Today’s Feature, June 12-13, 2007: Dead Rock West

January 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm (Today's Feature)

Dead Rock West has the kind of vibe that musicians search years to
find. You can describe their sound in several ways; country, folk,
garage, power pop, rock n roll and blues. However, descriptions like
that might pigeon hold them into certain categories, which Dead Rock
West should not be. The passion and artistic collaboration of these
Southern California natives, rings true in their debut album “Honey
And Salt”, which has been called “…a history of rock, from Elvis to
post-grunge.” Not a bad start for a group that formed through shear
happenstance. Each member individually working on projects and
developments of their own, but came across one another and realized
there was a deeper connection than simply people enjoying the same
kind of music. It is this connection that the seasoned sounds of
“Honey and Salt” showcase. “Honey and Salt” is the kind of album that
reminds you how beautiful American folk-rock is and more importantly
makes you realize that the age of storytelling is alive and well. Read
their XXQs to find out more…

XXQs: Dead Rock West

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did Dead Rock West form?

Dead Rock West (DRW): That’s a loaded question. Cindy and I met at a
club in L.A. that I was playing in sometime in the late 1900’s. We
each had our own band but would get together to sing old folk songs
and country songs for fun. Eventually, our respective bands ran their
course and we found ourselves playing some coffeehouse gigs for fun.
We soon brought in David J. Carpenter to play stand up bass (He’d been
in my last band with me). Dave had a friend Bryan Head, so Bryan came
in to play drums, and he was an instant fit. Dave had also played in
Toni Child’s band with Phil Parlapiano and suggested Phil as he plays
everything from organ, piano to mandolin and octave mandolin, not to
mention accordion and trumpet. I was a long time fan of Phil’s as he
played in one of my favorite bands on Geffen Records, the Brothers
Figaro. Phil ruled, and so we were born. We did demos at Phil’s house
and played around town for a spell before tackling a full length
recording. By the time we were ready to record we sounded like a band
because of gigging and listening to each other, not rehearsing.

PEV: There’s an old expression, “What’s in a name?” and I have to ask,
what does the name Dead Rock West mean/refer to?

DRW: There is a meaning, but I would never admit to it, but basically,
it’s three one syllable words I like the sound of and that have
different meaning in different combinations. What does R.E.M mean,
really?

PEV: Explain how your debut album “Honey And Salt” has been called a
history of rock, from Elvis to post- grunge.

DRW: I like that. We just pull from different musical traditions and
made it our own.

PEV: With the mixture of rock, folk, country, punk, and pop, what is
the collaboration process on an album that touches so many different
genres of music on one album?

DRW: How do you explain process? I guess just following instinct and
listening to each other, reacting off one another.

PEV: With that mixture, is there one genre you tend to gravitate to more often?

DRW: Me personally, no. It’s just Rock n Roll to me, but we seem to
like lots of folks in the Americana genre like Neko Case, Old 97’s,
Wilco, but I am also a huge fan of Razorlight.

PEV: What can people expect from “Honey And Salt” that may not be
available on other albums out today?

DRW: We recorded the recorded to 2″ analog tape and mixed it to 1/2″
analog tape, using mechanical effects. We didn’t use any pitch
correction machines; we avoided click tracks while recording. The
record has sonic dynamics unlike most records today that are made
aggressively to keep your attention. This record is made to be
listened to for a long time not just used up and thrown away.

PEV: What is your take on the LA music scene?

DRW: L.A. is a big city, so it has more bands; there’s more junk to
sift through, but there is also a lot of brilliant music here like the
Neighborhood Bullys, Silversun Pickups, Stewboss, and the Small Hours.
Shilah Morrow and Sin City Social Club is everything to me in this
town.

PEV: What was it like the first time you stepped into a recording studio?

DRW: It was like walking into a spaceship or a fighter jet. I thought
“this place can take me places I’ve never been-fast!”. It was instant
love.

PEV: Is there a certain atmosphere the band surrounds itself in when
writing music?

DRW: I like to write in the truck, driving to Joshua Tree with a pack
of smokes and a portable recorder. If I’m at home it’s my trusty
Smith-Corona electric typewriter that gets me through the night.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you realized “I am going
to be a musician”?

DRW: I was on the road with Dave Sharp from the Alarm, playing
mandolin, harmonica, guitar and singing harmonies. We were stuck on
the freeway 2 hours outside of Nashville in a terrible golfball sized
raindrops thunder storm when Dave turned to me and said “Until you
decide to give everything to music you’re gonna fail”. I became a
musician that night.

PEV: You have traveled all over. Which city do you think offers the
best environment for music?

DRW: I don’t know, maybe the whole country of Wales or Tucson, Az.

PEV: What do all your friends and family back home think about your success?

DRW: My mama has always been supportive as has my brother. My dad on
the other hand finally accepted that I’m not a 9-5er.

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist, alive or deceased, who
would it be and why?

DRW: Bono Vox. He’s blood, sweat, and dynamite.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live?

DRW: The immediacy. I like putting life on hold and living moment to
moment, note to note on the stage. At best It’s primal and
instinctive.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you?

DRW: I like to travel.

PEV: If I were to walk into your studio right now, what is one thing I
would be surprised to find?

DRW: An album cover of Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde”, ripped open,
pinned to the wall.

PEV: When you aren’t writing or performing, what can we find you doing?

DRW: I photograph the tops of trees with 40 year old medium format
cameras, cross-processing slide film.

PEV: There are heated debates about offering free music online. What
is your opinion?

DRW: I don’t know; what about free instruments, free tour vans, free
rent and food?

PEV: So, what is next for Dead Rock West?

DRW: We are doing a 2 month American tour with John Doe from X,
starting June 14 and ending August 17. Our new record is called “Honey
and Salt”. His new record is called “A Year in the Wilderness”.
Together we will rule North America.

For more information on Dead Rock West, check out: http://www.DeadRockWest.com

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