Interview with Dead Fame
- by Dawn Reed
Deli: How did the band start?
Christopher DeNitto (synths)- I was faced with either start a new band or kill myself.
KC Byrnes (guitar)- Chris and I met up with Eric, then added Sadie.
Sadie Powers (bass)- I ran into KC, Chris, and Eric at a dance party. They said they were looking for a bass player. I had played music with KC before and was looking to do another project with him, so I'm glad it worked out.
Michael Means (vox)- Eric kept talking about the band he had joined and how they couldn't find a good singer. I finally convinced him to let me try it out and to meet the rest of the band, still unnamed at that time.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Eric Klemen (drums)- Prior to Dead Fame, I was heavily influenced by bands like Q and Not U, Braid, Shiner, June of 44, Mercury Program, Engine Down, and others. Since Dead Fame, I've been seeking out more electronic and dance influenced music for the sounds and beats found in these genres.
Means- That's tough: so many. I like powerful singers and performers, mostly: Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, and Tina Turner for example.
Powers- Bauhaus, Steve Reich, Mingus, Nina Simone, Stereolab, Joan Jeanrenaud.
Byrnes- ESG, The Clash, Sade, Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
DeNitto- Old school goth, new romantic, post punk, synth pop, witch house, indie remixes.
What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Powers- Einsturzende Neubauten, Suicide, and The Birthday Party are always on steady rotation. The new Dirty Beaches is the best album I've heard this year, and SAL MINEO is also fantastic. It’s a side project of Eugene Robinson from Oxbow and Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu. Also currently revisiting PJ Harvey's early albums.
DeNitto- Trust, Thieves Like Us, Suuns, S.C.U.M., M83, The Knife, Holy Ghost!
Byrnes- Future Islands.
Klemen- White Lies new release, "Big TV.”
Means- It's been a lot of Ssion this past year, but I've also been listening/streaming my Tanlines station on Pandora a lot. Just this past week I've listened to a lot more from Perfume Genius because we are opening for him at the Midpoint Music Fest this September.
What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
Byrnes- First concert was Rod Stewart. I think I was 12, my mom was a big fan. First album: X, More Fun In the New World.
Klemen- First concert: Smashing Pumpkins in high school. First album: Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet when I was 6 years old.
DeNitto- First concert: The Cure, First Record: Michael Jackson Thriller.
Means- I'm pretty sure it was Puff Daddy and "the family," with Lil Kim, Mase, etc. in high school. I guess that was cool then, and I'm still on team Lil Kim; she's the real queen B. I think the first album was actually the Ace of Base cd, "The Sign." I still have an affinity for pop crafted by Swedes: Robyn, Abba, Peter, Bjorn and John, Roxette, Lykki Li, Jens Lekman, The Sounds, The Knife.
Powers- I practically stole my mom’s copy of Ziggy Stardust when I was four. Does that count? Otherwise, Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream. I saw Sting in high school. “Roxanne” is an awful song to begin with, but being subjected to a 17-minute calypso rendition in the middle of his set just took it to a whole new level. I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered.
What do you love about Richmond's music scene?
Means- There's a good variety of bands and genres, although I believe we are the most truly unique thing happening right now. There are a lot of music lovers and people who support and like making sure music keeps happening here.
Powers- I love that people in the scene just make things happen. We have a strong and eclectic noise scene.
Klemen- The music scene reflects the size of the city itself, not too small to go unnoticed, not too large to be oversaturated. It's rich and diverse.
DeNitto- People actually go to shows, and there is a lot of diversity in styles.
What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
Byrnes- Less "quietly intense" boring bands wearing cut off shorts. It is just a really lazy way to be a musician.
Powers- I think this applicable to every music scene, not just Richmond’s, but I wish that bands pushed themselves more, both in composition and performance. If the point is to connect with people on a deeper level, then why are you just going to stand around looking bored and play the some tired bar chords? I don’t have time to watch you think you look cool on stage.
Means- I guess that while there is a good variety of bands, there are still a lot of bands that are also harder to differentiate from the next. Maybe I would like to see a little less "folk" and banjo on the scene, and a bit more synth and pulse--but again, that's why we are so unique.
Klemen- People need to turn off the Top 40 tracks and experience the local venues and talent in their own back yard. Venues should run tighter shows. Richmond's pretty lax about doors at 9, but music not starting until 1-2 hours later. It messes with people's schedules when planning to go out, that it sometimes becomes a deterrent.
DeNitto- I would like to see more mid-level venues bringing bands that are too big for small clubs but not big enough for huge theaters or stadiums.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
Byrnes- Release a 12" vinyl EP with some great remixes. An official video and hit the road.
What was your most memorable live show?
Means- Our first EP release was good: packed house, mirror ball full of condoms and glow sticks that was smashed like a pinata over the audience.
Klemen- Cincinnati's Midpoint Music Festival last year. There's a sense of accomplishment that comes with traveling to a city far from our own, where people likely haven't heard us before, and getting an overwhelming positive response.
Powers- I'd also have to go with MidPoint. At one point, I looked over to the side and saw a couple making out under this giant portrait of a drag queen. That was probably the highlight of my career as a performer.
Is there someone who has helped your band grow through support?
Klemen- Our friends and families who have graciously let us sleep in their spare beds, basements, and kitchen floors when on the road. And of course, our local RVA fans who have been very supportive since the beginning.
Byrnes- Most everyone at the WRIR radio station has been really supportive.
Means- We've had great support from local dj's, music writers and bloggers, and definitely our friends, who have all helped spread the word about our music.
Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
Byrnes- My guitar. I would have nothing to play in the band without it.
Klemen- Chris' computer. It controls everything - the synth, our tempo, the lights, our souls. KC and Chris made a home-made lighting rig that's lightweight and travels well. It certainly sets us apart and gives our set energy.
DeNitto- Mainstage from Apple. It's been the best live performance tool I have ever used.
Powers- I've been playing the same bass for 15 years. It's my first and only, and I would be emotionally wrecked if anything ever happened to it. Everything else is expendable.
Means- Tape for the mic: I have a habit of pulling the mic cord from the mic during the frenzy of performances, and nothing's worse than vocals dropping in the middle of a particularly impassioned phrase.