Trilogies and highest echelons

DEAD © Zo Damage

Jem from DEAD talks joining dots, highest echelons, Tolkien and trilogies.

Tell us about the trilogy.

What’s my word limit here? I could really waffle on.

We recorded it over two separate recording sessions, one in LA, one in Melbourne. We worked with a bunch of guest musicians and made, to our ears, deliberately different sounding records.

As far as we know, other people at our level aren’t releasing four LPs in less than a year. But like yourself with the 365 project, we can’t help ourselves. It’s a lot of work, but this is what we love doing.

For the first time, having a large body of work behind us, we really allowed ourselves to push into more specific directions than in the past.

Dead / Wicked City split. Nice. How do you like working on these collaborative projects?

Our side of the record is in collaboration with Vern Avola, aka EMS. We think she’s amazing, one of our favourite musicians active at the moment. It’s one long piece following a narrative, like a Tolkien book told as a short story.

Increasingly, this band is more than just the two of us. Being a two piece affords us a lot of flexibility to work with others as we want to.

As for working with Wicked City, it’s an honour. We think they’re at the absolute highest echelon of Australian music. I’ve never seen them play an even remotely average show. Honestly, punters and bands alike are intimidated by how hard they go on stage.

Is there a common thread in the trilogy?

Jace would be better at joining the dots here. I can say that the track choices and order on the records is very deliberate. Half of this project was made with B J Morriszonkle as a third member and we wrote those songs specifically for him. Lyrically, we tend not to be too specific as we both find it a bit boring and insulting to the listener when people spell it out. It can also really date a song. If we want, our songs can come with us as the band evolves. 

The common thread is the two of us. This is our music, our songs and it sounds pretty unmistakably like us. Though it’s impossible to hear it as an outsider. 

What is the inspiration for the artwork? Are songs inspired by the pieces or are pieces inspired and made for the music? Or is it just random?

Jace does all the drawings, I do all the layout and printing. Jace is the main songwriter but we write together and mix the records together. By the time an album is released it’s impossible to recall what came first and exactly from where. But the songs come first. As we’re recording them, we’re working on art details. Then they end up informing each other. 

Since we’re creating all of this ourselves, we never really have to question whether the art suits the music. It rally is all part of one larger project.

Europe in September?

We miss MoE [Norway]. We’re going back to find them. Can’t say much more just yet.

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