When people think of Nashville, they’re often not thinking about The Dead Dead‘s mashup of gruge, hard rock, indie, punk, and whatever else you have – but with an album as strong as their forthcoming banger “Tell Your Girls It’s Alright”, that perception might just change.
And just in case anyone thought this one might fly under the radar, the band recently released a duet with a certain masked maggot that is sure to get them all the attention they deserve.
We caught up with Meta Dead to talk about their new record, recording with Corey “MF” Taylor, and the upcoming deluge of band’s “covid material”.
Tell me about the new record – what should people expect from Tell Your Girls It’s Alright?
Well, when we first started the band, the idea was to do whatever we want that was fun and creative and excited us. After several years together and a few albums down, I think this is a return to form.
Tell Your Girls It’s Alright is all about experimentation, self-expression and it’s definitely a complete thought. We’d love for folks to listen to this like a classic album—with headphones…maybe a few candles lit, from front to back.
It’s kinda our Queen meets Ween, and we’re pretty stoked on it.
You guys have released some killer singles in the run up to the new record, including the new single/video with Corey Taylor on Murder Ballad II – how did that collaboration come about?
I guess they say “like attracts like.”
Corey is a really meticulous crafter of lyric and melody and I am too. He noticed that in me early on thanks to fans pummeling him on Twitter with demands to check out our music, and we developed a light online friendship. He invited us on tour with Stone Sour, and we hit it off as songwriters.
He seemed happy to do us the solid of co-writing/performing on the track, and we’re super appreciative. He doesn’t cosign bands every day, so we don’t take it lightly.
Seems like the fans of both Corey and The DDs are into what happened with the collab, so that’s the icing on the cake.
For most people, grunge isn’t the first genre they think of when they think about Nashville bands (which of course isn’t reflective of the wealth of talent in that town) – how do you feel being in Nashville has been advantageous for the band, either musically or business wise?
Nashville is called Music City for a reason. I don’t think this band would have formed anywhere else.
My best friends were musicians and we hung out and things happened. Nashville is a place where your bartender, your babysitter and your personal trainer could all come over to your place and jam after hours and a band might form. There are musicians everywhere—of all varieties.
I’ve heard the best guitarists of my life rip for 12 people and then go back to ID-ing people at the door. It’s just an incredible place with a diverse and highly qualified pool of talent.
The house parties where metal and experimental bands thrive really inspired us around the time we were getting started as a band. Gnarwhal, Sheep Shifter, Greywoods, Protomen, Bully, The Mighty Jabronis…they were so good…you get so pumped and just wanna be in the game.
How did the band deal with the lockdowns in 2020? Did you end up spending more time on the record than you might otherwise have?
We “finished” the record in February of 2020 and were set for releasing on our tour with The Darkness in April of last year.
Then that didn’t happen, and of course, we opened the record back up and took another look. That lead to the duet with Corey MF Taylor, the secret songs on Side D of the limited edition vinyl—all that.
Time was our friend this time, even if the lockdowns were distressing. It did leave time for lots of artists to pause and reflect, and that included us.
I fully expect to be showered in extra special releases from my favorite artists over the next six months. Lemme hear your covid material!!!
How ready are you to play shows again? Anything special planned for your first back, or are you thinking more about easing into things?
WE ARE SO READY, and also not ready at all.
We dipped our toes in by doing a streaming concert over the holidays. It was wonderful and weird. Now, we will barely come back for a little baby album release run—just our home towns of Nashville, Chattanooga and Huntsville. We want to wait just a little longer before we commit to a full tour. We want to make sure we can provide our fan family with the safest and most rewarding experience possible!
So guitars! What did you use on the new record in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
NOW WE’RE TALKING!
It took me a long time to find my perfect rig, and it’s what I played on our live record (which I love and highly recommend as an intro to the band) The Dead Shall Dance. I’ve continued with it since then, and used it on our new album as well.
I play a Tom Anderson Cobra S Floyd Rose Custom guitar through a Mesa Triple Crown head with a 2x12 stacked throwback Mesa cabinet. The Tom Anderson is a dream for staying in tune in heavier/lower tunings.
For The Dead Deads I’m tuned to drop C#, so it’s important that a guitar can bear that weight without buzzing or losing pitch. Les Pauls are great for that, but there was always this lack of harmonics and really hearing all the notes of a chord in the mid range.
With the Tom Anderson, I get the best of both worlds—thick heavy djenty chugs, and also clear notes of every chord ringing. On the record I played the Tom Anderson and a Les Paul, with the TA stereo left and right and the LP right down the middle for extra girth.
I try to really allow the guitar and amp to shine by not using any proper distortion pedals. That’s why the Triple Crown is so lovely. I have channel one dialed to the gnarliest distortion for choruses or heavy parts, channel two set for a milder, verse-y chug chug and solos, and then channel three is a nice warm clean tone that works on its own or with fx pedals. That way we get to hear the actual guitar through the actual tubes and this is just a real joy for me.
As far as pedals, I’ve tried tons, but over the years, I’ve been mentored to understand that less is more in so many ways beyond pedals, but especially with a travel rig. For the album I used what I use on the road—that way, I have it, I know it—it just works. I’ve been challenging myself over the years to do more with less. That being said, it’s still pretty lush beneath my toes…here goes…
- Tuner-BOSS Chromatic Tuner TU-2: The classic. It’s friendly to all pedals and reliable. Plus if anyone jumps on my rig, they know what they are looking at.
- BOSS SUPER Octave OC-3: This is just a kinda dope thing to throw in when Daisy is playing trumpet instead of bass, or when a solo needs to sound weird, or when I just want the most ass-heavy grind possible.
