Interview: DZ Deathrays let loose
Matt Lengren caught up with Simon Ridley, one-half of Brisbane-based DZ Deathrays (and one-twelfth of the band he and DZs bandmate Shane Parsons founded, Velociraptor) – to see what he was up to before the start of their ever-growing Australian tour, in support of their second ARIA-winning album, “Black Rat”. He also couldn’t resist shamelessly requesting they make a return to his hometown, Toowoomba.
So, what’s going on?
Just working on the lighting for our tour.
Cool, more and more shows are selling out, so you’ve had to add a few more to the list?
Yeah, we added about five, I think.
Is there one place you guys prefer playing? Are the home crowds bigger?
There used to be a time when Brisbane was the hometown and it was the best, but now it’s kind of everywhere is really fun for us. It used to be Brisbane crowds that were the crazy ones and, like, we always had a hard time with Melbourne because they’d always be sort of arms folded, just checking us out, sort of thing. Then, I remember, it must have been two or three years ago, one night it just kind of… all of a sudden Melbourne was the crazy town. It’s really fun to kind of watch as you crack these new towns and stuff, it gets bigger.
Well, yeah, you’ve also played SXSW and toured Europe, do you see with those shows that your exposure is getting bigger?
Yeah, definitely, the more times you go overseas, more people come out to check you out. Especially if you go back to the same city – eventually it gets pretty big. There’s a few cities in England, and in Europe, where we’re starting to get crowds like it is back home.
I read a while ago that you guys were considering moving, and basing the band out of Europe?
We love touring Europe. I think it was on the first album tour, we spent about four or five weeks in Berlin. We got a little apartment from a friend and we just loved doing that. The problem is: it’s so expensive flying from Australia, so if you’re going to do a couple of months overseas, you might as well base yourself somewhere [in Europe] while that happens then come back home.
Talking about Melbourne crowds… Brisbane’s music scene is getting bigger and bigger every year, do you reckon it’s underrated compared to the Sydney and Melbourne scenes that are more renowned overseas?
The thing with Queensland, especially Brisbane, is that it always goes in waves. There’ll be a big wave of really good bands coming out then after that, it kind of leaves a trough where not a whole lot is going on. So you have to find which bands in that trough are going to be doing the next big thing. At the moment, I think the wave with us and friends’ bands…we’ve sort of being playing around Brisbane for the last six-to-eight years and it’s only picked up in the last two or three years.
Velociraptor come across as being musically influenced by different bands and different scenes to DZs. Do you think yours and Shane’s personal taste in music is more closely aligned with DZs or Velociraptor?
Yeah, that’s exactly it, man, I guess the music Shane and I… where it really overlaps… that’s where DZs pretty much is – that harder rock sort of thing, but with more dance and French house influences. When we started [Velociraptor], it was Shane, myself and Jeremy and it was kind of a Hives-y rock and roll influence. Now Jeremy has slowly gotten into more, I guess, becoming a better pop song writer, and that’s also influenced Velociraptor a lot.
I think Black Rat took a lot of people by surprise with how much, I suppose, it matured and changed compared to Bloodstreams (the song Northern Lights in particular). Did you guys consciously try to make it sound a bit bigger than Bloodstreams, or did it happen naturally?
The funny thing is that Northern Lights was one of the very first songs we recorded, which was weird because it’s such a weird song. I guess the whole idea of Black Rat was to be a nighttime record; the band has always been essentially for house parties, so we wanted to add some stuff to our repertoire. Northern Lights would be a sort of early morning song, then you have energetic rock songs for the start of the night when everyone’s getting on the sauce, then some dancier stuff towards midnight (like Fixations and Night Slave). I guess that was the idea behind Black Rat. It’s good to expand the range of what you’re playing.
Your set at Splendour in the Grass last year kind of reminded me of Cloud Nothings. Do you have any favourite international bands that you’d love to tour with, or even some Australian bands that you haven’t toured with yet?
We’re huge FIDLAR fans, so I’d love to tour with those guys. Jeff the Brotherhood is pretty awesome. There are so many bands that would be awesome. I’m really stoked we get to do another tour with Bass Drum of Death.
And you’ve toured with them before?
Yeah, we did a huge run in the States with them.
What’s next? Are you guys close to making a new album/making new stuff? Or just gonna keep on touring at the moment?
The album run is kind of wrapping up at the moment, so after this tour, we’re going to be focusing on getting the new album done and hopefully out by next year.
Any particular influences/sound in mind for the new one?
When we were recording Black Rat, we just decided to let loose, but with Bloodstreams, you have to be able to do it as a two-piece live. You could put synth parts here and there, but no-one would notice if it went missing in a live setting. With Black Rat we were just like, “let’s just throw in whatever. “ Now that that’s opened the door, I feel like we could do all kinds of crazy stuff.
With Black Rat’s reception, people are obviously liking the direction you’re going in…
I think we’ll still keep it as house party songs, but, I guess, kind of try to make Black Rat, but better. The heaviest song we’ve ever written… which is probably Ocean Exploder… maybe we’ll try to even write something more heavy than that, more brutal. I don’t know how we could go softer than Northern Lights without being called pussies.
Are you guys making it to Toowoomba when you’re in Queensland?
No, we did Toowoomba on the last one, we did it twice actually, I think. We’ll definitely do it next year when we have a new album. Hopefully we’ll have a new single by the end of this year, but it depends how good the writing goes. We had a couple of troubles whenever we’d go to Toowoomba, something bad would happen and we were really close to being like, let’s just not go there, it’s too much trouble every time, but then the Spotted Cow gig was so fun. So we were like, alright if we’re going to do Toowoomba, we’re just going to do the Spotted Cow, that’s it.
Hopefully I’ll be back up in Toowoomba next time you’re there. Thanks for your time.
No worries, thank you.
DZ Deathrays play at the following venues over the next couple of weeks:
SAT 28 FEB – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE, VIC (UNDER 18, DAYTIME SHOW)
SAT 28 FEB – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE, VIC SOLD OUT
SUN 1 MAR – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE, VIC NEW SHOW
THU 5 MAR – FOWLERS, ADELAIDE, SA (Lic/AA)
FRI 6 MAR – AMPLIFIER, PERTH, WA
SAT 7 MAR – PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY, WA
SUN 8 MAR – NEWPORT HOTEL, FREMANTLE, WA
WED 11 MAR – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB, SYDNEY, NSW SOLD OUT
THU 12 MAR – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB, SYDNEY, NSW SOLD OUT
FRI 13 MAR – BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE, QLD SOLD OUT
SAT 14 MAR – FARMER & THE OWL FESTIVAL, WOLLONGONG, NSW
SUN 15 MAR – MUSIC INDUSTRY COLLEGE, BRISBANE, QLD
(UNDER 18, DAYTIME SHOW)
SUN 15 MAR – BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE, QLD