The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world






An Australian Metal band with a social conscious that actually Rock?

It's true... Mark talks to Nathan all about Sydney's Dead Deities



Mark: Hi, Nathan thanks for talking to The Rockpit.



Nathan: No problem. Thank you for the review, it came on the back of a review that I wasn’t very happy with, that slammed me a little bit, so, it was nice because yours came out the next day when I was feeling a little bit flat, it was the first time I’d been “panned” in a review!! It was nice to have a positive one.



Mark: Let's just startnice and easy: tell us a bit about how the band got together.



Nathan: It was Ian Munn’s brainchild, he’s played in a couple of Sydney hard rock bands, and when he was younger, and we’re going back twenty years, he played in a band called Delirium, and they toured with some big bands, they lost their singer, I applied, as my previous band were in decline. I got the gig for about six weeks, and then I got sacked!! However, we met up again about ten years later, we met at university, and we were both studying to become teachers, after we qualified, we went our separate ways, he went off to Dubbo, and I stayed in Sydney. We kept in touch via social media, and after numerous discussions/arguments about religion, environmentalism and all sorts of stuff, he said do you want to put something together that’s a bit political, a bit social, would I be interested. My previous band had died, and I missed it, so, he then contacted his old friend Jonno, a bass player in Byron Bay, and the original drummer, who has since left, Matt, who was in one of Ian’s previous projects, “Beware of the Dog”, and we got together. Initially it was just going to be a recording project, Ian is quite technical, so he’d send stuff to us through e mail, and we’d add our little bits and send it back, and that’s how we demo’d our album. At the end of last year we decided to do it properly, and booked a studio, and spent eleven days straight, just doing it properly. Once it was released it seemed to get a bit of attention, and I think we all missed playing live, so we did our first show in December 2012, just before we released it. We are a social media band! When we shot our first video clip, “Invisible Man”, we had never been in the same room together!



Mark: It’s interesting you say that, a few weeks ago I spoke to Ross the Boss, of Manowar fame, and his new band Death Dealer, was put together the same way, over the internet.



Nathan: Yeah, I think it overcomes the tyranny of distance; it’s a smart way to do it. You don’t have to get together with your band mates a couple of times a week! We’re all getting a little bit older, and we’ve all got kids, so it’s just a great way to do it.



Mark: You mentioned previously, you wanted to do something that was socially aware, is the main focus then, that you are driving for some sort of social change, or is it just about raising consciousness and awareness of issues?



Nathan: Well, I’d say both. I’ve been vegan for about twenty years, and I’ve been heavily involved with the environmental movement. Metal fans are very intelligent, and there’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, so, it is a bit of both. I don’t know if you’ve seen our Facebook page tonight, but that was out before this political change at the moment, and we’ve just posted the song and put a bit of “blurb” about what we think is going on, and we’ve had some pretty interesting responses, not all positive.



Mark: It is one of those things that tend to get reactions one way or the other! Not a lot of people sit on a fence with a band that’s talking about social issues, and people have very firm opinions about what you’re talking about. Especially to do it in Australia, where we had Midnight Oil, but I don’t think they went to the lengths that people portrayed them as having gone.



Nathan: I think they were a bit more subtle, they had a bit of a “redneck” following, and I don’t mean to be derogatory, but they didn’t listen to their lyrics! A bit like Rage Against the Machine, the last time I saw them, three of those guys are vegan, and half the guys listening to them went straight to McDonalds afterwards!! I think it polarises people, some people really don’t like politics and social stuff mixed up in music, but for me personally, I don’t really know how to write any other way. It also makes us different, and it’s just what we do! In previous press releases, I’ve always said I’m an activist first, and a musician, second.



Mark: It’s an interesting point you raise, especially mentioning Rage Against the Machine there, I think the answer is that people do often ignore the message, if they like the music. Most of the bands out there are still singing about “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll”! But, if the music does the talking, that is your opportunity to engage those people, and if that happens, that can only be a good thing!



Nathan: That’s true! I don’t think our management trust me on Facebook anymore, our drummer does social media for Tafe, and he’s quite a guru with dealing with trolls, and I would just have blocked a lot of the comments, but he, on my direction, went to some sites about refugees as there were a few guys had started off with some pretty hard core comments, and by the end they were sort of turned around. I was impressed by that, because I wouldn’t have done it at that level. I think Ian has the signature twin harmony guitars going on, he’s reading most of the music, and I think that gets people in. The guy who produced the album, Darren Jenkins, is fantastic, the production is there. We have a flagship theme song, that we haven’t actually done live yet, and I’m wondering how that will go down!



Mark: “Dead Deities”, what’s it all about? Is it about the constructs of man all eventually being forgotten, or something else entirely, or just a cool name?!



Nathan: The time that it came to name the band, I was reading, Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, so when people become vegetarian/vegan, they are pretty full on, I had sat on the fence with religion in the past, and I was going through an awakening, that religion is not this benign thing, and the book has the alliteration Dead Deities and it just sort of stuck with me.



Mark: It also does pretty well on Google searches as well!!



Nathan: I didn’t come from a Metal background; I listened to Rage against the Machine, but I think the “Dead” gives it that metal thing. I think, musically, we are different to Rage, we are more metal than they are, but I think it’s a pretty fair comparison. I love them, and I wouldn’t take the comparison as an insult!



Mark: No, and it’s a good way of grabbing attention as well! How do you write your songs? Does Ian write the music, and you come up with the lyrics?



