2009 was a pretty pivotal time in the young Australian independent music scene, and far detached from the ubiquitous bedroom soul/electronica that proliferates today’s airwaves, rock music seemed to be the reigning king.
Howl (later known as Hunting Grounds) won triple J’s unearthed high competition with their screeching tune Blackout, up in Brisbane, bands like Last Dinosaurs, Comic Sans, The Cairos and Velociraptor were forming and releasing their first EPs, and independent record labels like I OH YOU were releasing said EPs and throwing house parties for said bands (usually to help pay for rent). At the crux of this burgeoning scene was a band that seemed to embody it in its entirety; the camaraderie, the screeching rock, and most of all the house parties – a two piece simply known then, as DZ.
DZ Deathrays have been lords of the Australian party-punk scene for the past few years, which was all kicked off by their searing debut EP Ruined My Life.
Shane Parsons (guitar) and Simon Ridley (drums), now known as DZ Deathrays, have had one of the most successful careers of any young Australian rock band in recent times. Paving their way with relentless tunes that, since even 2009, have never forsaken their ferocity or integrity, the band have killed it at home and have had a massively successful international career – something that loads of Aussie bands fail to do, and in the end has been their downfall. With two EPs and two acclaimed LPs under the belt, their 2009 debut EP Ruined My Life stands as a prelude to a huge career for a band that is bristling with intensity (probably due to the fact that it was literally recorded at a house party).
From the outset Ruined My Life is pure energy. Blue Blood is all fuzz and crashing cymbals, with enough noise to make it hard to believe there are only two of them. Due to the lack of a bassist, Parsons employs an arsenal of guitar effects that create a wall of sound so big that it doesn’t really matter. The band are unashamedly indebted to the influence of Death From Above 1979, which has never seemed to dampen the allure of their energy, and is actually something that they revel in (Parsons once said that “in no way do we ever feel like it’s an insult – we’re like ‘shit yeah!'”).
There’s a limit to what a band can do with only drums and a guitar, especially when they have a created a niche for themselves like ‘dance punk’, but what is clear for DZ is that it has to be loud, fast and fun. It’s almost impossible to listen to tracks like Yeah without imaging a bunch of sweaty kids crammed into somebody’s mum’s living room going absolutely mental. The tracks follow basic rules of dance music: repetitive bass progressions, a relentless beat and a sort of punk-skewed version of a drop – which all sound a million times meaner played on drums and a guitar with Parson’s vocals grating on top.
Despite the intensity that runs throughout Ruined My Life, it also has a sort of dark humour and sense of camaraderie – it sounds like a record made by two dudes for their mates to party to. The film clip for single The Mess Up was an instant classic – ridiculously simple, its the kind of video everyone young rock band wish they had thought of first but probably wouldn’t have the balls to actually shoot. “Two guys drinking Jager shots with beer chasers for three minutes” is probably all that the production notes read, and that’s all it is. It has since been immortalised by good mates and fellow Brisbane punk duo Dune Rats with their ‘green version’, which equally as simple, impressive and ridiculous.
Gebbie St is the blistering finale for Ruined My Life, and similar to The Mess Up, simmers on a groove throughout the first minute and a half before building up to wild shriek from Parsons and an epic riff that has rarely been beaten in my books. Its the best kind of mosh track, intense without being overbearing, with relentless drumming, incredible loud/soft dynamics, and ripping fuzz guitar, which all come together in the last minute for a massive, thrashing freak-out. Its the perfect way the end a record that, before anything, is just a shit load of fun.
Since 2009, DZ Deathrays have expanded their sound, exploring new territories and sounds across another EP (Brutal Tapes) and their two LPs (Bloodstreams and Black Rat), winning ARIAs and touring the world. What remains though is what is at the heart of Ruined My Life; solid arrangements, a heap of noise, texture and a relentless sense of energy that is integral for a band that is, first and foremost, a party band. Since the early sixties, critics have consistently said that rock and roll is either dead, or is on the verge of death, but as long as people can appreciate something as raw and simple as Ruined My Life, I think everything will be okay.
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