Words: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
We caught up with Celbridge-based trio Dead Label upon their return to Bloodstock festival. Described by Metal Hammer as ‘A punishing groove metal monster with a thrash heart and a hardcore soul’ Dead Label have proved themselves to be one of metal’s most talked about unsigned bands. They told us why getting a record deal is important to them and how Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine is helping them to make their forthcoming third album hit the headlines.
Alan: Hi guys. We saw your set on the Sophie stage earlier today. That was your second time playing at Bloodstock on that stage. How was it compared to last time?
Dan: I think it went a lot better than last time.
Claire: It was awesome. The “Wall of Chaos” worked!
Alan: Yeah, people really got into it. A few pits even opened up spontaneously quite early in the set.
Dan: That was during ‘Salvation in Sacrifice’.
Alan: It seemed like people recognized the song. Your music has been featured on Scuzz, and it’s been used on the official Bloodstock trailer video. Do you think people are recognizing your music from places like that?
Danny: I think there’s a certain amount of that. We tried to do as much promo for the actual gig itself as we can.
Dan: A certain amount of it is up to the gods really, isn’t it? You can hand out as many flyers as you can, and this year, along with the other three Irish bands playing this weekend, we were going around with Lollypops with the set times on them. Everybody was loving them, but there’s a certain amount of them that wanted the lollypop rather than coming to the show. But we went out and the tent was rammed. Once I saw that I could breathe out. Once there’s a crowd, we’ll be fine. It’s when you play to nobody is when you think “let the ground open up and swallow me whole”. But they were great and they were really receptive.
Alan: How did it come about that your music was used on that official Bloodstock trailer video?
Claire: We were just asked by Adam [Gregory]. He’s one of the nicest people on the planet. He just sent a message on Facebook asking if he could use the track. And we said of course! It was literally that simple. I feel like it was a gesture, because we’re not one of the biggest bands playing, to help us get more exposure, and it certainly worked.
Alan: Maybe they avoided paying big royalties by not asking one of the bigger bands!
Danny: Maybe. We just want to get music out to the people.
Dan: That ad was played on Scuzz TV and it was on MTV at one stage. You can’t pay for that type of exposure!
Claire: It was even in the cinemas! In the Vue cinemas here apparently.
Danny: For the position, we’re in right now, we just want to get our music out to the people, get people to listen, and get more fans.
Alan: The last track you released was ‘Pure Chaos’. And that’s not on your last album Throne of Bones, right?
Dan: No. That was a stand-alone single. Originally it was meant to be a demo for the next album, and when we recorded it, we just thought this is a really good song. And it had been a little while since Throne of Bones was out, and we thought “Maybe we should just do a stand-alone track”, so we went back in and we recorded it properly, and we polished it off, and we got Chris Rakestraw, the same guy that mixed and mastered Throne of Bones. We got in touch with him, and he was up for it, so we sent it to him in the States and he mixed it and sent it back, and it sounded like a fucking animal.
Alan: So have you got more new music on the way?
Claire: Yes. We have the next album pretty much written. It should be out at the end of this year or the start of next year, depending on stuff. We’re really excited for it to come out. It’s a little bit more relaxed than Throne of Bones…
Dan: The writing process was a little bit more relaxed. Throne of Bones was a very intense album. We felt we needed to prove that we’re a really good band. Everything was thought about with a fine toothcomb. Even though we’re still doing that with this one… We’d write something really heavy, and the three of us would just look at each other and laugh. Everything is still meticulous, but we’re having a much better time.
Claire: I guess we have a system now. We’re on album three. We probably, maybe know ish what we’re doing! [Laughs]
Danny: We’re just not getting as uptight or worried about guitar riffs or solos in the middle of the night. We’re just coming in and whacking it out and we feel comfortable and relaxed doing it. There’s nothing relaxed about the music though. I can tell you that.
Claire: It’s not easy listening or anything!
Alan: You played some new songs today, right?
Dan: Yeah, we played two new tracks. ‘Dead Weight’, which was one of the first songs we wrote for the new album. And we played another one called ‘Forget the Names’, which is ridiculously heavy. We wrote that and I think I laughed for about a week.
Claire: And the subject matter is not funny at all. We’re going to sound so crazy when people realize what that song is about.
Dan: It’s about the Tuam baby home and all the kids that were found in the septic tank, and all that. So that’s basically what the lyrics are about.
Alan: You had a showcase show in London a few months ago, which I understand was to try to get some attention from record labels and the likes. Any progress on that?
