- Posted on Mar 7th 2011 5:45PM by Emily Tan
After releasing their debut album, 'Worldwide,' in 2008, the Death Set were hyped by the NME and dubbed "Best Live Band" by the Baltimore City Paper. While they celebrated their fame, Velasco died in 2009, a tragedy Siera still has a difficult time talking about. With heavy hearts and lots of inspiration, the band recruited drummer Jahphet Landis and Aussie expat guitarist Dan Walker and recorded 'Michel Poiccard,' due out March 15 in the US. The album conveys their past experiences in song form while maintaining the hard-rock-meets-hip-hop edge that 'Worldwide' carried.
Shortly before heading to Austin to play SXSW, Siera chatted with Spinner about moving to the US, avoiding Ramones-style repetition and the handshake that inspired the single 'Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap.'
How'd you guys get together?
The Death Set started in Australia. We organized this tour in Australia, and we toured the f----ing crazy country and lost thousands of dollars, got super fly and had a bunch of fun. Then we moved from this s---ty town to Sydney and put a picture of New York on the wall and moved there.
What was it about New York or the US that inspired you to move and make music there?
Essentially, we just wanted to tour. We looked at bands who had 30 dates in a row and we'd be super envious. There are only two places you can do that -- the US and Europe. We wanted to tour and decided to move to the US to do that.
You lived in Baltimore and Philadelphia before settling in Brooklyn. How did these places influence your sound?
At the time we lived in Baltimore three years ago, there was a pretty rad scene. It was all about ramming 100 kids in a warehouse. The first record takes that kind of mentality, like, "What could we do to make this like a 100-drunk-high-school-kids sort of thing?" We took that from Baltimore, and at the time, there were a lot of rad bands coming out, like Dan Deacon, Beach House and that sort of thing. It was a really fun scene, but all these bands are in one city, then everyone gets signed and goes on and it kind of eliminates that scene. We were part of all that, so we went from Baltimore and toured really hard for about 18 months.
Philly we just stumbled across, because our friend Spank Rock had this warehouse, and we needed a place to live and work, so he offered that up. We kicked it in Philly for a little bit and then decided, "Why are we going to New York every other weekend? We should live there." If I could go back in time, I would move to New York straight away, but I'm glad we did that anyway.
You come from a family of musicians, but I doubt they played the same genre you play now. How did you fall into this rough, loud, party-starting style?
I've always gone to shows, and I would want to put on a show I would like to see. It just comes down to that -- putting myself in the audience perspective. I try to put on that show, and I guess that's the sound that came out like f---ing crazy and all on the floor, like fun stuff [as] opposed to showmanship. I'm not into seeing f---ing wanked-out boys for 20 minutes. I just want to see a show, you know?
Who influences you?
We've always listened to grimy dance music and sort of slimy s---. We all love the golden year of hip-hop. To be brutally honest, I'm also into the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes and stuff. I like listening to old girl groups, but we're all super open to anything that's good.
Did growing up in Australia influence your music, or are most of your influences American?
Our experiences are more American-based. Like, the whole [idea of] touring in little kitchens and warehouses and crazy little galleries is definitely an American thing. That whole network is essentially American. That's more of an influence based on geography rather than the bands we listen to. I could always say I've listened to Australian music as much as I listened to American music just because it was a hometown sort of thing, but I never experienced being in a band, [the] go-and-do-it, sort of DIY ethic in Australia.
You new album, 'Michel Poiccard,' comes out in the US on March 15. How is this record different from your previous record, 'Worldwide?'
We went through so much change and so many experiences before the making of 'Michel Poiccard.' The last record, like I said before, was more about how to make kids kind of spaz, and this record is the one that I want to step away from the whole fidelity issue. We really wanted to up the production of this because it drives me f---ing insane when we hear s---. We don't want to be a lo-fi band. Just out of what we've been through as a band, I'd like to think the songwriting has stepped up. We weren't scared to explore new territories.
Sophomore records are usually a difficult thing because you want to keep the fans you made on the first record, but you also want to step it up and explore and move forward. It's kind of gross putting out the same record, like the Ramones [laughs]. We wanted to put in new ideas in the songwriting but still keep the vein of what the Death Set is.
How did the song 'Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap' come about? Are you trying to start a new trend with handshakes?
It's not a trend. We've always done it. It's always been something me and my friends have been doing for a couple of years. It's a handshake that me and my homies do, and essentially the song came after the fact. I didn't do a trend or anything. It's a document, I guess.
Catch the Death Set's SXSW Set on Thursday, March 17 at Beauty Bar Backyard (617 E 7th St.) 11:15PM.
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