It’s always great to see a band trying to push towards their own sound, and that’s what drew me to Atlanta’s Dead Register when they released their debut full length ‘Fiber’ back at the beginning of May. With songs that skew towards the longer side and provide plenty of twists and turns, Dead Register is able to touch upon everything from gothic/death rock to doom, with a little bit of everything in between. Though some of their influences are definitely familiar, the way that they’re able to weave all of these elements together gives a sound that’s hard to pin down into one category and makes the band stand out. It also helps that they’re not using any guitars through ‘Fiber’, with all of the melodies and bottom heavy riffs coming courtesy of the Bass VI and synths. This is the type of gloomy, emotional material that knows how to get its hooks in you, and after spending a good deal of time getting lost in the album I felt it was time to ask the band some questions to learn more about them.
Questions have been answered by M. Chvasta and Avril Che.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): ‘Fiber’ has been out for almost a month now. What has the general reception to it been like so far, and do you feel like people are really getting a feel for what you tried to accomplish on the album?
CHVASTA- It’s been pleasantly overwhelming. We’ve been getting a great response from listeners, critics, magazines, blogs etc. I’m a bit surprised; long-format songs seem much harder to digest. We don’t have the “instant gratification thing,” but fortunately folks seem to have gotten past that with ‘Fiber’.
TO: You began as a duo in 2013, with Chad coming in on drums in 2014. Comparing the finished ‘Fiber’ album to your earlier writing days with programmed drums, how has your writing evolved over these past few years?
Avr- The early days were a time of clearing out our creative stomping grounds with some serious machete-armed combat. We got to a point pretty early in the game where we decided that we didn’t really need to sound like Godflesh worship. When Chad entered the picture, it was like we were Pinnochio turning into a real boy. His drumming brought such dynamic and organic elements that we vastly opened up our direction very naturally.
TO: You chose to start ‘Fiber’ off with Alone, the longest song on the album. Sometimes when bands frontload their longest pieces towards the beginning it can be seen as a risky move, but it comes off feeling natural and helped to draw me in to material. What made you decide to structure the album in this way, and based on your musical backgrounds has it been a challenge working with these longer periods of time?
Chvasta- We don’t play short songs. We figured we’d set the tone with Alone, and if folks made it through that, they’d surely have an idea what they’d be in for with the rest of the record. We selected the songs that we collectively liked the best, and set the order so that there’s an organic wave…. Or perhaps a sonic journey from start to finish. This album is meant to be consumed as a whole.
Avr- Funny thing, it’s more of a challenge for us to keep the songs short. “OK, this is going to be a 6 minute shorty, I swear…” Yeah. Right. I suppose the songs lengths are, for the most part, what the music calls for.
TO: Part of what I love about the album is its use of dynamics, which results in natural ebbs and flows in each song. I’ve noticed that in genres like doom, post punk, and gothic rock, all of which you pull from, there’s sometimes a tendency to be as loud as possible all the time. With Chad and Chvasta having played in louder, chaotic bands in the past, was this a significant transition moving into a more dynamic type of songwriting?
Avr- I’m into contrast. Loud can sound much louder when expanded from a softer part. In my years of playing piano, I’ve always loved the feel of the huge dynamics and expressiveness of certain classical pieces. Moving through a wide range of sound somehow strikes on a deeper level. Playing consistently fast and loud can be awesome, but let me just say that I take the best naps to Napalm Death.
Chvasta- I have always had a penchant for reverb and delay. There’s rarely a part where I’m not using (abusing) one or the other on ‘Fiber’. It forces me to play less, but also fills more space and adds the atmosphere that these songs command. Tides of glistening sadness. I find comfort there, sigh.
TO: I was reminded of a lot of different bands while listening to ‘Fiber’ and you name a lot of different groups as influences. But what are some less obvious influences people might not immediately pick up on, perhaps that aren’t related to music at all?
Avr – I was super into Drum n’ Bass way back in the day. I really dig explosive low-end that tears through the guts. Hence the registers we play in, and why our album title makes me giggle.
