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Dead Confederate - The IndieLondon interview

Dead Confederate

Interview by Rob Carnevale

HAVING been among our top albums of 2010 and ahead of their London date at Dingwalls on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Athens, Georgia-based Dead Confederate members Brantley (bassist) and Hardy (singer) talk to us about their latest album, Sugar.

They also talk about some of their favourite live experiences, discovering one of their songs being covered on YouTube by a group of under-12 singers and why they love the UK.

Q. We loved your album Sugar – it was in our best of 2010 round-up – so how pleased are you with the finished result?
Brantley: I think we’re all pretty happy with it. It was fun making a record that was different from the last.

Q. I gather you were besieged by blizzards while recording it? How was that? It contributed to the title track…
Brantley: Yeah, there was an insane amount of snow. We wanted to do the whole “title-track/album title” thing like the last record because, basically, we’re lazy when it comes to naming things. I also got a fortune cookie with a meal that had the Chinese word for “sugar” on the back.

Q. Run From The Gun is, in our opinion, one of the album’s standout tracks. What inspired it?
Hardy: I was actually thinking of our (the US’s) mistreatment of Native Americans and our rather bloody history. Then it kind of started relating to more history and all war in general. Sometimes, you wish you could go back and just tell people to ‘run from the gun’ or something.

Q. And could you talk about the inspiration behind Father Figure, another of our favourites?
Hardy: It’s kind of about being away from home a lot… as all heavily touring bands are. It’s really a simple song about missing home… Hope you weren’t hoping for a more exciting explanation.

Q. Likewise, Giving It All Away?
Brantley: That song was written for the bands we’ve toured with. I was thinking about how most of them work their asses off for very little pay and have to put up with an insane amount of judgement from outsiders. If all jobs were like that, I doubt many people would work. You definitely have to love playing music to do it for a living these days.

Q. And Shocked To Realize, which ends the album in such brilliant fashion?
Hardy: The song is about art (and music) and how sometimes you see or hear something you think you don’t like, but if you give it another chance you can hear or see something that really works for you. I’ve found that with a lot with music I re-visit after a year or two. I think we should give stuff a second chance more often.

Dead Confederate, Sugar

Q. How was working with producer John Agnello? What did he bring to the LP and recording sessions?
Hardy: John was great in all parts of the process and a great fit for the band. He was all about trying as many dumb ideas as we had and wasn’t afraid to push songs different places that we maybe didn’t imagine at first. He definitely doesn’t hold you back.

Q. So, tell us a little bit about yourselves – how did you all meet?
Brantley: We all grew up in Augusta, Georgia. Hardy and I have known each other since we were kids. Jason and I played in a band in high school and so did Walker and Hardy.

Q. And who are your musical inspirations?
Brantley: We all listen to all kinds of different music. Originally, we bonded over Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Neil Young and Black Sabbath. I’d say the big inspirations come from bands we tour with though. When you spend a lot of time on the road with someone you learn a lot from them.

Q. You’ve been compared to bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. How do you feel about those? Do they help or hinder?
Hardy: People are going to compare you to whatever they want. If that’s what they hear, then that’s what they hear… you can’t really control it.

Q. How much do you feel you’ve grown as a band since the recording of your debut album and Sugar?
Brantley: Actually, Wrecking Ball is our debut. From that album to Sugar we definitely grew a lot. We learned to tighten up the songs and cut out the fat. We also got over our fear of playing upbeat songs. Wrecking Ball was pretty depressing, but in a good way I think.

Q. How has Sugar been received in America?
Brantley: I think fairly well. We don’t really worry about that kind of stuff. You can’t. It’s a waste of time as an artist. We made a record we loved and that’s really what matters. At the end of the day, we have to be happy with it.

Q. And what’s it been like taking it out on the road and playing it internationally? What are some of your favourite live moments?
Hardy: I really love playing Quiet Kid live… and By Design is an easy one to get into onstage. We also love to play Shocked to Realize even though it’s long and slow and probably totally boring for the audience… hopefully not though [laughs]!

Dead Confederate

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given and the biggest lesson you’ve learned in getting to this point?
Hardy: Be patient. Make the music for yourselves.

Q. Are you looking forward to your forthcoming UK dates? And what can we expect from them?
Hardy: Of course. We’re all ready for an English breakfast or 2 or 10. Show-wise you can expect it to be loud as hell.

Q. What do you like about the UK?
Hardy: I like how into music the youth are in the UK. Embracing it and picking it apart, going to festivals and shows and just coming together for something. It happens everywhere else too, of course, but it’s different. There is a different energy in the UK sometimes.

Q. If you could cover any track, what would it be and why?
Brantley: If this is hypothetical, Sabotage by The Beastie Boys. But we can’t rap. Trust me [laughs].

Q. Have you heard any of your own songs covered as yet? And if so, which have you liked the best? Or even hated the most?
Brantley: Yeah, actually there were some kids in Austin, Texas that put up a YouTube video of them covering Giving It All Away and it was actually really good. When I say kids, I mean, they were 12 and under. We brought them up on stage for an encore in Austin and they played it with us. That was one of the biggest highlights of any tour for me.

Q. When will work start on a third album?
Brantley: We’re still in the writing phase. We’re actually working on an EP of b-sides from Sugar at home right now. I think the next album will probably get started on this year and we’ll probably do it at home.

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod players at the moment?
Brantley: Cary Anne Hearst – Boxcar
Deer Tick – Goodbye, Dear Friend
Futurebirds – Battle For Rome
The Glands – Straight Down
Lonnie Walker – Grape Juice
The Love Language – Brittany’s Back
Ryan Bingham – Junkie Star
Songs: Ohia -“Farewell Transmission
Venice Is Sinking – Falls City
Vic Chesnutt – Flirted With You All My Life

Read our review of Sugar

Dead Confederate’s album Sugar is out now. The band will be playing Dingwalls in London on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.