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The Dead 60’s – They Make You Feel Like Dancing, You Want To Dance The Night Away

photo: andy cotterill

Matt McManamon – singer/guitarist
Bryan Johnson – drumes
Ben Gordon – guitarist/organist
Charlie Turner – bassist

This past Thursday at the BlueBird, The Start opened for Team Sleep. Taunting the crowd with sexy post punk and lowbrow rock, lead singer Aimee Echo screams for the crowd to dance. Disappointed that the underage kids were sequestered to the rafters she did her best to rouse the others standing below her, crooking her finger as if to pull their strings. Later in the evening, headliner Team Sleep had more success as Chino Moreno, the well known frontman for hardcore band Deftones, shifted gears into electro beatboxing, kicking deep into a groove that was irresistible.

More and more artists arrive with music in hand that is meant to make us all move, to break free of crossed arms and embrace the opportunity to kick up our heels if only for a few hours. This is not the type dancing where 14-year olds run around with glow sticks in big pants with even bigger pupils. This is rock and roll that speaks to the deepest part of our chemical make up, with cells and hormones reacting to an imprint that goes back centuries. When the music plays, so do you.

The Dead 60s have arrived as well with a new self-titled CD in hand. Fairly new to the game, the Liverpool act has a deep connection to the ska and punk masters from the past, which includes an undeniable resemblance to The Clash (it’s been mentioned before in the press, but if I glossed over it because of that, well, I would be doing you a disservice).

On their self titled release on Epic, The Dead 60s mix up a batch of electro martinis on “Riot Radio” and “New Town Disaster,” adding a wisper of Supersystem and Radio 4, then slink down as they creep into ghost town on “Control This” and “You’re Not The Law,” compliments of Ben Gordon‘s organ skills.

The band’s obviously spent a lot of time crafting their sound and have proven their worth, snaring an opening slot on the last Garbage tour that went ‘round the country. They are currently on the road with The Bravery, and if they are as tight live as they are on the album, you definitely won’t see me sitting down during their set, and I can’t imagine anyone else will be able to sit still either.

Drummer Bryan Johnson called from one of their stops in Florida, a far cry from the damp coolness of Liverpool.

Kaffeine Buzz: With this heat we’re having, at least you have some air conditioning going while you’re traveling from city to city.

Bryan Johnson: Exactly, except the A.C. broke last night, so there were a few hours where it was more like a sauna. (laughs) So it wasn’t so nice.

KB: Well I understand you played Glastonbury, but I know there were some weather problems…

BJ: That’s a funny story actually. We were actually going to be the band opening the festival. We arrived on site about an hour before we were due on stage. Then we were told that the performance was cancelled because of the weather. It was kind of a blessing in disguise, because during the time we would have been on stage, lighting actually struck the stage.

KB: Oh my god!

BJ: I know! (Laughing) So it was quite fortunate that we weren’t on there.

KB: Yea, you sacrifice a lot when you’re on tour but losing your life probably isn’t on the list of things that you’re willing to do.

BJ: Exactly. That would be the ultimate sacrifice for rock and roll.

KB: (Laughing) What towns have you been hitting on this tour?

BJ: We started in Toronto, we came down to New York, Washington, Boston, and we’re down in Florida now.

KB: So this is kind of your second time around. Are you noticing the crowds are getting more familiar with you guys?

BJ: Yea, yea they seem to be. I mean, The Bravery crowd seems to be a different crowd. The Garbage crowd was a bit of an older audience. The Bravery audience is a bit younger. Playing in packed out houses, we seem to be going down really well and there are some familiar faces, which is always a good sign.

KB: I was taking a look at the CD artwork inside the cover and I’m always interested to see how it relates to the music. It’s interesting the way you guys use fake ads to illustrate all the typical CD information like who produced it and who you would like to thank. And when I went to see your video on the Rolling Stones website, I had to watch a Sudafed commercial before the video played.

BJ: Sudafed? What’s that?

KB: It’s like a decongestant medicine.

BJ: Oh…right.

KB: I just thought it was kind of ironic and funny. I know you’re band’s said in the past that you shy away from political messages in your music, which has been related to ska in the past, because there’s already enough people saying it. But I wondered how or if pop culture and the media itself influences you guys in any way.

BJ: We’re more interested in social culture really, everything that surrounds us from day to day. The album, basing it all around the time we were writing and recording it. But obviously we’re not really into branding and stuff like that. It’s not necessary.

KB: Yea, I wouldn’t imagine you would be into cold medicine or the like anyway. Now the name of your producer is interesting – Central Nervous System. How much of an influence did he make on the final outcome and how did the songs change from the time you entered the studio until the final version?

BJ: Central Nervous System was pretty hands on with us. We did a lot of writing in the studio. We would just jam for hours, going around with songs and coming up with songs. He’s quite an eccentric guy. We’d look through the window, and if he was dancin’, we were on to a good thing. If he was just sittin’, we knew we weren’t on to a good thing. But he was really hands on, getting us to listen to new music and always bringing in records and saying, ‘You should listen to this. You should listen to that.’ You know, just getting us to evolve our music, and I think that came off in the album. It really evolved in the few months we made it.

KB: Well, how have those songs evolved now that you’ve been on tour for a while?

BJ: Oh, they definitely got faster. From first going into the studio, the sound has changed a lot because we get into different music all the time, and we’re influenced by what we’re listening to. People say there’s more energy live, but I think, you know, when you see a band live there should always be more energy.

KB: Absolutely. That’s a barometer too; if there’s people dancing around or if they’re just standing there.

BJ: If you want to hear it exactly as it is on the record, then just listen to the record.

KB: Right. Save yourself the time and money. I understand that when you first began you kind of sequestered yourself in to hone your musical skills. There’s quite an amalgamation of sounds on songs like “Nowhere” and “We Get Low” and so forth. What instrumentations and effects did you guys use to pull that off and how much were the keyboards a part of that?

BJ: During the time where we kind of locked ourselves away we were getting into delays and reverbs and stuff like that, like tape delays and space echoes. We actually spent quite a lot of time developing that, and that goes with the guitars, the vocals, the keyboards, the drums. But we just spent time getting it right, not overusing it, just using it when necessary. We listened to a lot of music during that time, listened to how they did, loads of punk records and rock records.

KB: So these days, what are you listening to?

BJ: At the moment, a band called the Tom Tom Club.

KB: Ah yes, I know them well.

BJ: We’re listening to Kraftwerk.

KB: The new double live album?

BJ: No, we’re listening to Autobahn, just ‘cause it’s good to listen to while you’re driving.

KB: Well, I hope your air conditioning continues to cooperate.

BJ: (Laughing) Yea, yea, I hope we get that all sorted.

KB: Yea, and you’re not all wilted by the time you get here.

BJ: I know, we’ll be all skin and bones.

After Florida they will keep on driving on over to Chicago where they play at Lollopalooza this weekend, which has been something that’s been on their wish list since they were wee lads. After that escapade they get the bus rolling again to arrive here in Denver on Tuesday, July 26 to play the BlueBird.

Another band that’s making a buzz is Hard-Fi, which have recently joined The Dead 60s on The Bravery tour. So get there early enough to catch their set as well.


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