"We're kind of in our own world onstage. I really hope it translates, and I hope you enjoy it, but we're not going to kiss your ass for no reason," says Dead Confederate bandleader Hardy Morris. "We're just being honest and putting our hearts on our sleeves, because that's what people are interested in. That's what was so great about Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Dylan told the whole world everything that was going on with him and that's why people loved him."
Throw on Dead Confederate's debut album, Wrecking Ball (released September 16 on TAO/Razor & Tie and recorded in Austin, TX in the same studio where the sound effects for the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre were laid down) and you'll take Morris for his word. This is an unforgiving, highly emotional affair, and there ain't no saccharine to help wash down the sentiment. Theirs is a dark, atmospheric, fuzzed-out form of psychedelic rock that's just as much grunge as it is classic. It's mean and burdened by the past, but absolutely sincere. And as Morris alluded to, these songs were inspired by real life.
"They're deeply personal and emotional songs. There's nothing on that album that's very frivolous or composite, [no] made-up stories. It's all very real and very much things that happened," says Morris. And with song titles like the 12-minute "Flesh Colored Canvas," "All the Angels" and "The Rat" (a song Morris describes as "a poke at us growing up in a super religious part of the country. It's just [about] the hypocrisies of the über-religious") one wonders just what happened to these boys growing up down South.
Rising from Athens, Georgia's fertile rock soil in 2006, Dead Confederate is Hardy Morris (guitar/vocals), Brantley Senn (bass/vocals), John Watkins (keys/vocals), Jason Scarbroro (drums) and Walker Howle (guitar). Morris and Howle have been playing guitars and messing with loops, delays and reverb since high school. Performing as a two-piece around Athens, they scooped the other three guys off local bands that were slowly unraveling. It wasn't long until Capitol Records president Gary Gersh (who has been instrumental in the careers of David Bowie, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Beastie Boys and many more) signed the band to his new label, The Artist Organization. Less than two years after forming, Dead Confederate has already been featured in Rolling Stone guru David Fricke's "Picks," selected as an "Artist to Watch" by the same publication, and have played Langerado, Sasquatch!, Bonnaroo, Rothbury and are set to play New Orleans' Voodoo Fest at the end of the month. On top of that, when I recently ran into Widespread Panic bassist (and ex-Athens resident) Dave Schools, he was toasting Dead Confederate as one of the best new bands he's heard in years.
If you go to the band's MySpace page they list their influences solely as "On The Beach, Meddle, Bleach." These influence sections are generally a bunch of crap. How do you sum up a band with a few words? Well, you don't, but by listing these three seminal albums Dead Confederate does a nice job opening a window into their world. The bile-spitting brilliance of Neil Young's roots-rocker On The Beach, the expansive, haunting psychedelia of Pink Floyd's Meddle, and the scary similarity between Morris' pain-seared screams and Cobain's on Bleach all work together to form a nice composite of what they're going for. But this, of course, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Inside their crushing iron wall of noise are hints of Radiohead, Sonic Youth, My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon, Dinosaur Jr., Dead Meadow and more.
|Dead Confederate by Shiv|
"I'm a huge Elliott Smith fan and Brantley's a huge Bob Dylan fan and Walker is a ginormous Jimi Hendrix fan from back in the day and he loves the blues. John, our keyboardist, is into classical music, and Jason, our drummer, is like an über metal head," explains Morris. "So certainly those [On The Beach, Meddle, Bleach] aren't the only three albums that any of us listen to."
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