Interview with Dan Parkinson of The Dirty Dead

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I came across The Dirty Dead on Twitter recently. Their debut album, “Nightingale” is scheduled for release on the 4th of April. It’s a very creative and impressive collection of songs. From the first song, “Big Blood (Part One)” I was intrigued. The line “There’s a killer in my head, and I think he wants me dead,” definitely caught my attention, and as I listened to the rest of the album I began to realise that the songs were connected in some way. The lyrics are thought-provoking and expressive, like musical storytelling in some ways. The imagery that the lyrics evoke is very powerful. The overall theme is quite dark. The musical style reminded me in parts of bands like Rage Against The Machine, but in other parts the songs are much more like progressive/experimental rock with lots of different instruments being used. I think it will appeal to fans of indie/alternative/progressive rock.

CcY6n3nW0AAKByZTrack listing:

  1. Big Blood (Part One)
  2. Foxes Fighting Wolves
  3. Diamond Godzilla
  4. Bang Bang
  5. Ghosts of Guinevere
  6. Driver
  7. Take Care
  8. Souls
  9. The Ballad of the Dead
  10. Nightingale
  11. The Fire
  12. Strangers
  13. Big Blood (Part Two)

As you can tell by the song titles, many of the tracks follow a kind of dark fantasy theme. Here’s the title track:

 

I enjoyed listening to the album, and was keen to find out more about the band. I invited them here for a chat.

Interview with Dan Parkinson of The Dirty Dead

Introduce us to the band members and tell us a bit about your musical backgrounds.

I’m Dan Parkinson and I play guitar and sing for The Dirty Dead.

I have my good friend Ash Springle who played drums for me on the album, and my new friend Ashley Tomlinson who plays drums for live shows.

Me and Springle used to play in a band together called Kids Can’t Fly, that’s how we first met.

Me and Tomlinson met at a Dirty Dead show last year and got to talking about writing together.

Springle then had to leave the band due to other commitments, so I ask Tomlinson to take on the project.

What made you decide to start the band?

I had a conversation with my friend Ben who said two things that made me start the band, he said, “rock music will never go out of fashion”,  and “bands don’t groove anymore”.

After talking with him I went home and wrote most of the record in one weekend.

That’s impressive!

Who are your musical heroes?

Nick Cave, Jack White and Tom Waits. Easy!

Have you always wanted to be a musician?

Since I started playing I wanted to be a musician. Now I am focusing on the production side of music.

I personally think I’m better at getting the best out of other musicians than my own playing.

Who thought of the name The Dirty Dead?

I have always been alright with song/band names. I write them down when I think of something and pick ones I like at a later date for projects or songs. The Dirty Dead came to me about a month before I started the project.

Your debut album (out on 4th April), “Nightingale”, is brilliant. The songs seem to have all been written around a certain theme, and it’s quite dark in nature. Who came up with the idea for the concept for the album? Tell us a bit more about the songs on the record.

Thank you, I am quite proud of it.

The whole concept is set around a love theme, between the living and the dead. A story of the undead falling in love with a woman from the living world. It had to be dark, or it wouldn’t have been taken as seriously as I would have hoped.

A few tracks stand out for me lyrically:

“Strangers” is about a town that is attacked by strangers. They turn up and totally destroy this town, seemingly for no reason. To begin with I wrote it as a slight dig at religion, but after finishing it I found that the song sides more with the townsfolk. In a way it is written about my own feelings towards religion.

“Nightingale” is the darkest song on the record, for me anyway. It was a difficult song to record vocals for too. I had to sit alone for a while after recording it. It’s about not getting what you want, being told you’ll never be good enough.

“The Ballad of the Dead” is my attempt at a love song. It’s a small song of hope. I wrote it whilst camping with my better half, Emma (who does the spoken word in “Diamond Godzilla”).

“Big Blood pt.02” is loosely based around the realisation of losing someone. If you ever go to a funeral of a person that everyone knows wasn’t nice, you always here these backhanded compliments towards them, making them out to be a better person than they were. I like that concept, trying to cover up something horrible with something nice. The song represents that concept in that you have those big horrible guitars and drums, being covered up by a quite attractive vocal style.

