INTERVIEW: DZ Deathrays

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So many Australian bands have been making waves around the world lately, but none more so than punk kids DZ DEATHRAYS. The release of their debut album Bloodstreams sky rocketed them to awesomest-band-ever status with tours around the world and a film clip that features American comedian Arj Barker.

The boys have been touring continuously and have now announced not only a tour with Groovin’ The Moo music festival with a dj set. DZ DEATHRAYS have also announced a tour with THE BRONX boys and their own headline tour! But before the boys jet off, I had a chat with Shane Parsons, one half of the thrash pop duo, who was quietly writing songs.

Are you looking forward to Djing on the Groovin’ The Moo Tour?

Yeah I am actually, should be fun and interesting to be doing something different like DJ sets. We kind of wanted to play live but they were like, no no we want you to DJ, so we’re like okay [laughs]. We still get to do the tour and hang out and have fun so that’s amazing for us.

Have you ever been to Groovin’ as an audience member?

I haven’t actually. My girlfriend’s been to shows a couple of years back and really  enjoyed it, she went to the Maitland one, but you know I’ve seen photos of it and it looks awesome. There’s a few places we’ve been to before like Canberra and Bunbury but I’ve never actually been as far north as Townsville before, and I’m from Queensland [laughs] so it’ll be cool to get up to those sort of places as well. It’s just awesome because I grew up in Bundaberg and if there was something like that when I was growing up, I would have travelled so far to go up to it. We used to travel down from Bundaberg to the Gold Coast for Big Day Out and we’d do the same for Livid in Brisbane. And it’s more regional I can understand how it plays a huge part in their musical year.

DZ Deathrays have played many festivals, which one has been a highlight for you so far?

I think there’s two favourite ones from last year. My favorite one in Australia would have to be playing at Splendour In The Grass, just because it was a crazy moment of when we were overrun by hail stones and everyone was pretty much forced to cram themselves inside the tent and that made it really awesome for us because we had a huge crowd [laughs] and we were like, the third band on so that was amazing. And then I think overseas, we did a festival which is a pretty surreal sort of thing it was a four band festival, three days four bands and the day that we played had The Killers, Two Door Cinema Club, The Temper Trap and us.

And not to mention getting asked to leave the stage at SXSW for being too loud…

When we got there, I saw the amplifiers and they were practice amplifiers [laughs]  they’re gonna be so shit, and they were like, yeah just turn them up as loud as they go and I did. And we played three songs or two of our songs out of four, and someone came up and said, yeah you guys have gotta stopthey’re gonna call the police otherwise. I think that was just because it was just so loud that no one could even think over the top of it [laughs] and it was pretty boomy, but we were just like, ah well we didn’t really care [laughs]. It’s a bit of a story I guess.

Also DZ won an ARIA award, where’s the trophy sitting right now?

It’s in Brisbane at our manager’s place. We got a few little awards last year and we just give them all to her and she can look after them. I tell her that its motivation [laughs], keep going!

Also you have your Groovin’ sideshows with The Bronx, are you fans?

Yeah that’s pretty much our number one band [laughs]. When we first started this band, our major influences were obviously Death From Above and The Bronx, they were our two influences and I’ve seen The Bronx so many times, I’ve seen them overseas and I’ve seen them in Brisbane back in 2004 I think, I remember jumping onto the stage from the front row and getting marks on my shins. And when we’re asked is there a band you want to tour with, both of us said we just want The Bronx. We love them so much and their live show is amazing so pretty excited about it.

So now you’re touring with them, who’s got the top spot?

I don’t know [laughs] maybe we’ll just keep saying them but we’ll tour with them overseas or something. We’ve just been trying to get on it, starting a band and sending emails and it’s just realy cool that we’ve finally got a chance to do it. It’s gonna be fun, like the show in Sydney has sold out all the shows in Sydney have sold out which is pretty good, we heard that in an email about a week ago.

And previous bands you’ve toured with have been pretty big, like Foo Fighters, which band have been the biggest partiers?

Well first time we went overseas we toured with Cerebral Ballsy and they partied pretty hard which was cool because it was our first ever time in the UK and we got on the tour. So we virtually flew in got into the van, drove to Manchester and played the shows as we got there. And then once we got over the first couple of shows we went out partying and stuff. I think the last we just did with Blood Red Shoes in the States and they asked us to come and tour with them in Europe and so we did those trips, and Stephen can drink a fair bit I guess, he kind of prides himself on it as well but I think Simon [Blood Red Shoes} gave him a run for his money. And they sat out one night in America somewhere and they stayed up ‘til like 7;30 in the morning in a hotel carpark just drinking whisky from the bottle and the next day, Stephen looked like he was gonna cry! [laughs] Simon didn’t look too good either but I think he was feeling the pain of that one [laughs]. But  they were a cool band to hang out with, a lot of fun most of the time we were driving but we’d still go out and still have a couple of drinks with everyone and we’d just hang out. It’s always like, once a show finishes, you pack up and you go have a drink somewhere, it’s so late and you don’t get back until three or four every night then you’d get up at none and start driving again.

