Brisbane, Australia-based dancy punks DZ Deathrays combine buzzsaw guitar riffs with fiery, party-ready rhythms. Fittingly, the group — comprising singer/guitarist Shane Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley — formed in 2008 (under the abbreviated name DZ, to which they added Deathrays to avoid confusion with the U.S. dubstep DJ), intent on exclusively playing house parties. Word soon got out and they grew to the rock club circuit, releasing their debut EP, Ruined My Life, early the following year. By 2010, DZ Deathrays toured with the likes of Crystal Castles and Ratatat and performed at festivals like Big Day Out, Parklife, and Field Day, making way for their signing to the Melbourne label I Oh You a year later. The sophomore EP Brutal Tapes, which combined studio and house-party recordings alongside remixes, arrived soon after, and by fall the band was even more in demand, touring Europe with Male Bonding and Band of Skulls, joining the NME Radar Tour with Wolf Gang, and opening for Foo Fighters back in Australia.

Hi Shane, so you’ve just released your new record Bloody Lovely…

Heaps of people are into it which is a really nice thing. It’s always hard when you’ve recorded something, you’re really proud of it, you’ve put in a lot of hard work, like years of hard work and people are just like “aah it’s boring” or “it’s not as good as the old stuff”. My response is always “you can always listen to the old stuff, it’s not going anywhere”. Yeah it’s a bit of an experiment putting a record out sometimes, it’s an expensive experiment but it’s fun. It’s cool to see what you thought was exciting and a fun song or interesting song or melody that if other people do as well. It can take time for them to come around.

Are there any specific themes or vibes you’re exploring with Bloody Lovely?

I wouldn’t say anything specific that wraps over the entire record but in terms of lyrics I just sort of write about stuff that’s happening at that point in time. Something that’s happened to me or I’ve seen something. I’ve been writing a little about the internet quite a bit over the last fews years because I find it super interesting the power that it has now. It’s also one of those things that if you leave it behind, what changes? Because were also addicted to it, we’re always on our phones. I’m constantly on the internet, it takes up so much of my life. What if I just gave it away and didn’t use it anymore? Well then it’s obviously gonna be harder to do a lot of things but also I’m not gonna see a lot of stuff. There’s internet movements that happen, they only really exist on the internet and I know that they change people’s perception in real life but how much of that do you actually see in real life? So that has crossed a few songs here and there.

Sonically, we wanted to bring a little bit more of our live sound into this record. I wanted it to be a little more sloppy. I don’t know if it is, to me… compared to Black Rat, there’s more loose ends there. I think on Black Rat we didn’t even add any guitar feedback so this one we made sure there was guitar feedback to give it that live sense. The other thing we made sure we did on this record was we made sure we didn’t have any dance beats. So we went more to hip hop beats and break beats and obviously rock stuff to keep it in that world but a lot of the time when we were writing the demos, I would just write to a break beat and that was kind of where we were taking the record, rather then having a four to the floor dance beat. That was another thing that flows through the record, that absence of the dance beat, which we’ve used in a fair few songs over the years.

Was that a strategy to keep things fresh?

Yeah, we had a couple of songs that had that that dance beat stuff in there and it just didn’t fit the record. We wanted this record to be super concise… like almost the same stuff but then trying to branch out a little bit. We really wanted it to feel like this is a moment in time for us and we can move on from that again later on. It’s just one of those things that after a while you’re just like “no dance bits in this song.” It was just one of the things we decided to do. What can we do? Let’s do no dance beats. I write a lot of slow music, softer stuff. On this one were like “no ballads.” ‘High’ was the kind of ballad on it. We had ‘Northern Lights’ on Black Rat and I really love that song but with this one we were like “nah lets just have it so essentially from the get go it’s pedal to the metal all the way to the end”. Then put the demo right at the end of the album after ‘Witchcraft Part II’, which was just a demo that I had which I couldn’t find any vocals for but I really liked. It was a nice, peaceful ending to this full on forty minutes.

Creativity can come out of those parameters, where you’re like “we’re not going to do this.” Working in a duo you’d be used to working within restricted palettes?

Yeah, we make sure that everything in the record is done with guitar. There’s no synthesisers on it or anything like that… you give yourself that parameter. I think it’s nice to do that once or this time and next time open yourself up and use some other instruments and work it out. There’s always ways to do it live, you just gotta not be crushed about keeping it as a two-piece or three-piece or whatever. There’s always a way to do it, I guess the only constraint that you get is money. Having extra people is having extra money. There’s a bit of back and forth until you find a sweet spot there.

Whereabouts is your album release tour taking you?

