LOS ANGELES, July 10, 2014 — Get Dead is a punk band from San Francisco that draws from various influences to create a sound that is unique. Some songs are distorted, many have acoustic guitars and it is tied together by the raspy vocals of Sam King. Get Dead released four records on their own before catchy the eye of Fat Wreck Chords. Bad News, Get Dead’s debut on Fat, was released in 2013. Recently, Sam King took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding the band and their latest release, as well as their plans for the rest of the year.
Scroll below video to read the interview.
Kevin Wells: What bands initially got you into punk rock?
Sam King: Most of the staples. I grew up skateboarding, so like early Rancid. Pretty much all the bands that were on the late 80s early 90s skate videos, you know what I mean? Early Lagwagon, Face To Face, Rancid, NoFX. I think the first punk CD I had I stole and I stole it from the library, just to steal a CD. I didn’t even know what I was taking. They would rent the CDs out and I just grabbed it and it was X. I remember hearing that song, Los Angeles, and I was like, “That s**t’s bad a**.” By default I found out about X and then started listening to Dead Kennedys and Circle Jerks, pretty much all the staples, you know?
KW: Did you play an instrument back then?
SK: I did after I started listening to music. My mom got me a bass and I think I went to two bass lessons and I just didn’t like lessons at all. I had the typical skater mentality. I didn’t like team sports or having somebody telling me to go home and do f**king homework on the weekend, nah. So, I only went to two. I played piano when I was a kid. My grandma was a music teacher. I never took lessons. I just kind of learned how to play by ear. I still can’t read anything, but I can play pretty well, you know? Yeah, just bass and piano. I think my mom got me a saxophone in the fourth grade or something that I f**king broke.
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KW: Is this why there is not a regular horn in Get Dead songs?
SK: [Laughs] That’s pretty much why. That’s why we have to outsource horns.
KW: How did Get Dead form?
SK: We were all in separate bands in the Bay Area. Tim and Scotty were in a band called the Ballistics, Mike was in Splitting Seconds, and me and Dave were in a band called Louie and the Regals. One weekend, all three of our bands had played together and we ended up extending it and booking another two shows after the initial show we played, like for the weekend to keep hanging out and playing. Then as chance would have it, everybody’s band kind of dissolved a couple months later and we were all kind of living around each other. So, we just f**kin’ called each other up and said, “Hey, you guys wanna jam?” We’ve been hanging out and making our lives miserable ever since.
KW: Is there a story behind your name, Get Dead? I always wanted to think it was taken from a lyric in The Decline from NoFX.
SK: No, there’s no story. I don’t even know. F**k, no one’s even asked me that before. I think Timmy came up with it. We had a bunch of dumb a** names and we settled on I guess the least dumb one, which is still pretty f**kin’ dumb. I don’t know. There’s no cool back story about it. I think Timmy was just rattling s**t off and that’s just what came up. I’m gonna have to ask him if he stole that from The Decline. That’d be pretty f**kin’ funny.
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KW: For those who have never heard you, how would you describe your music?
SK: I don’t know, a f**kin’ train wreck? I guess it’s just like punk rock, rock n roll. We don’t really try to go out and have like a definitive sound, you know what I mean? We’re not like, “Alright, we’re gonna make this kind of punk rock or this kind of song. We just get together and play music and sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s got f**kin’ ska in it, sometimes it’s got more country in it. It’s wherever the mood is gonna take us at practice that night, I guess. I would just say it’s your normal punk rock music, just a bunch of punk rock kids playing punk rock music.
KW: What kind of influence did Fat Mike have on the Bad News record?
SK: He came in and he helped produce it. He was heavily in there. He would make suggestions and stuff. He has great ideas on chord progressions and stuff like that. He didn’t change or rewrite songs, but he would give suggestions like, “Hey, maybe you should add a minor chord,” or a chord here or a chord there just to break up the monotony of what we were doing. Obviously, he’s got a great ear for music and knows how to get s**t done. I think the main thing he brought to the table was keeping us on track as far as f**kin’ recording. We would come in and it would be like, “Shut up and play.” You know, versus when he’s not there, everyone’s having beers and f**kin’ more talk than rock. He facilitated a lot of s**t and put a fire under our a** for sure.
KW: You have a new 7” coming out this month. Were these recorded at the same time as Bad News? Did you re-record the older songs?
SK: Actually, no. One of ‘em, Bygones, we did after. We did that a little before we just went to Europe. I think we recorded that three months ago or something. And then the Tony Sly one, obviously. And then the other two songs on there are from our past, a couple older albums that we just took them from because a lot of the older albums, obviously people haven’t heard of them. We put them out on our own. We’d basically make a run of a hundred CDs and we’d go on tour. The only way to get them was to go to a show. Now you can go on Bandcamp and listen to ‘em. I think we re-mastered ‘em and mixed some s**t on ‘em and just kind of pumped up the sound on ‘em.
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KW: Is Get Dead the kind of band that is always writing new stuff or do you set aside certain times for writing?
SK: I think it’s a constant process of writing stuff. Everybody’s always working on something. Every f**kin’ musician out there does it. You kind of can’t help it. You’re sitting there at home, just f**kin’ around on the guitar, and something hits you or doesn’t. Sometimes we’ll try to make a conscious decision to set some time aside in the studio to go in and write some stuff, but I think for us it doesn’t work that well. Somebody will write something and then bring it into practice and everyone will learn it right there.
KW: What are your plans for summer?
SK: We’re probably going to be staying local in California. We’re doing a west coast tour up to Seattle with our friends, My Life in Black and White and The Hollow Points. We’re gonna be in the studio working on some new s**t. We’ve been writing. We’re gonna try to get a full-length album done by hopefully the end of this year. Everybody’s kind of regrouping. We just went to Europe and we hit it pretty hard the end of last year and this year. Everyone’s got f**kin’ jobs and bills and s**t. I think everyone’s trying to pay down their credit cards after being gone for so long.
KW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you or anything you’re working on?
SK: No, but we got the Bygones 7” coming out and we’ll hopefully get a full-length together by the end of the year, I mean, tentatively. Who knows? If everyone can keep their s**t together and stay out of jail. We’ve got plans in 2015 to do a lot more touring. We’re going back out to Europe. We’re talking to some people in Taiwan about a festival and Japan. Lots of traveling, lots of shows
Get Dead’s latest 7”, called Bygones, is available on Fat Wreck Chords.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball