Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Downer” by Dead Drugs, a two-piece garage/psych/noise/punk band from Lake in the Hills, Illinois. A few days ago I was doing my usual visit to Bandcamp and I downloaded a two-song EP called Grass E.P. by Dead Drugs. I really liked “I Watch Grass Grow” so I uploaded it to the Turn Me On, Dead Man rotation. I needed to attach the cover art so I went back to Bandcamp the next morning only to find that it was gone. BUT there was a new Dead Drugs release, Dead Drugs 1! Upon listening to the new download, I discovered that it was the same two songs I had downloaded the day before with more concise titles. I contacted Dead Drugs to find out what was going on and I had an entertaining correspondence with Jeffrey Piatkowski, guitar/vocals for Dead Drugs. Since we corresponded Dead Drugs has released several more songs, all of which are available as “name your price” downloads on Bandcamp.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: So what’s with the cover art and title changes?
Dead Drugs: The album art and title switch came after a band meeting a few days ago. We just decided that the old font looked a bit silly, and the new purple font looks much better. And the Grass EP title was a temporary title for our first two songs, so it’s just self-titled now. Also, the song “I watch grass grow” was changed after some lyrics were changed, so “downer” is the new title. I think those are the only changes we made and will make, so there shouldn’t be any more confusion (hopefully)
Turn Me On, Dead Man: How long have you been at it? What are your main influences? And where are you from?
Dead Drugs: My drummer Marty [Kraft] and Me have been making music since May of this year, but we’ve been friends for years before that. We are from a pretty conservative little suburb of Chicago called Lake in the Hills, Ill. We love old psych and garage stuff like The Deviants and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and newer punk stuff like Fidlar and Ty Segall. Our influences kind of jump all over, but what pretty much made us want to make music was seeing a band called The Phantom Scars in Dekalb, Ill this year. Just pure energy and fuzzed out awesomeness.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: How did you come up with the name? I should mention that I’ve noticed that I seem to like any band that has the word “dead” in the name, and the same goes for “drugs”. You hit both. Have you had much response to your release so far?
Dead Drugs: Marty initially wanted the band to be called Toten Drogen, which is German for Dead Drug, because we love marijuana and he speaks shitty German. But we liked the translation so much more. It just seemed so offensive and perfect. Marty and me are kind of made out of marijuana, and the two words kind of stick in your head. As for response, not much other than you and some of our friends, which is already more than I expected.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: So what do you have in the works?
Dead Drugs: We just finished writing our first full length a few days ago, which we will hopefully record in the coming weeks. The album is called Mushroom Mountain, and its a bit faster and noisier than our Bandcamp songs. After that we plan on saving up to put out our own vinyl version of MM, at least a few hundred copies, by mid 2014. In the meantime we are going to book our first set of shows around town to impress ladies and other nice people.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: do you feel like you’re part of a scene (local or otherwise)? I guess another way to put it would be do you feel like Dead Drugs is just a group of friends or is your band part of something bigger?
Dead Drugs: Well, we’ve been in the local punk scene as fans for years now, but as musicians we realized that we can make such awesome sounds and racket together that we feel like we can do anything. We just want to show everyone now, and we are only going to get better and release more stuff, so in that sense I feel like its the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: You mentioned the Deviants and West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. So how did you discover the 1960s-era stuff?
Dead Drugs: My Mom actually used to be into the local garage bands around Chicago during the 60’s as a kid, and after hearing about those bands online I found some of them were on compilations like Back From The Grave. Most of what I listen to comes from my Mom. But yeah, that record had really raw and awesome sounding rock stuff from Illinois and all over, really. It pretty much got me hooked on 60’s garage and protopunk in general, which is how I came across The Deviants and The Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, early T-Rex…it’s just this magnificent hole of bands who are all connected in various ways and they all share this counter-cultural sound and aesthetic that it just grabs you. And I heard about The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band after reading a bunch of Kim Fowley interviews. I guess he was friends with Bob Markley, and they were both kindred sex maniacs and crazy geniuses. Awesome stuff. I just love old weirdos and eccentrics. Especially when they make records.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Just out of curiosity, how does your mom like Dead Drugs? (My mom always hated my music but then again, she wouldn’t know garage rock from Justin Bieber!)
Dead Drugs: Haha, my Mom loves it! She doesn’t like the name, which is a good sign. But she loves the music. We actually play all our music for her before we show anyone else. She is our quality control. The 17 year old me still wants to offend my Mom, but the 27 year old me wants her to dig it. Win-Win.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Very Cool. What else can I expect to see on Bandcamp?
Dead Drugs: “Never Enough” was recorded in September of this year. We just figured out how to upload cassette-taped songs to bandcamp (kind of) yesterday. We compiled all our songs onto one album [called 05/13 – 12/13] with neato artwork [cover photo via The Historic Houses Trust].