We’re coming over to New Zealand for the first time in a couple of years. The last time were there with Die! Die! Die!, so we’re gonna play in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch then we’re gonna go do a lap around Australia. The shows… they’ve been selling quite well, which is exciting. It’s nice that people seem excited to see the band live again. I think we had a year, 2016 we played quite a lot in Australia and it got to the point where were like “oh I think people are getting over us”. So we held off last year and we came out with eleven new songs and we can do some live shows, and we hope people are excited to see the band again to see these new songs.

Whats the plan for the coming year?

The idea is that we’re actually gonna try and get another record done this year, at least written, so we can record it early next year. It was one of those things were we spent last year writing demos so we’ve got a bunch of demos that were pretty excited about. I feel like we’re getting close to halfway in terms of songs. We really made a thing of it, we’re not gonna waste time this year. We’re gonna keep writing, keep working on fresh material, in the meantime promoting this album and playing these songs live and getting into that, which is always a fun thing to do. You get to play new songs on the stage, that’s exciting but always keeping our writing caps on. We’re writing this one as a three-piece with our guitarist who’s been touring with us for three years. It should be interesting to see what comes out of three brains instead of two.

Are you going to be playing any of that new material alongside songs from the album you just put out?

Well there’s an instrumental that we’ve been playing to sort of open the set. It’s super doomy, sort of slow rock thing. It’s really fun to play and is just a nice way to open a set, so we sort of have started doing that. What I would love to at some point, maybe towards the end of the year, is chuck a couple of new ones in to see what people think. It’s always a nice thing to play them live and see how people react to them. We did that with this album too. We played ‘Guillotine’ and ‘Witchcraft Part II’ back in 2016… we could kind of tell it was a bit of a fun one to add to the set. There’s a lot of riffs in it so it was a good one for me, I could have a rest from singing while I just played guitar. We’re always just trying to progress, just keep adding music. It’s unfortunate that some of the old ones drop off the back but you can always go back and revisit them for special shows and stuff.

Will you be doing anything special for your tenth anniversary?

I’m not too sure yet, we were just talking about that last night, what we could potentially that would be a nice little thing… it’s a long time, it’s one of those things, it’s a little bit special to do a decade.

Do you reckon that working and making as a duo has been a key to the longevity and productivity of your group?

I mean, yes and no. We both live in different cities and even that has been totally fine to overcome because of the internet, you can just send each other music all the time. It’s a weird one. It was only out of necessity that we were ever a two-piece, we didn’t plan on doing that. But we’ve just always worked well together, I have ideas, Simon has ideas. We’re always had the same outlook for the band. I think that’s good. I think, the good thing about a two-piece is it’s 50/50, we’ve gotta be one hundred percent otherwise there’s no point. If one person’s not happy, there’s no point. You may as well work it out until you get where you’re happy this is what’s gonna happen.

Over the years, we used to just write stuff that we could play live as a two-piece. That’s how it was written and recorded but now we’re kinda open to doing whatever and working it out. The live show’s always different to the recorded version of the song. Its kind of fun to throw some extra things on the record and try and work out how to do it live. We’ve had a touring guitarist for about three years, Lachie. He can pick up all the high lead parts that we’ve written that are nice things to make a chorus pop, and it’s been good having him there for these years. This record’s been done since March last year so we’ve been writing new material and we’ve been writing as a three-piece, which is cool cause it’s a bit of a different vibe again.

Thinking about the tenth anniversary, I was reading an interview with an artist who was talking about how the second decade of a life in music can be the really tough, challenging part.

Oh right, that’s what I’ve got to look forward to [laughs]. I always look at bands like Modest Mouse and Violent Soho and they didn’t really kind of get anywhere, or they were getting somewhere and it was around the ten year mark that people really started to take notice, and I find that interesting. Especially today, we’re so wrapped up in this thing of the next best thing. You have to be fresh, it has to be a new project and people are excited about it. But there’s so many bands out there that maybe didn’t go as big what as people thought they would but then later on come out with the goods. And it’s awesome because I’m a huge Hot Snakes fan and they hadn’t put out a record in ages and the three records they had were awesome, and it’s so awesome to see Sub Pop picking them up, re-releasing all the records on vinyl then they’re doing a new record through Sub Pop. I think thats great, its great to see Sub Pop doing that. Getting a band that was always awesome and maybe people didn’t take enough notice of and sort of pushing them back out there and getting them on cool tastemaker festivals. I think that’s interesting and that’s cool and not everything has to be brand new.

Ourselves, we struggle sometimes. Especially overseas, in the UK. We really want to do festivals but it’s harder for us now because we’ve been around for a while. It’s a little bit like “oh they’ve been around for a little while, we need something new and fresh” like that’s fine, it’s up to you but we’re putting out new music and we wanna come over… I think it’s just a funny industry thing that happens and maybe it’s more prominent overseas, but in Australia people sort of champion bands that can stick it out for a bit longer.


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