In late August, Dead Confederate, crammed inside Max Canada with their friends, the Futurebirds, for a head banging, house party-like performance to celebrate the release of their second album and the beginning of a nationwide tour. Lead vocalist and guitarist from Dead Confederate, Hardy Morris smirks as he says, “it’s more of a party, than a show.”
Vamped out in matching “The Dumps” (an Athens-based metal band) t-shirts, the Dead Confederate guys gathered on the back patio with friends waiting for the crowds to pile in and the rain to determine their stage, either the patio or an intimate corner in the back of Max Canada. Brantley Senn, bassist of Dead Confederate, revealed proudly his plan to throw in some “tacky in ways, but yet so awesome” 80s cover songs.
It is obvious when you meet the guys of Dead Confederate that for them, playing music is all about having a good time. Brantley says playing with the biggest names possible used to be their main concern. But having reached a stirring status with their nationwide tour and an appearance on the Late Night with Conan O’Brian in 2008, the band has taken on the philosophy that it’s not all about selling out shows. “We like playing with bands that are friends of ours,” Brantley says, “it’s like a huge party of idiots on the road.”
The party goes way beyond the tour bus. Members from both bands revel in more antics at the DeVille Apartments here in Athens. One of their favorite pastimes, Brantley explains with drummer Jason Scarboro and keyboardist John Watkins, is an innocent drinking game they call “stain shots.” The goal: to concoct the most revolting shot one can think of. Laughing, Brantley remembers their last “stain shots” involving maple syrup and lime juice. The guys hint that their escapades will go down in DeVille history, as the bands have already had the cops called on them for having a late night dance party after a day of skydiving. Naturally, both bands are taking advantage of every moment they can in their favorite town that they call home before hitting the road.
The only proper way to prepare for their nationwide tour with the Futurebirds, the Max Canada release party was expected to be no less than maniacal. And it was, as the band proved their knack for a killer live performance even in the limiting confines of Max Canada. It was jam-packed, only encouraging attendees to jump higher, scream louder, and sweat harder whether you were pressed between shoulders near the stage or were lucky enough to jump on a table to catch a better view. With no pre-determined set list, the band played a spontaneous mix of both new and old favorites in honor of the new album, “Sugar”, that hit stores Tuesday, August 24.
Recorded during a snowstorm last winter, Hardy says the name spawned from the walls of snow that surrounded the studio in Hoboken, NJ. The experience was a whole new dance for Dead Confederate. This album is the first album the band wrote specifically to record. “Everything was different about the recording process,” Hardy says, “we actually had to write this one first.” Released in 2008, their debut album, “Wrecking Ball”, was recorded after already playing the tracks on tour for two years. “The songs were much more set in stone,” says drummer Jason Scarboro, “after playing a song for two years, why would we change it now.”
This time around, packed in by snow, the band had room to experiment. “It was kinda’ on the fly,” Brantley says, “we wrote the album two weeks before going into the studio.” The tracks they originally wrote took some surprise twists and turns once they got in the studio before arriving at their final sound. “It allowed us to let the producer in a lot more,” Brantley says. “For the song, In the Dark, we actually completely switched the chorus and verses, which would never happen if you were recording songs that you have been playing on tour for two years.”
As the name suggests, the album has a slightly different taste than the edgier and grungier flavor they first became famous for. “The album name fits,” Hardy says, “since the songs are a lot sweeter than our last album.” Jason says (with a chuckle) to any disappointed fans, “sorry we didn’t record it in a bedroom with a four-track.” You can expect a cleaner, tighter sound combined still with hard-driving rhythms, as the band displays their versatility and ability to keep it fresh. Even though “Wrecking Ball” features more of his sense of humor in its raunchy and sarcastic lyrics, Brantley says he’s a lot happier with this album than the last. “Music is half entertainment, half art,” Brantley says, “people have to figure out what it means to them.”