The Deadline Shakes are great – perhaps an obvious way to start an interview, but it rhymes and it’s true, they really are! British and brilliant is another plaudit which would suit, you can see a bit of a theme here; and rightly so, from the first time I heard The Deadline Shakes, I was hooked! So when they said yep to an interview, we said hurrah and supplied the custard creams!
The Deadline Shakes are Greg, Iain, Martin and Thomas; a group of childhood, school and university friends, they were quite eager I know they were all quite sweet and stable and that “none of us met in rehab!”.
I started off by asking about the name, it is different and memorable, so I was keen to know where it came from?
“We picked "The Deadline Shakes" as a name because it had a kinetic quality and a sense of urgency. Most importantly, we liked the ring of it and how it looked on the page. Sometimes people mis-hear us and because we're polite boys, we don’t correct them. So to some, we shall always be the all-conquering Deadly Snakes.”
Whilst I would urge with some ferocity for all Razberry Juice readers to take a moment and have a listen to the music of The Deadline Shakes, I asked the boys to tell me how they would describe their sound?
“It's heartfelt pop music with rocky indie bits, built around guitars and piano. Our chief goals are entertainment, addictiveness and a genuine emotional reaction. "Cool" doesn't really come into it at all – if anyone thinks what we're doing is cool then that's a happy by-product.”
However original a band’s sound might be, there will invariably be musical influences – so who influences The Deadline Shakes?
“We’d never deny being influenced by other bands and artists (as that would be a bit daft), but we do hope we’re doing something you won’t quite get elsewhere. That said, you’ll probably hear a bit of The Beatles and Talking Heads in our songs, maybe some Neil Young (in Crazy Horse mode).
Comparisons are funny things – we've had ELO a couple of times now, but none of us have any of their records. Some reviewers like to specify which bands you don't sound like, by way of reassurance. We won't name those ones.”
I am always interested in song-writing, and as we take such an interest at Razberry Juice in any kind of creative writing, I was very interested to know how The Deadline Shakes go about writing their music?
“Greg is the main songwriter on our stuff to date, but we'll all kick around the main idea in our little rehearsal room when we start preparing to perform it live, and thus Shakes-ify it. Things almost always come together quickly once the structure is in place these days, because we have a good idea of what we do and don't care about. But we are terrible tinkerers from that point onward, so we're always changing things, adding new bits etc. A phrase you will often hear at Shakey Towers is, "it needs…something", then the sound of chin scratching. Tom's chin makes the best scratchy noise because he is capable of growing quite a convincing facial beard-piece.
As for the approach to writing, it's a fairly brutal process in the sense that we scrap anything we don't think is immediately brilliant. The net result is a "select" batch of songs and a truckload of fragments and openings. Sometimes we return to those, but rarely – it seems a bit like microwaving your dinner after you let it go cold the first time around.”
The Deadline Shakes have an upcoming release due for December 2013, so we spoke a little about that, and the recording experience (head to the bottom to get a sneaky peak of the new single).
“Our new single "Bright Spot in a Bad Year" comes out on Monday 9 December 2013. We hope your readers get a nice glow from it.
The song, like our forthcoming album, is self-produced, so the only aspect involving a "proper" recording studio was the recording of the raw drum parts. After Tom nailed those by playing to a rough guide track we recorded in advance, we whipped all the files into Greg's laptop and started building up the rest of the song in our little room over a number of months. It's a long process because we make extensive use of multi-layering (there are about 120 individual tracks in the "Bright Spot" mix) and also because we are more like naïve explorers than seasoned producers. Trial and error (and swearing) – that's the methodology.”
Razberry Juice is an internet Magazine, and it really does feel like the internet has managed to worm its way into absolutely everything we do, and one question I do always ask any musicians we feature is how the internet affects them as artists do they think the internet has been a friend or a foe?
“Your next question probably sets out the main reason why it's a start-up band's friend – the internet provides a large shop window for anyone with a tune. Like all the best shop windows, it's crammed with dummies and enticing prospects. It's not for us to say which category we fall into. The fact is that there's no cap or collar on the quality of music available for free on the web, so if you're up for fighting in the free-for-all and you've got something good to share, you'll get somewhere.
Needless to say it's difficult for up-and-coming artists to make any money from selling their records these days (whether or not in electronic form). So you need to pay the piper some other way. Highland-themed bar mitzvahs, perhaps.”
So following on from the question above, it is probably fair to say that it is now possible for bands to get their music heard by an audience which a few years ago would have been impossible for all but those lucky enough to be signed to a major record label. I asked the boys if this has meant that they have had to become jacks of all trades? More than just musicians, but having to also be social media, internet and IT wizards as well?
“If you want to stamp your own identity on what people see as attaching to the band, then yes. But the mandatory nature of getting internet and IT savvy is not specific to music.
Mostly it's fun. If you find it a crushing bore to take and post photos, joke around and occasionally engage in some proper chat about music, you're probably not the best choice as the Facebook admin. It's really only if all the members of your band are web-phobics that you'll have a problem, and may need to consider the Gregorian Chant route.”
Success is measured by everyone differently, so I wanted to know how the band measure success? Stadium tours? Big name record deal? Simon Cowell or just being able to play the music they love?
“As long as we keep enjoying it and we keep looking for new things as a band, we'll be happy together. Aww.”
Finally, my favourite question – if we were all sat down in five years time with cuppa and a few custard creams (my interview I get to choose the biscuits!!), where do you hope that The Deadline Shakes will be?
“Sat together with five more interesting years' experience as The Deadline Shakes, with many more years to follow. And/or Bermuda. With our limo driver waiting outside. Can we take an extra custard cream for him?”
We always have to end every interview with a few ‘just for funs’ – here are the ones I posed to The Deadline Shakes…..
I can be flexible on the biscuits, so what are the band’s favourite biscuits, and are you guys dunkers or not?
“Greg: Caramel Digestives. I dunk ever more freely as age encroaches.
Iain: Regular Digestives – I’m the pipe and slippers sort.
Martin: Hobnobs – nobbly dunking goodness!
Thomas: Regular Digestive with a 3/4 depth dunk.”
What was the first music you ever bought?
"Greg: I believe it was Status Quo's covers album, "Don't Stop: 30 Years of The Quo". I liked "Fun Fun Fun" because I'd never heard the Beach Boys' original. Turns out the Beach Boys-ness endured with me rather longer than the Quo-ness.
Iain: I think it was the Beatles Anthology Two. It is a strange way to experience the Fab Four for the first time, but it did spark an interest in music production that is with me twenty years later.
Martin: Lynyrd Skynyrd – I got a bit obsessed with guitar solos when I was learning to play!
Thomas: Johnny Cash – "I Walk the Line" on vinyl, from a charity shop in the middle of nowhere. I remember recording it onto cassette to play on my walkman."
What are your absolute favourite films?
"Greg: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Iain: No Country for Old Men and A History of Violence are absolute ties.
Martin: Pulp Fiction and Back To The Future
Thomas: Apocalypse Now and Spirited Away."
And finally…. Marmite – love it or hate it?
Greg: I honestly don't think I've ever had it. But I don't like Bovril, so that might be a giveaway.
Iain: Pure bogging (hate it!)
Martin: Never tried it!
Thomas: No idea, I have never thought the purchase price was worth the gamble." (writers note – it is go now and purchase)
LINKS, there are just so many ways to connect…..
Website – www.thedeadlineshakes.com
FREE Track Download: ‘Don’t You Be Too Cool’
Record Label: http://flowersinthedustbin.org/