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DUSTLAND: [ADAM BRAY] LIVERPOOL’S DARKER SIDE OF POP - INTERVIEW BY MEL

Liverpool will always be famous for the Beatles, the Cavern, ferry across the Mersey and the swinging Sixties, not forgetting some great 70’s punk and 80’s post punk bands. Stepping into 2011 and once more the local music scene is buzzing, with many new bands emerging, in addition to the infamous Eric’s club being resurected, giving us a great opportunity, not only for new bands, but for bringing music back into the port of Liverpool from across the pond. Dustland are revelling in the darker side of pop music with influences ranging from Johnny Cash, Echo & The Bunnymen, Kraftwerk, U2 and Joy Division, yet with their own distinctive sound.

I caught the Dustland boys quite recently whilst playing a set on the Dawsons stage at the Chester Rocks Music Festival after being highly recommended as ones to watch. They are a teenage, three piece, who are bringing a storm of wicked electronic pop to these Liverpudlian shores, and signed to the Deltasonic label. To date they have no music released, nor have they played many shows to date, yet they are receiving a number of rave reviews/interviews and people are watching and waiting with baited breath. The boys range from the enigmatically handsome Adam Bray on vocals, with Nathan Yates adding Guitar & Synth to the mixture and Abe Tesfachristos hanging out on Drums. I spent some time in their company at their rehearsal studio in Toxteth recently and in addition to a cool photoshoot I prepared a little interview with Adam to whet your appetite. Here’s how it went….

MEL: How did the band get together? Were you all mates at School and do you ever argue?

ADAM: We all met at school, started hanging round in the same groups of friends and realised we like the same types of music. The band came out of me and Nathan learning to play guitar together. I think we just decided it would be more fun if we just made our own music and that I wasn’t ready to play an instrument. Abe came into it when we needed a drummer and he had a drum kit. Not that he had played it much, but he was better at it than us so we would just get together and make what we called music. Its grown from there and been that way ever since although we would like to think we are a bit better now than we were then. As for arguing, we do but its always little things, its more opinion than anything else. We don't really have anything to argue about as we are all into the same stuff.

MEL: You have quite a wonderful image and seem to be the 'poster boy' for the band, but whose style [anyone] do you admire the most - dead or alive?

ADAM: First of all thank you. I never really set out to be that, I just wanted to look cool. Also I wanted to be a different person to who I am when I am not doing music. I feel like if I was just being me when am performing I wouldn’t be as exciting. Its like my super hero alter ego. As for style there’s a lot of people I like. I really like the 50's with he big sun glasses and the great shirts. People like [a young] Elvis, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly. They are cool people they knew what looked good.

MEL: How much of Liverpool has influenced your sound? Are there any other Countries or Cities which have been inspirational musically?

ADAM: Liverpool has been a great city to grow up in. The music culture in this city is unlike any other. We have all grown up in urban parts of the city (Norris Green, Tuebrook) and come from working class backgrounds. This city is very industrial and I think that's what really helped us relate to the dark German industrial sounds of pioneer bands such as D.A.F and Kraftwerk. Although when I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my Nan who was always playing the likes of Johnny Cash and Dean Martin. These sounds have been the biggest influences to me and have stayed with me since I was a child. I feel that our sound is quite unique although we get a lot of comparisons with bands like Joy Division, Echo And The Bunnymen.

These comparisons are very flattering but I feel that our sound is much more modern. We have never set out to sound as we do it is just a coincidence that when we all play together it comes out as it does. 

MEL: The riots in Liverpool recently were around your headquarters did this affect you at all?

ADAM: The riots haven't really affected us. Our guitarist Nathan went away with his family on the day they started so we haven't been in. Good job really with what I saw on the news it would have been some scary walk to the bus stop.

MEL: What are your thoughts on the Liverpool music scene currently?

ADAM: I feel that the music scene in Liverpool is better now than it has been in a while. There are some great bands that I have seen and played with over the past few months and I feel that the diversity in sound is growing in this city. There are so many different types of band now which I think is great. I was starting to get sick of everyone from Liverpool trying to sound like The Beatles. I am not saying that I don't like The Beatles but I what I am saying is that I don't think people should sculpt themselves on them.

MEL: What bands [be it local or otherwise] have you seen recently that have felt inspired by?

ADAM: I haven't really been to any big gig recently. The last performance I have seen where I was completely inspired and blown away was Thom Yorke at Glastonbury in 2010. Other than that there is a new band on our label called The Dirty Rivers they are really good and some of the band we know from school. They are attracting a lot of attention at the moment and it obvious why when you watch them play.

