Born from the Brisbane house party scene, DZ Deathrays are no strangers to small sweaty venues and boozed up crowds. They’ve come a long way from the rooms they started in, but they’ve not lost touch with their roots; “Last night [in Leicester] was just like [a house party],” says drummer Simon Ridley, “It was just like a little box, it was crammed and everyone was on stage, it was just dripping sweat. It was crazy.” Guitarist/vocalist Shane Parsons added “It’s cool when you can do the bigger venues, if you can fill them. But you’d always rather have a small room that’s completely rammed than a big room that’s sort of, half full”.
Despite not having toured the UK properly since 2012, DZ Deathrays are still getting a mad reception from British crowds. “Lately the show’s been really good. I think it’s starting to get to the point where it is back home”. With lower age restrictions over here, DZ Deathrays are able to pull in a whole new crowd; “Doing the 14+ shows has been really good. Even at home we’ve never really done under 18 shows. In the UK you can do a 14+ show really easily and they’ve been the good ones, kids have been going crazy”.
A house party tour is something they’ve been thinking about for a while, “It’s kinda hard because you’ve got to find the right houses, and the right people to get you there” says Ridley. Not only that, but “you’d be the only band, there wouldn’t be any other bands playing or anything…You could go for half an hour to an hour before the cops came”. Which is obviously game over on your show. “Cops, they love going to noise complaints in Australia, they’ll be there in two seconds. You say you’ve heard gun fire, or someone screaming and they’ll take about two hours. Noise complaint? Straight there!”
One thing DZ Deathrays have had to work out this time around is how to get songs off their new album Black Rat sounding as full live as they do on record. “When we were doing the album, we were like ‘Well, let’s just not worry about if we can play it live. We’ll figure it out later’. That’s been kind of a fun little challenge to figure it out live,” Parsons explains. “We can play all the songs on the record, whereas on Bloodstreams there were a couple of songs that were just a little hard to play live. Everyone always wants us to play ‘Dumb It Down’ – problem with that song is that it’s all set at an arpeggiated sequence, and because we don’t play the click tracker or anything; if you start going out of it, it’s hard get back in . So that’s actually a harder song off the first record. This time I think it’s more straight-up, it’s just got more layers, so we need someone to play those parts.”
Unsurprisingly, there’s a fair mix of things influencing DZ Deathrays. “When we started the band we kind of made a list of bands that we thought it would be awesome to see at a house party, that we wanted to make the band be like. We had Death From Above, The Bronx, Justice, Mastercraft, Crystal Castles… So I guess that’s why it’s a bit like, melty. There are different bits from all of the bands we like”. And Ridley’s right. Parsons points out that the band’s influences are a real mix of genres, “Like Ratatat. Or things that also do that cross-over. Crystal Castles do the cross-over a little bit, it’s quite punk in delivery, but it’s all electronic. You also have the same with Ratatat where it’s guitars on top of beats. I think those kind of bands are what have really influenced us a lot for the last two albums.”
DZ Deathrays take more than just musical inspiration from bands they like.“Most of the musicians that have influenced us, have kind of influenced sound as well, but I guess you kind of take away from bands that you tour with? I know when we toured with Blood Red Shoes the first time in America, that same year they asked us to go tour with them in Europe. After touring with them for so long, it was kind of like we got a good sense of what they’d done to get where they were so far. They just had a really good work ethic in terms of playing shows and the way they write songs, write albums.” Ridley adds, “It’s also cool for bands that have influenced us musically, that we get to meet and stuff. It’s weird.” Take a minute to think about the grunge influence in a lot of DZ’s work, and that Parson’s “grew up listening to Nirvana and Foo Fighters.” And then got to meet Dave Grohl when they toured with Foo Fighters in 2011.
So for the next year, DZ Deathrays are going to be “touring and trying to find ten minutes to write ideas down for new songs. We’re gonna have to try and write our new album quite quickly, to keep up momentum. Any time we have off when we’re at home we’ll probably just get back into that process again.”
And if you do get a chance to catch the Aussie two piece in the next year, Simon says it’s going to be “weird, loud, boozy, and with terrible banter,” and you’ll come away “like a drenched rat”.
So maybe that one’s not going to be on the cards for a while, but the next year looks promising for the thrash-pop duo.