Band Fast Facts: Dead Alphabet
Adam Edwards: Vocals, Guitar
Justin Gent: Drums
Tiago Affonso Ferreira Hunt: Bass, Vocals
Phil Klawansky: Guitar, Vocals
Gritty Garage Rock
Rage Against the Machine, The Mars Volta, Spongebob Squarepants, Everything Else
Drink of choice:
Faxe Viking Beer! The 10% one.
“Phil, you’re fired from the band”
Does the band name have anything to do with the Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta and the calaveras alphabet (Dead Alphabet)?
Haha, yeah it does roughly. I mean, the day of the dead is the Mexican tradition of honouring the dead and their lives. But more importantly it’s a party and a celebration of life. It talks about old life influencing new life and remembering what came before to create something new. These are all things we think about, and are strong themes in our music.
Best gig you’ve played?
Tough call, the festivals are always killer, but at a push our show at JHB Burning. The crowd went crazy and stormed the stage, like an overcrowded, sweaty, musical orgy. I know when I put it like that, it doesn’t sound that great, but they really were a great crowd.
Is being Dead Alphabet a full-time job or are you only rock stars at night?
We used to only be night-time rock stars. But luckily, thanks to Phil’s engineering skills, we built a time machine. Now, its simple, we just live every day twice and do everything we need to. Imagine Back to the Future. Except it’s every day. And it’s not a DeLorean but on old, beat up red VW Jetta. Phil does totally look like Dr Emmet Brown’s (slightly) younger brother though.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever received for free just for playing music?
Levis once gave us a bunch of free clothes. Generally speaking, it’s booze, red bull and hi fives. One time, this girl gave us her panties. That’s kinda free, and kinda cool. They were also kinda used.
Ever had any really bad stalkers and “over-zealous fan” experiences? How do you deal with it?
Yes. Think of Meg from Flight of the Conchords. We get that kinda thing every now and again. Initially, we revel in the positive attention. Usually things get out of hand or awkward (when their husbands/ boyfriends find out). Then we deal with it like everybody else; by not answering our phones and changing our facebook chat statuses to offline.
What are your thoughts about the South African music industry and the support it has?
The support is good. We don’t quite have the numbers here to compare to the things happening overseas, but if you look at our well-publicised bigger acts, they get great support. Sometimes, people seem very resistant to new sounds. In our experience, people in Europe and the US are looking for the unheard and the new. Here you find yourself working really hard just to get to that point.
How do you think you guys compare on an international scale?
It’s always hard to say; on a recent pilgrimage to Download Music Festival our minds were blown. The guys are playing at such a high level. With that said, it’s given us something to work towards. It also showed how, overseas, you can have great producer and a great album, but if you cant drop the show to back it up, you might as well quit. We’ve taken this and applied it to ourselves. Does it mean we compare internationally? It depends against whom, but probably not until we are touring 300 shows a year.
How do you think the rest of the world feels about South African talent? Are you taken seriously/ respected?
If you get into a killer band or act, do you care if they are Australian, American or Moroccan? Probably not. From what we’ve seen, people don’t care where you come from; it’s about having a sound and vibe. If you can produce music that people love, it doesn’t matter where you are from, they will take you seriously.
Any plans for a new album?
Yes. We’re just putting the final touches on our debut EP The Kill. It’s taken just under 12 months, and was produced by Matthew Klawansky. It’s a five-track EP with what we think is a great sound. The best part is, because we love people so much, we want you to have it free. Gratis. Mahala. For zilch money. Find us on facebook, become a fan and follow the links. You’ll be rewarded with your very own download of The Kill. One time this dude told us that if you play it while with a lady, you are guaranteed to get to third or maybe even fourth base. We’re all stuck on first and second base (over the clothes stuff), so we cant confirm or deny the rumours.
Tell us a funny gig story.
It’s been a while since we have done anything really stupid. The most recently publicised event was a couple of months ago; we were on the back of a run of like four shows in two days or summin. Adam was ill. We arrived back in Joburg for the last show after driving from an earlier one in Pretoria. Some say it was the Red Bull; others say it was the meds. Most people know it’s just how Adam rolls, but he jumped on the kit halfway through the set, got vertigo or whatever, slipped, and bailed over the kit, his guitar, amp, cymbals, cables and anything else that could be landed on. The crowd thought it was intentional and shouted for more. Adam ended up with a broken Gibson and a story to tell. High fives all round.
Images by Ravi Panchia, Jonathan Sudarkasa