Dead Confederate smell a Rat
After the success of their Spring tour with A Place To Bury Strangers and recent shows supporting Dinosaur Jr on a run of UK/European dates, mind-blowing psych-rock five piece Dead Confederate have announced a UK release for their incredible debut album. Entitled ‘Wrecking Ball’, it will finally be unleashed over here on November 9th through Kartel. Lead track, ‘The Rat’ will also be released as a single a week earlier, on November 2nd.
Atlanta, Georgia 2006 and a local five-piece consisting of friends tight since their school days are sick of being local. They’re sick of coasting. Sick of the jobs that barely keep them in guitar strings and barely cover their graduate debts. Sick of being little more than a jam band. So they take decisive action. They move to Athens, Georgia, they change their name, grow an exotic range of facial hair and they get serious. Dead serious.
Within eighteen months the newly-named Dead Confederate had found their voice via the new clutch music by songwriters Hardy Morris and Brantley Senn - a stirring combination of searing alt-rock with traces of timeless Americana and the darkest of country and heaviest of psychedelia buried in there too. They had built a fresh fan base from scratch and experienced that lucky break that can so often be the difference between greatness and obscurity.
It was while being picked up at an airport that former A&R man / Capitol Records boss Gary Gersh - who in signing Sonic Youth and Nirvana to Geffen in the early 90s effectively made underground alternative rock a mainstream concern for the first time – heard Dead Confederate demo’s playing on his friend’s car stereo. A few meetings later and the band were signed to his label The Artist Organization, their self-titled EP following soon after in 2008. Dead Confederate were up and running and haven’t paused for breath since.
Shows with the likes of Black Lips and Deerhunter followed, but it was their appearance supporting fellow Athens band REM at South By South West 2008 that made Dead Confederate one of the most talked about new bands in the US. The Daily Telegraph dubbed them as “a hairy American Radiohead” and while there are certainly shades of early Thom Yorke and co, we can hear Nirvana, Mudhoney, My Morning Jacket, Lift To Experience, early Pink Floyd, Screaming Trees, Drive-By Truckers and Soul Asylum lurking deep within their widescreen musical vistas – music that simultaneously stabs the heart and kisses your cheek.
And so the real hard work began. In early 2008 Dead Confederate hit the studio to make their debut album. Recorded over a month in Austin, Texas with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, …Trail Of Dead) in the latter band’s miniscule rehearsal space-cum-garage (“It was about the size of an average hotel room,” laughs Senn) on ancient recording equipment, it was the culmination of ten years of work.
‘Wrecking Ball’ was the result and its release in September 2008 sent Dead Confederate spinning across America with their spiritual noise-fathers Dinosaur Jr then over to Europe with like-minded newcomers A Place To Bury Strangers in a touring cycle that hasn’t ended yet.
In late 2008 Dead Confederate dipped a foot into the big time when they appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Aside from reaching the living rooms of America perhaps more importantly they showed to their parents that there was potential in this here rock business after all and that their college degrees - Dead Confederate are an academic and highly literate band - weren’t taken in vain. The lesson learned? Never, ever give up. Or maybe: build it and they shall come.
In early 2009 the quintet scored a Top 40 US hit with ‘The Rat’ - not bad for a protest song against the religious right - before they recently embarked upon another European tour with Dinosaur Jr then segueing straight into a tour with another legendry alt-rock band, Meat Puppets.
It all begins to make sense when you see Dead Confederate live. Propelled by the crushing drums of Jason Scarboro, eccentric guitar work from Walker Howle, and ambient organ sounds via John "J5" Watkins....The band's shows carry the torch for all the great hirsute underground freaks of the 80s and early 90s...yet Dead Confederate are a band that could only have been shaped by the 21st century. Their wall of sound could be taken as a giant metaphor for modern America itself: simultaneously expansive, emotive, affable, troubled, paranoid, confused, confident, complex and resolutely dark of heart. As their moniker suggests, however, the only flag this band is waving is for themselves and their kind: the freaks, the forgotten, the hard bitten anti-heroes and the volume junkies.
By autumn of 2009 Dead Confederate’s beards and moustaches were out of control and their eyes squinting a thousand yards into the distance. The road can do that to you. There was only one thing left to do: retreat to the studio to record an album that would push them out of the trenches over the top. Which is exactly what they are doing. Watch this space then, and in the meantime enjoy the full European release of ‘Wrecking Ball’, Dead Confederate’s first calling card to the world.
Last updated: 18/04/2018 18:25:55