Loud, heavy and boasting beards as easy to get lost in as this month’s venue – Sheffield City Hall – the stage is set for Dead Sons to ring in the first of 2013’s In Sessions with a rather mighty bang. Lewis Parker meets Sheffield’s Sultans of Din…
The surroundings may not immediately appear to fit a band lauded for the raucous, sweaty mess that unfolds at their live shows. But a hall such as this perfectly represents the scale of the sounds Dead Sons create – they’re gritty, dark and imposing. In fact, if bands could be represented by architecture, this place still wouldn’t quite do it; you suspect Dead Sons would actually be a cloud-reaching skyscraper in the most shadowy corner of New York, but still retaining that Sheffield snarl.
So, your debut album ‘The Hollers and the Hymns’ comes out in February – excited?
Ryan: Can’t wait! It feels like we’ve been waiting to release it for ages because we recorded it in July. But we’ve been doing it all ourselves, so it takes a while to get everything together like the artwork and to get it mastered as well.
Matt: We wanted to make sure that everything was spot-on, even if that meant sitting on it for 3-4 months ensuring it was the best it could be.
R: I think it’s a lot easier for people to get into a band once they’ve released an album as well. You have this body of work that can be appreciated as opposed to just a single that might just be on shuffle.
How will the album’s sound compare with the singles you’ve released so far?
Tom: It’ll be pretty similar – there are perhaps two or three songs that aren’t as heavy as what we’ve done before.
M: There are probably about eight proper heavy ones on there, then one or two are a little more… melodic? Mellow? We’re showing off our softer side…
About your session: how was it for you performing in such a great location? Did the surroundings impact on how you played?
M: It was amazing to do it; I think it gives you a taste for the bigger stages. I think the songs that we chose as well – particularly ‘The Hollers and the Hymns’ – it kind of gave them more room to breathe.
T: Normally as well, when we turn up to a gig we can’t fit everything on stage but here we had the grand piano, an organ and [Matt] had Marimbas, it was good just to be able to get everything on.
R: We were able to play the songs how we think they should be played, basically, without having to make sacrifices. I think bigger stages definitely suit us more.
What’s the story behind the songs?
T: ‘Hangman’ was our recent single. Lyrically we just wanted to make it interesting and, even if it seems a bit over the top, we’ll leave it in.
R: Someone’s said it sounds like you’re on about some gay, sexual experience.
M: “Hangman, I want you deep inside me…” The connotations are there.
T: Well, I had doubts about leaving that in but… fun, innit?
R: ‘The Hollers and the Hymns’ – it was good to play that how it was intended for the first time in ages. It has everything – the Marimbas, a xylophone, organ. We don’t usually get to use them live. And ‘Hold On’ is a bit different, it’s quite stripped back.
Something that’s quite apparent is the effort put into your videos – the ‘Bangonfullturn’ one springs to mind (the band having a feast, being watched by pig-man holding a shotgun – below). Along with the session, is it important that you have something visually interesting alongside the music?
T: It’s very important because nowadays when someone tells you about a band, you’ll type them into YouTube. So they need to be memorable and it’s a good laugh coming up with the ideas.
R: The next one Bernie wants to do underwater, with cannons.
M: Yeah, underwater cannons, sexy ladies and fancy lighting; it’s a reyt idea.
Finally, what are your hopes for the band in the New Year?
T: Hopefully the album will get a good reception; we want to build the fan-base up so I want it to be one of them that gets passed around loads so everyone hears it. Then we’d love to record another one, I think, as soon as possible.
‘The Hollers and the Hymns’ is released on February 18. Dead Sons will be playing an album-launch gig at The Library Theatre on February 16. See www.deadsons.co.uk for more info.