Dead Reality - A Dead C Interview

First published in Ha Ha Ha No.5 in late 1990

The first time The Dead C engulfed my eardrums was a cold wet Dunedin night late in 1987. That afternoon I sold two of my prized tapes (VU Banana LP & Husker Du’s Warehouse) at Roy Colbert’s second hand record shop in [Stuart] Street in order to get enough money to see The Terminals live at Chippendale House.

The support band that night was the then unknown Dead C. I found myself a vacant mattress on the floor of Chippendale House. An old warehouse come band and arts venue where a red hot potbelly glowed in the middle of the dance floor and small children and the odd dog danced away up the front. The dark dingy setting and the raw stripped down atmosphere seemed to suit The Dead C as Bruce Russell and Mike Morley ground away on their guitars like men possessed, sending a continuous spray of distortion in the small but excited audience. They then continued to attack their guitars with energy, anger and a violin bow as Robbie Yeats laid down a solid beat. 

After they had struck their last distorted chord I knew The Terminals were still to come and this was already a gig I would have memories of in years to come.

A few thousand brain cells less and a pile of Dead C records and tapes later I caught up with The Dead C via Fast Post…

1. The DC seem to have a high output of recorded material. Is this The Dead C plan, to record as much as possible?

Yes. I would say it is the top priority for most original composers of ‘popular’ music, indeed all music, surely. To have as much of one’s output recorded for posterity is a very satisfying career result. But yes, we have been more single-minded than many of our contemporaries re: recorded works. Much of this stems from having wholeheartedly embraced our difficulties (no money, no record company ‘backing’, no state of the art studios) and turned them into our greatest strengths. People love our music because of the way it sounds, not in spite of it.

2. Does DR503 stand up to the quality of the current material, or do you feel a band’s recording should reflect the stage the band is at?

Eh? Yes, DR503 certainly does stand up to our more recent efforts, which are somewhat different in intention as well as form from those very first sessions, but yes, also, the ‘best’ record is always the latest one as it most closely approximates what we are about right now. Our latest product is a 7” single for O/S release late 1990, ‘Hell Is Now Love’ b/ w ‘Bone’. It’s great by the way.

3. Tell us about your weirdest live performance?

We played at a party in our own home and had to fight a bunch of ugly sliders who kept trying to take over our set. A very ugly individual insisted on singing throughout. We did two songs and went off, taking our gear with us. We were fucked off. It was OUR house. Second weirdest was playing in Auckland where whiskey turned us into a HM band.

4. What your feelings on your low DC status in NZ but greater recognition in the US?

Fine, good on them. Fuck our fellow country men for the ignorant inbred morons that they are. Funny story; When Byron Coley was over here ‘certain’ NZers told him that they heard some American was going to release a DC 12”, ‘Is he crazy?’ they asked, ‘Have you heard them, it’s all just a big fucken noise. ' ‘Yes,’ Byron replied. ‘It’s great isn’t it?’

5. What’s the story with the Siltbreeze EP Is there a lot of interest in the D/C overseas?

Tom Lax sent me some dirty magazines in the post. I got threatened with prosecution by NZ Customs. I wrote to him and told him if he sent me anymore of that shit I would come over and break his legs. He offered to release a record in the US. Really, kids, it’s that easy.

As for interest, who can really tell? Enough on the east coast of the States to warrant releasing stuff. Tom reckons 7000 EPs will sell out in two days. There is a certain underground buzz about this weird band from NZ. Wait until they hear our long-delayed 2nd LP. We anticipate achieving a certain notoriety shortly.

6. Any plans on the touring front. Local or o/seas?

No, we can’t afford to do either. It’s a shame, but it’s true, every time we’ve played out of town it’s cost us a lot of money. Obviously we’d love to go to America, but there’s no way we can afford to.

7. Robbie Yeats. Why did you leave The Verlaines? Is the DC more in line with your musical tastes?

Robbie can’t be bothered answering this one.

8. Bruce – You once described yourself as a non-musician. Is this still the case?

Yes. I managed to avoid learning anything about the guitar other than how to make a fucken racket. I also can’t play drums or organ and would never dream of letting that stop me.

9. Mike Morley [BR - Bad start, he doesn’t like people calling him Mike], ‘Holding’ brilliant song, how did it end up on the TKP album?

No comment.

10. Are there more DC recordings in the pipeline?

Oh yes. Once ‘Eusa Kills’ and the US 12” come out there’s another done and about half a third (or fourth if you count the EP as an album which is how long it is and it does go round at 33 1/3) album. We did a good session with Hazelwood from Sferic Experiment, some of which will be on vinyl, all of which is on the ‘Trapdoor Fucking Exit’ TC on Precious Metal which is now basically deleted. The Runway cassette is still to come on that label too.

This interview is written by Bruce Russell with distant collaboration from Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats. BR. “Robbie has broken his thumb but it will be better in a month when the cast comes off. We have played twice this year in public, one of them, unadvertised supporting The Renderers. We don’t care. (27. 7. 90).”