Interview: DZ Deathrays

Following the release of their third studio album Bloody Lovely and a string of festival dates and international shows, 2018 is shaping up to be another huge year for DZ Deathrays. The dance-punk duo’s last two albums, Bloodstreams and Black Rat, nabbed them the 2012 and 2014 ARIA for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album, and Bloody Lovely has already debuted at #4 on the ARIA charts. CLIQUE spoke with drummer, Simon Ridley, ahead of their Australian tour.

It’s been a couple months now since Bloody Lovely was released, what’s the response been like following the initial hype for the album?

Overall it’s been pretty positive, which is really awesome for us. It’s always nerve racking putting something out especially when you’ve taken years to do it. We’re pretty stoked everyone seems to be liking it.

Yeah it’s been awhile between albums, four years was it?

Yeah, it ended up being four years. We just want to keep upping the ante. It took us a long time because we really wanted to make sure this album was the best one we could do and there wasn’t really a time limit on it, although it probably shouldn’t have taken four years in hindsight. But it was really cathartic getting this one out since it’s been so long working on it. It’s crazy though, we didn’t expect it to get so high in the [ARIA] charts already.

This album’s got a slightly different vibe to your previous two, the songs have a more pop sound to them. Would you agree with this?

Yeah, definitely. I think this one is like, we tried to write every single song so that it could be like a standalone single. I guess we were just trying to make it as accessible as we could probably do. A sort of pop album? Yeah, but at the same time not trying to alienate our original sound.

And it’s got a great live feel to it, was that a factor you considered when you were writing?

Yeah, definitely. Like we were trying to write some songs initially when we started the record and the main idea was because we were starting to get these late afternoon sort of main stage festival slots, we need to start writing some big songs that people can sing along to or something hooky in them that [the audience] can sing along to. So I guess that’s kind of how we wrote this album.

You mentioned festivals, you guys seem to be doing festivals and touring all the time. South Africa, South America, you’re heading back to the UK and North America soon too after your Australian stint. Does it take a toll on you?

Oh man, I actually just spent all morning organising flights for a gig. It’s awesome being able go and do all these shows. But when we toured Black Rat we toured it really hard for like months on end out the road. Then we just started dying pretty much, like we hired a friend of ours to come on tour as a session guitarist, and he pretty much just quit because he was knackered. So I think after that, we realised we can do three weeks on and at least one week off for tours and that seems to be enough.

I mean you’re approaching ten years, that’s long time to be doing it that hard. Looking at all the places you’ve toured, is there a difference between the crowds in different countries and cities?

Yeah there actually is, although it’s starting to get a bit similar like I think as the band is getting a bit more popular than it was, people are starting to know what to expect or they see clips of our other shows online. Because before when we played all these new shows in new countries, half the crowd would be at the back, arms folded, just checking it out and what not and the other half would be at the front. But now when we were on our South African tour like those shows, even though they’re a lot smaller than our Australian shows, the intensity was crazy. People were crowd surfing before we even really started. So yeah they’ve become quite similar, which is awesome, because that’s what we’re aiming for, every show to be a big crazy house party gig.

So have you worked out how to manage yourselves, with you living in Brisbane and Shane in Sydney? Is it a lot easier now compared to the initial shift to working in different cities?

We actually both quite like it. It’s cool because you get enough time to really flesh out ideas. If you’re in a jam studio then you’ve only got like three hours because you hire the studio for three hours but if you’re at home then you can work on something for two or three days before you send it back to the other person. So I think it’s been working really good, I mean we still have to get together at certain times to plan and plan out how it’ll be played as a three piece or whatever. It’s still no real substitute to getting in a room, cranking some amps and rocking out with friends but working online seems to work well for us.

Another aspect to your work is the music videos which are always very interesting and a lot of fun. Your recent clip for ‘Like People’ stars the original red wiggle Murray Cook, how was that?

Thank you! Yeah, we shot that one all in one afternoon and it was really weird showing up on a shoot and he was there doing his thing, dancing around. We got to say g’day to him and hang out and have a few beers and stuff. It was awesome, if we’ve got enough money or have the right contact, we’ll always try to get someone in that’ll be really fun for the shoot. It’s cool having a bit of a budget to do this. Like we used to just ask friends of ours who work in advertising if they could do us some favours and shoot our dumb ideas when we had absolutely no money.

So finally, what can we expect on this upcoming tour?

I think we’re just going to play a lot of the new songs because we toured Black Rat so much, we haven’t had chance play much of the new stuff in Australia yet. So now that the album’s out I think we’re going to play majority of those songs. Hopefully if you’re coming to the show and you like the new record, you’re in for a good time. But we probably won’t be playing a lot off Bloodstreams, you know. A lot of these venues we’ve played heaps of times before but we’ve never really headlined them so I’m stoked to go back as the guy that’s headlining them. That’ll be really exciting. There’s also a few tracks that we went back and forth with so hopefully they’ll be a monster when we play them live. I think if we don’t fuck them up then they’ll turn out the way we hope they will, otherwise I don’t know, we’ll have to write a new record.

DZ Deathrays play in Adelaide at The Gov as part of The Bloody Lovely Tour on the May 4. This show is now SOLD OUT.

Stream or buy the album here.




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