An interview with…
dark punk band Dekoder!
by Oliver Sheppard
First there was the d-beat crust of Born Dead Icons, whose 2003 Ruins LP is some sort of d-beat/crust masterpiece. Then came the “post-d-beat” punk rock of The Complications, a band on Feral Ward that I interviewed for CVLT Nation, here.
Now, from ex-Born Dead Icons and Complications members, comes the deathrock of Dekoder, a goth-punk band that has reclaimed deathrock’s punk roots, and which is making some of the best new deathrock on the planet. Here, at CVLT Nation, is a new interview with Dekoder.
Let it be known that deathrock is officially reclaiming its punk origins. And it couldn’t sound better. Fuck yes!
Dekoder hail from Montreal and cite Xmal Deustchland and Poison Girls as influences. I’ll just quote the excellent blog Terminal Escape and their description:
“Female fronted goth/post punk from Montreal, these songs sound instantly familiar and welcoming. Perhaps it’s because this is descended from the same species of underground music that first pulled me away from pop music, but I felt an instant connection to this music, as if it had been in my life for years. The vocals drip with Siouxsie’s influence and the guitars are ripped from the hands of grudgingly infectious bands like INTERPOL and returned to a circa 1979 Bernard Sumner, where they belong. Subdued and deliberate, calculated and penetrating, there are only four songs here, but DEKODER are nothing short of brilliant.”
Megan, the singer and guitarist, and Pete, the bassist, were interviewed by Oliver in May, 2012.
OLIVER: Hey all – first question’s first — when did Dekoder start, who is in it now, and what instruments do they play?
PETE: Me and Megan started playing music together in the spring of 2010 without a drummer, Dave joined about six months later, and Kyle joined on second guitar about four months ago. So Megan- guitar/ vocals, Pete- bass, Dave- drums and Kyle- guitar.
OLIVER: Who chose the name “Dekoder” and what does it mean?
PETE: Dekoder is the name of a song by polish band Nowo Mowa. I wanted to use the name for something because it’s catchy and sounds good. Megan suggested we name the band Dekoder because we both love the song.
OLIVER: A lot of your lyrics are very direct. I thought the song “Empty Hearts” was especially moving. “In my search for liberation I’ve always been disappointed.” And then later in the song, “The solution has only been temporary.” What sort of liberation are you talking about — can you elaborate on this and explain what the liberation would look like, and what the temporary solutions have been?
PETE: I wrote this song originally because I was going through some rough times in my life and I was thinking about what freedom actually is, what it feels like, and how one can attain what they think is freedom. In the west it has become quite an empty concept, essentially because a consumer society is an empty society. We have choices, we have liberties, but not freedom. Our minds are trapped between four walls erected by society’s conditioning; how we must live is defined by social structures, ie family, school, State, peers, media. We seek to free ourselves from the pressure of life through drugs, alcohol, television, organized religions and all other forms of escapism provided by the very thing we try to escape from. Because these are temporary “solutions” we find ourselves back to square one the next day, still unhappy and still confused. So, right now in this world freedom of mind does not exist, and too often we are our own jailers.
OLIVER: The singing voice in Dekoder is remarkable – one of the true stand-out qualities of the band. I first thought of a more enjoyable Gitane Demone. Then after re-listening to several Dekoder songs a few times, I had a creeping relization: there is some Pat Benatar in there! (Or so I would argue – don’t hurt me!) Anyway, I love the vocals and it’s one of the things that really makes Dekoder stand out from the pack. I can imagine Dekoder playing everything from Poison Girls songs to doing a cover of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” What are the main influences on your singing style?
MEGAN: I love Pat Benatar! My sister would be happy to hear that — she influenced me a lot when I was a kid listening to 80s music all the time. I felt like the first time I really used my voice in a way that I was safe from my own insecurities was when I played music with my friend Veronica. She’s so encouraging and supportive and she made me feel really good about singing. I guess I would say I am influenced by Greg Sage a lot, and Vi Subversa. I also really love Anja Huwe from Xmal Deutschland.
OLIVER: As far as the band as a whole, what are your favorite groups from the past (or present), and what bands have had the most influence or impact on you all personally? What is it about these bands that have made them have the impact on you that they have had?
MEGAN: The first punk band I really listened to and felt personally affected by was Crass, the album Penis Envy. I grew up always feeling angry for the way women were treated. I didn’t have the words to express my dissatisfaction, and then when I read the lyrics to Penis Envy I was filled with emotion. I knew I wanted to be in a band where i could express my feelings on gender inequality and patriarchy.