Claire: Yes. We have a lot in the works behind the scenes. We’re working with Thrashville. That’s Dave Mustaine, his son Justis and a guy called Danny Nozell. They have a sort of a management advisory company, and Chris [Rakestraw] that did Throne of Bones actually works with them. And they heard our album and got in touch, and we’re basically in talks with them about what we should do next. We’re in good hands and we’re happy with where we’re at, so that’s why we’re going to make sure the new album comes out the right way.
Dan: Having someone like Dave Mustaine giving you direction on the tracks, you’re going to listen very carefully what he has to say. And to his credit, the songs are turning out great. We’d send him something, and he suggests maybe edit that back a bit, add a bit more melody, and then we take that on board and do that in our style.
Claire: It’s great. It’s unbelievable to be able to get in touch with somebody who is a wealth of information in what you’re hoping to achieve, you know?
Danny: A lot of positive things came out of that. We’re still talking to people. We’re getting the impression with these industry people, sometimes the relationship builds a lot. They don’t just pull the trigger on things immediately.
Claire: Yeah, they watch you for ages.
Dan: It was well worth doing.
Alan: How much does it mean to a band like yourselves to get signed. Some bands just continue to record and release music themselves and use crowd-funding to finance it.
Claire: Every single situation is unique. If you get signed, you can get signed in many different ways. It all depends on the exact situation and the people you’re dealing with. Our very new understanding of it is that you’ve got to have an honest, open relationship that you’re all working towards the same thing. Once you’re all working towards the same thing, the other fine details are not as important. If you’re on a good label, a label with bands that are similar to you, you’re automatically going to go in the right direction. So that’s what we would like, to be with bands with similar kind of sounds so that we can follow some trail to a degree and be successful.
Danny: I guess we wanted this record to come out in the right way. We could put it out ourselves again or something like that. You don’t necessarily need a record deal, but it’s good for extra promotion and getting you pushed further into the industry and going where we want to go. It is important to us.
Dan: Getting signed to the right label opens the right kind of doors.
Alan: You’re also opening for Devildriver in Belfast and Dublin next week. How did that come about?
Claire: Oran from Overdrive works closely with H from DME and he put us forward ages ago, suggesting that we would be a good opening band, and H agreed, and he went for it. It was pretty straightforward. It’s another awesome band. Another night in Dublin where metalheads will come out. I think that’s always important. It’s good to get local bands seen. When we played with Gojira there was a lot of Irish people that had never seen us or heard of us. It’s a real eye-opener. When you play in Fibbers it can be all the same people.
Alan: Who do you want to see here at Bloodstock this year yourselves?
Danny: It’s all about Gojira.
Alan: I almost forgot to ask you how it went when you played at Download last year. That must have been awesome?
Dan: It was amazing. That is the hallowed ground of heavy music. It’s the sheer scale of it. When you park your car you have to walk for forty minutes to get to the stage.
Claire: It’s just tour bus after tour bus after tour bus. We were walking through the dressing room area and then you go into the main stage catering, and it’s like the Ritz. There are tea rooms, there are hair-dressers and tattoo artists, and you’re just “ok, so this is on the other side of those pearly gates, gotcha.”
Danny: It was another milestone for us, to play at a really famous and well-known festival like that. Another one ticked. Obviously, we want to go back.
Alan: I heard you were hand-picked by Andy Copping?
Claire: Andy is one of the nicest people in the world. I keep saying that. I know a lot of the nicest people in the world. I root them out. I was contacting him for a long time then one day on Instagram, I just posted our merch link, and he messaged me “Would DL like to play DL?”, and I was like “eh, yeah”, and that was it, and we played, and it was awesome.
Dan: Another sheer mind-blowing thing is when you’re hanging back in the press area at Download, you’ve got Devin Townsend, Max Cavalera, Igor Cavalera, Mastodon… They’re all just walking past you and you’re like “aaah”. I personally love Suicide Silence. They were there that year, and I got to meet Mark. I idolize him, and he’s such a nice guy as well. It’s great to meet these people and for them to be sound as well. It was great. Take me back!
Claire: Once you’ve let us play, we’ll always worm our way back in. We’ll probably be playing again. I just don’t know when.
Alan: Any last words to your Irish fans? Those who were here and those that couldn’t make it?
Claire: Thank you so much for watching us, and being a part of it, and for the support coming up to it.
Dan: See you at Devildriver!
Deal Label are:
Dan O’Grady – Vocals, Bass
Danny Hall – Guitars
Claire Percival – Drums