UK-based queercore duo Death Goals are just one day away from releasing their incredible second album A Garden of Dead Flowers. The duo, made up of guitarist Harry Bailey and drummer George “Grog” Milner, share vocal duties as they unleash gloriously chaotic hardcore which takes cues from black metal, sludge, metalcore, pop, and powerviolence. Over the course of eleven tracks, they tackle the joy of queerness and self-acceptance along with the struggle that comes with that as well as talking about dysphoria, addiction, mental health, and lost love with poetic, image-laden lyrics. A Garden of Dead Flowers will be out everywhere on May 5 via Prosthetic Records and Death Goals will be kicking off their UK tour with Vicarage tomorrow night at their album release show at the New Cross Inn in London.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with Harry over Zoom to talk about the new album, the importance of visuals, the connection between hardcore music and queerness, cereal, and so much more. Read the interview below!
You signed with Prosthetic Records in 2021 and your upcoming album A Garden of Dead Flowers will be your first record on the label. How did you decide who to sign with?
There was no one else in question, they sort of came to us which was really cool. We put out The Horrible and The Miserable in early June 2021 and two weeks after that, they sent us an email being like, “Let’s have a chat, let’s have a phone call”. We had a little Zoom chat with them and basically in that first meeting they were like, “We’d be interested in signing you guys. Would you be interested?” and obviously we were like, “Yeah, that’d be lovely”. We weren’t thinking realistically about signing to anyone. We were like it would be cool if it happened but it wasn’t a bucket-list aim of “We have to be signed this year”. It’s been really lovely. We knew of their work obviously from Gojira and Lamb of God and all that stuff and also our friends Pupil Slicer, Calligram, and Amygdala. There’s been so many cool bands from Prosthetic that we were like, “We don’t see why this wouldn’t work out for us”.
What has working with them been like?
It’s been really lovely and they’ve been very caring and doting to us. We’re both control freaks and we like to send a lot of emails like, “Is this ok? How about this idea? We’ve got these ideas!” and they’ve always been like, “Oh yeah, cool! Let’s discuss that. Let’s think this through”. It’s been nice to have a label who will throw a little bit of money our way. Financially that’s been very nice to be able to make some really cool videos which is my favourite thing, I’m all about that production quality. And being able to record this album because of them was really cool, we don’t know realistically what we would’ve done otherwise. They were quite early into the picture after the first album came out so post-that I don’t think we had actually planned for anything else, we were like, “Let’s just see how this goes”. Their involvement has very much dictated our steps for this album and for our future plans that made us go, “Ok, cool! There’s a bit more of an opportunity or there’s more interest in this than we ever thought there would be”. Which is really lovely, it’s always nice to feel wanted.
I think they said they saw the live session we put out and they were like, “Your energy is so ridiculous that we have to sign you” which is a really nice, affirming thing to hear for us. Especially for me because the performance is such an integral part of Death Goals and it always has been for me. It’s always nice to hear from people who know their shit to be like, “Oh yeah! You guys are quite good! We’ll throw you at some more people’s faces”. That’s cool. It’s nice to have that infrastructure and people who are like, “Maybe don’t release that yet, let’s take some time. Let’s have a meeting to discuss what singles should we put out”. That’s really nice instead of it being just me and Grog arguing back and forth like, “I think this song’s better” “Well, I think this song’s better”. Now we have a nice group of opinions and people who can mediate us a bit which is really lovely. They’ve got that infrastructure to be like, “We know what we’re talking about. We have people who can get it pressed on vinyl. We have these sorts of things”. Lots of opportunities that we wouldn’t have had were we not signed to a label or things that would have been much more difficult to attain if we were still unsigned artists. The opportunity to do vinyl is super cool. For us, being music nerds, that’s always been the thing we’ve wanted. I’ve got A Garden of Dead Flowers vinyl in my room waiting to take them on tour and being able to look at it and be like, “Cool! That’s there!” is a great feeling. I’ve burned CDs for my old bands but having it on vinyl is a real bucket-list thing. Shoutout to Prosthetic for sorting that out, that is fucking cool. And it’s bright yellow, it’s this horrible canary yellow, it’s fucking wicked.
Why did you pick that colour specifically?
