UK outfit DiE are literally no bullshit. This is a band of punks playing stripped-back hardcore in its finest form.
Kicking off in Brighton a few years ago with core members operating under the VEXED moniker, a parting of ways and a few new connections saw the rise of DiE in 2013 – marked by the release of a self-titled EP and a series of devastating shows. With another offering under their belts this year, the VEXED EP is a mix of new and old – drawing material from the former band, on top of fresh additions.
This is a four-piece that really don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks or about riding the trend wave, and it shows in the best possible way. CVLT Nation caught up with drummer Chris Stanley shortly after DiE made an appearance at the Not Yet Dead Festival in Toronto…
CVLT: Can you give me a brief rundown of who’s involved in the band?
Chris: Tim Dense is on bass, Luke Adkins is on vocals, Christopher Stanley is on drums and Liam Fox is on guitar. We have a revolving door policy on guitarists, but we are hoping Mr Fox will be the man to permanently fill the void, so to speak. As far as each member’s involvement, I like to think we all bring a certain amount of je ne sais quoi to the folly – except for Luke.
The core of the band up to this point has been myself, Luke and Tim. But I feel now with Liam involved, we have another core member of the Manson Family. Like I said, we have had loads of different guitarists, with our friend Ralph being the mainstay up until recently. The guitarists thus far read like this: Hector (SUDOR), Ralph (NO), Ski (TREMOURS, THE SMEAR), Rob Everything (THE SMEAR), Charlie Fresh (VIOLENT REACTION, ARMS RACE) and Liam Fox (THE FLEX, PERSPEX FLESH).
Tell me the story of how the band all met and started playing music together?
DiE started when I moved down from London to Brighton. I wanted to have a band based in Brighton, which lasted about six months until everyone decided to go and live in shittier cities, but hey ho. Our friend Hector from Spain was living in town at the time, so I asked him if he’d be into the idea of starting a hardcore band with me. I’d met Luke previously through Tim, who I was still playing with in VEXED and one thing led to another – conversations were had, meals were eaten, drinks were drunken and hey presto.
To be honest, the idea was to try and play a few shows and maybe just do a tape at first, as Hector was only in the UK for a short amount of time. As it happens, we would force him to drink punishment brandy at practice when he made a mistake and it all got a bit much for poor Hector, and he left swiftly never to be heard from again. Sorry Hector.
I think the intent is to put out records that we consider to be good – that will always be the number one priority. Leave whatever skidmark we can on UKHC, then get out. We won’t be around for too long and I think it’s best to keep it that way. I don’t think the words ‘artistically’ or ‘future’ should be used when referring to DiE, if I’m honest.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the VEXED EP. Has it lived up to your personal expectation of what you wanted for this release?
Personally, I’d say the new record probably came out better than I expected it to. Only because with the first 7-inch, we worked on those songs and recorded them over-and-over until we were happy with the results. At that time, three-quarters of the band were living in the same city, we practiced regularly and all the rest of it. Whereas now, we are scattered all over the country in three different cities, which makes things difficult. That being said, we were pretty determined that the new songs wouldn’t suck, and we put a lot of time and thought into it, which I hope has paid off. I think, individually, the people in this band have done some pretty horrible things and some of us might not be well-liked by certain groups of people. But the one thing we all collectively care about is writing good songs and putting in the effort to make records that we’d wanna listen to. That’s the most important thing for me.
The band chose to hit up Jonah Suicide (Fucked Up/Career Suicide) this time around on engineering duties. How’d that come about?
I would marry Jonah if the universe permitted it to be so. We all thought he did a great job with our first record, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess. Tim’s known Jonah from years gone by and it just worked out that he has been in the UK both times we’ve recorded and, luckily enough, he’s had the patience to record with us. I think everyone in the band’s a fan of the stuff he’s recorded in the past – for example, the Urban Blight 12-inch – so it was a no-brainer.
“I think for some of us in the band who aren’t the most talented musicians around, working with Jonah is definitely a healthy experience. I personally have at least one crisis of confidence episode where I lose my shit throughout each recording session. But Jonah always manages to put me at ease, even when I’m on take 347 and I can tell he wants to kick me off the drum stool and shove a stick up my hoop. As for working with him again, if the circumstances are right and the planets align then I’d definitely like to get him in once more. Although there are some people in the UK right now doing some great things on the recording front, so maybe British jobs for British people would be a nice idea. Jokes.
The band chose to record at Audio Underground Studios again. Tell me about how the recording process went this time around…
Audio Underground Studios is literally just a rehearsal space. For those who don’t know, it sounds pretty professional. But I guess the cat’s out the bag now. A more appropriate name would perhaps be ‘Stinky Mouldy Busted Gear Studios’. We probably spent like 8-10 hours recording, not exactly Freebird. Jonah turns up with his magic recording box and the transformation is complete. The songs are all pretty drilled by the time we put them down. This record was different in that half of the songs we used are from my and Tim’s old band VEXED and the other half were new numbers. Generally, me and him write a song, then get together and painfully critique each other’s work until we can both live with it. So by the time recording comes around, if any of the other guys want to ‘experiment’ or ‘get clever’, then they swiftly receive a moral punch to the brain.
We tend to record two guitar tracks slightly out of tune to one another, which I like to think adds a bit of ‘Grrr!!’ to the sound. As for ‘moments’ in the studio, I think most of us struggle to play our instruments/vocals, so fun is kept to a minimum, tensions run high and no one’s snorting lines of urine in the corner – let me put it that way.
How has the writing process evolved from what the band did on the self-titled EP (2013)?
As I mentioned, with us all living in different cities, writing songs together has become more difficult. There’s quite a lot of me sending dodgy demos to everyone and getting feedback and whatnot. Myself and Tim have always generally taken care of songwriting duties, with Luke writing most of the lyrics, and having so many different guitarists probably changes how the songs end up. We’ve always been lucky enough to have talented guitarists though, and, as much as it pains me to give Luke a compliment, I generally think the little man has a great voice. I’d say we don’t draw too much from other bands, we pretty much just rip and plagiarize unapologetically.
When we started the band, I purposely went into it with the idea of not trying to emulate any specific band or style and just write angry hardcore. Although we are always gonna be subconsciously influenced by bands we listen to. I get really bogged down with all this trend shit; one minute everyone’s playing Powerviolence, then it’s Crust, then it’s Post Punk and blah blah. I think the irony about punk is that people struggle to think for themselves in regard to making music and fall into the same traps as other genres, trying to play what people wanna hear at certain points in time. Boring.
None of us has any real political or social agenda in regards to making music, our main agenda is writing good songs. I feel like if people want to be enlightened or politically challenged then looking to some white, male, 20-something punks is definitely the wrong place to start. We are all just angry, mad at the world fuck-ups – so that’s what we write about. Write about what you know. It’s hardcore played by punks, don’t ya know?
Does the band have their sights set on their debut full length offering now?
If no one dies, then the next release should hopefully be a full length. It seems like the natural progression after a couple of EPs, and we don’t believe in doing splits. So if we can find enough motivation, then later on next year an LP should be out in the world.
What have you guys got planned gig-wise for 2015?
I think Athens with Hard Skin in January. London at the begging of next year with PRAG from Perth, Western Australia.