Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley are DZ Deathrays, the snarling thrash duo that reside in different states and still manage to smash it as a band.
Ahead of their third studio album Bloody Lovely, we caught up with Shane to find out what’s making this one even bigger than the rest.
Inspired by the progressions and melodies of Beach House and Dilly Dally, DZ have “popified” the new record, whilst staying true to their thrash-party vibe. Looking forward Shane also spared a moment for their fourth record, currently being written alongside their touring guitarist Lachie.
With new record Bloody Lovely set to be released on Feb 2nd, DZ Deathrays are driving up a new avenue, exploring a “swagger-rock” sound that’s bigger and nastier than ever before.
HAPPY: The video for Total Meltdown saw you turning into three dimensional versions of yourself in an eerie, alternate reality. Can you talk us through what the song is about?
SHANE: The song was written in two parts, originally when we were doing Blood On My Leather I had the riffs of Total Meltdown and I couldn’t finish any vocals for it. And I sort of had a mind meltdown after being under pressure in the studio so I wrote the verses about that, about having a mini meltdown but it’s not really that serious.
The chorus was then written maybe two weeks before we went into the studio, I had written six choruses for that song and was just screaming things into the microphone. So that’s why the chorus and verses don’t have any connection at all. It’s a big dumb rock song.
HAPPY: What can fans expect from upcoming record Bloody Lovely, does it break away from your dance-punk genre or are there any surprises?
SHANE: There’s no dance beats. We had a conscious decision to drop that. We just want this record to have more of a live feeling and a swagger-rock, poppy sound. It took us so long to write it but now its been done for a year I’ve forgotten how different it is from the rest of them. It’s a bit bigger and nastier and I think the songs are a bit more pop.
I really tried to pop-ify all the songs and make sure all the melodies really stand up on their own and not just have riffs all the way through. It’s the writing of the vocals and putting the song together.
HAPPY: Was the process any different to the previous records? In terms of musical influences, life changes or lived experiences?
SHANE: Not really, to be honest. In terms of lyrics, the songs go from being personal ideas to snapshots on societal things. We don’t try and go too political with our lyrics cause it’s not really who we are, it’s still just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun and we’ve pulled ideas from day to day life that we’re going through.
I think in terms of listening to music, Simon and I listened to a lot of slow music for this one, but it doesn’t come through at all. I’ve been listening to a lot of music that can put you to sleep, I don’t know if that’s somehow influenced the record but I listened to a lot of Beach House. I think it’s the melodies and chord progressions and song structures, we take away stuff like that. I also got into a band called Dilly Dally while we did this record as well, which was a little bit of an influence too.
HAPPY: How has being split between Sydney and Brisbane impacted you guys as a band?
SHANE: I think it hasn’t really done too much. When we were in two different cities it was totally fine, we’d share ideas and talk over messenger or whatever. The only thing is like if we want to go in and make some noise and rehearse and write a riff or idea together, it has to be planned out. We don’t have a studio that we can roll into everyday and make noise.
But that’s fine, we work that out. Whenever we do a show together we get into a rehearsal room. We try and write a song before a show, so that we’re always writing and trying to think up new ideas.
HAPPY: You sometimes tour with a third member. Will he be joining you on your upcoming tours? Do you ever think about going bigger?
SHANE: Yeah, well. So Lachie’s been with us for three years now and he didn’t write anything for Bloody Lovely but we’re working on a new record together as a three piece. It’s a gradual evolution as a band, we’re the same lineup as when we first started this project. Before DZ was DZ it was the three of us.
It’s kinda gone full circle, and as a three piece we work really well together, it fills out the sound a bit more and gives me more space to focus on singing and get the rhythm section down. We don’t have to use backing tracks or anything cause we’re not that kind of band. I don’t know where it’ll go after this, it could get bigger or stay the same but we’ve got lots of room to move.
HAPPY: How would you say your creative process has changed or developed since you first started making music?
SHANE: Yeah, it has. We used to just have a bedroom setup as a jam room when we first started and every afternoon after work we’d just go in there and write songs, we’d write really quickly and be like ‘that’s done’, but now we write something and overthink it a little bit too much. But at the same time it’s good because it trims the fat on a lot of songs and makes it interesting for us to keep playing them over the years.
So there’s more thinking outside the box and taking a more technical approach to writing a song, and figuring out where songs can change. Slight things that you don’t really notice in a song until you pull it apart, sometimes things happen by chance and sometimes things take two years to work out. That’s sort of where we’re trying to move towards, to think about the way we write a little bit better.
HAPPY: You guys came up with an Instagram story quiz for the release of Total Meltdown where viewers had to guess the lyrics. What there any particularly strange, dirty or dumb lyrical guesses that stood out?
SHANE: Haha. Not really, just your standard swear words and random stuff. Nothing offensive or really weird that stood out. But the guy that did the video for us actually came up with the idea and is a friend of mine, and it was such a cool idea that he executed really well. I snapshotted all the messages that got sent through and he can use them as a case study for other projects down the line. It was cool, it was really fun to have that out there and get people using their phones to play our music in a different way, it’s a whole idea.
HAPPY: When you’re not making music, how do you like to spend your spare time?
SHANE: I mostly am writing music, but I guess just being with friends and family and stuff. Music takes up a majority of my life at the moment, but just hanging out, drinking, dinner, food and booze and movies. Just a normal life.
HAPPY: I saw that you guys were running a series of pop up bars with Young Henrys to promote the new record, where you’ll be DJing. What does a DZ Deathrays DJ set look like?
SHANE: Haha. It really depends on the night, I’ve done DJ sets where we’ve played disco, and sets where we’ve done a lot of John Farnham and Aussie rock. I have no idea, I’ve got a bunch of playlists because I DJ quite a lot by myself, so I’ve got heaps of music and I guess it depends on the night and what time it is. So Fatman Scoop might even get a run.
The Bloody Lovely pop-up bars kick off this Friday around the East Coast, paired with the launch of their own beer in collaboration with Young Henrys. Find DZ’s national tour dates below.
Bloody Lovely Pop-Ups
Friday 4th May – The Gov, Adelaide (Lic/AA)
Saturday 5th May – Capitol, Perth
Thursday 10th May – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday 11th May – The Metro Theatre, Sydney (Lic/AA)
Saturday 12th May – Hellenic Club, Canberra
Thursday 17th May – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Friday 18th May – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday 19th May – Republic Bar, Hobart
Friday 25th May – The Triffid, Brisbane (Lic/AA)