Amoeba Hollywood - May 11th @ 6:00pm
Dead Sara plays a live set and signs copies of their new album, Pleasure To Meet You. (out now on their own Pocket Kid Records label). Purchase your copy at Amoeba to get your CD or LP signed by the band after the in-store.
Dead Sara know how to slay an audience. When Jefferson Airplane frontwoman Grace Slick is a fan, Dave Grohl says, “Dead Sara should be the next biggest rock band in the world,” and Muse personally invite you to open several arena shows for them there is no argument you command a stage with an undeniable explosiveness and passion.
What takes a band to the next level though is when they can channel that energy in the studio, bringing that same vitality and rawness to record. Dead Sara, with the help of producer Noah Shain, have figured that out on their second album, Pleasure To Meet You, delivering a powerful statement that just might make Grohl’s prophecy come true.
From the ferocious opening one-two punch of “Suicidal” and “LA City Slum,” songs made to ignite an audience live, the Los Angeles-based quartet of singer Emily Armstrong, lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley, bassist Chris Null and drummer Sean Friday deliver a savage message to listeners that this is a band intent on fulfilling all of the promise of their first album.
Mission accomplished. Armstrong says this is due, in large part, to the group’s hard work on the road.
“Playing to a lot of people and the bigger size had a lot to do with this second record I think,. Playing with Muse and in that capacity was an adjustment,” she says. “And we made this adjustment because we knew we could fill it, Of course watching Muse too was so fucking inspiring. So it was a quick growth for us and we caught on. We were able to get on it every night, put our best foot forward and it shaped us a little bit. We started writing a little bit here and there at that time. And we had that more in mind. ‘Where can we take this?’”
Fans of the first album know that Dead Sara is much more than the hard rock of the breakthrough radio hit “Weatherman.” This alternative band incorporates blues, pop and rock into their powder keg of a sound.
It’s a sound born from their disparate roots and long-term camaraderie. Null and Friday played together on the 2008 Alternative Press tour backing an artist by the name of Sonny Moore, now better known to the world as Skrillex. Armstrong, who started as a folk singer growing up on the music of artists like Fleetwood Mac, met Medley in 2002, writing their first songs together in 2003. They met Null and Friday playing in LA and what started as a temporary unit has become a full-fledged band.
On Pleasure To Meet You, a title that comes from the song “LA City Slum,” they expand that musical palate even more, with stellar results. They follow the aforementioned aggression of the top two tracks with a slight nod to doo wop on the rhythmic “Mona Lisa” and the quartet’s most upbeat track yet, the infectious “Something Good.”
One thing astute listeners will notice is the heightened space and detail given to lyrics, like on “Mona Lisa,” where there is a pause after Armstrong sings, “I’m so cold and lonely, I could be dead.” The silence is fleeting, but enough to make the starkness of her lyrics stand out. That is a band growing more comfortable with themselves.
“On this record I’ve noticed that I’m not hiding behind a lot of delay anymore, whereas the first record I was very self-conscious about singing, I’d never really done a record. And you will hear so much fucking delay and reverb,” Armstrong says. “But I’ve become so much more confident as a singer. And I think, like Siouxsie’s saying with her Morrissey, Smiths type stuff, we used a lot more of the twangy guitars on this record, which was rad, because we didn’t necessarily overdrive everything and put a shit ton of everything just to get through the record.”
“This second record I definitely feel more time was put into it and we’re much smarter. We’re a little bit more grown up,” Friday says.
The first record was recorded largely in 11 days according to the band. The youth and freshness was definitely part of the appeal for fans, who saw the hunger in songs like “Weatherman,” “Lemon Scent” and the powerful “Face To Face.” On Pleasure To Meet You though they’ve mixed that zest with savvier songwriting and production.
“Between the first and the second record and even now more on the third we’re definitely getting into changing the key and what actually feels the best,” Medley says. “’Do we want it dark? Do we want it happier?’”
Dead Sara have definitely pushed themselves on Pleasure To Meet You, taking those new tricks to make a unit.
“On ‘Something Good’ or ‘Greaser’ there are full three-part harmonies now. And that’s something we never would’ve done on the first,” Armstrong says. “So with that aspect we’ve grown into using everything we possibly can as a musician in a band. Because everybody can do their own thing individually, but there’s something special about when we can use it all together for one purpose.”
Null agrees this is more of a band album. “Even though I think it’s still varied song wise and the tonality of the record is more cohesive than the first record,” he says.
All of that cohesion and unity reach their zenith on the epic closer, “For You I Am.”
“It was a jam that we pressed record when we started jamming on it, just me sitting on one chord singing and then the band chimes in and we fucking finished. And the structure stayed the same. And the lyrics are almost exactly the same, but it was a moment where everything aligned and that’s a rare moment,” Armstrong says. “It was done so beautifully and Noah really understood that song, where we were coming from on it and how important that song was, especially closing out the record. Everybody in the band put their piece to it and shared it.”