I was pretty pumped a few years back when I first heard Deathwish would be releasing a record from Narrows, a new project featuring Dave from Botch, Rob from Unbroken, and Ryan from These Arms Are Snakes. While the first track off that record was a total banger, I must admit that I felt pretty underwhelmed by the rest of “New Distances”. Thankfully, the band returned with a couple much stronger songs on their split with Heiress, and seems to have fully hit their stride on 2012’s crushing “Painted”.
The band recently announced a new split 7” with Retox that will be coming out later this year on the legendary 31G. I was interested in hearing a little more about the history of the band as well as what’s been cooking lately, so I sent them a few questions. Vocalist Dave Verellen hit me back with some answers.
I'm curious as to your history and connections to one another. I'm sure the Americans in the band all have long-standing relationships within the U.S. scene, but how did you guys collectively all get to know one another and more importantly, given the distance how did you all come close enough that you decided you wanted to start making music together?
True Rob and Ryan and I had all known each other from other various meetings, Sam is Rob’s good mate from San Diego and Jodie toured with These Arms Are Snakes and Ryan, so we just folded them into the mix and now we’re all super pals.
In terms of song-writing do you guys write full songs and then flesh them out periodically when you get physically get together, does everybody bring some riffs to the table and then you piece them into full songs? I'm sure given technology and recording software the distance can be mitigated to some extent, but I also feel like it must be challenging at times to not physically be in the same room together, to not be able to "vibe" off each other, as hippy as that sounds, haha.
Right, well it is difficult but that’s the challenge. We bring ideas and just lay it down and see what emerges. It’s rather unorthodox but fun for us to work out.
To my ears anyway, "Painted" sounds like a huge step up from "New Distances". For starters the production is more powerful, but mostly the songs just seem more dynamic, more well-thought out. Were you guys able to spend more time on the second LP, was it that you better navigated the time and space challenges you face as a band? How was the process of writing the second LP different from the first?
We actually had less time I believe. We had just finished a tour and Rob, Sam, Jodie, and Ryan spent two days figuring out tracks. Then Sam and Rob laid down their parts and went home to San Diego. After that Ryan, Jodie, and myself then added our bits over it. I agree that it sounds maybe more cohesive and produced but as to why…I have no idea.
You recently announced a new split 7" with Retox, which I think a lot of people will be really excited about. I'm sort of assuming that connection may have originated with Rob and Justin having worked together via 31G back in the day, but talk a little bit about how that project took root.
Well yeah, Rob and Justin were also in Some Girls together and that relationship steered us towards working with Retox and 31G. We basically felt like Deathwish had other things going on so we wanted to work with our mates and put something out. It’s just been finished so I’m excited to see what comes of it all.
I'm imagining two songs for that record.....was that recording session just to bang out the material for that split, or do you guys have more up your sleeve that might surface elsewhere?
Just that e.p. but we always have ideas floating about. I’m sure if someone wants to put out another Narrows record we’ll be happy to deliver.
Your bio mentions that the band serves as a respite and an escape from adult responsibilities, what does everybody do work-wise, and beyond that, are there spouses and children that factor into the mix as well or no?
Yes, here’s the breakdown….I’m a firefighter with a wife and a daughter, Ryan is a graphic designer and is single, ready to mingle. Jodie is a booking agent and musician lady-killer, Rob is a fraud prevention specialist and is newly engaged. Sam is a bad-ass construction worker/plumber and is locked down with his lady, and Jason (I’ll mention him since he’s been playing with us) is a clothing designer; he and his wife are expecting.
I know for me one of the things I think about a lot these days is that at age 35 with a wife and 4 little boys to raise, hardcore punk is MORE important to me now than it was when I was 18. I feel like back then I wanted to be involved, today I need to be involved, though my involvement is in certain ways more limited. For you guys, how has the role of punk in your life changed over time?
Of course. Lots of things come into focus as you get older but it’s nice how a lot of the same theme surface and you can apply all of your punk ideals into everyday life. The “civilians” will never know but we do.
One of the things I sometimes lament is that it seems that over time things in our scene have become less idea-oriented; specifically when it comes to socio-political topics but also just in terms of the ideas, passion, and sense of honesty as a whole. While there still are plenty of bands that are inspiring and have amazing things to say, it seems like a lot of bands these days just sort of ride a wave of what's cool and have less emphasis on substance. I'm wondering if you feel this way as well, and if so, what you do you see as its causes. More importantly, do you think it's possible to re-infuse that sense of urgency into punk and hardcore?
It is important to foster that sense of urgency in music but what’s changing is not only the scene and the kids but the world and politics and the evils. The information age has spawned the age of evasion and invisibility; we don’t directly see the evils in the world today because now they know we are looking. Monsanto, Phillip Morris, the banks and such all hide behind rhetoric and clever marketing…so you don’t know who to blame.
Beyond the Retox split, what's next in terms of writing, recording, and touring?
Fuck man I hope we play a few shows but this year is looking a little slower than the past few. If kids want us to come play their town please let us know so we can work to make it happen. Thanks.