Saturday, May 15, 2010


The Living End may still hold the Australian punk rock crown but these guys are next in line for the throne.

Dead Riot have been serving up their brand of energetic rock & roll-punk and winning over punters one gig at a time around Brisbane's rock haunts. Not content with ordinary venues the band also regularly stages their own shows on boat cruises. Jai Sparks is the mastermind behind the group's nautical endeavours and sings for the band. 

You got a lot of people dancing at your Zoo gig the other night. Is it satisfying, getting that kind of reaction from people?

Definitely. What we're trying to do with our music all the time is trying to make people have a good time, pretty much have a rock n' roll party. When the crowd reacts like that it's definitely satisfying, it's actually really flattering.

I bet it is.  Some of your songs can be quite political, I'm thinking of 'Can't stop the killing' in particular. How do you balance having a message in a song but still keeping it fun for people?

I think to get that good balance you have to be well educated on the message you're sending, and also you don't want to shove it down people's throats. You have it there so that if people want to learn more about it they can, but realistically the most important thing you can do is make sure people have a great time. It's never really about forcing a message on people, it's about having it there so that people can access it in a much easier way than say, an activist group would.

Obviously some of those issues are very important to you.

They are. In recent times we've steered away from it a little, in that, I think it's really important for society in general to have outlets in which they can go and see music and escape what's going on life, and sometimes that gives people a little more clarity in their lives. And i think that in recent times we've found that's what we can do to change the world, provide people with an escape and just a chance to let loose.

Your music has elements of punk, rockabilly, even a bit of reggae. What kind of styles of music have inspired your sound?

We all listen to a really broad range of music but it's really that kind of punk rock and rock and roll attitude that we seek in most things that we listen to. I think that's a trend within everyone in the band. It's not necessarily the stereotypical punk rock that we're into, it's people delivering lyrics with conviction and music that has a lot of emotion and power behind it. That can be found in all styles and genres of music. I'm a big fan of Aussie hip hop music in that a lot of hip hop artists they have a really solid message that comes through. I mean there's elements of that within our stuff I think but I'd say the attitude of punk rock and rock and roll is what influences us definitely.

So will we here you rapping on any tracks in the future?

(Laughs) Maybe not rapping, but the way we put together our lyrics and maybe the melody lines might show some influence from rap and hip hop music, especially Australian hip hop.

You've held a lot of your gigs on boats on the Brisbane River. Why is that? So you can have a captive audience?

The idea behind that is that is when I was 14 or 15 you could go to a gig and there'd be a punk rock band, there'd be a metal band possibly a screamo band and you'd have all these different genres of music coming together and I guess just celebrating good music. There's a billion little sub genres now and I think it's really been a huge demise in the local scene, it's making it harder and harder to get people out to gigs.
The way we can look at fixing that and going back to the old days of enjoying great music regardless of the genre is by whacking everyone on a boat where they don't have the chance to walk away from the music. I know we've converted a lot of people to Aussie hip hop music and folk music and stuff like that. Generally they wouldn't ever go see a band like that but if you put them on a boat with a band that's really on top of their game in that genre, then they have to watch it.
The other thing is under-age kids need something really cool to go to, rather than PCYCs and things like that. We all wanted to go somewhere cooler than that when we were younger and now we're providing that.

Plus you get a good view too!

Yeah that's a bonus, plus it lets us get a lot more in touch with our fans. By not having a stage in most cases on the boat cruises it allows people to be lot more connected with the band, it means a lot more intimate shows for our fans.

What are some of the bands you feel are at the top of their game, who're you impressed with at the moment? Here's your chance to name-drop.

There are definitely two acts that are standing out and that's Isaac Graham, he's just gonna take the Australian scene by storm in the next couple of years. And the same goes for the Free Agent Crew, we do a lot of stuff with those guys they're really truly talented Australian musicians. It's a bit sad that that's not the valued thing now, there's lots of marketing, and fashion, and i think some really talented artists are getting lost in that.

What do the next few months look like for Dead Riot what's coming up?

We're trying to keep it down to one show per month. So we can put a lot more into the shows and make every show really special. We're pretty hard into the pre-production of an EP at the moment and we've got some opportunities to get a record out there properly so lots going on there. Also we're working on a band festival which is in October and we're also working on a documentary on struggling Australian artists hopefully be released at the end of the year. So yeah busy, very busy!

You can see Dead Riot live in action at Rosies on June 13.

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