It ties in with the album cover. We’re quite colour conscious and the first album was black and white and grey and sort of muted and I knew I wanted a little bit more colour for this one. The dress that’s worn on the cover by our beautiful friend, Max, is my partner’s dress and I love that yellow so much. I always associated yellow with being this very neutral, queer colour. It’s not like the whole “pink’s a girl’s colour, blue’s a boy’s colour” sort of thing, yellow can be anyone’s colour. I was just in a big yellow era and I thought, “You know what, let’s have a yellow vinyl but let’s make it the most horrible yellow we can find. It’s not going to be a nice canary. It’s going to be nuclear fallout yellow”. It looks really, really cool and when it comes out of the black sleeve it’s in, it looks wicked.
What is the significance of the imagry on the album cover?
So basically, I’ve come up with both of the album artworks so far and they come to me in the middle of the night. I don’t know what that says about my mental state or my well-being that these are the visions I see. [laughs] Originally I wanted it to be a big chiffon prom dress sort of thing. I knew I wanted someone androgynous or genderqueer or something that looked like they didn’t look like they should be in a beautiful gown to be in this thing which is why I got Maxie. They’re a gorgeous non-binary creature and they have the most terrifying tattoos you’ve ever seen but they’re the sweetest little thing. I love them to bits. I wanted to have that combination of grotty imagery with the sort of more beautiful, glamour aesthetic and it turns out my partner has this dress which I wore for the last time we headlined a show in London, and it had the yellow flowers on it which tied into the A Garden of Dead Flowers motif. I was like, “Cool! Let’s put Maxie in that. What’s a close-to-home but grotty little place? A bathroom’s pretty gross. Let’s throw them in there”.
There’s not much more of an allegory to the artwork, I just thought that it was a cool image that sort of summed up the vibe of a far more overtly queer album to have overtly queer-looking artwork. I’m very pleased with that artwork. That was shot by our friend Gabriel Wilson who did the The Horrible and The Miserable artwork as well. He’s an absolute marvel with the camera, he does wonderous bits, like that photo. He was around recently and he looked at the vinyl and was like, “When I took that photo and when the light came through the window at that perfect moment, I knew that was the photo. I knew that that was the one”. It’s a nice little moment to have, we were all like, “That’s it! That’s the perfect bit”.
I take artwork seriously. Album artwork is a serious part of the process and the packaging and everything. I’ve bought so many albums just from rifling through and being like, “The artwork’s really cool! I don’t know the band but I’ll listen to it”. I feel, I am biased because I feel the artwork’s cool anyway, but if I saw this in a record store, I’d be like, “Oh, I’ve got to see what this is because this is fucking cool!” This artwork is gross and off-putting but not in a grindcore, collage of body parts sort of way, it’s odd. It’s a queer piece of art and I love that.
You couldn’t have picked a better cover. You spent a lot of time in pre-production for this album. What was that process like?
That was nice! We didn’t do any real pre-production for The Horrible and The Miserable because it was written during COVID. It was a lot of sending files to each other and all that sort of stuff whereas this time we wrote a good 80% of the music or had the bare structure then we were like, “Cool, now we need to write lyrics and we need to sit down and work out the melodies. Let’s go and sit at the studio for about a week with our friend Kieran”. We basically just bashed that out and it was incredibly tense and weird because we hadn’t done that with each other before. We hadn’t had to tell each other to each other’s faces, “I don’t like how you’re singing this part. Sing it better, play that a bit better. Ohh that bit doesn’t sound good enough” and going through that process together was tough. It was a rough thing but it’s made us far better songwriters. We pushed ourselves a lot and that opened us up to a lot of different ideas. George is a fucking unbelievable lyricist and so it really made me push up my game like, “Ok, I need to step it up here”. We were good at editing each other. Kieran’s an incredible songwriter who's wonderful with melodies so he helped us with certain more melodic parts or if I was really struggling with a certain riff or a certain chunk, Kieran would be like, “Stop what you’re doing there! What you played there was cool. Repeat that back to me.” It was good to have a third person there to be like, “Those bits are cool. That bit’s not very good, you can cut that. Let’s build this to make it better”. He served a role that we should give more props to because he was invaluable in that process. It was an interesting thing to be able to do. Shoutout to Kieran, an absolute babe. A stunning legend.
I think beforehand I was like, “fucking pre-production? Whatever. Seems like a bit of a fucking waste of time” but I get why people do it now. The songs are way better for it and even then, with pre-production, I was editing up til we went into recording the album. “Death Goals In Cursive” was written I think a week before we went to record. I took that whole song and went, “This isn’t right” and cut the whole thing. Then I took the lyrics and mashed it around and it came out loads better than what we originally had. We’re editing until the final moment and even then, when we were recording we were still editing and going, “Hmm that lyric isn’t right”. For greebos, we’re perfectionists. We like to have it be good. It’s gotta be good. If we expect people to buy vinyl, it’s gotta be fucking good.