- MOOER The Wahter: I freakin’ love this wah pedal. It is tiny, and it begins the effect when it senses your foot on the pedal—no pressure needed, so it’s dope for just setting your foot down to make a quick eq tweak effect OR when you actually need to wah wah. HIGHLY RECOMMEND for experimental players or if you need more room on your pedal board.
- BOSS Flanger aka The Prince Pedal: Got it for Prince. Kept it for flange. I keep it set on Ultra because I just love how it flutters. It’s essential for our show closer “Nope.”
- Triple Crown Foot Switch: Six stomps. ch1, ch2, ch3, amp reverb, fx, solo
- Old Blood Endeavors EXCESS: This is a delicious little noisy thing that mixes chorus, delay and distortion with lots of tweakability. I like to mess with the depth/feedback to get nice noise in certain build-ups. Also like it for solos. I have it connected to an expression pedal (Roland EV-5) so that I can increase the rate of the effect, which is kind of a classic DDs thing I’ve been doing since the first record. Doo……doo..…doo…doo..doo.doo.doodoodoodoo. I like that.
- Mad Professor Golden Cello: This was a pedal given to me by a rock star, and I just haven’t been able to quit it. I use it to crank up my solos with extra water and gravel. When I use it on the clean channel, it’s just exuberant!
So yeah, that’s the rig, and it basically hasn’t changed much in a few years. I change pedals and try new things for sure, but these are my trusties and it’s what I used on the record.
Did you have any reference records going into the studio in terms of how you wanted the finished product to sound?
Ya know, not from an arrangement or instrumentation standpoint, but we had some favorite mixes/production for sure…stuff mixed by masterminds like Eric Valentine or Ken Andrews were definitely on hand for spot checking and of course during mastering.
I remember peeping Paramour’s newest record at the time to A/B with what we had. Matt Mahaffey produced and he’s on par with those guys, so we put 100% trust in his vision and were not disappointed. He’s recorded us several times, and we almost have to struggle to come up with any notes on his mixes. He’s a genius.
He picked the room we used as well, which was called “the big boy room” at Sound Kitchen in Nashville, so as the name indicates, we had lots of BOOM for drums, choir, brass, etc.
Are you a gear head at all? Any pieces of gear you’ve played recently that were a pleasant surprise? Anything you got to play that was disappointing?
Well, we just purchased the TalkStar talkbox for our home studio. My husband has gotten pretty good at it, though we realized why all those classic talkbox songs say “baby” a lot, and it’s because that’s one of the only words that you can easily recognize!
I would never throw any new gear under the bus, because I feel like every piece of gear, no matter how criminally cheap or outlandishly sophisticated, has a special place where it perfectly heals a broken song, so….that’s tough.
I didn’t have much luck with the Canyon pedal…it kinda did TOO much. It reminded me of when I was on a Line 6 Vetta and I kinda just ran away from it, but like I said, I’m sure there’s a song where it’s gonna save the day.
Is there any one piece of gear that you couldn’t do without? Anything that’s integral to your sound?
My Mesa Triple Crown Head and footswitch. I’m always a little bummed when we do a fly date and I use a different head. I feel like my head and how I set it with my guitar IS my sound…no extras needed.
When I use a different head, I feel like I sound like everyone else. I guess that’s a little fussy, but it’s true. I carried it on with me to the KISS KRUISE because I just needed it. It’s my security blanket maybe.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modeling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
Honestly, I love them. Some of my favorite artists have embraced them and for live performance, they are a dream.
In fact, if I took the time to dial them in, the aforementioned security blanket of taking my Mesa head around with me might become a non-issue. I just haven’t had the time/money to investigate for my own use.
NOTHING beats an amp on stage for personal enjoyment of playing live, but if it’s all about the audience and their experience, we should all be looking at AXE FX and Kemper because some of the best sonic experiences I’ve had at live shows were by bands that used these properly and tastefully.
I recall seeing Failure play a show with AXE—Ken is so good at dialing shit like that and it was extraordinary. The most perfect sounding show I’ve ever attended.
For someone who’s just discovering your band and wants to hear more music that sounds like you, what bands would you suggest they start with?
Gosh. We’re such a blend of all the things we love that it’s hard to say, “start here.”
I just mentioned Failure, and I think we have a lot of their DNA. Someone could try their album “The Heart is a Monster.”
I joked earlier about Queen meets Ween and it really does check out in a lot of ways. We’re somewhat experimental/theatrical, rooted in classic rock, we have a big fat grungey mid-section a la The Pixies, Melvins, Silverchair Beyond that, you can’t deny the female element, so there’s Veruca Salt, Joan Jett…and of course our southern heritage and roots is where all the storytelling and slinky rhythms come from.
We also try to approach everything with a sense of humor and some semblance of wit even when it’s a heavy issue. I grew up listening to Epitaph bands and will always think of myself in that realm as well.
I think we are for fans of any slightly left-of-the-dial rock music.
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with you guys but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
First, take your guitar and go to the lowest string and start turning the tuner down, down down. Haha!
But yes, yes…cover us! It’s fun!
We’ve had a few people attempt to solve the puzzle of our lead single “In For Blood,” and I think with the timing switches from 7 to 4 and back, that one gets really fun to play no matter what instrument you are learning it on. Cool bass line, tricky drums, and driving guitar, but it’s got a little of everything and the pay-off for memorizing it is really nice.
People don’t understand how we dance to it while we play, but once you know it…the movement just comes. No matter what genre you’re into, there’s at least two bars your favorite style of rock in that song.
What’s up next for the band? Any post-rona plans?
Yeah! Release our new album on August 20th! Meet everyone that’s been listening to our new music over the last year! We’d like to check a couple more things off of our band bucket list: Do late night TV, Play Europe, Get big in Japan! The usual!