An interview with Deathcharge!
by Oliver Sheppard
Last year, the late Kenn Kroosaficks reviewed Deathcharge’s debut LP, Love Was Born to an Early Death, here at CVLT Nation. “Deathcharge unleashes a new, but familiar brand of gloom-and-doom deathrocking gothic punk to the masses,” Kenn wrote. The following interview with Deathcharge founder and singer Adam Nauseam is a follow-up to Kenn’s piece.
Despite starting around 1997, Portland’s Deathcharge released their first full-length LP only recently, in late 2011, on Unseen Forces (vinyl only; CD in Japan). The LP has garnered positive reviews and its first pressing sold out almost immediately. The LP is a gothic punk rocker in the vein of the first, self-titled Shadow Project LP, The Dark a la “Shattered Glass” or “The Masque,” and Iron Mask-era Christian Death. Throw in a tinge of early Sisters of Mercy with a dash of Motorhead and you get one of the more compelling and driving deathrock LPs in recent memory.
As their name implies, Deathcharge — who have a Facebook page HERE, and a Myspace page HERE –began as a Discharge-inspired discore band, evolving over the years to incorporate subtler postpunk and deathrock influences. The visual presentation of the band is a mix of Batcave and DIY crust: Big, colored hair in blues, reds, and whites, a la Xmal Deustchland; mesh shirts; lipstick, white face makeup, frock coats, and fog machines; homemade banners tacked up on the stage behind the drums — and a sound that errs decidedly on the side of guitar-driven rock and roll, like Rozz Williams’ Daucus Karota project. They’re one of the most exciting bands to watch in this area of music today.
Interview with Deathcharge singer Adam Nauseam originally at the No Doves Fly Here site.
OLIVER: Can you tell us how long Deathcharge has been around, and who is in the current lineup? Also, what are the releases to date?
ADAM DEATHCHARGE: Deathcharge started up in 1997. We’ve done three 7″ vinyl singles/EP’s which were “A Look At Their Sorrow” followed by “Plastic Smiles,” and then “Hangman”. The LP “Love Was Born To An Early Death” was released in 2011. The guitars are currently played by Nick and Dusty. Frank is on bass guitar. Roger is drumming and I’m vocals.
OLIVER: About Deathcharge, it seems like the releases have come out at a slow trickle. “Love Was Born to an Early Death” is the first Deathcharge LP, isn’t it? And yet the band have been around since the mid or late 90s. What’s to account for the pace of releases coming out?
ADAM: The early members did it for a kicks is all I can gather, and went on to form other non-hardcore bands right after. As soon as we did the first record everyone left, so I just let it sit dormant for a while. I only like to work with friends, and I don’t keep many. So it just comes together when it does, and that’s fine. Some of the members are also in other bands with a higher profile than Deathcharge, and need to give a lot of their time to those projects. We make records when we feel it’s needed. Not when we can.
OLIVER: How would you describe the evolution of the band’s sound? On the outside, it looks like a discore band that has “matured” into a deathrock-inflected, mid-tempo goth-punk sound. Is that correct? If so, what influenced this change?
ADAM: Being nearly 40, I don’t have the same enthusiasm for screaming like a maniac as I did in my 20’s, I’m sure. There are always different people writing the music as well. The evolution of the sound has taken a lot of turns over the years that were never documented. Some of the best periods came and went in a flash.
I think everyone in the band at this point has a strong appreciation for old 80’s bands that employed a less aggressive sound, and I know it certainly shows on material written since that last record. The LP, however, is very much a thrash-oriented record. I suppose people make a goth connection because they know us personally and see that we also have an interest in that world.
OLIVER: What are some of your favorite bands that are in existence now? Who are some of your all-time favorite bands that you feel have had an impact on Deathcharge’s sound?
ADAM: Oh fuck, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a current band who is still around. A few locals I rate highly are MORAL HEX and VICE DEVICE.
OLIVER: Adam, you told me a lot of the songs on the current Deathcharge LP were actually written years ago. How long ago were they written, and is what’s being written now — if anything is — going to sound similarly further along the evolutionary trajectory that Deathcharge seems to be progressing down….? In other words, will the next release sound more like it’s further along in the postpunk subgenre, compared to previous stuff?
ADAM: Yeah, for sure. We should be making the new record anytime now, and musically it would qualify as post-punk I suppose. But it is still us playing it so it sounds like us, even when we do a soft-sounding song. Some of the last record was written even before the “Hangman” EP. We nearly decided not to release some of that stuff since the guys who wrote the material had left the band years ago.
OLIVER: Also, do you feel the evolving sound of the band has outgrown the “Deathcharge” name? One of my favorite bands of the last decade, Austin’s Kegcharge, had a name that at first made me think they were going to be a Discharge parody band. Then their LP comes out on Hardcore Holocaust and it’s grim and serious, swastikas on the cover, etc., but still with the joke Discharge name, and yet amazing hardcore punk regardless. Do you think the name “Deathcharge” accurately reflects the band’s sound? Any concerns about the name throwing folks off?
ADAM: I’ve wanted to kill “Deathcharge” a few times and start a band without the duty of playing into a very narrow expectation, but it never came about. I never wanted to corrupt what Deathcharge was, but others involved were still getting a kick out of it so we’ve kept it kept going and it goes along as it does. All unplanned. Just recently in the last few months has it turned into something I enjoy again. So it is what it is. A name that fits for some and confuses others.
OLIVER: What was behind the decision to keep a lot of the songs off the new LP untitled? If the songs do have titles, what are they?
ADAM: The record was presented as a single piece of music. Not an “album.” We don’t consider any of it “untitled.” It is “Love Was Born To An Early Death,” from beginning to end.
OLIVER: I know you also do a deathrock and some other related nights in Portland, as a DJ. What are you up to in this vein and where do you spin, where can folks catch you, etc.?
ADAM: Frank and I both do a fair amount of spinning records at various clubs in Portland, but any organized nights usually suffer an early death before they get off the ground. For the moment I spin once a month at a local bar and Frank is doing some internet radio as well as random dj stuff.
OLIVER: Any plans to tour or play fests outside the Pacific Northwest soon? Maybe something like the Varning fest in Montreal, Chaos in Tejas, Maryland Death Fest, etc.?
ADAM: We have not been asked to play anywhere.
OLIVER: How do you feel about folks like Steve Ignorant, The Mob, Steve Lake of Zounds, getting back together, touring, etc.? A betrayal, a cynical cash-in, or none of the above?
ADAM: Well I just paid $5 to see Steve Lake play to a crowd of 20 in a dive bar. I have no criticism of people wanting to perform the songs they wrote. They all deserve much more that they ever got in my book.
OLIVER: Anything else you’d like to add….? Thanks so much for your time. The LP was great, one of the best I’ve heard in recent memory.
ADAM: Thanks, of course, but don’t spend too much time dwelling on the last record. It was needed to get something out after a lull, but it’s not representative of what we have been doing in the last year or so. As mentioned, some of that material dates back 8 or more (?) years. Thanks for doing what you do, Oliver!