What helped break the tension in the studio between you and George?
Kissing and making up. Not taking anything to heart and being able to explain to each other what we want. The best example I can think of was writing the lyrics for “Faux Macho”. It wasn’t a super personal song like a, “I’m sad and this has upset me” kind of song, the lyrics are far more abstract and odd. George was like, “These don’t make sense. I don’t understand. Are we in this song? What’s the point?” and I was like, “No, no, no. The whole point is that the lyrics are far-fetched and image-based”. I sort of explained my reasoning for it and he was like, “Ok cool! I get this now.” We’re good enough friends to be like, whatever happens in the studio, we go back to the flat and have a beer, watch Austin Powers and go, “We’re friends. I didn’t mean what I said back there. When I called you a dickhead you know I just meant that I was frustrated because I couldn’t think of a better word for ‘angry’” and he’s like, “yeah, yeah, yeah, I know”. We’re good enough mates where there were no true hurt feelings. At least I don’t think. He might resent me, but I doubt it. We’re very much deeply in love.
It’s all about communication.
Communication is sexy and hot in all manners of life. Just talk. Just talk to people. If either of us were like, “I can’t play this thing that I need to play”, we’d just simplify it. Just having that communication is so important, especially in a band or any artistic relationship or whatever. It’s so easy to grow resentful and be like, “Oh, they don’t get it, blah, blah, blah”. Just communicate, you have to cut out that grumbling. Then you don’t end up with any hurt feelings. No one wants that. If it got to a point where we were falling out with each other over every song and every little thing we wouldn't do this together. That’s just no fun. There’s no joy in that and if there’s one thing that this band is about, it’s joy.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Eclectic. It really differs from song to song. A lot of it is written by me in Logic, just sort of messing around with riffs and stuff. I write a lot of stuff from the drums' perspective which George hates. [laughs] I’ll come in with a really all-over-the-shop drumbeat and they’ll be like, “I can’t be asked to play that, mate. I’m going to play something way simpler” and I’m like, “Ok, cool”. We have a lot of playlists of various other songs where we’re going, “I like this energy. I like this vibe. That could be cool vocally.” We sort of magpie a lot of stuff and then can’t play it like the people we’re trying to magpie so we create our own unique thing which is kinda fun. Obviously, we’re limited by being a duo so that also lends itself to the songwriting of being like, “I only have so many hands”. I don’t want to do a double-neck guitar thing - that’s lame. George only has so many arms to play the drums and we only have two voices so we’re limited by that but it also leads to fun creative things where we’re playing with space, tone, and sound.
I’m constantly writing stuff and currently, I’m writing a lot of stuff which is really minimal. There’s not a lot of sound and feedback and stuff, I’m really leaning back on that. If you would’ve told me that I’d be writing like that maybe five years ago, I would've been like, “There’s no way! That’s not how you write that sort of music” but we’ve developed our songwriting quite a lot. It all comes down to what we’re listening to, what we’re feeling, and what we want to portray with the sound. The songwriting differs from song to song, it’s all about energy. The song has to have a good energy and a good intention. Some songs are written from a “this is going to be a really good live song” perspective and some are written like, “This is a really cool idea, let’s explore that sonically”. “Loveless” on the album was written primarily as a “this is a really cool vibe and the drumbeat is really cool, let’s build from there” whereas “Last Night I Had A Dream About Death” was fully written to be a live song. We wrote that being like, “Let’s take those things we love from every Every Time I Die song and make them into a Death Goals song. That’s a moshpit song, that’s the stage dive song, wicked!”
This album is the most experimental you’ve gotten so far with Death Goals. What are your favourite genres to experiment with? What are some styles you want to explore in the future?
Of the two albums we’ve written so far, yeah. [laughs] We love the metalcore, chaotic hardcore sort of thing, that’s our bread and butter. George loves dance music, loves house and electronica and has been getting me more into that. I think we’d like to explore that but without using synths. I like the textures of dance music and the drumbeats and being able to put those on a live hardcore kit almost like Bloc Party, 2000s indie, and Alt-J would be really cool! There’s a really weird sort of drum loop that I’d love to do something with. I’m really into Portrayal of Guilt currently, who are amazing, that sort of blackened, weird playing guitar like it isn’t a guitar and all these weird little offshoots.
