Enjoy a Dropdead world premiere of 2 never-before-heard tracks taken from the forthcoming Fighting For Life, DROPDEAD / SYSTEMATIC DEATH split EP as part of Dropdead‘s 20th Anniversary EP Series. Enjoy high quality streams of new songs ‘Foundation’ and ‘The Final Chapter’ below a new interview with guitarist Ben Barnett and singer/lyricist Bob Otis. This, as the band prepares to play a series of US shows including Blow The Scene Fest – PAWS benefit this Saturday in Philadelphia, PA with Iron Reagan, Dead In The Dirt, Masakari and many more! Without further ado, let’s hear from Ben and Bob. Scroll to bottom for track premieres!
Joshua BTS: Greetings. Thank you for taking a moment to touch base with our readers from around the world as our first annual Blow The Scene Fest: Artists For Animals is just around the corner on June 29th at The Broad Street Ministry. For those just tuning in, please introduce yourself and instrument of choice with Rhode Island political punk mainstays, Dropdead.
Ben Barnett: Ben, guitar for 20+ years though it doesn’t seem like that long.
Bob Otis: I’m Bob Otis..Singer..Screamer…Finger pointer .
Joshua BTS: I’d like to go in-depth for a moment on some of the current / forthcoming releases Dropdead is currently involved with. Let’s start with this Dropdead / Systematic Death spit. I understand Dropdead‘s featured tracks ‘Foundation’ and ‘Final Chapter’? were started in 2004 and finished in 2012 and finally put to wax with Kurt Ballou at Godcity Studio as you recorded your last split with Converge. What’s the writing history behind these tracks? Who sparked the musical fire? And how many revisions have they undergone before you laid them down in 2012?
Ben Barnett: Back in summer of 2004 we did a West coast tour with Look Back and Laugh, coinciding with the release of the Dropdead / Look Back And Laugh 7″. We had 12 tracks written at that point, and Devon‘s looming departure to teach English in Japan for a few years (Devon was at the time the bass player and long time member), we decided to go in with Kurt and track the songs in case we didn’t get a chance down the line. They sat shelved as we felt they weren’t 100% at the time. Hindsight, they weren’t, just a few didn’t make the cut. We decided to finish the good ones for release as a series of 20th anniversary split EPs‘s with some friends bands.
Ben Barnett: For lyrics, that’s Bob‘s department, but on these tracks he’s been singing much more clearly so the words hit home a little more. Artwork for the split with Converge was done by Jacob Bannon from Converge, black and silver motif wich fits with the DD aesthetic. The Systematic Death art was done by Sugi, well known for doing other art for HC/Punk bands in Japan and elsewhere. The Ruidosa and Brainoil splits I will be handling myself.
Bob Otis: Subjugation…political and religious manipulation….slavery of the mind and spirit…
revolution, dissent and abuse of power. Ben always handles the artwork…I always
tackle the lyrics.
Joshua BTS: How did you guys come to link up with Systematic Death and why the choice to do this particular split with them?
Ben Barnett: A few years ago I drove them for a few days along with Tragedy for a couple East coast shows. Later they came back over for another few East coast dates I set up with Dropdead and the Inmates. We were asked to do a split then, but the tracks weren’t finished. I released a post-tour EP for them (Systema Seven Ep) and when the tracks were finally done, we offered to do that split and they accepted.
Bob Otis: We definitely like to pick bands that we are fans of, we have the unique opportunity
of not only being musicians in the hardcore punk movement, but being HC fans too. If you look at our past discography you’ll see every band we did splits with we love and listen too. Systematic Death is one of the classic bands we dig from Japan, so they were an obvious choice.
Joshua BTS: Where and when can fans snag a copy of this split with Systematic Death?
Ben Barnett: I’d say a safe bet is August at some point. All DD stuff always available via www.armageddonshop.com
Joshua BTS: I want to put your other current 7″ split with Ruidosa Inmundicia from Austria under the same lens. I understand you contributed 3 unreleased tracks from the same recording sessions with Kurt Ballou and GodCity for this effort.How do you link up with Ruidosa Inmundicia and again- Why the decision to work them specifically on this split? When and where will fans be able to snag this puppy?
Bob Otis: We toured with them in Europe several years back and I know personally that I fucking loved what they were doing- Angry, high speed, relentless hardcore, with screaming female vocals. Super nice people with good politics and killer music- They were another obvious choice to record with, as we are fans of the band..
Ben Barnett: We only have two tracks, Ruidosa has three. Again, we met therm in Europe a few years ago on a short tour we did. Awesome people, kick ass band. Like LOs Crudos with Carolina‘s ripping vocals. Great people, great band. The idea for the splits was to do projects with a few bands we like both as people and musically. Again, August sometime for this one, they will be on tour here for a week or so on the east coast in September, our friend Chris Moore from DC is organizing it. We will be playing NYC and Boston with them, get em at their shows for sure.
