Dead History, well, is a new band with a ton of history (sorry). The post-hardcore quintet is made up of musicians who came out of the hardcore and emo scenes of the '90s.
I think it would be helpful to give you a quick rundown of Dead History's lineup below:
- Vocalist Brad Senne | you might know him from: Reach, Picturesque, solo artist)
- Guitarist Matthew Rezac | you might know him from: Floodplain, The Book of Dead Names
- Drummer David Jarnstrom | you might know him from: Gratitude, Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack), BNLX, Rad Owl, Attention
- Bassist John McEwen | you might know him from: Align, Story of the Sea, Sunday Flood, Short Timer
- Guitarist Brock Specht | you might know him from: Floodplain
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk Dead History. "In October 2000, I borrowed a 4-track recorder and a drum machine and wrote and recorded a few songs in the vein of some of my favorite bands—primarily Quicksand and Texas is the Reason—purely for the fun of it," Rezac tells No Echo about the band's origin story.
After Rezac passed the old demo along to drummer Jarnstrom in 2017, the ball got rolling. "I really liked what I heard—it reminded me of the melodic post-hardcore and early emo stuff I obsessed over as a teenager in the ‘90s," says the drummer. "I was really busy with multiple music projects—though nothing like what he’d just shared with me. I said I would find a way to make time for Dead History if we could recruit some very specific people who would fit the sound we were going for."
Jarnstrom continues: "I’d played with John McEwen (bass) in the early to mid-'00s in Align, a fairly popular MPLS-based band very much inspired by Quicksand, Helmet, Snapcase, et al." Rezac takes over: "Brock Specht (guitar) and I both came up in the Sioux Falls scene of the early ’90s, and had played in a number of bands together (Floodplain, The Attica Underground, etc.), so we already had an established chemistry—and I knew we had similar tastes in music."
"Brad Senne was the only name thrown out for a possible singer—David and I loved his ’90s bands Reach and Picturesque—and it was decided if Brad said “yes” we would give it a go, if he said “no” we would forget the idea all together."
Luckily, the vocalist was game: "When Matthew contacted me about singing in a post-hardcore band, the timing was perfect," Senne tells No Echo. "The political environment had me really stirred up and screaming in a hardcore band seemed like a good way to get some frustration out. I was totally up for it but wasn’t sure if I could actually pull it off again. It had been a long time since I sang like that."
So, what does Dead History really sound like? Take a listen to the track "Empty Eyes" from their forthcoming debut album to hear for yourself:
In terms of specific influences, the Dead History folks sent No Echo the following list: Quicksand, Texas is the Reason, Hum, Sparkmarker, My Bloody Valentine, Shiner, Swervedriver, Failure.
Jarnstrom talks about the chemistry when it came time to work on the material for the Dead History album: "Within a couple practices, we’d gelled quickly enough to not only interpret Matthew’s demo songs, but also establish an organic identity and sound—spacious, groovy, muscular, melodic—and write a bunch of new material as well. We had the workings of maybe 10-12 songs, but the eight that made the record were the most polished. We test-ran them at a handful of shows before recording."
How about the lyrical content? Senne offers this up: "The subject matter ranges from political observations ('Pushing Friction'), struggling to maintain balance in life ('High-Wire Act'), honest self-reflection ('Sleep Safe') and the curious way in which humans interact with each other ('Where Do We Hide?'). All the lyrics were written during the last three years so they really reflect the way I was seeing the world during an increasingly turbulent time.
"The way politicians use division for their own greed and power; it was a total shock to see so many people being duped by a cult of personality. I’ve really learned a lot about myself and also about the way others see things. It changed my outlook on life and in many ways, it has empowered me to do better."
It's still early days for them, but how has the Minneapolis music scene recieved Dead History so far? "We only played a handful of low-key shows just to cut our teeth before we switched gears to focus on recording," Rezac explains. "Then the pandemic hit during the mixing process, so everything has been in a holding pattern. The first few shows we played were definitely modeled on the shows of our youth—based more around friendships, connections, and a diverse range of sounds, rather than having bills of bands all coming from the same genres.
"We have a lot of friends from the ’90s/’00s scenes that are still active and we’ve been making a point to play out with their current projects whenever possible—regardless if we fit together sonically or not. We’ll pick up this thread when live shows are a thing again."
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