We both love pop music like Carly Rae Jepsen and Charli XCX and all that good stuff. There’s a song by a band called Illuminati Hotties, who are sick, called “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” where the whole verse is stabs and weird jittery sound effects and the chorus is proper bubblegum like, “woahhh ohh lalala yeah yeah!” That would be great fun if we could throw something like that in there, do real bubblegum pop then have a breakdown after. Keep people guessing, I think that’s fun and it’s entertaining for us. I’m so bad at writing the same sort of stuff.
Death Goals is good at sounding like Death Goals throughout but we can experiment and change sounds which is lovely. I could never be in a band where we all write songs that sound like Bane or sound like Counterparts or whatever. I love that sort of stuff but I get bored of it. I played bass in a metalcore band for like two shows and I couldn’t remember what the songs were from each other because it was all the same notes and structures. It drove me insane. Constant progression is very important.
We’re going to write some dancecore next. That’ll be fun, the dancecore album. It’ll have a glitterball on the cover, it’ll be bleeding or have eyes in it or something, who knows? A real biblical angel kind of thing. I’ve always wanted to do glitter vinyl. I asked about it and they were like, “I don’t know if we can do it” but I’ve seen vinyl where there’s oil in it. Jack White is doing shit with vinyl that is wild. People get their ashes pressed into vinyl, so you can definitely press glitter into vinyl. Glitter vinyl for the dancecore album, I think that’s a huge slay personally. I think that’s banging.
What were you listening to during the writing and recording process?
Fucking everything. As I said, we had a huge playlist. We had one for The Horrible and The Miserable, we had one for this one, and we’ve already started compiling one for the next album. It’s nice because we’re both eclectic little creatures. We sort of just send each other stuff going like, “This song’s just cool, we’ll throw it on there”. So for the album 2 playlist, the first five songs are: “You Fail Me” by Converge, “You Know That Ain't Them Dogs' Real Voices” by Iwrestledabearonce, “The Swimmer” by METZ, “Shoulderblades” by Gilla Band, and “USA Nails” by Blood Brothers. The Callous Daoboys, Deafheaven were obviously on there, The Chariot were obviously on there, Yourcodenameis:milo, Dillinger, Trash Talk, Every Time I Die, My Chemical Romance. A lot of classic core and a lot of weird, slightly post-punk-flavoured bits and bobs. A lot of Bring Me The Horizon. All the stuff that makes sense for us, nothing too out there.
For album 3 vibes, we’ve got lots of Patient 99, Pure Adult - who are wicked, a lot of METZ, a lot of 1975 - great fun, Glassjaw, that Illuminati Hotties song, Portrayal of Guilt, a lot of Show Me The Body, a lot of Radiohead - that’s all Grog, Blind Girls - who are a fucking wicked band, Battles, Daughter, The Armed, Gilla Band again, Refused, Empire of the Sun, Chat Pile, Bjork, there’s a lot of stuff on there. We like to keep it eclectic, you never know what sort of stuff you’re going to come to. The 1975 song “Sex” is on that playlist purely because the outro of that song is like a This Will Destroy You post-rock thing. There’s such a beautiful crescendo in the epic middle part and then it goes back into this beautiful pop chorus thing. That’s stuff that we wanna be doing. We want to do a lot of pop choruses and horrible verses and keep that real popcore / dancecore vibe going. I think that’s the direction we wanna mess around with. We’ll see how it sounds. It might not sound anything like dance music by the time we’re done and realistically it won’t. But I think that’s a heavy vibe we might be leaning into, or what I’m hoping to lean into from the stuff I’ve been messing around with.
Then you can really go absolutely nuts in the pit during the verse and have a dance party during the chorus.
Yeah! I love Enter Shikari and they do that really well. You can have a dance party during half the bits and punch people during the other parts. I love songs where you can do that. Enter Shikari aren’t bad, I might put some of them on the playlist as well. They’re banging. We want femmes and thems to be shaking booty during the shows and also throwing hands. That’s what we want - everyone dancing, everyone moshing. That’s the dream pit scenario.
That would be so fun! Then you just blast everyone with glitter.
At the last couple of shows we had party poppers that we let off at the end like confetti cannons. Great fun.
Are you going to have those on your upcoming tour?
No. [laughs] We haven’t got the hands for it anymore. The people that we had aren’t coming with us. Hopefully, we’ll get them at some point when the production value goes up. We’ll get Prosthetic to give us some production money and we’ll get confetti cannons and attach them to Grog’s drum kit or something, that would be great fun. Like how people have pedals for bass drops, we’ll have them for confetti cannons.
A major theme on this album is finding acceptance within yourself and within your community. What has helped you on your journey to self-acceptance?
