Interview: Dead Sara
Sat, 26 Jan 2013 11:05:47
Dead Sara possess the power to change rock 'n' roll.
Singer Emily Armstrong wields one of the strongest voices in the genre right now, and her voice resounds with divine power on the group's self-titled debut. However, she manages to preserve that vibrancy on stage. Seeing Dead Sara is like a full contact sport. They're lock and loaded with effusive energy that's always almost about to bubble over.
It's no surprise they're supporting Muse right now.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Dead Sara singer Emily Armstrong talks performing live, touring with Muse, the next set of songs, and more.
What's your mindset like going into a live show?
You can't think about it too much. That's what it's about. We have this "give it all you've got" mentality for every show. Leave everything on the fucking stage. It's more about that. Let's just do it. We don't overthink anything. The only thing that really changes is the set list, depending on how much time we have and who we're playing before. That will change. Aside from that, it's about giving every little ounce you can.
Does the set list change every night?
It doesn't change every night, but I don't think we ever go more than three nights with the same set anymore because we get bored. We either throw in a new song or one we need to practice off the record [Laughs]. It all depends on how much time we have. On the tour with The Offspring, we've got a half-an-hour. We can't do too drastic of a change in that case, but we mix it up ever so slightly.
What's the art of sequencing songs for a show?
We'll come up with the set list right before we play. You can look at the crowd and know how enthusiastic they are. If they're not, it's not their fault. They don't know who we are, depending on what market we're in. So we'll open up with "Sorry For It All" because it gets people into the music. If it seems like a punk rock type of vibe, we'll go out with a rocker. Then, we go from there. Whatever the first song is, we can determine the other songs after. It all depends on the first one we put in though. We try to make the set have some depth so it doesn't get boring. That's a big thing for us. I hate when things are predictable. Playing the same set every night becomes too predictable for us. That gets boring. It really depends on the way we feel too. Maybe I don't want to play guitar too much and I just want to run around. We'll change that up based on our feelings.
What's been your favorite gig recently?
We played Trees in Dallas, TX. It was part of this whole five-week run we did. We headlined Trees and sold it out. It was one of the best shows I've ever been a part of. Seeing the crowd was insane! We'd been there once before, and the people knew all of the words. I got to step back on the breakdown of "Sorry For It All", and they were singing it. Thinking about it now, I get goosebumps and become teary eyed. How awesome is that? We were all so floored. I couldn't sleep. We played a little over an hour. That was one of our longest sets. We're not a headlining band yet, but we're getting there. It's great to play for that long and have people know the words, moshing, and jumping in the crowd. That's what it's all about. All of that hard work pays off. It's so cool that was the last show of this run. Our ears were shot at how loud the crowd was. We were going to the hotel saying, "Oh God, I can't hear anything, but it's awesome! My ears are ringing!"
What's the story behind "Test On My Patience"?
We play that song almost every night because it's a solid rock song. I never get sick of it. That's an old Dead Sara song. Even before the dudes came in the band, Siouxsie Medley and I had that riff. When the guys came in, the song was complete. It's literally our go-to song. It sounds great when we do it acoustically. If we open the set with a rock number, it's going to be that one. It's a good, pump-up track. First, I had the lyrics as melody placers and some things I identify with. A couple of years later, I finished the lyrics. It's not necessarily cohesive [Laughs]. The flow is the main thing. There are so many different parts. A lot can happen in three years to a song and to somebody.
Where did "Timed Blues" come from?
I wrote that song when I was a more of a folk singer. Siouxsie and I had started the band, but I was still doing coffee shops as a singer-songwriter. I was in my late teens trying to figure out life. Obviously, I wasn't doing too well at the time. Fast forward to now, the guys liked that riff. I kept those lyrics. It's about having to go through your fears no matter what people say. You have to figure what things mean for yourself. If you're going to sit and less to anybody, that's one way to not get where you want to go. Just go. It might get you into trouble, but at least you know. That's what it was about in a broad sense.
What have you been listening to?
I was listening to The Cars. Meg Myers is a local hero I'm listening to. Then there's some Cheap Trick. I'm all over the place.
How stoked are you to tour with Muse?
We geek out about it. Their drummer was talking about us in an interview. He lives in L.A. now and he said, "It's cool they play Rage Against the Machine all the time here, and there's this band Dead Sara". He nonchalantly said it. We thought it was a longshot, but we reached out! From there, we got it. It's so amazing. I don't think it's quite hit me yet.
Have you begun writing the next record?
We've been working on it with any of our off-time. We're writing ideas. We want to write a lot before we get in with a producer. We want to be extra ready and have a lot to choose from.
What's your favorite Dead Sara song?