Fierce Determination and Fanatical Devotion – an Interview with Deadcuts
Formed in 2012 by former Senseless Things frontman Mark Keds and former Skuzzies frontman Jerome Alexandre, the early days of 2018 finally saw Deadcuts release their long-awaited second album Hit On All Sixess (you can read Pure Rawk’s review of it here) following on from 2014’s Dark Is The Night. It may have been a long wait, but it’s definitely been worth it as the album sees the group building nicely on their debut to create a creepy yet beguiling slice of music, perfect for soundtracking the long dark nights of the soul.
Jerome was kind enough to take the time out to answer a few questions for Pure Rawk following the release of the album…
So seeing as this is the first time we’ve spoken to you guys, I guess we should start at the beginning – how did the band originally get together?
We formed on the first full moon of 2012 – each activity from the way we write, play gigs, releases, art, recording etc you name it, it’s done according to the lunar cycle. The sheer power of the moon is vastly underrated, it does something to the subconscious, and is almost amphetamine like.
What are your main influences musically? From listening to the albums I can definitely hear similarities to the Jesus & Mary Chain and Bauhaus but I’m guessing there’s a bit more to it than that?
Oh for sure – Bauhaus, Rozz Williams, Killing Joke, Death In June, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Magazine etc all were massive inspirations – but also Boyd Rice, Denzel Curry, Flatbush Zombies, The Psychedelic Furs, My Bloody Valentine, Suicide, The Underachievers, Goth Money, FKA Twigs, the list is endless. Lots of underground films and soundtracks as well, and poetry like Rimbaud, Burroughs etc.
Is there a process you guys go through in terms of putting songs together?
At the beginning of the band I realised very quickly that I’d concentrate fully on taking my guitar somewhere else cinematically or sonically. Mark writes all the lyrics and occasionally programs beats – he’s started to get more comfortable putting down the guitar and being a front man, which is not something he got to do in past projects. We’ll write the songs 50/50, take them into the band and rehearse. Having a great rhythm section has helped majorly; we’ve got all the songs ready for our next record, which has a wide array of tracks that I can’t wait for people to hear.
Hit On All Sixess has been out for about a month now, after a bit of a delay – I’m guessing it feels good to finally have it out there! Have you been happy with the reception it’s had?
It’s close to asking a woman what it would be like to be pregnant for three years then finally being told she can have her baby, that’s the nearest equation to it really. I can tell you I honestly felt like at times it’d never be released! And yet throughout all the bullshit and suffering each band member went through, we made a classic. Each person who came to the album launch told me it was worth the wait, but fuck me, all the drama that surrounded it nearly killed us. And some of which we’re still dealing with on a legal basis.
Over the course of the two albums, you’ve collaborated with some high-profile musicians including Pete Doherty, John Perry from the Only Ones and Beatrice Brown – can you give us an insight into how those came about? We really enjoyed the song Ragged Star that Beatrice sang on on the first album.
Thank you. The whole process behind Ragged Star was a purely improvised moment caught on tape without any idea of how the song would go. I tried to make my guitar sound more like a violin than a traditional guitar – there’s nothing worse than some idiot playing blues lead runs over great lyrics. The lyrics were about the legendary Steve ‘Stella’ New, who Beatrice had performed in with a group called Beaststellabeast and who had passed away from cancer two years previously, so a lot of people have picked up on the very heartfelt nature of the track.
John I already knew through Nina Antonia and the Perretts, he’s always been mega supportive of Deadcuts and just came into the studio and worked his magic. He has joined us onstage a few times too, needless to say when somebody who’s inspired you plays on your album then that’s as good as it gets!
Peter Doherty was meant to be on Dope Girls and had a verse written, but for a reason unbeknownst to me it never happened. Playing live we’ve done his songs on a few occasions though, and they’ve always been fun – I particularly liked doing Broken Love Song with him on when we were on his Eudaimonia tour, it’d be in the set and he’d jump up. Which would kinda break the ice so to speak cos I’d say majority of the venue know who we were, and our connection to Peter with Mark having co-written Can’t Stand Me Now and stuff, but there’d also be a few punters who’d look at us like “who dug these guys up?”. I enjoyed sneering at them immensely.
Most recently, you’ve done the collaboration Aries with Flatbush Zombies, which featured on the animated version of the Marvel film Black Panther – how did that come about?
We realised that if we were going to collaborate with rappers at all, then they’d have to be our favourites, and Flatbush Zombies are one of our favourite hip hop groups of all time.
Three different ingredients made it happen – there’s a group called Beach Slang who are massive Senseless Things fans. Mark got talking with them, we did a show at Dingwalls opening for them, and their guitarist at the time was a guy called Ruben who is one of the most sweetest, coolest cats on the planet. Ruben asked me who my favourite new American artist was and I, being a smartarse, told him Flatbush Zombies. He then flipped out, as he’d played on their latest record – I could not believe my ears! Since Flatbush Zombies were playing soon after, I asked if they could get us on the list, as I wanted to meet them and I also really thought it would be an incredible collaboration. I think Cass (Browne, Deadcuts drummer) being in Gorillaz helped as they’re all massive fans, and later on Erick Arc Elliot (Producer/Rapper) for Flatbush Zombies admitted he had a Senseless Things poster (Jamie Hewlett did their artwork before Gorillaz came into being).
Last but not least, Deadcuts had taken part in a Black Magic Festival run by the artist Jason Atomic and his consort Honey Manko. DJ Von Cobra went around with this huge firework/rocket in which people wrote their wishes on strips of paper, then attached them to the end (my wish was to do a song with Flatbush Zombies), but because of some petty law, they couldn’t fire the rocket from the original location. The strange thing was, the rocket was let off the night we first went to the studio to collaborate with Erick, in a studio in Limehouse. When I saw the video of the wish rocket fly off days later, it was filmed between Canary Wharf and Limehouse – you can imagine my reaction!
What are the plans for Deadcuts in 2018? Have you got any live dates lined up?
We are supporting Christian Death in April, their early work was a massive inspiration to us. Also when Killing Joke decide to tour again, Jaz Coleman has asked us to support, which is another band who had a big influence on us, in fact my father (RIP) played drums on Killing Joke’s Outside The Gate album. There’s also a gig in Leeds with Matt Hollywood of Brian Jonestown Massacre around September, and some festivals too plus more gigs lined up. On top of that, I’m going to be collaborating with Boyd Rice on his next record, and we’re also going to release some music we made with Kane Grocerys and Marcy Mane of Goth Money. I hate being idle!
Finally, anything else you want to plug or talk about while we’re here?
The application of will is paramount, especially when propaganda is put out daily telling you that you’re not in control of your own life. Don’t put your trust in people who are constantly negative about your work, cut them out of your life and apply fierce determination with an almost fanatical devotion.
Art and commerce are now even further in opposition with each other, so make more of it, don’t waste time, it infuriates me just how much time I wasted. If you’re an excessive character than stay well away from drink and drugs, and if you must do them, do them in moderation or it’s you and your loved ones who’ll suffer. And for anyone who feels there’s a wall in front of them, kick it down! Don’t let the bastards win, die trying if needs be. It’s hard to just stay alive! Existence proves quite hard at times, and be calm. I envy that Buddha on the hill… he looks like he’s having a good time to me.
Thanks again to Jerome for taking the time out to answer these questions. You can get your copy of Hit On All Sixess and all the rest of the Deadcuts back catalogue from the downloads page on their official website – click here.
Main image credit Christina Massei.