A taster of what DZ Deathrays do, of their style and of their general outlook on music can be found in the video for ‘The Mess Up‘, a song from their debut EP No Sleep. It probably doesn’t approach ‘Scream’ in terms of budget, but it features the bandmates sat on a table, choking down an entire bottle of Jagermeister – shot by shot – until finishing the whole thing by the end of the song. “Fair enough” you say, “I bet Arcade Fire could do that”, and you may be correct, but DZ Deathrays are a two-piece, and being a thrash-pop band, the song is only 3 minutes long. “The main concern for us was just keeping the shots down”, says drummer Simon Ridley, and he manages. Just about.
DZ Deathrays’ debut album Bloodstreams could be described as having “more swagger than a drunk giraffe on roller skates”, and any recent comparison to Death From Above 1979 has been countless and a bit lame – the raw nature of DZ surpasses even some of the rougher DFA1979 stuff. The album is a collection of angry, fast, DIY adrenaline shots. “Our motto was just to ‘get it done’, we couldn’t afford to stay any longer in the studio” Ridley admits, referring to recording with bandmate Shane Parsons. “We did 14 songs in 14 days, so we were doing long hours and getting exhausted but we did it the most comfortable way we could have with the amount of time and money we had – when we sent our friends the album, we pointed out all the screw ups we’d made”.
Although being part of a new uprising of hardcore music, the band aren’t ignorant as to the true origins of DZ Deathrays. “It would have been awesome to be involved in the industry when all the greats like Cream and Zep were breaking through – if Bill Murray liked Bloodstreams that would just be it.” Dream celebrity fans aside, extensive tour with other bands certainly made its mark on the album. “We wrote ‘Teenage Kickstarts’ after touring with Cerebral Ballzy,” the NYC based hardcore punk band with whom DZ Deathrays played a string of festivals last summer, the average review being “fucking nuts,” before going on to record the album with PVT’s Richard Pike.”
Being an Australian band, trying to gauge international reactions to the album is tricky. “We don’t have a lot of time to read international media,” comments Ripley. But that said, it doesn’t seem like they mind too much. “Brisbane has one of the best emerging scenes anywhere, lots of bands are starting to get attention nationally, and some internationally such as Last Dinosaurs”. Speaking as a writer for a London based magazine knowing very little about the Brisbane scene besides DZ Deathrays, Brisbane wouldn’t have been the first example to my head, but modesty is a good trait. DZ Deathrays have been globetrotting since their early days, and over the past few years, the band have toured Australia, the UK, and most recently America, where they played SXSW. “The best thing at SXSW was seeing Trash Talk for the first time. The festival is amazing, there’s nowhere like it in the world.”
An Australian music magazine wrote that “DZ’s live show is like several punches to the throat, gut, jaw, face, back of the head, gut again, solar plexus and groin. It’s a melodious blitzkrieg.” The notoriety of DZ Deathrays has been gathered directly from their shows, with another site stating that “as long as you weren’t being floored by the mosh pit fluctuating in size at the front you’d be made of stone if you didn’t think that was a bloody brilliant show.” Another summed up their DZ experience by claiming that “the Brisbane duo immediately force-feed you their heavy brand of rock n roll, then proceed to slap the taste outta’ your mouth”. It’s fair to say that DZ’s shows inspire a certain kind of intoxication, and Simon knows what that is. “Someone going to our show should be the kind of drunk that makes you think people would appreciate it if you jumped on their heads.” But if you aren’t up for that, at least one person will be. “Surprisingly often I’ll jump into the crowd and security won’t let me back onstage again,” Ridley adds. To give another view of the insanity of a DZ show, when I asked about the skull masks they make to throw into crowds with lenses in them to make “shit looked tripped out” – my question of “why?” as met with “why not?” I suppose I asked for that, really.
“We always like to gamble at the roadside servos, it’s how we pay for parking” Simon states when asked of the band’s upcoming UK tour. (Apparently that’s a service station? Thanks Urban Dictionary) “ UK is starting to get crazy like how it is in Australia. We’re looking foward to seeing how the crowd raise the bar next time we’re there.” And talking of raising bars, the conversation topic shifts to the recent ‘apparition’ of Tupac at Coachella festival. So go on then, who would DZ Deathrays ‘bring back’? “When we headline Coachella, I plan on making the most epic line up ever to grace a stage. I’d have holographic dinosaurs with lasers being ridden around by Kurt Cobain, Elvis, 1980′s Tim Allen (I know he’s not dead but that part of him is… the party animal part) and John Candy and who ever else I can think of at the time.” Until that day, we’re going to have to stick with skull masks, weird lenses, getting fucked up and jumping on each other. I suppose it’ll do for now.
Bloodstreams is out now through Hassle Records.