Death from Above reverses writing technique for new album
By GRACE HOWIE
Punk-rock duo, Death from Above, is back with a new album. It’s been three years since their last full release which followed a five-year hiatus. This band has been around for a while and while there’s no guarantee they’re around to stay, the newest album, “Outrage! Is Now” is a nice treat. This album came almost out of nowhere, it was released on Sept. 8 after only being announced three weeks earlier.
The album is reminiscent of their past albums but is more dancey while maintaining the classic, head-banging “Death from Above” sound fans have come to know. This duo has a fairly simple set up. Sebastien Grainger sings and plays the drums, while Jesse Keeler provides backing vocals and plays both bass and synthesizer. It’s loud, energetic and at no point is it evident that just two people are creating such full-bodied, complete songs.
I had the opportunity to talk to Grainger and he said the creation of this album differed in a lot of ways from their past work. Grainger said, “the very first EP’s [they] made and the first record [they] made, [they] wrote the songs just sitting in the basement with all [the] amps on and turned on and turned up.”
This was also done with their first record, except now they had “instruments set up in a room and were playing together, trying to land on interesting ideas.” While they did this a little bit for the latest record, only “All I C is U & Me,” my personal favorite on the album, and “NVR 4EVR” survived to make it on the record. This time, they wrote the majority of them separately.
Grainger explained how “Jesse would come up with an interesting riff idea, and then [he] would take that demo and play over top of it. [They] kind of passed demos around” until they had the final record. This record saw no real specific influence but rather they’re just “trying to entertain” each other.
I think this is communicated in the record with the originality of the ideas. Grainger said “[they had] been playing together for 15 years or so, it’s not like [we] can just keep doing the same things or doing the same tricks… [They’re] trying to surprise one another with music ideas, lyrical ideas, melodic ideas, and that will inherently surprise other people,” which I think is a goal they have achieved. I think this change in their writing process is in some ways evident in the songs. It shows a growth and evolution not only musically, but in relation to the time we are living in.
The songs are very concise and coherent, which in some ways is a reflection of this extremely deliberate process of building upon pieces that each of them contributed. After they chose the final tracks to be part of the record, only then did they “figure out how to play them as a band” and this to me is very interesting and in some ways shows the musical ability of this group through this reverse engineering of almost their entire album, to be something they’re able to tour with.
Death From Above’s tour starts on Oct. 19, and they will be playing at “The Fillmore” on Oct. 28 in Silver Spring, MD. You can find more details and information about them on their website http://www.deathfromabove1979.