MEL: What individual bands do you all like, do you all enjoy listening to the same music?

ADAM: We all have music we like but we usually end up sharing it with each other and getting ideas from it. Nathan is very much into his dance music at the moment he like things like Orbital and Joey Beltrum. He has been bringing a lot of ideas from this music into the practice room to work on, its sounding pretty good. Me at the moment I have picked up on a dark rap group from L.A called Odd Future they have been getting a lot of attention online for there music and there behaviour. I find what there doing in the music industry is very interesting and I enjoy the stories there music tells. 

MEL: What do you Guys enjoy besides music?

ADAM: We like to go out with our friends have a few drinks and that. We spend a lot of time practising and in the studio so after we play a gig we like to celebrate with a night out [laughs]. We also don't mind a game of football from time to time; we would be playing for Barcelona if we weren't so into our music.

MEL: We caught you recording a couple of demos. When can we expect a single or even album?

ADAM: You can probably expect an album eventually but I don't know when. As for a single I think we are pretty close to putting something out there.

MEL: Give us some random song titles of yours and talk us through what inspired you to write a couple of them.

ADAM: Well the last set we played went, ‘Horizon’Soldiers’ ‘Overload’ ‘Oxygen’ ‘Ghosts’ ‘Sleepers’. When writing we usually get the music and I will write my lyrics to the way in which the music makes me feel. It’s been a good way for us to write and we are really proud of the songs we have written. We write the music its up to the audience to feel what they want about. I like hearing different people views and opinions to what they feel within or music and lyrics.

MEL: What is it about your dark, broody and atmospheric music you love so much?

ADAM: I have always liked it. I think its the images you put together from what’s being said. There is a feeling to it when the songs are like that, there something about it that makes the music seem more real. I don't mind other songs, but any generic cheese like that Aeroplanes song am not into.

MEL: How do you start to bond the lyrics to the music, do you have a format? Bowie used to cut words up to create lyrics have you tried anything creative or different? Is it an easy process for you writing?

ADAM: Well I am always writing bits down, no matter where I am if I think of something I will jot it down in my phone and then I’ll just see if it fits with the mood that’s coming from the music. Sometimes we'll just jam stuff out and it will be me just saying the first thing that comes to mind and just work round whatever good bits come out. Bowie is another cool guy, I wouldn’t say I would wear some of the gear I have seen him in though. Bit to out there for me but great musician.

MEL: Any there any good /bad experiences so far being in the business, you'd like to share with us?

ADAM: I love doing what were doing its a dream come true. Everyone wants to be a rock star at some point in there life and getting to do it as a "job" well what more can you ask for. I just want as many people to listen to our music. That's always been the main aim to get people to listen to what we have done on a large scale.

MEL: You've played at a couple of festivals this year, Chester Rocks and BugJam? How were you received and did you enjoy playing at them?

ADAM: We got a really good response at the festival gigs. The crowds were large and they seemed to be into the music. That's all you can ask for when playing a gig is that the audience are enjoying it. It was a new experience playing festivals and I think its one I could get used to. I kind of like the hectic-ness there's no time to think about what your about to do. You just get on and play, its good because I don't like thinking about the gig to much it can get me a bit to hyped and that is not always a good thing as you found out at Chester.

MEL: When can we expect to see a tour, are you lined up to do any supports?

ADAM: There's nothing finalised but there is a support tour that has been getting talked about but its not finalised so I wont say any more about that.

MEL: The band are signed to Deltasonic Records, how have they supported you all being so young?

ADAM: Deltasonic are great. I think we are very lucky to be working with such experienced people. The main guys who help us out are Alan, Joe and Jamie and they are three of the nicest people you could meet. The relationship they have built with us has been really good, its like family [laughs]. They try not to put pressure on us and they really believe in what we are trying to achieve, and they always help us out if we need anything. Alan picked up on us just before I turned 17, so he's been working with us for just over a year. He hasn’t pushed us to work which has been really good, he wants to take time on what we are doing so when we put it out there we are ready for it. We just hope everyone is ready for us.

MEL: One final question who might you like to get stuck in this lift with overnight and why?

ADAM: Errm getting stuck in a lift would be scary. We crap ourselves when the lift shakes. I wouldn’t really mind as long as they had food, didn’t smell funny and weren’t boring, I would be sound. Also it couldn’t be Kesha, her voice annoys me so much!

 
Interview/all photos by Mel 22/08/11
Bookings: Jamie Heston – Jamie@DeltasonicManagment.com http://www.dustland.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/Dustland