Dead Sara Talk New Album, Musical Journey, Warped Tour + More
Los Angeles rockers Dead Sara are wowing music fans and critics alike with the impassioned brand of hard rock music featured on their recently released self-titled debut album, which includes the current radio hit ‘Weatherman.’
Dead Sara are made up of frontwoman Emily Armstrong, guitarist Siouxsie Medley, bassist Chris Null and drummer Sean Friday. On the road, the band is currently supporting Chevelle and will later tour with the Used, followed by a slot on this summer’s Warped Tour festival; for a full list of dates, go here.
When Loudwire got the chance to talk to the two women of Dead Sara — Armstrong and Medley — we chatted about their musical journey, recording their debut album, their upcoming tours and much more.
Can you talk about the overall themes and inspiration for the album?
Emily Armstrong: For the record, it was just more of getting the sound that we wanted live, that was the first and foremost. That’s what we wanted to do because when we worked with other people – we did an EP back in 2008 that we released on our own, just on iTunes.
We listened to the fans, too, and they said they wanted to hear more of the raw aspect of it and so we just wrote a bunch of songs, not really thinking like, “Oh this is what we want to put in here, we want to put a love song here, okay let’s do f—in’ punk rock right here” — it’s just what it was and what it is. That’s just the formula we have, we have all those parts and that’s what you hear on the record. I meant it was done really fast too so there wasn’t too much thought in it which is good.
Can you talk a little bit about your journey leading up to this record as musicians?
Siouxie Medley: Oh man, it’s crazy.
EA: I started out, I got a guitar for my 12th birthday and I’ve put bands together in school, that was my mission in life – was to just do that and that was the only time I was ever happy. I had tons of drummers and bass players and singers. I never wanted to be a singer at the time so I put a lot of people together. I would just try and formulate some kind of chemistry with friends and then I went to high school and lost all that and that’s when I met her, through a mutual friend.
SM: Yeah, I started playing drums and I sing and play guitar, we would switch around on instruments. We just went through so many different drummers and bass players and people.
EA: We got a lot of interest from producers and writers and labels pushing that on us with a hit single and stuff like that and that’s what you hear on the 2008 EP, that was kind of rushed and just our first time with a producer. We weren’t thinking about what we wanted, we were thinking about what all these people f—in’ wanted – we’re talking a lot of people so we were under a lot of pressure at such a f—ing young age and we had only played a handful of shows. That drove us crazy and we just literally said “F— you all, this doesn’t feel right.” We weren’t getting along with management at the time and we were fighting, hating each other. Everybody was all on a different planet and so for a year we were just playing music and we weren’t doing anything, we weren’t writing music together.
One day it was just like, “Are we gonna do this or not?” It was just one of those things where you give it time, let it breathe and you realize the f—in’ true nature of playing music and wanting to do that and it was reborn, it was even stronger than ever. We knew what we wanted, we couldn’t back down anymore and there is actually a song, ‘We Are What You Say’ and this is what it’s about. Just thought I’d throw it in there.
We were just like f— it we’re doing it our way, we know what we want to do, we just want to f—ing play music. So we got our friends Sean [Friday] and Chris [Null] to help out and they just stuck and did the record and we’re all completely, 100 percent in it now.
It’s good that it’s a less hostile environment.
EA: Yeah. But having gone through that was a blessing and a curse.
SM: We just learned so much.
EA: And so young so we were still able to get on our feet and be like “Okay we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Talk about the album’ first single, ‘Weatherman.’
EA: It’s the first song we did as this group. When we got in the rehearsal room, Siouxsie came up with that riff.
SM: She just started singing over it and everyone just started jamming on it, it was pretty easy to write. We got the skeleton of it pretty fast.
EA: That’s the day that Chris walked in because we were trying to get him into rehearsal for a while and he walked in and started playing bass on it and we literally started writing it. He started writing the verses with a bass line and it just changed it. We would’ve used that lick over and over, that would have been the whole, that’s how we’ve been writing. I was singing “His skin soft as leather, I’m the weatherman” over and over. When we get something we jam, and I was jammin’ it. After I was just like “Oh that’s really cool, but I want to change it, I don’t want the weatherman in there.”
Everybody’s like, “No are you f—ing me?” They would’ve kicked me out of the band if I changed it so I had to write around that whole concept and I said “Okay this is cool. Now I have to write around it, what the f—k does this mean?” It just comes down to creating your own future by what it is you do today having an effect on tomorrow. I had to think of it in terms of that – just society.
There’s also something striking about a female vocalist singing “I’m the weatherman.”
EA: I love that. I think that was the thing at the beginning to, I started doubting it. That had to be one of the things.
SM: We thought it was so cool, the irony.
EA: That’s why I kept it and I completely forgot about it until now. That’s always cool when you hear songs like that like that dude from White Town singing “I will never be your woman” and he’s a dude, I always loved that! [Laughs] It’s just so different.
Dead Sara are playing Warped Tour this summer. What are you guys looking forward to most when it comes to that experience?
EA: Staying cool.
SM: I’m so excited to see all the different bands play and I’m sure there’s so much to learn. I’ve heard that Warped tour is the most grueling tour out there and I’m really excited to get my ass kicked and learn a lot. The experience is going to be rad.
Was there a specific point when you were younger that you knew you wanted to be a professional musician?
EA: Yeah when I first picked up a guitar, it had two or three strings on it, I remember at school. There was a few kids – you know those fads where everybody’s doing one thing and everybody has to have it, if it’s skateboarding or basketball, at this point it was guitar. There was this one guitar at school and everybody got to play it for 15 minutes and I tried it out, people were just like “try out this new thing, it’s called a guitar” [Laughs]. I was trying it out and I just went “Holy f— man” with so many missing strings, it probably wasn’t even in tune. I was like “Mom, I want a f—ing guitar, this is it” and I got a guitar and didn’t stop.
SM: Definitely when I got my first guitar, I had a nanny who was in a band and played guitar, she was so cool and I didn’t really understand, guitars and music that much until she started nanny-ing me. She would tell me not to do my homework and to learn guitar chords, she was so awesome and I was like “Holy s— this is totally what I want to do.” It was natural to me and it just made so much sense and I’m still friends with her and she’s got her own band and label.
How would you describe your sound to people who aren’t familiar with your music?
EA: Raw, passionate, heavy rock with a slight ballad-y ish feeling. I don’t f—in’ know.
SM: When I think about the whole record, there’s so many different elements and different genres but they’re all Dead Sara and they all have the string that ties it together. Live we’re definitely f—ing rock, loud rock.
EA: We pull back sometimes.
SM: But it still rocks, even ‘Sorry For It All’ it picks up and then it’s rad at the end.
EA: Come see for yourself.
Where did the name Dead Sara come from?
EA: I was in Santa Cruz at the time with some friends or something.
SM: And I just texted her, “What about the name Dead Sara?” ‘cause it’s a lyric or we thought it was a lyric from a Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks song ‘Sara’ and we always just loved that part of the song.
EA: So we knew before we talked about it.
SM: And I just texted it to her.
EA: An I was like “Are you f—ing kidding me? I’m thinking the same f—in’ thing.” I felt it and I kept thinking it and I just didn’t think to f—in text her and she texted me and I was just like “I can’t believe this, we have to keep it” because now it’s something we both agree on [Laugh]. It’s something that;s gonna stick just because it’s that connection.
SM: There’s not much other significance behind the name except for the song.
EA: It kind f catches your attention too, when you hear it. Who’s dead? Who’s Sara? And then you find out it’s just a misheard lyric from a song.
Watch the Video for Dead Sara’s ‘Weatherman’