With the release of their debut single ‘Drag/Selfless’ through Kissability and Transgressive last week, Alex Cull caught up with Liverpudlian lo-fi indie rockers Death at Sea to wax lyrical about cassette releases, the festival circuit and Pavement.
First off, tell us a bit about yourselves: how did you all meet and get together?
We all met at uni, doing the same course; a crazy course in popular music. We’d all played in different bands and then formed in January and decided it was time we all did something together. So, that’s how it started – we all met in Liverpool.
Your premiere single ‘Drag/Selfless’ has just come out through Transgressive, how did this come about?
That was really cool; it all happened very organically. It was through Jen Long at Kissability, who was the first person to play our music at Radio 1. We decided it would be cool to go down that route with Jen and release our first single with her seeing as she was the first person to play us on the radio.
Was it at all intimidating joining forces with such a successful label with a great reputation for breaking new bands? Or was it more of a hopeful experience than anything else?
It’s all happened so fast; I haven’t really been able to take it all in yet, but it’s really humbling to have people that believe in your music. I mean, we recorded our songs in our living room a few months ago and now it’s being released a single. It’s just a really humbling experience.
Was it important for you to get the single released on cassette? What appealed to you about a cassette release?
Well, we’ve only got a cassette player in our car… [laughs] We needed an old-school format to play it on. It was just a bit of fun and Kissability release on cassette, as well. I think we’ve got some vinyl made up too. I’m not sure how people get a hold of them, but I know we’ve got some as I’ve got one lying in the living room right now.
One line on ‘Drag’ particularly caught my ear and I know it has friends of mine, too: “When he’s with her, she bleeds glitter”. Can you tell us the meaning behind it?
The song is a love song, really. It’s just about an experience. That line in particular is about with my girlfriend; how you feel when you’re arguing, that you’re not meant to be together. But when you’re not arguing, it feels really natural. The line follows that up, and how when things are really shit, it still feels natural and beautiful at the same time.
There’s definitely quite a classic, 90s US indie influence in your music – to my ears anyway – if you could share a stage with any band or artist etc past or present, who would it be and why?
For me, well, Pavement would be incredible. We all love Pavement. I think you’re right with the 90s vibe; I don’t think we set out to do that, but we all love it. A gig I was just watching was the Pixies at Brixton Academy in 1991 on YouTube. That was one of those gigs that I’d love to have been in the support band for.
I remember reading in an interview you did with DIY that you guys were proclaiming “Guitar music is not dead!” It certainly seems to be true with bands like yourselves, Yuck, Towns et al, all doing great things. Who do you see as your closest musical brothers going at the moment?
I think it was Liam that said that. I feel like we’re kinda outcasts at the moment; the underdogs; like, no one really likes us. There are so many really cool bands playing at the moment; it’s pretty mental. I really like that band, Cheetahs – they’re pretty good. We played a gig with Palma Violets and they were incredible – really nice guys as well. ‘Ex-Offender’ is probably one of my favourite songs at the moment. I really respect them, they’re a great band.
Who are your favourite Liverpudlian bands at the moment?
We’re really into this band, Ninetails. They’re very different from us and very mathy. They’re ridiculously tight, those guys, as well. I think there’s not that much going on in Liverpool at the moment. It’s quite quiet, but I’d say Ninetails are definitely my favourite right now.
You did SWN festival at the weekend; how was the experience? Catch any great new bands you’d like to tip us off to?
We actually had a bit of a nightmare as our bus got a puncture at 6 in the morning ahead of us playing that day. By the time we got into Cardiff we had to do an acoustic session as well, so we just had to go in, play the show and then leave. It was pretty annoying as it was a great festival; the line-up was incredible. We didn’t get a chance to catch any of it, unfortunately. We did really enjoy the gig, though; it was good fun.
Following on from this, what would be your dream festival to play and why?
Any festie; I love the festies! I think my favourite would probably be… I think I’d take T in the Park, that’s a cool one. People go crazy at T… or Download…
What does 2013 hold for Death at Sea? Anything lined up so far?
Wow, that’s actually quite soon, isn’t it?! I think we’ve got quite a lot on the books. We’re gonna be writing lots of stuff; recording as much as possible; a couple of tours – that kind of thing. 2013’s gonna be a big year for us, I think. We’re excited about it.
I remember reading that you had a whole album’s worth of material ready?
Yeah. Well, we just write all the time. It’s something that we just love to do anyway so it’s not a chore for us. We’ve written so many songs now so it’s about getting a little bit of downtime to get in the studio and record some things.
- Alex Cull
The single launch for Drag/Selfless takes place October 31 at the Queen of Hoxton and features live sets from Death at Sea, Wolf Alice and Honey. More details, here.