Talking to DZ Deathrays is like running a marathon. They’ve been back and forth between Australia and Europe, in between fine tuning a debut album and getting really sick. Zahra Khamissa speaks to them about all of that, as well as their upcoming Laneway Festival tour.
So, just to make sure, you guys are back in Brisbane now?
Yeah we’ve been back for a week, it’s been good to be home, except for the fact that I’ve been pretty sick. So excuse me for coughing and spattering all over the phone. We’re here to record our debut pretty much, getting some studio time in next week, so hopefully I’ll be better by then! It’s my fault everything’s been held up, Simon and I can’t really do much at the moment.
Can you tell me a little bit about the album?
It’s not really going to be what everyone’s expecting. Because when we play live, it’s just energy, and loud and that’s really what we want people to know us for. You know get to know our songs a bit then we can change them up. We’ve written some slower stuff that we’re going to put on the album, but we haven’t really played any of it live before.
I sort of lost track of everything after you guys went to the UK in May, can you walk me through what’s been going on?
Sure. It’s been good, we first went there and supported Cerebral Ballzy on their tour, which was awesome, and played a few shows of our own, which were not so good. Playing to an empty room pretty much. This trip was much, much better. Played with Band of Skulls, Male Bonding. It was around the time when NME happened, and we were getting a little bit more attention and really came into our own over there with the Radar Tour.
Sweet, now let’s go back to 2009, is there some sort of formula to going from playing house parties to playing everywhere?
Well, back in 2009 into early 2010 it was a huge struggle. We couldn’t get many festivals or much exposure at all; we tried a few times up until the point where we decided to just pack up and go to New York, which was great because it got us enough attention to play at SXSW, but it was a struggle. You sort of just meet people, play at a lot of empty venues but stuff just popped up and things snowballed from there. Then we came back here, and then did the UK and shows around Europe.
Would you recommend that to bands? To take that step on their own?
As good as the outcome was, it’s really hard. And expensive. Some of my friends that are in bands have asked me about going over and the first thing I say is that whatever idea you had of how much you were going to spend, double that. Even just getting visas is a big shock, for five people in a band, it’s a huge expense. That’s a big struggle, and you have to reconcile with the fact that no one knows you. But we were really, really lucky.
How was playing in the UK? What were the crowds and the ‘scene’ like?
London has a huge punk/hard rock scene. Really big, and not cheesy hard rock, but good stuff, really hard-hitting. It was great to hear local bands, with screamy vocals getting played on BBC, back to back with Top 40 stuff. Interesting, it’s much bigger than it is in Australia. And we got to know a few like-minded bands over there, which was great.
Would you consider moving there long term, considering the ‘market’?
Probably not London, it’s just way too expensive and holding down a job while touring is really hindering. We’re hoping to move to Berlin actually, we made some great German friends so by next winter [Australian winter, German summer] we’d like to go over there, set up a homebase and really push our album.
Tell me a little bit about that NME interview, were you expecting it at all or did it just pop up?
It was pretty random. I think we were in Brighton and someone reviewed a show, and then one of the writers wanted to sit down and have a chat, he was really nice, it was all very easy going. So I guess he just liked us or something, and got us on to the tour. We were really flattered, it doesn’t happen a lot for young Australian bands.
So, Laneway! What’s happening until then, you guys sticking around?
Yeah we’re working on the debut now, so we get two weeks of studio time, which is great because every other EP or anything that we’ve worked on we’d had to do in a day or an afternoon, so it’ll be good to start recording. Then we’re playing with Unknown Mortal Orchestra on their tour and playing a few stadium shows which will be different. It’ll be weird playing to around 40,000 people.
Who are you looking forward to seeing the most?
Yuck. Definitely. And Wu Lyf will be great as well. And we got into The Horrors while we were in the UK so it would be good to see them.
– Zahra Khamissa