Nathan: Yeah, pretty much. We are working on our next single at the moment, we are due to record in November, and we have learnt so much from the process this time around, so we are hoping to avoid some of the mistakes we made. Ian will come up with the ideas, he almost writes the songs complete, sends them to me, and I’ll add stuff here and there, and mix things around a little bit, and then we take it to the guys. But, basically, Ian writes all the music and I write all the lyrics, and it’s all done over the internet, which is actually a good way to write.







Mark: Do you have any particular favourites on there?



Nathan: Just for your own interest, check out the film that’s just about to come out called “Monkey Wrenched”, the legacy of the Monkey Wrench Gang, and our song “Hayduke Lives”, my brother has been involved in environmentalism for years, and he and I bought land in Tasmania years ago, that was going to be logged, and so I took him on board and he helped me write that song and lyrically I was blown away. Edward Abbey is the guy that the film is about, and he wrote a book called “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, and at the time we were finishing the album, I had just finished the book, and it blew me away, it was the book that started the Monkey Wrench Movement. Environmentalists had realised that non-violent protests weren’t working and they did tree spiking and took out dozers, and all that sort of stuff and that book was considered to be the one that made that movement. So, lyrically I think that song’s the best and the most researched. I also like the vegan one, which is “Off the Menu”.



Mark: Are there any plans over the coming months?



Nathan: I don’t know if you’ve been following us, but since we gathered the momentum, our drummer who we loved, quit! Honestly, then I thought that was the end of it! Luckily though, Ian, through Facebook, hooked up with Brendon who was an old friend of his, he hadn’t played drums for seventeen years, but Ian, who was setting up his, own recording studio had bought a set of digital drums which he got over to Brendon, who then frantically practised every night, and he managed to pull it off. He had a friend who played rhythm guitar, and suggested we bring him on board and we are now a five piece, so in a way our drummer did us a favour. The guys are so fantastic and professional. So, in November we are recording in Wollongong, where I live, we are hoping to put out a new single and video clip. It’s the same guy that did our last video, he’s on board. At the end of November we play a metal festival, with about twenty bands, in Brisbane, called “Wreck Your Neck Fest”. After that we’ll focus on finishing the single and film clip, and we are about three or four songs in to the next record, so we’ll then focus on getting another record out next year. Ian and Jono, are qualified sound engineers, they’ve learnt a lot from Darren Jenkins, I can’t say enough about that guy, he’s such a hard worker, no drugs or alcohol, really gets the best performance, we just love what he’s done with the album. We are hoping that Ian has learnt from him, he’ll probably have a hand in the album sometime next year, but he’s going to produce the single for us. It’s a bit of a departure for us, it’s the first song that’s a bit more personal for me, it’s still got a political theme, and it’s about Euthanasia. My Grandfather, who was very close to me, died a horrible, horrible death, and it could have been very different, so it was inspired by that.



Mark: Ok then down to the important stuff: does the gorilla on the album cover have a name?!!



Nathan: Ok, that’s a very good question!! I’m going to give you another book reference! “Ishmael” is a very famous book, by Daniel Quinn, and he’s an Adamist, it’s not a religion, but it’s the worship of nature or tribal societies. Ishmael is the main character in the book, and it sounds really silly, but if you read the book it makes sense, he’s a telepathic gorilla! And he’s very critical of human society, and that was sort of my idea, but Mike Moffatt, the guy who did the album artwork, is amazing, I told him about Ishmael, the album being about evolution and the Valley of the Giants, in Tasmania, with the second biggest trees in the world, which were under threat, and he just put them all together. The first draft he sent me was great, and I said that’s it! He is amazing.
Mark: We are running out of time, so here are a couple of quick questions. You are out on the road, and you can pick two bands to play with you on a triple bill, who would you pick and why?



Nathan: I would love to play with Raised Fist, because they are very straight edged and they’ve got the vegan thing, and their energy is amazing. Purely for just music and not message, “Dillinger Escape Plan”, I love them, but I can’t work out what they’re playing! The singer in that band is just amazing!



Mark: Is hard rock on the way back?



Nathan: Well, if metal is part of hard rock, it does seem to be! I think it’s coming back live, people want to go and see real bands, play live, and they don’t want to see guys with lap tops!



Mark: I was over in the UK a couple of months ago, and everyone is out watching live music, compared to a few years ago when I last went back there.



Nathan: Yeah, that happened here too! We lost all our venues and it all went to crap! And now, seven or eight years on, it’s all starting to happen again. Everything goes in cycles.



Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any album, at any point in time, what would it have been for you, and why?



Nathan: Rage against the Machine’s first album! When I first heard that album, it blew me away, was it rock, metal, or rap? I had to look up what they were singing about, and the production of it, still stands up today. From what I understand, they didn’t have a lot of money when they did that record, I would have loved to have seen how they recorded those guitars, my god, it’s amazing!!
Mark: Finally, and I’m not sure if you can keep this one brief! What is the meaning of life?



Nathan: The meaning of life is to try and find meaning and happiness, and by happiness, I don’t mean materialism, it’s the fine things that make you happy and make you feel like you want to get up every day. Its finding people who you love and enjoy life with, and others who enhance your life, and music, I think that enhance your life too, I would hate to live in a world without music.



Mark; It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, Nathan, keep in touch, and if there’s anything we can do for you, just drop us a line, take care and good luck with everything.



Nathan: Thanks very much, Mark, take care.






by Mark Diggins August 2013




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