Death by Stereo Frontman on Working With Serj Tankian, Fletcher Dragge
Death by Stereo just released Black Sheep of the American Dream, the veteran Southern Californian punk hardcore band's sixth studio album. The 10-song collection was issued by Viking Funeral Records, the label co-founded by Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge.
Noisecreep recently caught up with Death by Stereo vocalist Efrem Schulz to talk about the new album, their last recording deal with Serj Tankian's label and working with Dragge.
When you made the announcement that the band had signed with Viking Funeral, you also mentioned that the new album would be a "return to our roots." What did you mean by that?
Well, we are working with our old label mate Fletcher as well as reuniting with original bass player, producer, co-writer, and founding member Paul Miner. All of our records have been issue-based, but I feel that this one is more of an attack on the system than any of the records we have ever made. And it all boils down to how pissed off we are and the hardcore punk scene that we came from. Watching bands lose sight of the reason we played music in the first place, to have a voice for the people as well as ourselves. We have a short time on this planet to speak our minds so we need to do it now! Positive, strong, and ready to slug it out!
We are still a D.I.Y. band and do everything ourselves, I think people have a misconception about how we and other bands like us live. We live and breathe this band every day of our lives. We tour hard and do everything from print out own merch to handle multiple aspects of the band all ourselves. We are about half way though thirty something consecutive shows in a row as I type this from behind a merch booth in Poland! We love what we do and stay as close to it as we can. It's a way of life for us and for many of our friends. We love it, live it, and protect it. Teaming up with Ken and Fletcher at Viking Funeral makes so much sense in so many ways. Fletcher is a pioneer in the scene that we grew up in so he knows the ups and downs. They also "get" what we do. We are a band that rides the lines of punk/hardcore/thrash so we are often lost by people that don't know what to do with us. V.F. seems to know who we are and where we should be. They share our vision and have the same no holds barred, no compromise attitude that we do. We love that! This band is chaos and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Watch Black Sheep of the American Dream Trailer
The last label you were signed to, Serjical Strike Records, was founded by Serj Tankian. What ended up happening with that deal? Was it a pleasant experience for you guys?
Serj is a great guy. He had followed the band for a while and I did some work with him on the Buckethead song "Botnus." I thought he was a cool dude and I thought that we were very like-minded socially and politically so it seemed like a cool idea. Our band and his shared some of the same ideologies and we thought of it as a chance to reach more people with our message. The label just wasn't the right fit for us and that was that. The label just seemed to fade away as soon as the record was out and we were back on our own to do what we know best: everything for ourselves.
I think that working with Fletcher and Ken makes way more sense and they are good friends as well! We now have a team. Viking Funeral and Death by Stereo together. It feels strong and like we are not in this thing alone. We can't be stopped! Death by Stereo never backs down from a challenge and we have just started to scratch the surface with this band! We have music pouring out of us right now, we are already writing more songs! There has been many obstacles and adversities in this band and we just won't be beat. Plain and simple, we always have been, still are, and always will be, death for life!