At the start of June I travelled up to Camden's famous Barfly to witness the very fantastic Dead Confederate put on the 'show of shows' in some style (Live Review.) Before the show I was lucky enough to be able to meet up and drink a beer with bassist Brantley Senn who described some very poignant moments like how robbery sparked his music own personnal career to how the very special 'Wrecking Ball' album was created. This is certainly a band that make music that says 'what we do matters' and has meaning through its very heartfelt core. Here is what was said ...
So This was your last day on tour, how has it gone for you?
It was awesome. It was our first time headlining over here. It’s been an interesting experience to see if it would work out or not.
Guess you’re looking forward to getting home?
Yes, it will be good. Some nice barbeque food or a country sneak. The food is different; you guys just don’t have the same comfort foods. I’m sure you guys would miss your English breakfasts after a while in America. Other than that, it’s been really awesome here.
You emerged from Athens, Georgia. What was it like starting out there?
Well we graduated from school and we decided to move to Athens because it was cheap so we can do what we can do and still afford a house. Athens is wonderful & I can’t see myself living anywhere but there. It has that big city feel but everybody kind of knows each other but is still very much a small town. It’s best of both worlds.
What made you guys start wanting to make music?
That’s a good question! I started making music because I’d seen Hardy’s band at high school, just these guys that played together in some trailer next to a dirt bike track, and they’d play really crappy punk songs and Nirvana covers. The bass player let me play his bass player a bit and I remembered thinking “I could do that.” The reason why I actually bought a bass was because I was really into golf in high school and some guys came to our house and stole some tools and my golf clubs. When I got the insurance money for the clubs my dad asked “Do you want another set of clubs?” and I said “I think I’ll buy a bass and an amp instead.” I literally traded golf for music. I wouldn’t of been a good golfer so I am quite glad.
That’s a crazily good starting-out story. Going back to times in Athens, do you think you adopted an Athens sound?
It’s hard to pin-point because I think. We embraced a lot of ideologies. I don’t think Athens really has a particular sound because it is so varied. I mean you have Montreal and on the other side of things you R.E.M. It’s so all over-the-place. Everyone here really embraces different genres. You don’t have hip-hop communities, punk rock, or metal or indie rock. All the bands play together at the same show. We’ve had hip-hop bands and metal bands play before us at the same show. It’s too small a town to be in a click.
I guess that isn’t very different from places over here in London. I was reading that Dead Confederate went by the name of ‘Redbelly.’ Why did you change your name?
It was a terrible name. I remember a guy did a review who ended up being quite good friends with us for an album we had back then and he said he could of got into the album a bit more if he wasn’t embarrassed to tell people the name. At that point of time our also sound changed and we started doing things we’d never done before like distortion, going for a heavier sound, our taste started changing. We wanted our name to fit with something we were doing. It sounded silly to the serious music we do now.
What was the idea behind the ‘Dead Confederate’ name?
Hardy came up with the name. We picked a bunch of names and chose the one we sounded like the most. We wanted something that would catch people’s attention at the time because it is kind of hard sticking out. The name just fits our sound. A perfect fit.
How do you look at your music? Some people say you are rather ‘grunge’ based. You happy with this judgement?
See there are songs on Wrecking Ball that are grungy and there are still songs on there that aren’t. In fact there are some that are totally not grunge. The name album, you guys have not heard is completely different from Wrecking Ball in every way you can think of. We make music for the moment and don’t pin-point anything. I guess if I fancied writing a Reggae song I would. I don’t think I want to make a Reggae song but I wouldn’t want to put a boundary on what we do. It’s all about changing and evolving.
Judging on that response, I guess you listen to a variety of music. I will say the dreaded word ‘influences’ and ask what albums were most inspirational growing-up?
Pearl Jam –Ten. It was the first time I ever heard somebody play the drums. It was the first time I see rock music be played live. I must of been 12 years old. IT was the first thing that stopped me listening to Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer and al that shit that was going on. When I heard it (Pearl Jam) I was like “Oh! I do like rock music.”
What would you say is the most important album out now for modern music?
For this year in particular, the new Beach House album! It’s phenomenal. I cannot get enough of it. We actually met them the other night, and I felt like a twelve year old when I said “I’ve never seen you before and I really liked you.”
Last question about albums. What do you think has been the most important/influential album for the development of your band?
It’s tied between several ones. We all really bonded with was ‘My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves’ We listened to that album as they were in between jam back and rock. It eased me back into indie music when I was getting into a phase of listening to jam bands. A lot of bands are like that, like MGMT, who are into String Cheese and now they have transferred into indie rock.
Talking specifically about your music now, you have had one full album and several smaller EP releases.
The LP ‘Wrecking Ball’ is rather a good one. It seems perfectly made in some ways. Could you tell us how you went about making it?
Well the idea behind Wrecking Ball was to capture some really powerfully emotional things that were happening at that time in our lives. It connect o the name of the album. We wanted it all to come across as really honest. They were not wrote in a particularly intellectual way. It was like if I was upset I would sit down and write about it. That was the kind of standard we wanted to set for the record. It’s very personal to us and is very emotional.
It’s weird because at the time the time we were going so far away from honesty. It became all about appeasing the celebrities. We were trying to go for the opposite of that.
I have a question for you that could be really hard to answer but I am going ask it anyway. You have a 7” split with another band. You have to cover a song off the band you are splitting with whilst they do one of yours. Who would you pick and what songs?
It would probably be a band we toured with. It’s quite weird because I actually thought about this before we left to come over here. There is a song on Alberta Crosses album called ‘City Walls.’ I remember thinking this was a song we could go with. I think they could do any of your songs well.
It would be very interesting to see you do that. I have time for one more question. I must ask; Where do you see yourself a couple of LPs down the line? That said, where would you ‘like it’ to go?
I hope we are playing in theatres at least. Hopefully, I want to get to the point where I can write and produce for others. I would like a nice comfortable career. I would like a tour bus – It’s so underrated. I can imagine it would be really easy. Just being able to get a comfortable sleep would be so good.
What do you think the music you are making will be like?
Even our next album is so different. I couldn’t tell you what it would be like.
Have you thought of a name & date for that album?
It will be Sugar and will be released August 24.