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DZ Deathrays

Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley, aka ARIA-award-winning Aussie punk-rock duo DZ Deathrays, take us through their latest album…

SHRED FOR SUMMER: This is written about being a kid and listening to hand-me-down CDs from metal bands from your siblings, playing and learning guitar instead of playing sports. Originally, when we wrote this idea I was playing it as chords but it was when we introduced the Zepplin gallop to the verse riff that the song had a cooler vibe.

TOTAL MELTDOWN: This song started when we were recording Blood On My Leather. It was just the verse riff repeated throughout the whole song. I really struggled to write vocals for this song to the point I had a little bit of a meltdown in the Blood On My Leather studio session as we just were not ready to record some of the songs. Funnily enough, this meltdown lead to the lyrics in the verse of this song. The track sat like that for well over a year as I couldn’t find a chorus for it, I think I wrote about four versions. Then in a rehearsal room Simon and I were just jamming on some chords for the chorus and I was just screaming whatever through the mic which lead to the, “I’m Dead…” hence why the chorus has nothing to do with the verses.

FEELING GOOD, FEELING GREAT: This is kind of the most angsty song on the record. Lyrically, it’s me complaining about an older generation and how boredom breeds unnecessary consumerism. Very angsty! The tune originally had the quiet verse loud chorus thing going on but Burke said that it would be cooler to just come out of the gates with vocals and distortion from the get go. We did write the bridge in the studio and the idea there was to try snap it out of the driving flow into something a little more dreamy. I don’t know if we achieved that, but I think it’s a nice party moment on the record with some pretty dumb lyrics, fun times.

LIKE PEOPLE: This is the song with the most meaning to me. We wrote the music quite quickly at a rehearsal room in Sydney. I think I just mumbled some stuff in to the mic that went along with the guitar line then I went home and wrote the verses to the song straight away. It was at a time when I was thinking about someone who came up to me out of nowhere and said to my face that I should get my teeth fixed, but he was a fan and said how much he really liked the band. I just thought it was a weird personal thing to say to someone you don’t know. Then there were the Paris attacks that happened right around the same time and I just kept thinking how much people really can be totally shit. I guess I was just annoyed at a lot of what I was seeing on the news, online and also to my face. I came up with the chorus line, “after this I feel I like you more” which is just the inside of my head in one voice saying I hate people for being horrible but that leads me to really love the good people out there.

HIGH: This is a song where Simon actually wrote the vocal melodies. I was completely stumped on how to approach the chorus and Simon sent me a rough idea that sounded like what’s there now. I just worked out some lyrics that fit the melody. I was thinking back to a night that Dune Rats and us had on tour in Amsterdam. We stayed out all night and wandered the streets looking for bars but most of the time we were just walking for what felt like hours. It’s a fun song that has some nice darker moments in it hopefully catching the feeling of a night out in a wonderful, strange city.

GUILLOTINE: The idea for this song came from me writing a riff that was in 7/4 timing… I think. I wanted to write something that was simple but the timing a little off but once everything is together the song actually makes your head nod. I think it’s one of our favourites from the record for this reason. Lyrically, it’s a little subjective. I can’t really tell you what it’s about or what was going through my head at the time.

BAD INFLUENCE: More of an interlude than a song but this took no time to write and it was something we wanted to tie back to Blood On My Leather’s Beastie Boys vibe. Paranoid, confusing lyrics over the top of three notes.

OVER IT: This song originally started in a writing session I had with Novak from Polish Club. We spent the day working on choruses for Total Meltdown but he is an amazing vocalist and everything we were coming up with I just said was going to be too hard for me to perform. So we decided to start something from scratch. I had a chord progression I wrote on the Violent Soho tour and Novak essentially was like, “Let’s turn this into a bass line.” So, we put on a break beat loop and tremolo picked the notes out. Real simple lyrics about a break-up. I added a bridge and messy solo, and sent it to Simon who sent drums back in about two hours.

BACK & FORTH: This was the last song we wrote for the album. Getting close to studio time we felt like the album was missing an Ocean Exploder on it, so Simon and I intentionally went out to write a heavier riff song. I always thought the chorus to this song is cool as it an anti-chorus until the end, it gets pulled back rather than opens up. We have always wanted to do something like that so this was a good chance to flex that muscle. The bridge of the song is my favourite part due to the vision I get of Burke stomping around the studio, with fists clenched acting like a giant stomping over a city. This came from his idea to really straighten out the drums and guitar in this section.

AFTERGLOW: This one was another problem child that we started in the “BOML” session. I think I went through three or four choruses only to end up back at the original one we wrote. It was hard to find the balance between how much vocal should be in the chorus with a guitar top line that was so melodic. It was nice to include this track to the record as it starts with just guitar and vocal. Something I don’t think we have done before.

WITCHCRAFT PT.II: The second part of our songs about witches. This tune was one we wrote for Black Rat called “Road Rash”, which just didn’t make the cut. I really loved the riff which when played like The Sonics’ “The Witch” it has way more swagger. This then lead to me to think back to a Reddit thread I got obsessed with one day all about American haunted forest/witchcraft stories. We have been throwing this track in to live sets for over a year now because honestly it’s just so fun to play.

DZ Deathrays’ album Bloody Lovely is out now


NEW ZEALAND APRIL 26: Galatos, Auckland, NZ; APRIL 27: Blue Smoke, Christchurch, NZ; APRIL 28: San Fran, Wellington, NZ. AUSTRALIA MAY 4: The Gov, Adelaide, SA; MAY 5: Capitol, Perth, WA; MAY 10: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW; MAY 11: Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW; MAY 12: Hellenic Club, Canberra, ACT; MAY 17: Karova Lounge, Ballarat, Vic; MAY 18: 170 Russell, Melbourne, Vic; MAY 19: Republic Bar, Hobart, Tas; MAY 25: The Triffid, Brisbane, Qld.

For the full article grab the April 2018 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.

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