Written by Nicole Madden Tuesday, 16 March 2010 00:32
The San Francisco punk band talks about the perks of being on tour.
Photo by Bryan J. Sutter
Dead to Me is currently on tour in support of their second full length release, African Elephants. They recently played at the Firebird in St. Louis (3.9.10) with The Scam, Sink the Bismark, and The Cobra Skulls. Initially looking for a phone interview, I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to talk with the guys face to face at the show. Much to my liking, Chicken (bass/vocals), Nathan (guitar/vocals), and Ian (drums) chatted with me outside prior to their set.
Ok, so you’ve only played a handful of shows so far on the tour, right?
Chicken: That’s right.
How has the response been so far?
Chicken: It’s been really good. It’s been better than anticipated. I always try not to have major expectations for tours but so far the shows have been really well attended and we’ve had a really good time at every show so far. Lots of kids singing along and jumping around and shit. Always makes it fun.
You, Chicken, have been quoted as saying...
No, it’s good! “None of us feel as good when we’re home as we do when we’re on the road.” Can you talk about that a little bit?
Chicken: Yeah, but I already said that. Do you guys want to say how you feel about it or was I speaking for you guys when I said that?
Nathan: Tour’s just so much fun. It just blows everything else out of the water.
Chicken: Yeah, it’s like new places, a new city everyday.
Nathan: I love being home but being on tour...
Ian: It gives you a sense of purpose, at least for me. Having something to do, having a goal every night. You get to go play a show with a bunch of friends and have fun. It’s like the payoff, ya know?
Nathan: That’s a really good way of saying that.
Ian: Every time you’re home, you’re kinda stressing about it and trying to figure out when the tour is and then when you’re actually out there and doing it, it’s the best part.
What are a few of your favorite cities to play and are there certain songs you’ll play in certain cities only or for a certain city?
Nathan: No, not really...
Chicken: As far as the favorite cities go, I don’t know if it even counts but Gainesville, playing The Fest every year, is definitely one of the funnest shows we do. Home town shows are always really good but, I mean, you can’t beat, like, Tokyo or Berlin or Prague, you know what I mean? Those are amazing fucking cities. But we don’t usually play geographic specific set lists.
Ian: I don’t think we’ve ever done that. Maybe we should!
Nathan: I was wondering how we would do that...
Well, you know, just like if there’s a better response to some songs in certain cities or whatever.
DTM: Yeah, yeah (presumably deep in thought over my ingenious concept)
Ok, what were you’re influences when you were writing African Elephants as opposed to Cuban Ballerina or Little Brother?
Chicken: Hmm. I don’t know. My influences have honestly stayed the same. I kind of have this core of bands that got me into punk rock that I’ve stuck with and I haven’t really strayed too far from those roots, you know what I mean? Like, there’s a lot of stuff in modern punk that I’m pretty oblivious to and not really that interested in. There’s a lot of stuff going on in punk that I am interested in and excited about but most of my influences personally don’t really come from the punk world. I think they just come from life and it turns out that I’m not that good at playing guitar and I like punk songs and they end up in that format, you know what I mean? (laughs)
Ian: I was influenced a little bit. I feel like I started listening to some different stuff when we were recording African Elephants.
Chicken: Drum wise?
Ian: Yeah, just more, I don’t know, like, a lot of Replacements, I guess. Tom Petty.
Chicken: Yeah, he got to spread his, I don’t know, I hate the term but spread his wings a little bit on the newer record.
Ian: Nathan exposed me to a lot of shit that I probably never would have listened to before which I’m stoked on.
Nathan: I kinda rammed it down his throat. When I first joined the band, Ian was the driver in the mornings and I would be shotgun on those mornings and I would just force him to listen to everything that I wanted to listen to. I think some of it might have seeped into his head.
Ian: I think so, too.
Chicken: Yeah, it rubbed off.
Nathan: I don’t even necessarily think it’s band influences that we have as much as...
Chicken: Yeah, I’m way more influenced by, like, books and, fucking, life and shit (laughs), you know what I mean, than bands and their music.
So, now, here comes my Fest question. First of all, I saw you guys last year with a broken leg.
Chicken: Fuck yeah!
Giving myself props for that one!
Chicken: Yeah, that’s punk points, man.
Of all the times you have played, was there a certain year that was your favorite to play?
Ian: Last year.
Nathan: Last year.
Chicken: The most recent one because of the after party but the set that we played with Riverboat Gamblers the first time we were there was fun as shit! I had a really good time there.
Ian: That’s true.
Chicken: But we played an after party this year at a warehouse that was really fucking fun.
Yeah, I read about it but I didn’t get to go.
Chicken: That was super fun.
Ian: Plus, that was our first time playing as a three piece.
Yeah, this was my second year and you guys had to cancel two years ago, I guess.
Chicken: That sucks. Was it weather or did we just...
No, I think it was right when Jack had the baby.
Chicken: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Nathan: That was the lost year.
Chicken: I’m glad we’re back.
Me, too! And last question, if you could tour with one band, old, new, who ever you want, who would it be and why?
Ian: Strike Anywhere
Chicken: Did you say Strike Anywhere? (laughs) I’m gonna go either Philip Glass or NWA.
Nathan: I’d say Neil Young and Crazy Horse and maybe...
Chicken: He said Crazy Horse ‘cause then he could party with ‘em. (laughs)
Nathan: And maybe... There’s this band, Yay Sayer. Have you heard of Yay Sayer?
Nathan: They’re a newer, they’re not newer but they have a new song right now that we’ve been listening to a lot and, right now, at this moment, I would like to go on tour with them.
Chicken: And then we’d get to see it live everyday as opposed to listening to it in our van!
Afterwards, a whirlwind of high fives and thank you’s were exchanged, followed by a most entertaining and energetic Dead to Me show.
Photo by Bryan J. Sutter
Upcoming shows see the band playing with Strike Anywhere, Off With Their Heads, Worn in Red, and Smoke or Fire. Good luck with the rest of the tour, boys! | Nicole Madden
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