“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
No one here is insinuating that Georgia’s Dead Confederate smell sweet (we’re guessing on an aroma more Wild Turkey-based), but we are more than happy to spend no time at all considering their name (a decision no doubt influenced by the fact that the Revolt of the Apes headquarters are located in the fair city of Richmond, Virginia – a city undoubtedly, unfortunately still bearing the psychic stains and gruesome ghosts of our Confederate history).
But we come to bury the remains of that true confederacy of dunces, while praising the sounds of Dead Confederate and the true southern-Shakespearean drama they conjure not with guns and hate, but with guitars and love.
Well, maybe some guns (and probably some hate, too). How else to explain the band’s consistent firepower?
More than most, there is a true sense of hope and fortune, rising and falling in the music of Dead Confederate. Experts at the organic release that occurs when mixing the quiet with the loud, the sound of Dead Confederate is further enlivened by vocals raw enough to point to possible possession, and endless rays of gleaming, Gilmore-esque guitar whines, cries and screams.
Dead Confederate will be live at Austin Psych Fest 2012. In advance, we were fortunate enough to check in their living dead singer and guitarist, Hardy Morris. Enjoy.
Can you think of an album that you’ve only grown to greatly appreciate relatively recently, after many years of either not “getting” it, or simply dismissing it out of hand? What is it about this album that resonates with you today, and why do you think that wasn’t the case previously?
It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been getting more into The Rolling Stones lately … I just never really considered them “my thing.” But after reading some of the Keith Richards biography and having some pals who are die-hard fans give me enough hell, I finally dove in. David Barbe made me a mix called “Stones Junkie Jams” and it’s pretty great. I was familiar with most all of the songs, but I listen to them a little differently now. Goes without saying: it’s cool shit.
In what ways do you think your own musical evolution (for lack of a better – or more pompous – term) has progressed since playing with Dead Confederate? Do you find that, in general, the more you play music with the others in the band, the more you understand them as a person? Or do you find that the two things have no notable connection in your experience?
Well, there is definitely personality in peoples’ playing. Like Walker, our guitarist, plays weird stuff ‘cause he’s a weird dude (I mean that in the best way). But he is a good example of personality in the playing. As a band though, we have been kind of all over the place. We like all kinds of music and so we have written all kinds of tunes. But there is also the fact that, like a lot of bands, we do certain things/styles better than others, so that’s where you focus … on your strengths.
What has been the most surprising thing about your experience with Dead Confederate thus far? How has it differed from your experience with other bands you have played with in the past? Was there anything in particular that you wanted to accomplish with Dead Confederate, or do you feel the entire experience thus far has transpired more organically?
We always just wanted to play and record our music. We never had any delusions that we’d be rock-gods. It’s been pretty organic … There definitely hasn’t been a big scheme or strategy to our career as a band. We’ve just kind of made decisions and rolled with it. We’ve stuck together and seen half the world, so I feel like we’ve accomplished much more than we set out to do.
What led to the decision to cover Elliot Smith’s “Roman Candle” (which just happens to be our favorite Elliot Smith song of all-time, and by extension, yours is our favorite Elliot Smith cover of all-time!) on the “Dirty Ammo” LP? What does that song mean to you?
All of us in the band are Smith fans and it just seemed appropriate to take one of his songs and make it big and loud. We tried another song (“High Times”), but it didn’t really pan out. Then we played “Roman Candle” and we were all like, “That’s cool”! We haven’t played it in a while. Thanks for the reminder …
One of the standout numbers from the “Sugar” LP, in our mind, is the song “Father Figure,” not least because of the way the heavy guitars are used to compliment the absolutely heavenly vocal lines, until they both coalesce into one gorgeous whole. Or something. What can you tell us about the origin of this song? Is there anyone in your life that you consider somewhat of a musical father figure?
That song is really simple. It’s just about missing home when you’re out on the road. When you’re young as a musician you think, “Man, I just want to play on the road and be gone forever.” And then you hit the road for a couple of years and you start thinking, “Man, I really want to be home today.”
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite Black Sabbath album and why?
Like I said, I’ve been into the Stones a good bit, but as far as new stuff, I like The War on Drugs. And as for Sabbath, it’s got to be “Paranoid.” It’s one of the first record covers I remember seeing and it’s ridiculous.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you will forego your onstage appearance at Austin Psych fest, in order to shill loaves of homemade wheat, rye and sourdough in the vendor area, under the banner, “Bread Confederate”?
I deny said rumor, but confirm another rumor that we will be playing essentially ALL NEW material that we recently recorded here in Athens, GA.
How did you first hear of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited to have the chance to see play?
We’ve known about Psych Fest for a while having played with The Black Angels over the years and keeping in touch. We are glad to finally be able to be there. I’m looking forward to seeing Wooden Shjips live. And Meat Puppets are always a treat.
Mark Twain – himself both dead and a big fan of the Grateful Dead, we’re sure – once said the following:
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
Makes perfect sense to me … I guess?!
What’s next for Dead Confederate?
We recently recorded a new album worth of stuff here in Athens.. Looking to release in late summer or fall and then TOUR!