Born from the ashes of hardcore deviants Army Of Flying Robots, Nottingham’s Dead In The Woods deliver a devastating blow of heavy sludge induced psychedelia, think crust legends His Hero Is Gone on an acid trip and you get the idea! And with the recent release of their split LP with Diet Pills on Black Box Recordings I fired a few questions over to guitarist/vocalist Andy…
Can you give us a brief history of Dead In The Woods along with the various bands, past and present, your members have been involved in?
Dead in the Woods started at the end of 2007. Henry and I played together in Army Of Flying Robots and Matt Jeremie, Craig and I all played in Plague. We kind of mixed D-Beat with heavier influences like Neurosis, His Hero Is Gone, Envy etc. Both bands shared a drummer who decided to leave Nottingham for a while and take a break from playing music. We decided to start something else in the meantime while waiting to see if Luke wanted to continue with AOFR. Henry and I also had a doom/drone/noise side project called Definition of Ape, in which Henry sometimes played drums. So Henry and I got together with Matt and Jeremie with the intention of doing something ‘heavy and proggy’. Soon after our first bassist, Stu joined to complete the line-up. This didn’t last long as Stu moved down to London and it quickly became difficult to rehearse and play gigs with him. We got a support slot with Clutch which he pulled out of at the last minute so we asked Craig to fill in. We tried to make it work with Stu but it quickly broke down so he left and Craig joined as our full time bassist.
Aside from Dead in the Woods Henry and Craig play together in Moloch and Henry also does solo noise as Nacht und Nebel. Matt has previously played live guitar for Pitch Shifter and later formed the Blueprint and did solo stuff under the name Princess. I’m currently working on a new D-Beat band with a couple of the guys from Geriatric Unit called Endless Grinning Skulls. There’s more bands that we’ve played with but I’m not going to list them all.
What prompted you to start Dead In The Woods?
Friendship and a love of riffs.
Describe the bands sonics using only 3 words?
Heavy Psychedelic Hardcore. If you had given me 4 words I would have said His Hero Is Hawkwind!
To discuss our sounds further I’d say that we do have quite British influences. The core of our sound comes from stuff like Sabbath, Amebix, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Maiden, Antisect, Iron Monkey, Electric Wizard etc. Neurosis is also a big influence but I think you can trace a lot of their sound directly back to most of those bands anyway. We all listen to lots of varied music but I think that’s the sort of stuff we draw on for Dead in the Woods.
Black Box Recordings recently released your split LP with Diet Pills, but how did you hook up with them, are you happy with the finished product and as it was mastered by Scott Hull, what extra do you think he brought to the recording?
Henry, Jeremie and I have been promoting gigs in Nottingham for the last 7 years as the 593 collective (and for a year or 2 before that separately). We booked Tombs with Dietpills. It was a good gig and we all got on well. A few days later we played with Tombs in Bradford. Mike Hill, Tombs’ front man was into both ourselves and Dietpills and offered to put out the split, it as simple as that really. It took a long time to get finished (well over a year) due to many setbacks but we’re all really happy with the final product. Scott Hull’s Master makes the record sound really full and dynamic, so we’re all happy with that.
It also comes with a swanky silkscreened cover, so what was the thought process behind this?
Presentation is important to us. We like records to look good as well as sound good. Our demo CDr came in a printed hand made cardboard sleeve with a wax seal! Matt is a graphic designer and he designed the cover for the split, and did a great job. We were bouncing ideas around about how to package the record and I pointed him towards the Rorschach Protestant LP on Pusmort. It is a limited edition version of the LP with a fancy silkscreened cover and looks ace (I don’t have it, if anyone can hook me up then get in touch!). So he worked on a design using that as inspiration. Matt had just done a screen printing curse and was originally going to do it himself but in the end didn’t have time, so one of Mike’s friends did it. The original design has, I think, 7 colours but the version on the vinyl is 2 colour.
Where did the idea to include a digital download come from which I have to say is a cracking idea if you wanna stick vinyl onto your iPod?
That was all Mike Hill’s idea. Yeah I think it’s cool to be able to have a digital copy with the vinyl. Some bands include a CD/CDr but I prefer a download, less junk!
It was also initially released on cassette in early 2009, why did you chose this format over CD and will this be something you’ll continue to do in the future?
It got to the point where the viny was going to take a long time and both us and Dietpills obviously wanted to get our songs out there. We decided on tape rather than CDr for a few reasons. They’re cool, easy to do in limited runs and a bit more fun than a CDr. I think you have to spend a bit more time with a tape than you do with a CDr.
