Dead! Dead! Dead! stand in the dock accused of playing criminally underrated music, the intent to murder with a hedge-trimmer and - most seriously of all - having a band member who likes Mick Hucknall. Questioning uncovers all the sordid secrets of a Southampton group who really are to die for.
Talking pre-gig from the dank basement of Southampton’s Joiners, Dead! Dead! Dead! are remarkably funny and optimistic for a group with such a morbid band-name. Vocalist Neil Dunshire claims: “I find it quite hard to write songs which don’t have that sort of twist on it. That’s where a lot of the inspiration comes from - preventing myself from killing people! It’s kind of like a Peter Cooke/Chris Morris dark edge with a bit of Dudley Moore and Bill Hicks.”
Through a shared love of Joy Division, The Smiths and The Mars Volta the group came together after all the bands they were in “fell to pieces”. This lead to “the best of the rest” with Neil joined by Matt Canning (guitar, vocals), Bill Acharjee (bass) and Mark Crocker (drums). Thankfully there appears to be no influence from Mick Hucknall despite Neil’s wild accusations that Matt has “previously tried to defend Simply Red in public arguments.”
The band’s self-financed debut EP, which fuses Pixies sized soundscapes with kitchen-sink drama from Chez Mozza, has shifted over 500 copies and is now getting airplay from the likes of Steve Lamacq. Neil claims “world domination would be nice too” although their method of getting there is as unusual as their unique sound. Neil: “We sent a CD out to a Japanese record label in an advent calendar with a piece of A4 paper on the front with the address on it. And we had a guy come over from Minneapolis to see our last show. I don’t think he deliberately came all the way just for that, but still!”
Despite this the band are amazingly still without a label although Matt remains positive. “A lot of labels are saying ‘yeah it’s really good’ but we’re still waiting. It will happen – this year hopefully.” With a new single, new EP, an eight date national tour and gigs supporting Ash and Delays in the next few months it’s hard to disagree. If their journey is as calculated as their sets then they should be in no trouble. Mark: “We have a line graph that represents how the set is going to go. A Bingo Wing set is one that starts high and towards the end has a little drop before coming back up.” Neil: “We spend more time actually plotting graphs than we do writing music!”
All they need now is a rock spat and the tabloids will come running surely? Well perhaps not but the band did have to endure Kill City’s Lisa Moorish slagging off the band onstage at a gig in January. Neil: “She’s the epitome of everything that’s shit about the London music scene and the kind of bullshit which has nothing to do with the music. There was almost an incident involving a hedge-trimmer being inserted inside her, being turned on and ripping out her anal lining but it was narrowly avoided. I’m surprised she can sleep at night.” Matt: “Well apparently she can’t!”
The band seem a million miles away from the fashionable crack dens of the London scene although Neil jokes: “I don’t think we’re talented enough to run with fads!” Bill: “We never really make an effort not to sound like anyone else. We just play together and it’s what comes out.” They definitely look ‘different’ and Neil points out that “Matt’s looking quite like a Geography teacher today! Nice look.” Matt: “Nerd-noveau I think it is. Geek chic!”
Although not part of any trends, the band seems to be part of a wave of Southampton groups threatening to follow Delays into the charts. Mark agrees: “It’s really good at the moment with really good bands. Especially Fleeing New York and Xavier Floyd Firebird.” Bill: “It’s definitely the best I’ve seen it here since I’ve been playing in bands from the age of sixteen.”
With their dark intelligent humour and passionate challenging rock music maybe Neil isn’t joking when he wants the first album to be “the millennium edition of Dark Side of the Moon!” Their debut single ‘George Lassoes the Moon’ gets paroled in April and is should be considered armed and dangerous. Destined for big things Your Honour? Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!