Chvasta –I have SO many influences, too many, really. I’m in love with Grinning Plowman’s ‘Days of Deformity’ LP. GP were one of my first CDs, also one of my first non-metal CDs. That fella’s voice is perfect. The sonics on that record are amazing too. Paul Malinoski’s basslines on Shiner’s ‘Lula Divinia’ were crushing, lots of palm-muting filling the space where a 2nd guitar could have been (but wasn’t). I thought Low Pop Suicide’s Crush had some of the coolest sounding guitars (before I played an instrument). Avril plays complimentary synth “leads” along with my stringed leads (with delay) and we achieve some neat stuff similar to the lines in that gorgeous LPS song. Also, Bloodbath’s Eaten, boy howdy, that’s heavy and dynamic.
TO: You said you had a double album or more of material when writing before cutting it down to what made it onto ‘Fiber’. Will some of these songs that were cut make it onto future recordings?
Chvasta – We’ve sort of trashed most of those songs. We had a really cool slow gloomy cover of Bolt Thrower’s Forever Fallen. ‘For Victory’ is one of the best things, like, ever. Perhaps we’ll unearth that odd cover for a split with somebody. We debuted a new song at our album release party that people really seemed to enjoy, I think we’ll keep writing more and weigh it all out.
TO: To me, the imagery Dead Register uses is just as important as the music itself. All of your visuals are handled by Avril. How important is imagery like album artwork, visualizations on-stage, and music videos to your band as a whole and where does it fit into the creation process? Is it something that’s worked on simultaneously with your music or does it come afterwards?
Avr- To me, music and visuals are tightly interwoven. They both come from the same seed, expressed in ways so that they can be taken in by our different senses. You could say that the visuals are an extension or reflection of our music. The added imagery helps give a more encompassing experience of our work. It’s something that is worked on both simultaneously and after. There are constant layers of images floating through my skull… whether I like it or not.
TO: ‘Fiber’ was released on digital, CD, and cassette formats. The cassette has been going through resurgence in recent years, what made you decide to release the album on the format?
Avr- Those darn hipster whippersnappers [shaking my old lady fist]. Get off my lawn! Alright, so the boring answer is that cassettes were WAY cheaper than vinyl. We simply couldn’t afford by ourselves what might have needed to have been a double-LP because of our album length.
TO: You’ve chosen to self-release your material. Have you considered shopping the material around for additional distribution or are you happy doing everything independently for the moment?
Avr- When we set out to release the album at the beginning of the year, we decided that we would self-release if no labels responded within a certain timeframe. For a relatively new band with a small working history, we needed to be realistic with our expectations of being picked up. I’ve been pleased with our creatively resourceful DIY ventures so far. Perhaps it (along with some touring) will provide some ammo for the next time we knock on company doors.
Chvasta- Folks keep asking for vinyl. Perhaps we could partner with a label for this to happen. Folks abroad are getting CRUSHED by the international shipping fees for cassettes and CDs. If we could find some Euro-distro, that’d be AMAZING. Still looking… .. .
TO: Based on what I’ve seen in previous interviews and your social media pages, all three of you have been in Atlanta for a while. How has the Atlanta music scene changed over the years, and do you feel like it’s supportive of bands like yours in its current state?
Avr -ATL has mostly been more fertile grounds for hip-hop. Our population has steadily increased so there are more general bodies to feed the different genres, but it’s still a challenge down here for us weirdos. ATL is an island of sorts in Georgia… go 1-2 hours out of the city and there’s a lot of “ya’ll ain’t from ’round here, are ya” (um, Georgia born and raised, thank you). All that being said, we’ve gotten surprisingly great support, and I’m very grateful to the wonderful folks who like us enough to help us along with our ventures.
Chvasta- We’re doing remarkably alright for playing gothic/doomy/death rock/gloom/pop in a Rap/Garage Rock town. There was not really a scene for this here, we said, “fuck it, let’s make our own scene.” Like that crappy sports movie said, “build it, they will come.” I couldn’t ask for better support here. THANKS to everyone, Atlanta and elsewhere, for your support.
TO: Most of your shows so far have been in Atlanta or other parts of Georgia. Are there any plans to venture elsewhere on either a tour or smaller run of dates?
Chvasta- I’ve pulled out my 22 year old sewing machine and I’m carefully cobbling together my DIY Tour Booking Hat. It’s TIME to hit the road with Dead Register. We’ll be doing short runs, starting… whenever I get some confirmations. Dead of Summer Dead Register tour 2016, we’ll keep you posted!
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Fiber’ or Dead Register?
Chvasta- We love this record deeply. We hope you do, too. Much more music to come from us, so please follow the social media site of the week for future-now endeavors! See you soon in your town!