I love the track ‘The Awakening’ which appeared on your Live CDR and showed a more Hawkwind infused psychedelic jam side to Dead In The Woods, so will we ever see you re-record this track for a future release and will any new material you write tread a similar path?
Yes, definitely! Our nickname for that track is ‘Spacerock’ because that’s what it sounds like! We all love psychedelic stuff like Hawkwind, early Pink Floyd etc. Lately we have been jamming a lot more and getting a lot more spacey. I think we will always retain that heavy core with big riffs etc. but we will definitely be adding more psychedelia in future. We’re been messing about a bit with a theremin and an old Korg synth to add new dimensions to our sound. There’s also been talk of doing more live/jam CDrs in future.
What’s the ‘scene’ like in Nottingham at the moment as over the years some amazing bands started out life there and from an outsider looking in, it seems quite a close-knit community with band members helping other bands out in times of need?
You’re right about Nottingham having a history of amazing bands, which is one of the reasons I chose to move here. I was lucky enough to see the likes of Iron Monkey, Hard to Swallow, 666 Dead, Armour of God etc play. Before that there was Heresy, Fudge Tunnel + lots more.
Right now the ‘scene’ is pretty good. There’s a lots of people getting involved with putting on DIY gigs in a variety of styles. As I said earlier 3 of us do the 593 Collective. We tend to concentrate on the heavier/noisier side of things: Hardcore/Punk/Crust/Doom etc. In the last year or so we’ve put on the likes of Terveet Kadet, Sex Vid, Limp Wrist, Capitalist Casualties, The Wankys, Gasmask Terror and loads more. Boulty and Eddie/Songs For Speedcore Lovers put on lots of fast grind/Hardcore/Thrash etc. Boulty also runs Stuck on a Name Studios where he has rehearsal rooms and a recording studio. Both Chris and Steve from Moloch put on the occasional gig and our friends Sallie and Helen put on punk gigs. Mantile/Rammel club put on noise and experimental gigs and have put on some great stuff like Bong, Prurient, Wolf Eyes, Moon Unit etc. Chris from Moloch also runs the Feast of Tentacles label and often brings his massive distro to gigs.
Generally I think Nottingham gigs have a really positive and friendly atmosphere. We often have people travel to gigs from nearby. People are always happy to help each other out, so there is a real sense of community. There’s always someone who can lend or shift equipment, cook food, design a flyer, put up bands and so on. The scene is quite small and close knit and turnouts could be better but gigs are much busier than they were about 4/5 years ago.
As for bands there’s Us, Moloch, Guilty Parents (snotty garage punk), Cuban Crime Wave (crazy garage with bass but no guitar), Year of the Flood (ex-Jesus of Spazzareth, epic Crust) and Endless Grinning Skulls will be playing gigs soon. We could do with more bands.
What are your thoughts on illegal downloads as it’s not hard to find blogs in this day and age offering downloads of past, present and even future releases, do you think this has affected our ‘scene’ in any way as small labels need to sell their wares just in order to survive?
In terms of underground music I think it’s cool that so much really obscure music is so readily available. The underground has always had this culture of sharing music ‘illegally’. It used to be through tape trading, now it’s through MP3 blogs. Personally if I hear something I like I will make an effort to track down the physical version of it, and I’m sure the same goes for most people into underground music. I don’t tend to download much myself really, unless it’s something that’s very hard to come by. I buy a lot of records. I don’t care what damage illegal downloading does to the mainstream music industry.
Which do you prefer, vinyl or CD?
Vinyl, no question.
What’s on your current playlist?
A look through my pile of recently played records reveals the following: Slices, Destino Final, Antisect, Disclose, Framtid, Man Is The Bastard, Anti-System, Rudimentary Peni, Hawkwind, Crucifix, Kaaos, Kriegshog, Gauze, Cross Stitched Eyes…
What’s next for Dead In The Woods?
We have a gig with Drainland at the end of May. After that we’ll be having a bit of a break as Craig and Henry are going to the states with Moloch to tour with Thou. When they get back we’ll finish off writing the LP. After that we’ll have to find someone to put it lot and hopefully we’ll be able to play some more gigs. We have an open invitation to tour France/Spain with Gasmask Terror after we organised a tour for them over here, so hopefully we’ll be able to sort that out in the future.
Thanks for the interview Andy, any final words….
Thanks for the support!
More info on Dead In The Woods at: www.myspace.com/thedeadinthewoods
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards