Dead Or American: Tales From The Dark Side

These are songs about neurological damage, werewolves, plane-crashes, homo-erotic gun-clubs, genocide and the vacuousness of the modern media

Feature by Dave Kerr | 13 Oct 2006
  • Dead or American

Be it the molten punk delirium of Hot Snakes or the bass-driven tenacity of The Jesus Lizard, these coincidentally serpentine influences are worn proudly on the sleeve of Stirling quartet Dead or American. Theirs are bombastic, razor sharp yet palatably melodic and boldly provocative sounds to counteract the suspicions of those jaded souls who assumed that the raw excitement once intrinsic within the ranks of 'alternative rock' had been exiled from Scottish soil completely in recent years.

Manufacturing a unique blend of vitriolic hook driven chaos since 2000, their foreboding title was quite literally dreamt up by their former bass player, as guitarist/vocalist Chris Cusack informs The Skinny; "It was agreed upon in a car-park outside our first gig. We kept it because of its relevance to cultural imperialism and the unrest that arises when people feel their traditions and history are being threatened." However, co-principal songwriter Colin Morrison acknowledges; "In saying that, we appreciate the potential irony in that we are heavily influenced by a lot of music from America."

Hailing from Dundee's burgeoning Pet Piranha stable (home to such broad ranging northern territory misfits as The A Forest and Mercury Tilt Switch to Alamos and Uncle Fritz), DoA are another notable among those largely overlooked acts forced to do battle with the politics of a scene virtually devoid of the financial support required to nurture the hub that NEMIS, as an example, sought to provide.

Indeed, with the constant state of flux in the status of local venues and the undeniable prominence of the most marketable contenders holding the lion's share of public interest as always, it sounds like a potentially deflating prospect to hop onboard the rock n' rollercoaster without the backing of agenda driven corporate sponsorship. As Chris considers, "there isn't the super-strong alternative scene that perhaps existed 5 or 6 years ago. This can be seen in the way places like the 13th Note in Glasgow have suffered and the fact that so many small-medium venues in Edinburgh have passed away. I would certainly say that a number of truly excellent bands have been allowed to expire in the last few years that could have been genuinely world-class had they been given a bit more support. Monopolies have a real responsibility there but so do complacent punters who could often be a bit more discerning as to where they spend their money and to what media companies they lend their support. Government in this country certainly does virtually nothing to support its music scene, unlike in Europe where bands are generally more likely to be paid and treated like the hard-working individuals they are, rather than naive little boys and girls to be exploited and help sell alco-pops in opportunistic venues."

Back to the music, this month sees the release of debut LP, 'Ends', what Colin proposes "is pretty much a collection of the best musical moments from our first five years as a band. We played Liquidation at our first ever gig. Don't Hold Your Breath on the other hand was written just a couple of weeks before we started recording. It was a long time coming so just getting our first album out has definitely been a big milestone, although I'm glad we held off so long." Striking while the creative well runs heavy, no sooner has album number one dropped than they're off recording the second with Converge guitarist/ Isis producer Kurt Ballou in America this month.

Having recently shot a video for Flame Out, conceptually devised by Chris and "oft-reluctant honorary DoA member number 5", Pete Flett, with directorial assistance from friends Matt McAllister and Y'all is Fantasy Island's Adam Stafford, Chris admits that "the general feeling amongst the band at the moment is giddiness. It has been, without doubt, the busiest period in our history and we'll be pretty glad to get a breather once we get back from Salem in October."

With their unique song writing perspective, they ought to blend right in during their Halloween Capital of the World; "we're often a pretty cynical bunch and a lot of the stuff we write has a dark sarcasm" says Chris, "thus far, we've had songs about neurological damage, werewolves, plane-crashes, homo-erotic gun-clubs, genocide and the vacuousness of the modern media."

Yes indeed, All Hallows Eve is upon us: so carve out a pumpkin and let Dead or American play you a soundtrack.

Ends is out through Pet Piranha on October 9.