Interview by Dave Cheney.
The Dead Love are a Sydney based grunge trio with the cathartic balls of a punk rock orchestra, crafting a passionate-yet-irreverent sound that hits like a semi-trailer full of joyful life experience. In 2019 the band have secured numerous high profile supports and tour runs, culminating in a home run of sell-out headline shows. Good Call Live’s Dave Cheney caught up with Clint Ossington to chat about the health benefits of surfing, the band’s inclusion to this year’s BIGSOUND lineup and channelling tragedy into art.
Clint, mate! You’re back! You’re in Brisbane!
“Not just yet but we’re psyched to get up there, it’s our home-away-from-home. We’re still in Sydney town spending some time in the studio and doing our normal lives. We’ll bounce early Saturday morning, crash in Byron Saturday night then hit Brissy. We’ve got a show at The Brightside on Monday night then it’s all BIGSOUND from there.”
It sounds like a nice trip dude, what’s the plan for Byron? Doing some surfing?
“ Yeah we’ll do some surfing on Sunday, we just need to tee up some boards because we don’t have any baggage allowance left for them and will be flying back to Sydney after our post-BIGSOUND show at Solbar in Maroochydore.”
Do you find that surfing helps the creative process for the band? Does it help level out any creative differences or diffuse any tensions in the band when you’re out on the waves?
“Funny you say that, I used to live on the Northern Beaches and surfed a lot. Myles is from up the coast near Red Rock and has surfed all his life. And then when Stevie started surfing over the past few years it really sparked us to get back in the water and start surfing as a band. It really brought us together having something to do outside of all the hectic band business. When you’re on a wave you really don’t have the time to think about anything else which we find therapeutic. If I don’t get in the water for a week, I get pretty antsy. Last year we had a Bali surf trip with our partners, and it put us in a great headspace to write and come together.”
Well I’m sorry we can’t give you an actual beach in Brisbane. We’ve got a great mud port with some half footers if that helps?
“Ha, sounds good.”
It’s exciting to have the band back up north, especially for an event like BIGSOUND. Have you been punters at the festival before?
“No, this will be our first experience. When we got the news we were on this year’s lineup we couldn’t be more stoked, especially with the new record dropping and preparing to go overseas. I don’t know if there’s something in the water up there but Brissy has also been so supportive to the band. Every time we’re there it feels like the Valley is such a hub of activity and it’s nice to come up to that after seeing all the venues in Sydney shutting down. It’s such a positive energy. If there was somewhere to surf in the centre of town I think we’d all love there at the drop of a hat.”
We’d love to have you! BIGSOUND is of course a pretty competitive environment, what do you think The Dead Love brings to the table that sets you apart?
“That’s a tough question. To be honest our mindset coming to BIGSOUND is less about competition and more about comradery. We want to bring the same energy we put into all our shows. Some bands put too much pressure on themselves and how to behave under the eyes of the industry and really lose sight of the little things like enjoying yourself and enjoying what you’re doing and even who you are as a band. We pride ourselves on our songs, the writing, the sing-a-longs and how much fun we’re able to have. But we’re going to be putting the same effort into immersing ourselves in the whole experience up there as well, especially going to other bands shows and connecting with them.”
I’ve noticed The Dead Love’s name everywhere this year on lineups. There’s been Basement, The Story So Far, Yours Truly, Hands Like Houses, the list goes on. Are there any friends from those tours you’re excited to catch up with at BIGSOUND?
“Yeah definitely, we’re keen to see the Baker’s Eddy guys, we toured with them earlier in the year. We’re keen to chat with Clowns who we haven’t actually met but know through the wonderful world of Spotify suggested artists. Oh, we’re actually travelling up in a van with the Redhook crew so we’ve even got the road trip angle sorted, that will be fun. We’ve been hearing non-stop about Semantics as well and it’ll be fun to meet them. There’s such a good vibe going on in the grungy/punky scene, it’ll be good to put faces to names and hopefully make some new friends to tour with.”
Well BIGSOUND is an interesting beast in that you’ve got a balance between the live performance aspect and also the industry business side. Say you had a magic wildcard to bring any industry member to do a BIGSOUND talk and drops some pearls of wisdom, whether they’re alive or dead or retired or jaded, doesn’t matter. Who would it be?
“I think listening to Dave Grohl speak would be interesting, going from the drummer of one of the biggest bands in the world to being the front man for ANOTHER biggest band in the world. He’s got a huge passion of song writing and also for emerging artists so I’d definitely want to pick his brain, his wealth of knowledge would be insane.”
On the note of wisdom and knowledge, what do you think has been the biggest learning curve for the band, especially with the amount of big opportunities, touring and shows you’ve had recently?
“I think learning to work as a team and focusing on each member’s strengths, not to mention keeping the vibe positive. As soon as negativity enters the mix it’s like a virus and affects your performance, your planning, everything. We’re a three piece, you know? We have to know when everyone needs space and when someone’s buttons are being pushed. Work ethic is also important, you have to always be proactive and not drop the ball. But ultimately it comes back to the song writing doesn’t it? If the songs are resonating and connecting with the audience, it’s infectious and spreads out into industry buzz as well.”
I totally get that, I still remember hearing Ordinary on the car radio and turning to my girlfriend at the time with a big fucking grin on my face. When you were doing the ‘Extinction of Unicorns’ album, was there any one particular song that really made your hair stand up on the back of your neck?
“Truth be told, we had about 30 or 40 more songs that we ditched in the writing process to make sure there was no filler for the album. Everything was hyper analysed to be as powerful as possible, we really wanted a ‘no filler’ type of record. That said, from an emotional angle there is the track Wayne which Stevie wrote about his father passing away from cancer. He grew up playing with his dad in bands and he was a big part of the band’s support network, so it was really devastating to all of us. It was a powerful moment when he showed us his idea for it and the lyrics and even hearing the demo almost brought me to tears. Just like a good film makes you feel something, that song hits us in the guts. We’ve never played it live, we probably will for the album tour at the end of the year but it’s impossible to know what it will feel like. There will be some powerful emotions for sure.”
Wow, that’s pretty beautiful, I’m sorry to hear about the story behind it.
“Well it’s turning a negative into a positive and something we can share with people.”
And that’s really the noble role of music isn’t it? That kind of emotional release. And there’s something to be said for a band who’s willing to get up in front of a room of punters and really crack themselves open and be vulnerable, I think it lets them feel like it’s ok to feel those feelings so it’s great that you guys have done that. Some bands try too hard to have a steely image.
“For sure. We really didn’t want any of the songs to mean nothing. They all needed to feel real, feel alive and be able to resonate with people. Even though the live vibe is fun and carefree, there’s a lot under the surface there.”
Well, for something a little less real, considering the name of the album ‘The Extinction Of Unicorns’, if you could bring one animal back from extinction, what would it be?
“It would have to be the Tassie Tiger, let’s do it! Let’s bring back the Tiger!”
To wrap up, if you could go back in time and give your younger self some wisdom you’ve picked up over the years, what do you think you’d say?
“Just have fun and support each other really. Being in a band is somewhere between a marriage, a business and a family and it’s so much easier if you’re committed to having fun. When you’re a kid it’s fine to have dreams and aspirations but it’s easy to lose sight of the important little things when the pressure of goals starts to build up.”
Wise words. Thanks so much for chatting! I hope Byron has some good surf and I look forward to seeing you guys at BIGSOUND!
Catch The Dead Love at BIGSOUND and on their headline tour, tickets HERE.
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