Written by Nick Hopton
The year was 2012, and I was the biggest Muse fan in the world. As they were about to embark on a North American tour for their new album, The 2nd Law, support acts were being announced (every one of which I was highly jealous of, as I wanted to open for them). As I scrolled through that list of names, one stood out to me right away.
I don’t know why, but that name alone called out to me like a beacon from the coastline. So, naturally, I threw my headphones on and popped on the first song that showed up. A song by the name of “Weatherman.” Now, not many bands have me hooked in the first 30 seconds of hearing them. This was a very rare exception. The raw fury. The power. A sound that rock and roll had been lacking for quite some time. A guitar riff that, in my mind, is one of the greatest ever written. Wailing vocals that could rip a hole through the sky. A swing and swagger reminiscent of trailblazing punk bands. It honestly felt the embodiment of “fuck you.” So yeah, you could say I really enjoyed them.
Fast forward eight years, nearly to the day when I heard them for the first time. Fresh off the release of a brand new song, “Hands Up,” an opportunity presents itself to interview their guitar-wielding bad-ass, Siouxsie Medley. I don’t think I’ve ever replied “yes” to an email faster in my life.
I’ve always found it amazing that music can connect two people that have never met before, and quickly have them talking like they’ve known each other for years. That’s what it felt like to speak with Siouxsie. Immediately sharing a few laughs about the state of the world, driving around drunk in golf carts, enjoying the now.
We got to talking about the creation of the aforementioned newest single, “Hands Up.”
“It came about within a day. It was a really quick song. Kind of a hodgepodge of different riffs between me and our friend Ryan Blum that fills in on bass for us, and we just kinda ripped at this song. Our drummer Sean Friday has been doing a lot of production, like fully engineering our new record, and twisted this old riff I had. And then Emily (the one and only Emily Armstrong I might add) just wailed. Literally in a day came up with the meat and potatoes of the song lyrically and melodically. Just really a quick song to make,” Siouxsie explains.
Any self-respecting artist will tell you that their home is the stage. There’s nothing like getting up there and playing your music to a crowd of people. It’s happiness. It’s freedom. So, seeing as that has been taken away from us by “The Year That Shall Not Be Named,” I was intrigued to find out how a band who tours entire countries for a living is dealing with not being allowed to do so.
“It’s kind of been two-fold. We had just finished doing a little tour to test some new songs at the beginning of the year, and then we were ready to go into writing and recording mode. We didn’t have to cancel any tours which we’re incredibly lucky to say. But looking forward it’s a big question mark. We have no idea. There’s always a thing when being in a band ‘when you’re on the road you want to be recording, and when you’re recording you want to be on the road,’ and that is just festering in us right now. All we want to do is play a show.”
As a guitar player, it’s always great to talk shop with someone who not only plays but plays fucking great. It’s a religion to many. The ultimate escape from the mundane. So, needless to say, I wanted to see if and how Siouxsie has evolved her guitar playing over the years.
“Well, I’m self-taught, I don’t know any guitar theory. And that’s why I feel like I’m more analog, more hands-on. I still look at my strings and go ‘Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually’ (brilliant tuning tip). But that’s the way I’ve always played the guitar, I don’t have the structure and the luxury of knowing a lot of theory, which I like. It keeps me out of the box and I make up with a lot of weird tunings. I just fuck with noises, fuck with tunings. It’s why I have to have so many guitars live. But, I think for me, what keeps me learning is listening to everything and anything. I love jazz. I like making guitar melodies and hooks that sound like horns, and I love incorporating that into rock and roll.”
Speaking of evolving, one of the single most rewarding and dangerous things a band can do is evolve their sound over time. Some pull it off beautifully and expand to vast new horizons, while others destroy the very essence of what made them great in the first place. So, what’s in store for the next chapter of Dead Sara?
“We are really trying to go back to our roots. We’ve been writing for 17 years, so many peaks and valleys. We tried doing an EP with songwriters, and we learned from it. But with this album, we wanted to take our time and make sure it’s solid. We’re only halfway through it, but there are already some songs that are reminiscent of earlier Dead Sara but elevated and matured. All of which I can’t wait to play live.”
Every band, artist, entertainer, no matter what or who they are, want to be successful. Whether it be in the public eye or the personal eye. Everyone has different levels of success for which they strive to achieve. Mainstream success, of course, has been the most well-known and common goal for musicians for ages. And to me, it’s insane to think that this band has not blown-up all over the airwaves and invaded our eardrums. But, then again, what the hell even is mainstream anymore? Is that type of “success” even wanted anymore without running the risk of becoming someone you’re not?
“It’s very eclectic for sure. It’s interesting. We’re just doing what we love, and we want to keep doing that. Obviously, we want to make it big, it would be sick to not have to worry about paying rent. But for us it’s weird. This is the first time we’ve put out a record on a major label, the last two we put out on our own. We were signed on Epic Records, but we put it out by ourselves. Now, we have this massive machine behind us. So, we’re kind of like ok, we’re ready to roll and let’s see what happens. We don’t know what to expect, but we’re just sticking to what we do. But if shit hits the fan, we’re ready to do it on our own again.”
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