I have a gorgeous, wonderful partner who has really helped with that. They are non-binary and they helped me work that out within myself. Through them, I’ve been going to a lot more queer events and I’ve been doing a lot more queer reading. I’m becoming more involved in the community than I’ve ever been which is fucking lovely and through that, I’ve found more people. We’ve been playing with more queer bands, we’ve been playing with more trans people, and we’ve been seeing more trans people and queer people in general at shows. They’re becoming more of a part of it which is really lovely.
It was definitely an element that we wanted to write about more. We touched on it obviously on the first album but on this album, we were like, “Let’s not have two songs about that and never address it again. We’ve grown more since then. We’ve spoken more about our identity with each other, we’ve made that much more of a focal point live and being very open about it so let’s write more about it”. We wrote songs like “P.A.N.S.Y.” about sneaking off into the woods and kissing boys because you can’t kiss them at home. On “Faux Macho”, we celebrate queer house parties and the sort of kink side of the world that I discovered that has a massively strong hand in the queer community, which was really fascinating to read up on, and when those two worlds sort of cross into each other. Acceptance and the joy of queerness as well as the sort of fear and struggle queer people are going through was as important as each other on this album. “Faux Macho” is kind of a miserable song as much as it is a fun, cheerleader song and “P.A.N.S.Y.” is melancholic but I think that song is really joyful. I definitely see that song as this lovely little love song. There is beauty to be had in horrible, hardcore songs and we want that.
We’re going to be the loud queer band, may as well put our foot down and be that loud queer band on this and really make it our thing. Not to the point of making it a gimmick or being, “Oh they’re the gay band, all they do is sing about being gay” - there’s nothing wrong about that - but we wanted it to be a thing that we represented. We wanted to be something that could be a representation for cis, straight-passing queer people which we are, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t look like this but I do. I’ve had to learn to embrace that and learn to be happier with that and for the most part, I am, which is fucking fantastic. Whether that be through whatever I get to wear at shows and express myself that way or just by speaking to people.
We’ve had so many people come up to us at shows and be like, “Thank you for saying what you’re saying, it means the world”. We had a 40-year-old guy in Bristol come up to us saying, “When I was a teenager going to hardcore shows, there were no queer bands or anyone speaking about it and to have you two saying what you’re saying and being as loud as you are, it means the absolute world. Thank you”. It felt more important to have that as a statement almost on this album being, “We are going to call ourselves a queercore band now. We are going to lean more heavily into that as our identity”. We did that in the artwork for the album, we did that in our press shots, that’s how we want to come across. We would be as valid if we wore Hatebreed shirts and wore all black and looked mean in a church - we would still be a queercore band - but we wanted to be overtly loud. We want to make our presence known as the queer band, the queercore band on the bill. We want to welcome people and have people who might be there going, “Oh man, I’m feeling a bit odd” or “I’m feeling a bit unsure of myself” and go “Well I identify with that! I understand those two fucking weirdos who are shrieking and throwing guitars at each other and yelling about wanting to kiss Kevin Abstract. I get that. I feel welcome and want to go talk to them”. That’s really nice! We’ve had a lot of people come up to us at shows being like, “hi! I really enjoyed your show!” and that means the fucking world.
The lyrics are so visual and poetic at times that it really does come across that way.
That’s all Grog! Grog is such a strong lyricist and you can tell which songs are Grog’s. Grog uses every word under the sun and has beautiful imagery. “Year of The Guillotine” is one that I mostly wrote and you can tell because it's four lines and is mostly me shrieking that I want to cut people’s heads off. [laughs]
What would you say to somebody who is having trouble accepting themself?
I would say that is valid. It is not an easy street of “Oh I am happy in this body”. If you are working out who or what you are, it is a process. It is not a quick thing. Your pronouns can change. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone if you’re going by she/they one day and then they/she another day, each version is valid and each form has its own quirks and quandaries. It’s important that you have a support group or people around you who can help and who you can turn to if you are lost, I think that is massively important. I owe a lot of how I feel now to the friends I have and to the people I am lucky to love because through them I have been able to work this out and people should have that as well.
Your video for “Year of the Guillotine” was created by Abhorrent Disobedience and features lots of old black-and-white footage. How did the idea for the video come about?
