The Modern Day Band: A Conversation With DZ Deathrays

After spending the past few years relentlessly touring the world and teasing fans with a handful of sporadic single releases, DZ Deathrays are finally gearing up to release album number three, ‘Bloody Lovely.

Following on from their 2014 album ‘Black Rat’, ‘Bloody Lovely’ boasts a far more refined, rock ‘n’ roll sound than we’ve heard from the duo before. We caught up with Shane and Simon in Newtown to dig a little deeper into the making of the album and what they have in store for the rest of 2018.

Best Before: First thing’s first, how was Falls Festival?

Shane: So fun! It was pretty loose. Our scheduling, in terms of playing time slots, was pretty intense so we ended up having one flight to get from Hobart to the Gold Coast to make it to the Byron show but we ended up doing it fine. For the first three shows of the tour we’d pretty much just roll in to play and roll out straight away to get to the next show but once we got to Byron we were able to stay there and party.

Simon: It was funny because we’ve been doing Falls for years as punters and we always try to get a big crew of our friends from high school to go, and it was kind of the same this year. We all got to meet in Byron, except Shane and I came in pretty haggard after doing the rest of the festival shows. We still all managed to meet up and camp together, which was so much fun.

And you were playing over in South America not too long ago, how was that?

Simon: It was amazing and it was our first time playing there too. We went to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. It was so cool.

Shane: The people over there are amazing, they’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. Sometimes it was kind of funny with shows though. The venue at one show was like, “I think you’re playing this afternoon or tonight, if you get here at 6 it should be alright”. It’d be almost time for us to play and the room would be empty. Then, as soon as we stepped onstage, the room just filled up with people. I don’t quite understand how things work over there but it seems to work. They all love music and they’re all super loose.

Simon: With that one show too, we were supposed to be playing at 11 pm, which we thought was pretty late, but then no one was there so they just pushed it back to midnight and that’s when everyone started rolling in. People don’t really seem to go out until around midnight or 1 am over there so bands won’t start playing until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Were there a lot of Australians at those shows or was it mainly locals?

Shane: It was pretty much all locals. I think I met one Australian in Buenos Aries. I think that’s more of a travel destination than the other places we went to. To me, it felt like the New York of South America. It’s a pretty crazy city but, in Santiago or São Paulo, we didn’t meet one Aussie.

You guys did a few big tours this year, didn’t you?

Simon: We did a European tour, that South American one and we played a few festivals here and there plus a show in China.

Shane: We were more or less trying to have a bit of a down-time year, even though we still did a couple of decently sized tours, we really wanted to come out firing with this new album.

So the album’s all finished now?

Shane: Yeah, it’s been recorded for about a year. We’ve also started to write some new stuff for another album now just to try and get a bit ahead.

Why did you leave so long between recording and finalising the record and releasing it?

Shane: We would have put it out earlier, it’s just a thing with labels and making sure there’s enough time to fully prepare everything before you set a release date. To get vinyl pressed, that takes ages, they only got shipped in a few days ago. So getting all that done and making sure everything lines up just takes time. Otherwise, we’d have put the album out ages ago and the vinyls wouldn’t have been ready so I’d rather people just be able to get everything at the same time.

Simon: With ‘Black Rat’, the vinyls came through about a year after the album was released.

Shane: It all really matters around those first few weeks of the release. That’s when people get really excited and want to buy either an album or a vinyl and then after that, that’s when all the touring will start happening and we’ll have to start looking into that.

I’ve been listening to the album a fair bit and it’s got a pretty different sound compared to your past albums.

Simon: Yeah, people have been saying it’s got more of a refined sound. We went for more of a live-sounding vibe when we were recording. All the songs on ‘Black Rat’ were very different, there was just a heap of different tones through it and it was quite rigid sounding, whereas with this one we had a lot of times that ran throughout all the songs.

Shane: We wanted it to feel a bit sloppier, like ramshackled, all the way down to the smallest guitar riffs. We wanted it to be more rock n roll rather than dance-rock.

You worked with Burke Reid, who you’ve worked with before. Do you think it helps to work with the same producer?

Shane: It really did on this one. We know each other so it just felt like working with a mate.

Simon: It felt like it made the whole process a lot easier.

Shane: We bounced ideas off him the whole time leading up to recording so he was always very involved in this one.

And how does it go with you both living in different cities, does that make it hard when you’re writing?

Simon: We pretty much do everything online.

Shane: Yeah, we seem to make it work. I think it’s probably just a bit of a slower way to do things but it also gives more time for ideas to come out and for us to work on ideas. When we’re individually working on ideas it feels like there’s no pressure to rush anything so they just happen when they happen. I mean, it’s just how it all panned out with our lives. I’m down here in Sydney and Simon is in Brisbane. Lachlan lives in Melbourne too and he’s started writing with for our fourth record so that just adds another place to the mix. We get together before shows and rehearse for a few days and, while we’re doing that, we’ll try to get a few ideas together and do a bit of writing. With that being said, I think it’s really important to come together as a band then take ideas away and work on them individually so you’re not constantly annoying each other.

 I have to ask about you supporting the Foo Fighters too, how did that come about?

 Shane: They just asked us.

Simon: We did play with them back in 2011, just before ‘Bloodstreams’. It was just after we’d finished recording the album so it was like the first time we felt like a real band. We’d just been in the studio and then we got to do those stadium shows. So it was nice to be asked back.

Shane: They were all super nice too and all gave us the time of day. Dave’s pretty nice, he’s always happy to come over and hang out.

And I’m guessing you’ll be doing your own tour this year too?

Shane: Yeah, we’ve got some Australian stuff planned and we’re going to South Africa in March. That tour will be the first tour for the new album that we’ll do. There will be a few pub shows and we’re doing a festival too, which is awesome. We’ve never been there before. We’ll probably head back over to Europe and America at some stage but we’ll just see how everything pans out.

Photos by Emily Mathison.