Dead Gaze is an noise pop outfit based in Jackon, MS.
How exactly did Dead Gaze first get started? Has it been a revolving cast of contributors, or is it mostly centered around your own songwriting?
I started Dead Gaze for fun. I didn't really think too much of it at first. It got to a point where I was spending a healthy amount of time on the songs so I decided to "release" them to the public. The live band has some rotating cast members, but for the most part its me on the recordings doing everything. It wasn't until recently I started playing with the live band on record. The new EP I'm releasing has the full band playing live on it.
Tell me a little about Oxford. What's the musical community like there? My friend Jessi grew up in Jackson, and I was asking her about Oxford and she was like, "It's slow. Slow." Is it good slow, bad slow, or do you disagree with that assessment?
I don't know if slow is a good word to describe Oxford. I live in Jackson which if Oxford is slow, then Jackson is glacial. I lived in Oxford for a while and still visit my friends often, but the ease of living in Jackson is too good for me to leave at the moment.
How often have you been touring? I saw you at CMJ and noticed you played at Glasslands a couple weeks ago, but have you had any more dates pop up? How has the road been for Dead Gaze?
I really haven't done a proper tour. I would like to if the plans were set and made sense. At the moment I've been so wrapped up in recording and making new material that when I get away from it for periods of time I start to go a bit crazy. I tend to get obsessed with the whole process of recording and living with the songs so playing live sometimes becomes a big hassle. For me I'm constantly having to put together bands and get the dudes on the same page. It's not an easy task being a tight, entertaining live band. So when the time comes to do a proper tour, I want to devote a very large amount of time to the endeavor and make sure that it's done right.
How do you write songs? So many of the Dead Gaze songs have such great texture, built around a big, fucking rad hook. Do you have a process or does it come to you?
Thanks! I mean I don't know if you call it a process so much as just constantly living around melodies and building layers on top of ideas. I feel like the closer I stay on the pop side of things the better the songs. The more I work on pop sensibility the more comfortable I am, and that shows on recording. For me a good song comes in a flash, like a eureka moment, and then from there it is extremely important that I record and work at that very moment. There is this indescribable energy that comes through on the recordings when I work this way. I feel like with my process, most of the battle is catching these bolts of inspiration and somehow making them appear to be sensible songs. So with that being said, I mostly do my best recordings in the morning time in my boxers eating a bowl of cereal after some bat hits.
Where do you see Dead Gaze in the indie rock landscape? Do you like having some distance from the "major" scenes like LA or New York?
I don't think we are big enough to really matter that much. I don't feel the distance. The internet pretty much takes care of all that.
Does what you listen to influence what's going on in your own music? If so, what kind of things are you listening to right now?
Sometimes I guess. There are times when I want to do an exact rip off of something that I'm fond of and then put my own twist on the song. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Nilsson and Randy Newman. Nilsson's voice has been a very large inspiration. I would love to make a super complicated, clean record with lofty parts and catchy hooks just like his record The Point. The newest stuff I have been working on is focused on being a bit more minimal, so vocals tend to be more out front and I'm pretty excited about that.
It's year-end list time, fortunately (or unfortunately, for those in the magazine business). What were some releases that got you really excited this year?
Oh, I don't really know. My friend Robert got me listening to a lot of hip hop this year which was cool. I really liked Curren$y and Big KRIT's stuff. I dug the new Deerhunter a lot. The Tamaryn rec was rad. Yuck's stuff kinda blew my mind. My friend Steven's outfit FLIGHT released a great EP called The Lead Riders, I thought that was one of the best things released all year. I'm sure there is more I just can't think of at the moment. Oh and GARY WAR always and forever.
What future plans does Dead Gaze have for releasing recorded material?
I have a bunch of stuff coming out in 2011. La Station Radar is doing a 7" with 2 new songs 1 older song. I have a split 12" coming out on FatCat's new imprint Palmist with the band MAZES. And currently I am working on a 10" EP that is going to be released on Group Tightener. After that I have a couple more labels that are going to do some things. Hopefully after all that's released I can chill out on the recording and maybe focus more of my attention on the live show.