Basically we spent all of our video budget on the video for “Faux Macho” and we did not realize it. [laughs]We were really happy with that video and the label was like, “Yeah! This video looks wicked!” Then I sent a message going, “Cool! I’ve got all these different ideas for these other videos, how much budget are we talking for the others?” and they were like, “What budget?” We didn’t realize that was the budget for as many videos as we wanted so I basically turned to Instagram like, “I’m just gonna work out some ideas”. There were options to do visualizers and stuff like that and I like music videos. Music videos are some of my favourite parts of band stuff. I like being involved in music videos, I think they’re fun. Bands like Enter Shikari, who do really good music videos, really sell a song.
I was just scrolling through and I knew I wanted something visual. We’d spoken to a few people who had done other music videos for a couple of friends of ours and I came across her site through a reel and I was like, “That’s wicked! Let’s do something like this”. I sent her a message and she absolutely smashed it. I literally sent the song, with “Here’s what the vibe is, here’s what it’s about, here are the lyrics. What do you reckon?” She sent me back the video a week later being like, “Is this cool?” and I was like, “Yes, absolutely! That’s perfect!” I love that video, I think that video is so fucking cool. Everyone should go use Abhorrent, the best, the sweetest icon.
It drives the lyrics home so, so well.
Yeah, it was perfect. I think the only thing I really wanted was to make sure that the lyric “You can’t erase us” was in. I was like, “We don’t really care about text too much but I want that to be there.” That’s the message, that’s the whole point of the song - you can’t erase us. That has to be as clear as possible. Abhorrent did such an amazing job on that video. There should be more good videos. If you’re going to do a video, do a good video. There’s no point in doing a weak video. It makes the song.
You have so many options to make a cool video.
Exactly! All love to anyone who’s done a lyric video but I think lyric videos are so lame. There is no joy. Even if I know I like the song, I’m not going to click on the lyric video because nothing sparks any joy there. Nothing. Even if you were like, “I’m going to film me just dancing in a field as the song played”, I’d rather watch that over a lyric video. Anything, any additional piece of media, just make something cool. It’s not hard to make anything and turn it into a music video. I made all the videos over lockdown for The Horrible and The Miserable. Me, I have no talent at all with videos. I was making it all on iMovie on my laptop using whatever I could find. If you want a music video, you can make a video for no money. You just have to be sneaky and devious about how you do it. [laughs]
Queer voices have always been prevalent in hardcore and there’s been so many awesome queer hardcore bands popping up in recent years. What do you think the connection between hardcore music and queerness is?
Ohh these are fucking good questions, man. This is why George is always good because George is good at these ones and I’m good at the silly ones. I think punk and hardcore is all about individuality and celebrating that. It’s a scene and a music style that has always embraced individuality and sometimes that is for good and sometimes that is for evil. Gel said it best on their new album, hardcore is for the freaks. I found a community in hardcore as a queer person who were accepting of me for whatever I was. The main question they asked was, “Do you play hard riffs?” obviously the answer is no but they didn’t care if I was queer or not. They didn’t care how I identified, they were just like, “Cool! You’re solid. You’re decent. You’re not a piece of shit. You’re welcome to be a part of this scene”. I think a lot of queer people find that really welcoming and then within those pockets find each other. I love meeting fellow queer people at hardcore shows and being like, “I see you”. You can always spot each other. We’ve all got the same haircut, we’ve all got the same Doc Martens on, we see each other. I think hardcore has always been linked to the unruly, to the outcasts, to the weirdos, and queer people fit into that better than anyone.
I always loved the energy of it. I think queerness is punk, inherently. They just go so well together. There’s all the history and my friends who are into the riot grrrl stuff are so much better at being historians about this. The riot grrrl movement was very queer. It goes back and back and back of these overtly queer bands who would just get the shit kicked out of them. Emos were called every gay slur under the sun just because they wore eyeliner and were a bit more effeminate. I think there’s always been a bit of crossover between hardcore and the queer community, they go hand in hand. We all like silly little outfits as well. Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s the one thing that will bring us all together, silly little outfits.
Em: That’s the uniting force. If you’re looking good, you’re feeling good. We need to talk about heavy topics but also have that sense of joy and that sense of fun.
Yeah, absolutely! Come to shows in silly little outfits, always. I’m bored of seeing everyone in the same Jesus Piece hoodie and the Dickies. Come in a big feather boa. Give us an outfit, give us a lewk, give us a moment. We’ve got a lot of really cool, artsy London goths coming to shows currently. They have great looks. Great fun. You see someone with the eight-inch Edward Scissorhands hair but they’re wearing just straps all the way down with bondage pants, that’s great, iconic. Give me that. Give me fits. I must have silly little outfits at the shows! Those are the rules - you’re not allowed into a Death Goals show unless you’re turning a look.
