An Interview with the Death Set for Vice:
The Death Set Don’t Watch Neighbors
I am in love with Baltimore. Which is a little weird as I have never actually been there before. In my head it’s a mysterious wasteland filled with derelict warehouses strewn with the victims of Edgar Allan Poe stories and fringed by the high rise projects that you see in The Wire while Gram Parsons records croon quietly out of late night dockside bars. Even if it’s nothing like that it would still be great to go there just because every bit of music that comes out of the place right now seems to somehow be original, entertaining and best of all fun. Maybe it’s the low rent, communal living and abundance of arts based colleges or maybe there are just a bunch of super talented guys there right now. Either way you can’t really argue with a city that’s produced acts as varied and interesting as Dan Deacon, Spank Rock, Double Dagger and Cass McCombs. The Death Set arrived in the city as outsiders from Australia and soaked up the towns club, punk and Wham City scenes only to forge them into some weird hyperactive amalgam of the lot. Try imagining Video Hippos doing Fascist Fascist covers with a live show that has caused structural damage to several squat venues. For a band that make the Libertines look like Dire Straits in terms of holding it together the improbably named duo of Johnny Siera and Beau Velasco have managed to put out a hefty slew of 7”s on labels like Super Busy Bodies and Every Conversation. They now have a CD due on new Ninja Tune offshoot Construct but don’t worry: the one thing they sound nothing like is DJ Kentaro.
VICE: Is there a hierarchy in Baltimore with Dan Deacon as like, Old King Cole, Spank Rock as the court jester and Ponytail as the court choir?
Johnny Sierra (Guitars, bass, samples etc): When I first got to Baltimore I just happened to move in next door to the original Wham City so we used to play a bunch of shows there and I met Dan and all those guys. I met Spank Rock through our friend Emily Rabbit who put our first EP and there are just a bunch of connections between us all. We’ve done tours with Ponytail and live with their drummer and I mastered their last record. Nolen from Double Dagger is doing our artwork and everyone helps each other out. It’s nice.
You play all your live shows on the floor and people seem to always go nuts. Did you just see a Lightning Bolt show one day and think: “those guys are onto something there”?
I first saw ‘The Power Of Salad’ when I was living in Australia and it was pretty inspirational but we just did this one tour that had no stages and found it more fun to get in peoples faces. The reaction is usually pretty good. We played a basement in Brooklyn a few months back with Dan and people were running outside to throw up from heat exhaustion. The roof was also covered with some asbestos like crap. People were grabbing onto these water pipes covered in it and afterwards all these kids broke out with a weird grotesque rash. It felt like a thin layer of glass all over us for days.
I heard you had a side project called Retarded Kitten?
That was just stupid songs I wrote that weren't Death Set songs. One of the dudes who did it was in Lifetime so that was pretty cool.
In which soap does Alan Dale give the better performance: The OC or Neighbors?
I had to Google image search that dude. Fucked if I know. Not all Australians watch Neighbors you know.
Jimmy Jam Jar