Seattle’s Dead Bars are the punk rock band of the moment, and with ‘Dream Gig’ the group have fulfilled the promise of their early EPs and split singles to deliver a life-affirming debut filled with wry humour, gargantuan sing-alongs and bags of heart and soul.
Inspired by the album’s title, Already Heard sat down with founding members John Maiello (vocals) and C.J. Frederick (drums) to put together their dream five-band bill.
Oh, and you might want to get to C.J.’s early (naturally, it’s a house show…); Dead Bars were adamant Shellshag were opening, having hitched a ride in the van. “there’s only two of them” pleads Frederick, breaking the rules immediately.
It’s OK guys, as it’s your ‘Dream Gig’, we’ll let you off…
Guided By Voices
C.J. Frederick: I have never seen Guided By Voices, but I’ll actually get to see them in April when they play Seattle, and I’m pretty excited about it.
I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time. Weirdly enough, when we started making ‘Dream Gig’, I was revisiting all of the music in my life – I’m a record collector and a huge music fan in general – and there’s something about Guided By Voices that connected with me in terms of Dead Bars. I think for the last two years, I’ve been obsessed with Robert Pollard, and that kind of ties in with when we made a start on ‘Dream Gig’.
John Maiello: We also have a Guided By Voices cover band.
C.J. Frederick:Holy shit, yeah! Only yesterday, we decided to start a Guided By Voices covers band. We’re called Hot Freaks.
C.J.: I genuinely think Jay Reatard was a genius, but I never saw him live.
I did email him this one time though, but I’m slightly reluctant to tell someone in the press about it…
I emailed him when I knew he was looking for a drummer, and I saw this video of him performing, and it genuinely looks like Jay is pissing on the drummer’s face. So I sent him an email, said I play the drums, I have my own drumkit and here’s some stuff I’ve recorded, ‘Don’t ever piss on my face,’ and sent a link to the video that I was talking about.
He wrote back real quick and said ‘Hey man, that video, I didn’t piss on anybody’s face, it’s just shot from a weird angle.’ He was really cool about it. Thinking about it now, I don’t think I should have done that, but sometimes I’m just really impulsive.
I did actually look at the video again and he’s dead right of course – it is just shot from a weird angle and he’s not pissing on anyone’s face.
The sad part of the story is that he passed away not long after. But like I said, I think he’s a genius.
The Bouncing Souls
John: Growing up in New Jersey, when I think of a successful punk band, I think of The Bouncing Souls.
To me, they are everything I would want in a band. They own their own record label, they do their own artwork, they’ve been together since they’ve been in high-school. I think every person’s dream is to start a band in your garage with your friend and do it for the rest of your life. When you’re 15 you say that – we all said that – but I don’t know of many bands that have actually done it – and for 30 years too. For me, that’s success.
If I could ever play with, or even open for, The Bouncing Souls, that’s it for me. I’ll feel like I’ve made it. It wouldn’t get better after that point. To get some recognition from them would validate what I’ve been doing. It’s corny, but that’s how I feel.
John: I know it would be crazy for us to play with them, but Motorhead would have to be on the bill. They’re such an inspirational band, in a similar way to The ‘Souls. And that perseverance; doing exactly what you want to do without ever kowtowing to trends; they just stuck true to their sound.
The unfortunate thing is, since I’ve lived in Seattle, they’ve come through probably once a year, and every time I’ve said ‘Oh, I’ll catch them next time’. Which was insane, as Lemmy was in his 60s – but I missed them every time and that is a regret that I do have.
And when they came through, they wouldn’t even be playing arena shows. They’d be playing clubs that hold 1,000 people. To have seen them somewhere like that would have been amazing.
C.J.: I guess John will have to agree on this, but there aren’t a lot of bands that when we’re travelling, we can put on that makes us all happy. Definitely the first one that comes to mind is Iron Chic. They’re a band that for all of Dead Bars, we can put on and we all feel it as this great unifying sound.
John: That’s a great last band. I think our first options were perhaps bands that influenced us as people, but Iron Chic… When we started playing as Dead Bars in 2013, Iron Chic had put out their first full-length and maybe a couple of EPs, and I was big fan instantly. They never really toured out in the North West, and I’d been living up here for a while so I kind of just thought of them as an East Coast band.
But we’ve revisited all of their stuff. I think when we started putting out records, that kind of coincided with the release of their second record, ‘The Constant One’, and it really clicked with us as a band.
Also, sometimes, you don’t know what to expect from some bands nowadays; you could be like ‘Oh, their first record was awesome, but I’m not too sure about them now’, but when ‘The Constant One’ came out, we were just like ‘OH YEAH!’ We could feel it.
What’s cool about Iron Chic is that we have actually played with them before, so we we’ve already got a chance to be a part of what they’re doing. Also, when we’ve had questions about a booking or different things in the industry, C.J. has reached out to Mike [Bruno] and I’ve reached out to a couple of other people in the band, and they have been nothing but helpful and resourceful. They’re like The [Bouncing] Souls too. They have their own record label, they record themselves, they do all their own artwork, they book themselves. How amazing is that? Everyone contributing to how a band should operate. It’s awesome.
‘Dream Gig’ by Dead Bars is released on 10th March on No Idea Records.