You kick off your UK tour in May and you’ll be playing some festivals this summer including ArcTanGent and No Play. What are you looking forward to the most about this tour?
All of it! Playing live is my favourite part of being in Death Goals. It always has been. I play music because I love playing live. Writing songs is cool, recording is massively stressful, and I love playing live. That’s the true catharsis of it. Seeing people and getting people to mosh and dance - that’s the best part. So this tour is going to be really exciting. It’s our second headline across the UK, we’re playing a lot of places we haven’t played before which is going to be really cool. I’m looking forward to seeing old faces and new faces. We’re playing with a load of really cool bands. We’re bringing Vicarage out with us who are unbelievable. They’re like the UK’s equivalent of Cult Leader but with Suicide Silence vocals. They’re heavy. They’re going to show us up at every show, it’s going to be ridiculous. I’m going to put on my business shoes and be like, “Ok, I’ve really got to put on a show today” because they’re on before us every show and they are unbelievable. The first date of the tour is the album launch show that we’re playing with a load of our friends so that’s going to be amazing.
We haven’t played a show since December which realistically isn’t that long but for us, it’s a long time. To play some of these songs live is going to be really cool and hopefully see which songs people get into as the tour goes on and more people listen to the album - or if they listen to the album, hopefully, they listen to the album. I fucking love touring, I love it so much. I know a lot of people have a lot of gripes about it but it’s my favourite thing.
What are you most looking forward to about playing the festivals?
We’re playing with some of our favourite bands ever. At No Play, we’re playing with Conjurer. I’ve loved Conjurer since they played in my hometown on their first EP and they were just the most ridiculous band I’ve ever seen. It’ll be good to actually meet them, maybe do some schmoozing. I had tickets to go to ArcTanGent even before we got asked to play it because I was like, “The lineup’s so good, I have to go”. George has been to ArcTanGent every year since 2016. George loves that festival. They’ve got Deafheaven playing Sunbather in full, we love that fucking album. Converge, Fall of Troy, ‘68, and a load of our friends are playing it so it’ll be a big mates fest anyway. I’m excited to see people and also to make friends with some bands we’ve been wanting to make friends with for ages like CLT DRP. I’ve wanted to hang out with them for ages. I’ve wanted to try to meet Birds In Row because I fucking love them so much. That last album was incredible.
Hopefully, we book a few more odds and ends. I’m working on some stuff for later in the year. This is our first album on an actual label so who knows where we could be by the beginning of next year? The dream pipeline is that Deaftones hear the album and go, “Oh yeah, we’ll bring you on tour!” and then we play with Deaftones forever or whatever. We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be an exciting and interesting year. These next few days before the album is a lot of like, “Wooo, here we go! It’s all or nothing now!” The time is very steadily ticking by. I’m just excited to see what people think of the album and hopefully, a lot of people do like it.
You’ve mentioned that when you play the songs live, they tend to change a bit. Which song off of A Garden of Dead Flowers do you think will change the most?
I know which one will change the most because it’s the one we’ve been playing the longest. “Death Goals In Cursive” sounds nothing like the track on the record. [laughs] I have a very limited pedalboard and if I start messing around with it, I get confused then I have to change something back and then it’ll be this whole shebang. Basically, all the sounds I need for “Cursive” would be such a pain in the ass for me to set up just for one song that we decided to completely sack off doing the actual version. We’ve been doing an impromptu noise song where I just start looping and mashing pedals and making this cacophony of sound and then Grog does the drums so the beat is there and I do the vocals over it. It’s a cool recontextualizing, reimagining of it and it works really well in the set as a moment.
We very much write the set as moments like, “This would be a really cool way to open and this would be a really cool way to segway into that and then this is a cool breather and we can work through that”. The theatre kid in me is like, “So this is the solo. This is my main characters in the spotlight moment. I can talk into the audience.” It’s great fun. We used to do the same noise thing to give George a break after the really manic songs and I would do Megan Thee Stallion raps. I used to do the chorus for “Girls in the Hood” like “I’m a hot girl, I do hot shit”. I would just start screaming that over this noise and it was great. It was fucking awesome but we’ve swapped that out with our actual song now.
That should be your cover.
It should! I would love that. I’ve been saying for ages we should do a covers thing because I used to do a cover of Girls Aloud’s “Love Machine”. We turned it into a straight powerviolence song and it was hysterical. I really want to do a cover of “Maggots” by Ashnikko. When I heard the “your sad life” part I was like that’s a two-step riff! I can make that a hardcore song! At some point, we’ll do a Tears For Fears cover for Grog and we’ll do an Ashnikko cover for me and it’ll be great. Everyone’s happy and everything gets covered.
