Both Brendan Canty and Rich Morel had rich musical histories before coming together as part of Bob Mould’s touring band. Canty is a founding member of Fugazi and Rites of Spring. Morel has his own musical project, collaborated with artists such as Deep Dish and Bob Mould, and has done extensive production and remix work. Realizing that they had a musical connection, they decided to launch their own project, Deathfix. Influences of 70s glam and prog-rock are evident on the Deathfix’s self-titled debut, but the music never comes across as being forced or intentionally retro. Rather, it shows the band taking echoes of the past and working them into their own unique sound.
Deathfix was fleshed out into a full band with the addition of Devin Ocampo (Drums, Backing Vocals) and Mark Cisneros (Bass, percussion, horns). Recently new member Jerry Busher replaced Ocampo (Busher is a long-time friend of the band who has performed with such groups as Fugazi, French Toast, and All Scars.)
The band will be touring in September with Pinback. The following is an email interview with Morel.
Having worked together with Bob Mould, what inspired you to start this project?
RICH: “We met while touring with Bob. Surprisingly, we hadn’t met prior to that even though we live in the same pond. Brendan made the tour a blast. He’s an easy hang. We had a lot of time in the Caddi and the van to talk. We both realized that we shared a lot of the same influences and that we really dug the same artists, bands, writers, actors everything. When Brendan suggested we get together and play I was in.”
Did you have any particular musical goals when you started working together, or were you just open to whatever came naturally out of the collaboration?
RICH: “There was no plan or goal We just got together and started playing and recording rough ideas. Those ideas turned into songs. We’re both very open to letting things happen and develop. Fortunately they did.”
At 7 songs, do you consider your self-titled release an EP or an album?
RICH: “It’s an Album! We segued it and mastered it to fit on side one and side two of the record. It’s only 7 songs but we pushed the limit on each of the sides!”
How would you say Deathfix has evolved from your start in 2009 to what we hear on your album and current live show?
RICH: “The original demos me and Brendan made were a template, a starting point. The addition of Mark and Devin brought in a fantastic improvisational element to the music. With the four of we could experiment with ideas live and let them develop.”
In terms of how your musical influences come through in your music, do you consciously think about how things might be received by audiences of your generation (who may share the points of reference) VS younger listeners (who either may not, or have different perceptions of it)?
RICH: “Not so much. Kids dig deep these days and know where the music they like has evolved from. Its so easy to find music now and to trace connections and connect the dot’s of it’s influences. That said, it’s always exciting to me when people hear a reference in the record that I was not conscience of.
“Music histories are so rich now. When Tame Impala released the single “Elephant” with a remix by Todd Rundgren it made sense to me. It probably turned some Tame Impala fans on to Rundgren’s incredible work and made it clear that Tame Impala were fans of his.”
Since you’re involved with other projects, how much of your time have you been devoting to Deathfix? Do you see it as a ‘side project’ or is it/does it have the potential to become your focus?
RICH: “Deathfix is not a side project. Whenever artists have a history of other work people tend to view things in that light. While I do lots of other things Deathfix, is a central focus. The touring this fall and the writing for the next record are what I’m most excited about . That said, the other work I do, the remixing, production and djing does influence what I bring into Deathfix, both on the writing and production side.”
How did the rest of the line-up come together? Are there particular ways that you feel Devin and Mark have helped shape the current sound?
RICH: “Mark had played sax on a Yoko Ono remix I had done. When I worked with him on that, I loved his sensibilities and manner. Brendan was friends and had worked with Devin. With the addition of Mark and Devin, the songs developed into the band sound you hear on the record. Both of those guys brought so much to the table it was inspiring. We were playing live, so dynamics and movements naturally evolved. Mark and Devin brought a fantastic dimension to the material. Bands are funny because it’s the x factor of collaboration that makes the sound. It’s hard to pinpoint it because it’s so in the combination.”
What made you choose the name Deathfix?
RICH: “Brendan suggested the name. I loved it because he said we could pair it with feminine imagery like Roxy Music . The hard name with soft imagery made sense to me right away. It seemed so right with the music.
I set up a tumbler where we put images that illustrate this – http://deathfix.tumblr.com/”
As you’ve been involved with more electronic music as well, I’m curious as to your attitude towards and approach to using technology within Deathfix?
RICH: “We’re all into bringing in more electronic elements. There’s quite a bit on the first record actually. Everybody’s very open – no rules just ideas!”
You’re about to go on tour – what can we expect from the live show? Will you be doing any songs not on the release?
RICH: “We are in rehearsals now. They’re will be some surprises!”