Joshua BTS: When you entered GodCity Studios with Kurt- Did you know the songs would be broken in separate releases? And did you approach the different sets of songs differently during the sessions to reflect the mood of the separate split releases?
Bob Otis: No. When these were initially recorded they were done as one session. Only when we got back in to rerecording did we start kicking around the idea of doing separate splits. I think the mood is the same on all of the sessions..fucking ANGRY.
Ben Barnett: Originally we were just recording the songs to document them in case things with Devon got to the point where we wouldn’t be able to schedule wise. We had no plans further than that.
Joshua BTS: Anything drastically different to the recording experience with Kurt Ballou vs. your previous releases? And what did the overall process look like with Kurt? Do you track to a metronome? All together live? What?s the vibe?
Ben Barnett: Kurt is awesome. From the baasement days in Allston, up to now in his new location in Salem… Kurt has always been great to work with. He gets what we’re doing. We record live, add extra guitar and vocals after as needed. Nothing too fancy. There’s always vegan snack runs involved…
Bob Otis: Kurt and Bill Miller have been my favorite guys to record with so far. Bill is a lot looser than Kurt and definitely had a stoner vibe going in the studio and I don’t mean that as a slight to him, that’s just his style. Kurt is super chill but also a serious and professional guy once you get in there. He definitely pushed me to get the most out of me, but always in a positive way. He’s a great guy and he knows I fucking HATE singing in the studio. He pushes, but he’s not a bully about it.
Back in the day when we recorded the 1st Lp Don Fury immediately started pushing us in a very hard way right off the bat and I definitely wasn’t ready for it emotionally back then and I didn’t have a good time recording that record. Maybe you’re not suppose too when you’re making an angry hardcore record, I don’t know. I just remember it being a negative experience.
Joshua BTS: I understand the last of these split series will include a work with Brainoil. Can you give a sneak into what fans might expect there? We’ll go more in-depth on this release as she draws nearer..
Ben Barnett: The split with Brainoil, I suggested this one. I think they’re an underrated and overlooked Bay Area band. They have always been most gracious in helping us out wherever we play with them, totally humble and sweet people. Musically, they are more on the sludgy metal side of things. No reason people that like great underground music shouldn’t cross the boundaries often, to keep minds and ears open. Brainoil is killer. They just finished up their side, and mastering should be done by the end of June.
Joshua BTS: Dropdead like many of the artists selected for Blow The Scene Fest 2013: Artists For Animals is known for an above-average focus on political, as well as humanitarian issues. Obviously you guys are animal lovers- What are some current issues or causes, whether they be humanitarian or animal-related, really have your focus right now?
Ben Barnett: I can only speak for myself. I’ve just been trying to be a better human being as time goes on and years go by. It’s a daily thing. We are all veggie or vegan, we all do what we can personally in our lives we can to help out friends and family. Kind of a lot to list, but it’s a daily thing to think about what you do and how it affects others and the world as a whole. It never hurts to try to do life better.
Bob Otis: I spend the majority of my time working for the rights of people with developmental disabilities. That is one of my main causes that I advocate for when I’m not singing about the subjects that DROPDEAD supports through our music. I work for a place in Rhode island called Resources for Human Development (RHD-RI) and it’s something I believe in and have a lot of passion supporting. We provide a safe and prosperous place for people to develop life skills and also their art and music skills through our specially designed programs unique to RHD. It’s an amazingly gratifying place to work for and it’s taught me a lot about having empathy for people who are struggling with disabilities.
Ben Barnett: Probably the set we’ve been playing. If people want to request songs they can hit us up ahead of time and we’ll see what we can do.
Joshua BTS: What else does Dropdead have slated as we head into the latter part of 2013?
Ben Barnett: Shows in Philly (PAWS Benefit) & Brooklyn in late June. Early August we do Boston and New Hampshire. Mid-August we play Deadfest in Oakland. September a couple shows with Ruidosa Inmundicia. October maybe The Fest in Gainesville. Plus getting all the EP’s out by end of summer.
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for once again taking time with BTS readers from around the world, we really enjoy linking up with you guys and look forward to want you have coming down the pipeline. Any final thoughts before we check off?
Ben Barnett: Stoked to play the PAWS show and see friends. We won’t say no to any vegan or veggie treats anyone wants to bring our way. Thanks man!
EXCLUSIVE DROPDEAD SONG PREMIERES
Taken from forthcoming DROPDEAD / SYSTEMATIC DEATH split EP
Get it at Armageddon Shop this August!
DROPDEAD – “Foundation”
DROPDEAD – “The Final Chapter”
Dropdead related links:
Interview by BTS’s Joshua T. Cohen
Photos by BTS’s Dante Torrieri taken fro our exclusive Dropdead, Nasum Philly Photo Special.