Ahead of Endless Daze Festival, we speak to the Cape Town based garage groove band, The Deathrettes about the role vinyl plays in the engagement of music, how their backgrounds have assisted shaping their current sound and independently representing themselves.
We’re seeing more bands releasing their music on vinyls. Tell us why you think it’s an asset to create, record and share in this format when streaming devices and apps are dominating the music industry?
Vinyl format is far more personal than any digital download. A physical product in your hands and the whole process of putting a record on, watching that wax spin is real cool. Bands put a lot of effort in releasing records by themselves or finding labels to back them. Most of the time you’re ordering either from the band or their label, there’s an actual engagement with the people that bring you the music that you like so much. I can’t say it takes a lot of effort to release something online.
You guys all come from recognised bands in the music scene. Think that plays to your advantage in forming a new brand/band?
Through the years we’ve managed to meet most of the promoters and bands in the Cape Town scene via our other bands, and that’s helped us alot. Each of the bands that we’ve been a part of has their own identity and we, as The Deathrettes, have our own unique image. I don’t think we’re hitching a ride on our past bands or other projects.
“Animal” has a strong balance between groove, tempo and lyrics. What made you decide to lead your band language with this track? How do you feel it captures the group’s sound?
“Animal” could be considered as our version of a pop song, with very catchy lyrics, a strong rhythm section as well as a punchy chorus, it all works really well together. We had to pick a song that we all felt strongly about and would give listeners a good impression of what we’re about.
What is it about 60’s psych and modern garage music that draws you in?
There is a real simplicity within these styles of music, there’s nothing overtly technical about them. Each instrument does very little but when you add all these simple elements together, it can create a song that has so much depth and rhythm from all of us playing the smallest parts, we have to all play together to make a song work. The genres are very complex regarding their history with all the bands that have been exploring the genre for the past 50 years. It’s super fun to find rarities as well as get hyped on these newer bands pushing boundaries. More than anything, this style of music is super fun to play and listen to.
Having two sound engineers in the group must be nice. Does their technical direction and experience give you a platform to execute live shows as ideal as you imagine?
The real benefit comes into play when it comes to the recording and mixing of our music. Both Warren and Michael have access to good gear and great studios. We would rather hire a good sound company than have a DIY sound situation at a show, we try to avoid those instances as it becomes overwhelming when trying to play a show as well as think about the sound.
With no PR agencies or record companies repping you, tell us how much energy and time you spend on getting your name out there?
It’s a daily effort spreading our name. We all have day jobs and we’re doing everything in between work, freelance work and multiple rehearsal schedules. We’d love to invest in a PR agency but because we’re channeling our cash flow into other avenues of the band, we can’t afford it, so we do as much as we can. It’s challenging but we do get to meet a lot of people in the industry and make connections that start personal relationships and can benefit us in the long run.
You guys are fairly new to the scene and were chosen to play at Endless Daze Festival. How does it feel to be acknowledged and selected so early on playing as The Deathrettes?
We’re super grateful to the guys over at Psych Night and Vans South Africa for putting so much trust in us and having given us the opportunity to play Endless Daze. This isn’t the first time they’ve showed us this kind of love, they put us on with BCUC and Caves earlier in the year after only having started in the gigging scene a few months before! The band formed almost two years ago, so it’s really cool to experience the progress we’ve made thus far and have these kinds of people and brands support us in such a way. Sloppy kisses to you lovely Endless Daze folk.
“Kill all the Kings.” Can you tell us a story or history around that title?
The title came about at a moment of clarity on a train ride home after trip in Berlin. It’s from a lyric in “Don’t Feel Right”, “Everything is not enough, I killed all the kings and took all their stuff”. The song surrounds itself around the idea of a metaphor “The price you pay for love is suffering”. The songs are for the most part very upbeat but there’s this dark tinge to everything, almost a form of angst. We feel the title reflects that.
The new EP is well packaged. It feels like you guys went in with a plan and executed it really strongly. Can you tell us about the songwriting and recording process? Were you all on the same page from start to finish, or was it a journey to get to a final sound?
The songs had been written over a long period of time, two of them being before the band started but they only really took shape when we worked on them together. We had done a few demo sessions to hear our songs played back to us so we could analyse what we were doing and how the instruments were working with each other. We focus alot on pre-production before our recordings because there’s no going back once the tracks are recorded and released.
We added 12 string and acoustic guitar to the EP as well as percussion and vocal layering to give it more of the psych influence that we really enjoy. We always work together because that’s what being a band is about. Creating music is a journey, you learn so much about yourself and the music as the process flows. You can plan as much as you want but it’s never going to be 100% what you envisioned, for us we created something better than we expected.
The local psych scene has developed and grown pretty rapidly over the last two years or so. Who’s on your radar at the moment, and are you guys open to collaborations?
The scene goes through these peaks and dips every three years or so but it really feels like things are changing and we’re gonna ride this wave a little longer. Although there have been some shut downs of major venues that have supported the scene through the dark times and shows are starting to run a bit thin, there is still light on the horizon with new venues opening and people taking risks. We’re really big fans of Runaway Nuns and how they’ve stormed onto the scene over the year. They’re such rad and positive dudes that make really cool music. I don’t think we’ve given collaboration much thought but it would be crazy to write a song or two with the Nuns, can you imagine 9 guys on stage? Far out, man!
The Deathrettes are currently running a vinyl crowd funding campaign on QRATES. It works on pre-orders, so if enough people reserve our record and we make our goal of 200, the vinyl gets pressed and delivered. People who reserve a record can also download the digital files for free, and the money only clears once the goal is reached, so there’s no risk involved. It’s a great service for bands like us who wouldn’t normally have the resources to get their music on vinyl and we hope enough people get on board so people can hear this EP the way it should be heard!