So you’ve got your headline tour as well, do you think it’ll be as crazy as some of your previous shows, like I OH YOU Christmas Party for example?

Oh man! That is probably our craziest show to date. It was just nuts, I was a little bit scared about what was going on in the crowd like people were jumping off the balcony and stuff into the crowd, but it looked awesome but I just wanted to make sure everyone was okay because [laughs] it was pretty insane! But yeah I don’t know, show should be good like we decided that, especially with doing The Bronx and everything like that, we decided that we wanted this to be our last tour from this album , we wanted to strive to not go on and do a big venue, and just kind of go back and do a few small venues, and hopefully they just pack out and be really fun. We just kind of wanted it to be that sort of vibe and we’re still gonna do the exact same sort of show and we’re hoping to have some new stage props and stuff, which is gonna be fun, we’ve been looking into it and sorting that out, cool lighting and maybe even try out some new songs and that. Because we’ve been writing songs over the past few months.

How would you describe a DZ Deathrays live show?

Loud and flashy [laughs]. It is, it’s pretty loud and so I recommend bringing earplugs. Loud and intense but overall I hope it’s really fun, that’s what we want like we don’t want you to be scared to be there, it should be time to go crazy but time to have fun doing it. And it’ll also be good from wherever you are, like you don’t have to be down the front to enjoy it you can be up the back. It’s hard to describe when we’ve never actually seen our show from the other side [laughs] but that’s what I hope it is.

Back here in Aus, do many of your friends come to your shows?

It’s kind of like how it always is, at the beginning all of your friends come along, and then you play so much that it got to the point where none our friends would come and watch. But now we haven’t played that much that all of our friends come again. And it’s funny because I see my friends and they buy a ticket on the first day of sale to make sure they get a ticket! It’s pretty cool, it’s really sort of flattering that they still support us and are still getting in first day of ticket sales or buying a pre-sale ticket, especially since a pre-sale ticket can be so hard to get and people just assume they can walk in on the day of the show and buy a ticket on the door. So we kind of push people to get the pre-sales [laughs].

What is your favourite thing to do on tour other than play?

I don’t know, because I think back to last year and it was a pretty intense year. We were overseas for like, nine months of the year and all I remember doing really is playing and driving, that’s all I really remember [laughs] but I guess there were some other fun things and its cool. When we did the tour with Bass Drum Of Death I got to sit in their van, we shared a van with them for half of it, so I just sat in the back and that was kind of boring but it’s also kind of cool because we were going through Arizona desert and stuff like that and its kind of fun, and I guess that’s the travelling bit like its fun seeing these random places that are along the way, especially in America, because it’s so huge. But I guess the other thing is just having some time off to do stuff. We had a month off while we were overseas last year and we went and spent that month living in Berlin, we wanted to go there for a really long time, but its kind of hard just to pack up and leave. But we decided that we had that month so lets go see what we think of it. We got a unit in Berlin and it was great! We didn’t do like any writing or anything we just mucked around, went out and saw the sights and stuff. And I think having that time between tours is just really refreshing, but I guess it is just seeing everything.

So after you’ve finished all of your upcoming tours, what will DZ Deathrays be up to next?

Well seeing as we finish Groovin’ The Moo in Perth, well in WA in Bunbury, we’ll fly back and then we’ll get one day or two days off and then we fly over to the UK. We’re going over with another band Velociraptor and we’re all going over for the Great Escape Festival in Brighton. DZ has done The Great Escape for the last two years, but this year we’re going over with those guys. So we’re going to do that and a couple of shows in London with them and then I think we’re gonna try and get a couple of DZ shows in and then we’ll hopefully go in and record some songs! We have them ready to go so we’re just sorting that out at the moment and see what’s gonna happen. So we wanna go over there, do some shows, and come back with some new songs.

DZ DEATHRAYS TEENAGE KICKSTARTS SINGLE TOUR

Thu 4 April – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane 18+
Supported by Tiger Beams + Millions (DJ set)
Tickets via www.oztix.com.au

Sat 6 April – GoodGod, Sydney 18+
Supported by Palms + Bec & Ben
Tickets via www.moshtix.com.au

Fri 12 April – CATS VS I OH YOU @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide 18+
Supported by special guests (TBA)
Tickets at the door only

Sat 13 April – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne 18+
Supported by Damn Terran & Super Best Friends
Tickets via www.oztix.com.au

DZ DEATHRAYS also appearing with the Bronx this April/May and nationally at Groovin The Moo Festival (DJ set).

Words by Lauren Payne

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Brisbane based photographer and writer who will judge you first and foremost on your music taste. Likes mint slice and a damn good cup of coffee.