How would you describe your local hardcore scene?
Our local hardcore scene is fucking wicked! We live in a town called Hitchin which is about 45 minutes out from London and the scene is building. You call where we’re from the Home Counties and Home Counties hardcore is really good. Luton has a really good scene for a lot of straight-edge and proper beat-down hardcore-hardcore. We’ve got a local promotion company called Feral who are putting on floor shows at our local venue and they’ve taken up the mantle from Tombstone who were doing a lot of powerviolence grind stuff. In London alone, you throw a stone and you hit five incredible hardcore bands. The UK is on a real uptick currently, there's loads of fucking good stuff in the UK scene. Obviously, you’ve got bands like Heriot and Graphic Nature who are doing big bits - they’re far more metalcore and hardcore sort of stuff. Hertfordshire has got some good bands ticking away like People Look Like Dogs, Good Cop, and Depravity. Trading Hands are a really fucking good powerviolence band. They’re gnarly! We used to be in a band with the guitar player. It’s a really good scene and it’s eclectic, there’s not a lot of people doing the same stuff.
There’s a lot of mixed bills and everyone sort of gets involved with each other’s stuff. It’s a lot better than it used to be five or so years ago. It’s definitely built up recently and there’s a lot of people doing collectives and moving people forward like our mate Theo who puts on shows in New Cross Inn which is where we’re doing our album launch show. Drain are playing there, Speed are playing there, they’re getting all the big or upcoming US bands coming through and then they’re getting all the local support as well. Oscar down in Brighton is doing amazing things, and so are Cam at Anti Mind and Gabriel at Feral Promotions up in Manchester. The UK’s got some fucking really good heads on it. A lot of femmes, lots of thems, lots of queer people, and lots of people of colour in bands now. We’re really seeing that increasing which is really lovely to see. There’s less of like, “Oh there’s a girl playing drums in this band or whatever” and now it’s more like, “Oh the drummer fucking rips!” It’s so great to see, it’s fucking awesome. You love to see it and hear it.
What are you listening to now?
I am listening to the new Burner record when that comes out. They’ve got two singles out currently and they are ridiculous. They are unbelievably good. I’m listening to an artist called Chappell Roan who is wicked. She’s more pop and has incredible music videos. I am listening to a lot of Kublai Khan. They are heinous. I’m a little bit in love with the singer. There’s an element of his energy that I find incredibly attractive and I think that might be helping why I’m really into them right now. His mosh calls are my favourite things in the world like, “Shake that ass mama!” I think it’s hysterical. The new Ashnikko album so far is very good, I’m looking forward to that being released. I’ve been listening to the new HIRS Collective album constantly. It’s got something for everyone. From song to song you’re like, “Ok cool, I’m going to listen to this one. It’s got x, y, and z on it” and they all sound different, it’s great. They do everything I love. I pray for a day when they eventually come over to the UK because I will be playing that show, so help me God. I have to play with HIRS Collective or be on a HIRS Collective song. Put that out into the universe. They liked the tweet I put out about their album. Please let me be on a track, I’d love that so much! That would be bucket list.
What’s next for Death Goals?
Shows! Touring. Potentially thinking about a third album but realistically we’re going to try to enjoy ourselves with this one and see how this goes. Hopefully playing some cool shows. We’ve got some cool stuff potentially in the works. We’re just emailing away and hoping people get back to us. More things to come, and more cool stuff always. Everyone should come to a show.
What’s your favourite cereal?
Trick question! I don’t like cereal. Boom! Mic drop! I don’t believe in it. It goes soggy and I think it’s fucking vile. [laughs] Grog loves cereal. This is why he’s not here. I can say my questionable opinions on cereal out loud and you can’t stop me.
|May 05||New Cross Inn||London, UK||w/Vicarage, Shooting Daggers, Closed Hands, Candescent A.D|
|May 09||Crofters Rights||Bristol, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 10||The Moon||Cardiff, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 11||The Victoria||Birmingham, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 12||Outpost||Liverpool, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 13||Boom at D-Day II||Leeds, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 14||Little Buildings||Newcastle, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 15||13th Note||Glasgow, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 16||Chameleon||Nottingham, UK||w/Vicarage|
|May 17||Cowley Club||Brighton, UK||w/Vicarage|
|Aug 05||No Play Festival||Liverpool, UK|
|Aug 18||ArcTanGent Festival||Bristol, UK|