You can see the whole album as a story, or as individual metaphors, either way you look at it is fine with me.

I won’t say what the songs mean to me, as I think that ruins the mystery.

 

How long did it take to put together?

As most of the record was written in a weekend, most of the time spent on it was working on the lyrics and the mix. As I was doing at all myself it took over a year to fully complete.

What was the recording process like?

I loved the recording process. We recorded drums where I work using Muse’s mixing desk and some great outboard gear. My friend Ben engineered the drum recordings and we tracked all the drums in one day. No practises before hand. Ash Springle is just a great musician, so that obviously helped a lot.

Then I tracked everything else back at my studio in Hampshire. I borrowed certain guitars and amps from friends to get the sounds I wanted. My friend Scott kindly lent me his Rickenbacher bass, which all of the bass was tracked on in one evening, engineered by myself.

For guitars and vocals I had my friend James come down to help engineer. Guitars were all tracked over about two weeks and vocals were all done in two days.

After tracking or mixing each song I would leave the record for weeks so I could have fresh ears coming back to make sure it is how I wanted it. Most of the time I fell in love with the songs again, other times I would think, is this album even good anymore? Either way, leaving it for weeks really helped.

Nothing worse than being in a studio every day listening to the same guitar tone.

I had a rule with recording, record each part three times and pick the best one, vocals included. Some mistakes were left in, purely because they just felt right being there. That’s the thing with this record, it’s not trying to be a Maroon 5 album. It’s a horrible rock album, there needed to be grime left under the finger nails.

LOL 🙂

On the record there are drums, guitars, bass, Rhodes, piano, Hammond organ, vocals and strings. That’s a lot for a two piece to play live. Haha.

What usually comes first for you, the lyrics or the music?

I write in a strange order, I always start with the song title first and the song writes itself after that. It then doesn’t matter if I change the title before the final edit, I still got a song out of it.

That’s an interesting way to write! 🙂

“Diamond Godzilla” was originally called “Nighthawks”. I still like that name, I’ll put it on the next record.

Do you have any favourite songs from the album?

“Take Care, Honey” and “Ghosts of Gwenifere” have been my go to tracks when I show people The Dirty Dead. But it’s hard to say, they are all my favourite.

What are some of the challenges that face bands who are just starting out these days?

The biggest challenge for me is getting people to care. Everyone is in a band now, everyone is playing down their local venue every week and people are bored of seeing “Come listen to my band…blah blah blah” online.

I’ve given up with it, I like making records, if no one buys them then there’s more for me.

Support your local music scene, go watch your friend’s band, re-tweet them, share their posts, buy their music. You’re all in the same sinking ship.

If you could write/compose a song with a musician (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

Nick Cave. We would come up with some horrible stories.

Hahaha! 🙂 I totally understand this way of thinking as I am also drawn to the darker side of fiction when I write!

What have been some of the band’s highlights so far?

Not a lot has happened so far, mainly focusing on the album. But we have a show coming up on the 8th April with Ghost Riders in the Sky which is ex-Gallows members. That should be fun.

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If you could tour with any other band, who would you choose and why?

I would like to tour with The Dead Weather and Dead Man’s Bones. Mainly so we can call it the “Dead Men Walking Tour”.

LOL 🙂

What gigs/tours do you have lined up?

We have a few pretty decent shows booked in already, but nothing I can confirm on record just yet.

I have already started working on the next album. I think half of it was written today in fact.

That’s great!

Any other news for your fans?

The album will be out on the 4th April 2016 and is available to pre order now. When you do you get two tracks to download instantly. One of them is “Nightingale” I’d recommend listening to that in a dark space. Haha.

We’re in the middle of making a couple of music videos too. So I have to start acting, which will be…something to look out for. Haha.

Sounds interesting! I’ll look out for those 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Dan, and good luck with the album launch!

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Follow the band on Twitter for all the latest news: https://twitter.com/HeyTheDirtyDead

Pre-order the album:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nightingale/id1090049084

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CM0FCGM

 

 

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