Thursday, April 30, 2009

Double Dares , In-Jokes & Cultural Dissipation :: An Interview with Dead Wife

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Dead Wife are a young and exciting punk band from Montreal. They've only been playing together for a few months but already have a record in the works and are quickly becoming the toast of our city with their catchy and dirty riffage.

Dead Wife are Ashly (bass) , Lisa (guitar) , Rebecca (vox) and Walter (drums)

Chloe : How did Dead Wife come to be?

Rebecca : Basically Dead Wife was an idea Walter and I had been kicking around for a little while last year but it had never evolved past he and I jamming together in our basement. He would be pounding out on drums while I was playing weird things on keys and occasionally screaming on a mic. We eventually decided we needed someone on guitar to help us find new direction and Lisa was one of the first people we thought of. We jammed once soon after and it was alright. One Sunday night last December we were sitting around Shaun's kitchen table and Ashly was there too. Shaun was telling us about his new band Ultrathin and how they had booked their own debut show at the Friendship Cove for the following Saturday. I asked if we could play too if we had a song ready. It was more as a joke than anything because we had only jammed once. Shaun's a good friend and he was all for it but I don't think he actually thought we would pull it off. Ashly piped in saying that she played bass and she would like to play with us sometime. So we set something up for that Tuesday and managed to write a song. By Thursday night we had two more and we played all three of them that Saturday night at the Cove.
We felt a lot of support from our friends who were there that night so we decided we needed to keep going and braved the cold of our unheated basement all winter and kept booking shows.

Lisa : Ditto what Rebecca wrote. I think that DW was almost the result of a self-imposed dare... We're all just the right combination of craftiness and hard-headedness, and we're all punxx, which helped. Jamming and writing a few songs, then playing a show a few days later was something we just all wanted to do. Then we realized it was really fun making music together and decided to keep going. D*W*S*Y*H*F, you know?

We practice outta tiny amps, Becky sings through a Radio shack mic. We also lack wheels (1/2 of us lack motor vehicle skills).

Chloe: You guys are quickly becoming one of the most talked about bands in Montreal's underground , and had a triumphant first outta town show in Toronto. Any plans to hit the road and dominate other cities?

Rebecca : I think playing live from the get-go is important in the way we're evolving as a band because we had to get over insecurities almost immediately but at the same time it can be horribly overwhelming. That's why I don't know if I would like to call our first show in Toronto "triumphant". I mean I am proud of us for being able to play another city only months after we started but I think because we've come pretty far in a very short amount of time we have high expectations for ourselves and we're aware when we don't meet them. Some of Dead Wife may not agree with that but it's how I feel about it. I'm happy we're going back in June; I don't want to say it's to 'redeem' ourselves...but...I think we've come a certain distance since that show. In any case we're excited to be playing there again.

Ashly: I'm really hoping we can manage to plan a few dates for the summer, since we're all starving students and stuff, this is pretty much the only time we can think about getting a few gigs in other cities. I kinda made it my personal #1 priority for the summer to play more shows and write a bunch more songs. But first, we really gotta think about gear and wheels. It's awesome being poor.

Walter : We're going back to Toronto in June to play the opening for the Jesjit's hot zine Free Drawings. We get to play with our pals Gay Beast and are very excited.

We want to play T.O again, because, like Becky said (in so many words) we partied too hard on our friends front porch and then stumbled in the show in a fashionable mess and played a set that I only sort of remember happening. We're going to T.O this time with clear minds and spirits- but will probably have a beer or two to loosen up anyways.

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Chloe : What are the plans for the Dead Wife record?

Lisa: I really hope to be able to put together a nice little package with the songs we've recorded... Like, not just a bunch of songs pressed onto vinyl or burned on a CD, but a RECORD - a record of a time, and a place, and the people implicated. We wanna get our friends involved, but its kinda secret for now.... not sure if we're going to go the DIY route, put out on my label ( Psychic Handshake ), or maybe someone else's?

Walter : The last set be played was recorded and we haven't even heard it yet! But a Live Cassette seems like it would be fun. We would want to release it on Campaign for Infinity, our pal Bwagg's stellar tape label.

