Interview: Death on Wednesday


interview by richie

No money, no car, no job, but I’m in a band. The slogan seems to speak out at the world’s expectations of success as a whole. In a world where status and material possessions seem to dictate worth, many extend the comment to other areas of life, like a large home or a permanent place in the infamous nine-to-five world. And though the world may be hell-bent on their successful criteria, Death on Wednesday drafts their own success story.

Infusing rock n roll into a barrage of punk, pop, country and rockabilly, taking cues from influences spanning from the Misfits to Morrissey, DOW are an up and coming four piece that pride themselves on a powerful, explosive live show. No matter which way their story seems to turn, the band will reside knowing that a tradition of hard work and dedication are what led them to earn the success they’ll share.

After their incredibly energetic set at the Epicentre on April 26th, I sat down to get to know the band a little better. Here’s what vocalist Nate Lawler, guitarist Jeff Saenz, bassist Kevin Smith and drummer Matt Rainwater had to say about a five year journey through the all-encompassing lifestyle of rock n roll-through name changes, scene politics, and spare time.

So let’s get this started…How long have you guys been a band?
NL: Three years as Death on Wednesday…

Your original name was The Accidentals…er…
JS: Yeah, first it was The Accidentals, then The Redliners, then…

Why the name switches?
JS: Other bands had the names. Back then it was at the point where we were putting shit out ourselves and it didn’t really matter much back then if there was a blues band in Florida by the name of The Redliners. But then it got to the point where we were actually going to put out a record on SideCho, which was our first release, “Buying the Lie.” We couldn’t release it as The Redliners because of that same reason, so we had to change the name…
NL: Just name changes, it was all good.

How was dealing with SideCho?
JS: It was awesome; it’s now a subsidiary of Vagrant
NL: We’ve actually maintained a relationship with them, it’s great. We’re good friends with James and all the guys at Militia Group. They love us, we love them, it’s rad.

I read somewhere that you guys were using a fill-in drummer…
NL: No, no, no, he’s permanent now. This is Matt.

How was parting with your old drummer?
JS: It was extremely mutual, extremely peaceful. We’re all still friends, it’s totally cool.
NL: We were really lucky to find Matt.
MR: Yeah, you’re lucky to have me.
[Nate continues]: Him and Jeff have been friends since they were little kids. We try to keep a really tight-knit group.
JS: Matt and I started our first band together when we were 12 or 13.

What other bands have you guys been in?
MR: I played in a band called Bullets and Octane. Then there was Dead Radio, Second Guess, Bella Lugosi, Two Cents Short, Sister Charles, Ripjoint…
[Nate laughs, Matt just keeps going…]
JS: Those are some terrible band names. Except maybe Bella Lugosi.

We got to talking about the band’s influences and how that’s come through to develop their sound…
NL: The sound of my voice comes through as like a Danzig, Morrissey, Smoking’ Popes style…the music…
JS: We take from so many influences like The Stones, The Clash
MR: Ween and Slayer.
[Everyone laughs]
NL: We try to keep it simple, simple rocking’ power chords with strong melodies…We wanna be able to do a pop song, next to a punk rock songs, next to a rock song. We don’t fucking care. We want to play music we enjoy and avoid being nixed into any specific style.
JS: WE want eclectic albums like “London Calling” or “Exile on Main Street.”
MR: We don’t’ want to be classified as a pop-punk band or as an indie band. You just have to generalize it as rock n roll and let it all fall under that umbrella.
[There’s a long pause, then Matt continues…] That was the most profound thing I’ve said in two weeks.
NL: We’re just gonna play what we’re going to play, and if it works it works. That’s basically our deal.

What do you guys do other than music?
JS: This is pretty much it, man. We get fired from jobs, work at record stores, restaurants, construction, teach guitar lessons before we leave again.
NL: Yeah, I’m pretty much fucked right now. I have no cash in my bank account…
[Shows me a sticker on his wallet that says “No money, no car, no job, but I’m in a band.”] This is our drummer right now. When all four or more of these fit you’re like, “I’m really fucking rock n’ roll.”

What’s the feeling you get realizing that music you put out influences others?
ALL: That’s it, right on, that’s it right there.
JS: That’s why anybody starts a band in the first place, because they get inspired or influenced by someone else. You know what’s really rad is that I grew up listening to bands like Social Distortion, UL, Face To Face and shit like that. Now-Trevor Keith produced our album, we toured with Social Distortion, Unwritten Law are friends of ours. And it’s neat to feel like we’re on a level with these guys.

Any records you’ve been listening to on tour?
KS: Bruce Springsteen.
JS: Yeah, we listen to the boss a lot.
KS: The Explosion…
JS: The new Rocket, the new AFI. Journey’s greatest hits.

Any albums absolutely off limits?
JS: Some say The Murder City Devils, but Matt and I disagree.
KS, defensively: It’s not that I don’t like the band, just not as much as you guys.
JS: We don’t listen to any Great White, we want a safe tour. Definitely no Dixie Chicks either.

Any closing remarks you’d like to leave your readers with?
NL: I’d just like to say that we’re trying hard to be in a band that’s legitimate. WE don’t wanna be a band that’s going to sell out and sign to a major just because we’re gaining interest.
JS: We wanna be a band that tours.
MR: We’re in it for the long haul.
NL: We’re not a fucking buzz band.
JS: Yeah, don’t buy into the fucking hype, man. Grab some friends, write some tunes, hit the road.
MR: Quit your day job. No money, no car, no job, but I’m in a band.