The Dead 50s
Jeff Terranova from Smorgasbord Records sent me a copy of the second album by the Dead 50s, “Standing on the edge of forever.” In a review to that album you can see that I like this record a lot, so I decided to do an interview with the singer/guitarist of the band, Chris Moody, who turned out to be a very nice guy. So let’s go ahead…
Hi Chris, how are you at the moment? Anything to start this interview off with?
Hey Stefan, well I'm kinda droggy, and a little smelly, late night last night!!!!!!!!! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us.
First of all, I like your album "Standing on the edge of forever" very much, it kicks ass! But to be honest, I never heard anything of the Dead 50s before, so could you please give me a little history of the band (sorry for this standard question), who is in the band, how long are you together, have there been any line-up changes so far, etc.?
We started the band a couple years back as a three piece and released our first album "Every step towards death makes me that much more alive." The bass player that played on that album quit the band shortly before its release (It's pretty easy to completely screw up your life playing in a band like this, haha, too much booze and such, it takes a special breed haha...). So We Picked up Eric Bess on Bass and it's been great ever since!!! Now we have a solid line up, I drink, sing and play Guitar, Eric Bess plays Bass, and Shawn Miller on Drums.
In the Smorgasbord info I read that "Standing on..." is your second album, so when was your debut album released and on which label? Why did you change labels?
Actually we never changed labels, our first record was put out by us. We hooked up with Smorgasbord for our second release.
I also heard that you draw large crowds in the Philadelphia area, so how many people show up when you're playing there? Do you think you can gain broader attention with the release of the new album?
The crowds have been growing all over the East Coast. Being that we are still somewhat of a new band, it takes time to really get the tunes out there to people. We are scheduled to play the Pontiac Grill down of South Street in Philly in two weeks, we expect there to be around 300 people or so, I don't think the club holds more than that. It's tough though, we can play to 300 people in an area that knows who we are, then go two hours from there and play to 10 people, haha, it's frustrating, but we love doing it. The new album is really helping to open a lot of new doors for us. We just really want to get our music out there.
The Smorgasbord info also said that you were featured on ESPN's X-Games. What is that? First I though of a computer game, but I'm not sure. Which song was featured and how were the reactions to your participation?
The X-games is a National TV show that covers any kind of extreme sports such as BMX racing, skateboarding, wakeboarding, etc... (I see – Stefan). They used "Foolin' myself",( a song of our first record) to be played on the show!! It was awesome. Since it aired we have been making a lot of new contacts with people who liked what they heard.
I think lots of bands playing this rock/punk'n'roll style sound very much like Social Distortion, but I think the Dead 50s have definitely their own style. Would you agree? What are your influences and favourite bands?
We don't write songs to sound like any other band, although like any original band, the music you grew up on always has an influence. I like Elvis, and Buddy Holly etc. But I also love old Misfits (yeah! – Stefan), Dead Kennedy's, Bouncing Souls, Supersuckers kick ass!!! And stuff like that. Eric(bass player) is into all kinds of new punk, you name it he has it!! And Shawn (drums) is all about 80's Hair bands, haha. But Motley Crue is probably his favourite, hahahah (alright fine, I like em too). (No thing to be ashamed of, ‘cause I listened to them, too, but that was like 13 years ago. So maybe you should indeed be ashamed, hehe – Stefan)
When I played your album to a friend of mine, he said when he heard the calm voice at the beginning of a song if this was James Hetfield from Metallica ;-) Did you ever hear such a comparison before and what do you think about it? Which comparisons were made in the past and what do you think about them in general?
I never heard that one, haha. But hey, everyone has an opinion ya know. I think the weirdest comparison I ever heard was us and The Violent Femmes, WHOA I don't see the similarity!!!
Talking about Metallica, aren't you afraid that Eric, your bass player, might leave the Dead 50s to join Metallica now that Jason Newsted left ;-)
Nope, but if Poison got back together and needed a drummer I'm sure Shawn would be the first in line (just kiddin’). (I’m not so sure if you’re really kidding… - Stefan)
Who came up with the idea for that "All-e-all" intro and what's the meaning behind it?