Chloe: How was working with Graham Van Pelt?

Lisa : Working with GVP was a breeze! None of us knew him at all before, but I felt very at ease with him. He's a pro.

Ashly: Yeah, working with Graham was a pretty awesome experience. He's an all around good dude, and he enjoyed the booze and chips we got him.

Walter: G.V.P is a gentleman. He had lots of great ideas in the studio and had the quiet self-assurance of a man who knows what the Deal is. We gave him some whiskey, a bag of ruffles and a bar of dark chocolate in exchange for his time and effort.We luv u G.V.P
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Chloe: Does gender inform your aesthetic or inner band dynamics?

Rebecca: Well I know we've been refuting the 'chick band' label. It's like why do we have to be set apart from a scene because most of us in the band are girls? That just seems too old school. We don't need anyone to pat us on the head or tell us how it is, you know?. I mean we need help and advice sometimes because we're new at this stuff and not because we're girls.
As for an inner band dynamic I'm not sure its gender that really matters. Then again, I've never been a guy in an all guy band. I must say though, we look fantastic in dresses. As far as music goes, we come from a variety of backgrounds so there's always this push and pull over a dichotomy in styles but I think we've been able to use that to our advantage. I know my vocals sound girlie but I like to imagine them as an entity other than myself that isn't subject to the same things as I am. At the same time I like to feel like they have this power over a room that only girls seem to possess. Lol.

Lisa:Heh heh, are you asking if the girls gang up on Walter? It's a pretty level playing field, I think.

As far as musically... I really don't think that our music translates any kind of political agenda... it's inspired by the internet, TV gossip shows, in-jokes....

If someone were to ask me if there should be more girls and more queers stepping up and starting bands, I would say YEAH. I do think that bands made up of girls and/or queers aren't given the same credibility just due to the labels associated with their inherent identities... but that's not why I joined a band. I wanted to play punk songs.

Walter: Girls and queers have been an integral part of punk music since the get-go, so I don't think it's anything mind-blowing that three girls and a homo "totally started a band omg". If Dead Wife are a girl band then I guess The Ramones are a boy band right?

Conversely, we're not afraid of showing our love for Versace, Star Magazine and a bunch of other stuff punks are supposed to hate. We're living in 2009 where basically anything can be inspiring. I mean, cultural dissipation anyone?

Chloe: What are the short term goals you all have for the band?

Walter: We wanna write new stuff, which kind of just happens in the first hour of band practice without really speaking to each other or saying anything. We just kind of plug in and see what happens.

Chloe: What inspires you?

Lisa: I'm inspired a lot by the bummers in my life. There are a few songs I brought to the table that hit the scrap bin, because they were too moody. lolz. We also come up with lots of our stuff spontaneously, on the spot.

Walter: One of my biggest inspirations in fashion and music is the endless appropriation of genres and styles oozing into one another. Having to negotiate an identity in this undefined space is what makes it interesting to be in a punk band, where your ability to define yourself is intrinsically rooted in what you love.

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Dead Wife play live!
Montreal May 20th @ Friendship Cove w/ Tyvek , Black Feelings , Grand Trine
Toronto June 11th @ The Pound w/ Gay Beast and Brides (Free Drawings launch party)
Montreal June 17 at Sala w/ Mika Miko , Demon's Claws , The Coathangers


  1. The Coathangers are from the ATL, yeee-ah!

  2. Postmodernism is at best a delusion--or maybe I'm missing a joke--but this is an excellent interview. FUN PROVOKE THINK.

  3. -- my band played with the coathangers at sxsw , they were awesome

  4. DUDES! THIS IS AWESOME! Can't wait to play w/ you..and to see this band blossom blossom! XOXO

  5. Do What Sets Your Heart Free! D*W*S*Y*H*F

  6. *quoting Dead Wife song titles in normal conversation since 2008*

  7. More bands should form in my living room

  8. ^ shaun , i think you have the makings of a great reality show right there1

  9. i just want to add my love to this love-in

    xo Lucy