum parts for songs.
Chicken: But sometimes, dudes like us, thatâs what it takes. If thatâs what it took thatâs what it fucking took and I couldnât be happier. Iâm 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. Itâs fucking amazing. Iâm 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: Thatâs just inevitable, your know?
Chicken: I donât know, if we honestly caredâ¦(laughs)
Nathan: I donât want to necessarily bum anyone out but at the same time, if thatâs the only reason theyâre not going to want to like it then, whatever.
Ian: Plus, weâre liked stoked that itâs all of our hard work.
Nathan: Yeah. My grandmother liked one of our songs and thatâs the first time Iâve been in a band where my grandmother has liked anything weâve done. That might make people think itâs weird that my grandmother liked the songâ¦
Chicken: Naw, itâs a good song.
Nathan: (laughs) that just made me happy that I did something that my grandmother likes. So if someone doesnât like it for whatever reason, thatâs 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: Itâs true, she invented it actually.
So the estimated release is October and will that becoming out on Fat Wreck Chords again? Nathan: Yeah yeah, thatâll 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 canât wait.
You guys are playing this year, itâs 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, thereâs a whole thought processes and pattern to this. So you donât know when the set times are or anything? Ian: Nope
Wellâ¦Uhm…[Chicken] you threw the whole interview off, I lost my train of thought. I should know better by now, Iâve talked with you enough. Chicken: (laughs) Youâd think. No, I donât even know if The Fest has our set times yet for the Dead to Me show. The Bad Friends show Iâve got some information about but honestly, I donât know enough to talk about it.
But youâre hoping their not at the same time. Chicken: I think Tony, if he could figure it out with all the other 600 bands heâll 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) Iâll do âem [both] at once.
Anyone youâre excited to see, that you know is playing this year? Chicken: I mean everybody, itâs always so much fun.
Nathan: I know some.
Chicken: Do it!
Nathan: to be honest, Iâm not exactly positive theyâre playing but Iâm pretty sure they are. Thereâs this band called Pygmy Lush, theyâre from Virginia. They are absolutely incredible. My boy, Josh Small, Iâm pretty sure heâs going to be playing. My boy, Josh Small, Iâm pretty sure heâs going to be playing. Maybe my friend Liza Kate, she may be playing also.
Ian: The Russian Circles
Nathan: I mean thereâs 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, thatâs fucking awesome. Doesnât 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 didnât want toâ¦I mean he didnât 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 weâre 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, Iâm going". (laughs) Ian: I had a good olâ 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. Itâs on tape, itâs horrible. (laughs)
Chicken: Itâs on tape, in the elevator. Itâs 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.
Thereâs a pregnant woman and you push here out of the way. Chicken: Beat it!
Ian: Itâs like when thereâs 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. Thereâs 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: Thatâs 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 youâve 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..itâs changed a little bit because, Iâve become interested in making the political songs personal, like personal stories. Like thereâs 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. Itâs definitely a political song, if you know about it and you know about stuff like that but itâs 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. Thereâs 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. Iâve become fascinated with how personal history is. Behind every historical story and lesson weâre taught is always a personal story and people are people and they do what they do for reasons. Itâs 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: Itâs called being unemployed. (laughs) Iâve been unemployed so Iâve just been reading.
It seems to have worked out well. Chicken: Yeah, it helps with lyrical content, thatâs for sure.
Nathan: Keeps the brain moving.
Chicken: Yeah, it keeps the brain working but thereâs always going to be personal stuff on [the album] too. Like, Nathan has this really rad way of writing personal lyrics that areâ¦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. Heâll have a really pretty song but itâs just weird, fucked up lyrics. Itâs awesome, it just plays really well together.
Nathan: Thank you, Chicken.
Chicken: I love his songs and Iâm really stoked to have them on the record. And Iâm a stickler for lyrics. I hate shitty lyrics. Thereâs so many bands that dudes are listening to out there that just have terrible lyrics. Iâm not saying that ours are rad or good or anything but Iâm proud of them and Iâm happy, that [Nathan] writes awesome lyrics.
Nathan: Chicken and I force each other to be as good as we can try to be. So thatâs 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. Thatâs it. If it passes that test, Iâm 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 itâs something meaningful when we play it, then fuck thatâs it. Itâs 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: Thatâs a lot of bands.
Chicken: Thatâs 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, thatâs 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. Heâs been obsessed with him since Iâve known him and Iâve known him for a long time.
So the next time you say, "punk bands need to stop listening to Bruce Springsteen"â¦ Chicken: No, they donât 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: Itâs just hard to explain.
Iâm just here to give you a platform. Nathan: I just donât even know what bands youâre talking about.
Chicken: Yeah, we were talking about bandS. Definitely, like multiple bands. Iâm serious, I feel like itâs going around. Itâs 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. Iâm always going to be talking a little bit of shit because itâs fun and when I was a kid reading Maximum Rock âN Roll, thatâs 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. Someoneâs got to stir this shit up, it gets stale. Not like Iâm edgy or anything like that. It just shouldnât 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. Iâm not competing against anyone. Like I said, I got Ian and Nathan and thatâs all I need.
While weâre on that, has there ever been anything youâve 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 theyâre like, "please keep it down because of the neighbors". Because the kid had a rat tail and Chicken was basically saying, "Thatâs fucking awesome that youâve got a rat tail". Kid didnât get it. He thought Chicken was talking shit and it just ruined his night. After the showâ¦
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! Itâs awesome" and then like I look forward and I just feel a tap on my shoulder. Then Iâm 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 coolâ¦Yeah cool show, uh fuck meâ¦", ya know? Itâs just a bummer but sometimes you talk some shit and a dude will fuckingâ¦
Ian: He was like 16.
Chicken: He was young.
And just because you mentioned his rat tail? Didnât be seeâ¦ Chicken: I think I may have come on to him and thatâs where the anger came from. I tend to forget we were in Wisconsin.
Sound Guy Nariman: Iâd get pretty pissed if someone came on me. (laughter erupts)
So thereâs no way to follow that, so Iâll 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 Iâd have an answer.
Ian: Weâre playing tomorrow in Half Moon Bay.
Chicken: Thatâs right, we are playing tomorrow!
Thatâs right youâre playing sort of like a fest. Chicken: If by that you mean Kind of like A Fest, then yes.
Whatever, itâs in Half Moon Bay. The details arenât 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 donât you come to the show in Half Moon Bay".
We didnât have much of a DIY scene when I was there. Chicken: Thatâs 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, "Whereâs a good DIT scene. I need some âDo it Themselvesâ. I need a bunch of fuckers who do it themselves". Itâs do it yourself.
Iâm here, Iâm doing this myself. Actually you guys are just doing most of the work, Iâm just here. Chicken: Iâm glad youâre here. I like your interviews, theyâre funny man.
Yeah I can tell. With the level of reverence Iâm getting. Chicken: Thatâs no joke. Like I said, youâve earned our disrespect.