I get this question a lot (Sorry ‘bout that – Stefan). I came up with the idea. Curt Cash, (Curt recorded and helped produce both albums) and I recorded the intro along with some friends. “All-E-All” is a song about suicide, the intro was supposed to be somewhat disturbing and set the tone, hopefully we accomplished that, and didn't confuse the hell out of people.
Additional guitars and vocals on "Standing..." were done by Andy Cornmeal and Dave Brooks. Who are these guys, do they play in bands and how did you have them play on your album?
Andy actually joined Dead 50's about the same time Eric did, it turned out that he couldn't hang either so like our first bass player, he ended up leaving shortly before the release of "Standing." It all worked out for the best though, we work better as a three piece. Dave Brooks is a good friend that plays drums for another Rock and Roll band called "The Bad Luck Charms." I called him and asked if he wanted to come into the studio to check it out, (his band was looking for a good studio to record their album). While he was there we were like "Hey, you wanna sing some back ups”, and that was that!
When I first heard/read your lyrics I thought they were sometimes rather sad or pessimistic (e.g."When life is too much", "All-e-all"). Would you agree? With which topics do your lyrics deal?
Yeah I would agree. Writing songs is like a therapy for me, I write from personal experiences . "All-E-All" is about suicide, I'm sure most people know someone who has done it including me. "Heck of a guy" is about getting F##@$# over by a girl you thought you loved etc... "When life is too much", is about alcoholism, I almost lost a family member cause of it. It's not the happiest stuff, but it's honest. But then again we have songs like "Short Bus" that completely pokes fun at ourselves.
The pictures in the booklet of "Standing..." show that you are tattooed. How important are tattoos for you and what do the tattoos you have show?
I like getting tattooed, it's an oddly pleasurable pain. I have Bela Legosi (Dracula) on my left arm and an old Chevy tattooed on my right arm, and it says "Real Gone Cat" across my stomach. Eric has a bunch of Tribal work done, and Shawn still has Virgin flesh.
What are you doing besides the band? Is the band kind of a full time job or do you have to have other jobs besides the Dead 50s? If so, what are you doing?
We all have full time jobs unfortunately, none worth mentioning.
How did you get involved with music, when did the idea form that you didn't just want to listen to music but to play music yourself?
I got hit by a car when I was 13 years old, I was in bed for about a month, so in an attempt to cheer me up, friends of mine (who had a band) came over and set up their equipment in my room and practiced. It was loud and out of tune but awesome that they did it, haha. I got a guitar and started playing, ever since then I could put it down. I started my first band when I could walk again, about a year later. (This is probably one of the best stories I ever heard about a person starting a band – Stefan)
With which bands did you play in the past and have you had any longer tours or more single shows? With which bands would you love to tour?
Mostly just small local bands, I played drums for a psychobilly band called "Bad Luck Streak" and bass for a band called "Aliens and Strangers.” All of them are broken up now. Let's see, bands we would love to tour with...... hmmmm, Supersuckers, Turbo Ac's, Bouncing Souls, and about a million others.
Are you in touch with some other bands?
Yeah, we meet a lot of very cool people on the road that end up being good friends, most of them in bands.
What are your future plans, hopefully you will make it to Germany sometime in the future?
Our future plans consist of a few things, kickin' ass, kickin ass, and… kickin' ass. Really though, we would like to set up some kind of European tour, but we have to get our music out there first!! I'm sure some people know about us overseas but this is really just the beginning. A good portion of my family is from Germany so playing there would be a bonus!!
Ok, I guess we're at the end of this interview. Hopefully you liked it, and thanks for taking the time answering my questions. If I forgot anything that seems to be important to you, feel free to tell it now!
Thanks for the interview bro, and to all those people who don't know who we are, give us a listen, you might find out something you never knew about yourself. Keep real music alive!!!! Stay Dead. Moody