PETE: This is a hard question because so many bands have influenced me. Peace punk is obvious for the politics. French cold wave. I love the first OMD lps, the first Human League lps as well… Tuxedomoon “half mute,” the early Trisomie 21 records are great! I look for records that set specific moods, records that are bass driven without being pretentious.
Oliver: Do you all consider yourself a punk band? If someone had never heard your band before, how would you describe yourself to them? I hear some peace punk, gothic punk, and deathrock, like bands like Madhouse or Blood and Roses, Rubella Ballet, Lost Cherrees, etc. What would you all tell others?
MEGAN: I feel like we take a bit from peace-punk, goth-punk and post punk. We have all played different music before so its probably a mix of a lot things.
PETE: It’s happened a few times that people have asked me and i just say “post- punk.” It’s a general term, but I’m not sure we fit any specific category.
Oliver: What is the scene like in Montreal? Are there any good bands there, a good assortment of venues to play in….?
Megan: I love playing in Montreal. Usually the shows are really mixed in styles, too, which is good. Katacombes, Squalor, Deathchurch, Casa Del Popolo, to name a few. My new favourite band that I have heard recently from here is Proxy — they are really good. I also loved Boneblack shows, and The Facials, Silent Bones..
Pete: Montreal as a good amount of venues right now; we have bars as well as “underground” spaces which I will not name for obvious reasons. Bands from here I like: Automelodi, Silent Bones, Police des moeurs, Spastic Joy….
Oliver: What bands are out there nowadays that you think are the best, and why?
Megan: I love Alaric from Oakland, they are dark and beautiful sounding, and their style is very unique. I really love Arctic Flowers, and Spectres, Bellicose Minds, Led Er Est, Soft Moon, Soft Kill, Belgrado, Cross Stitched Eyes. All of these bands are making really rad music, i find all of the above have a way of making me feel emotional, they all have this kind of depressing quality that I usually enjoy in music.
Pete: Spectres, Soft Moon, Xeno & Oaklander, Martial Canterel, Clair Obscur (they have a new album out).
Oliver: The lyrics that Dekoder writes seems to deal with various types oppression. What are the driving concerns that fuel your songwriter, and what are the typical themes that dekoder deals with in your songs? What do you think are the most pressing problems in the world today?
Megan: Both me and Pete write the lyrics. I often find myself writing about my own experience, some of it has to do with having been mis-treated before and wanting to survive these experiences. Mostly what I write about is the injustice women (and women identified/queer and marginalized persons) often face in our society, how we are treated as inferior, as objects, and people who face abuse.
Pete: A lot of the songs I write are personal points of view of political topics. I think personal liberation is the biggest problem/ issue for me today. We must change how we see ourselves in this world, we must change our relationship with our environment. We must get rid of the three monotheistic religions which tell us we are the masters of this earth yet at the same time tell us we are powerless before god, and that our free will is a sin. It sounds vague maybe but if we cant change how we think and perceive ourselves and the world and our place in it then all other problems will persist.
Oliver: Right now you all have a Bandcamp page and a Facebook page. Is there anyway for folks to purchase music from you? Where can they go if they want to hear you or buy stuff from you?
Pete: Well right now you can get three songs off our demo for free on bandcamp, and one song from our upcoming lp (see next question) on the coldmodelrecords compilation.
Oliver: Do you have any future plans as far as releasing an LP? What are Dekoder’s upcoming plans as far as releasing music, and/or possibly touring and playing out?
Pete: We have an album coming out in July on Chaos Rurale records! We will also be touring the East coast all the way through Chicago this summer.
Oliver: If you had to take 3 and only 3 albums to a desert island, to have the rest of your life, what would they be?
Megan: New Order – “Movement.” Warsaw. The Mob’s “Let the Tribe Increase.” This is a really hard question!
Pete: Right now? Leningrad Sandwich “Heat,” End of Data “Dans votre monde,” Rudimentary Peni “Death Church.”
Oliver: Is there anything else you all would like to add? I am a huge fan of your band and I’m very expectantly looking forward to seeing what you all will do next. You all are making incredible music — please don’t stop!! :))
Pete: Thanx for offering us space on your site! Your dj night sounds great! One day we’ll make it out to Texas!?? To get in touch : firstname.lastname@example.org