Dead Register’s 2018 album Captive made some of my top ten lists and is still in regular rotation. Today we’re lucky to be premiering the video for the song “Ender” from that album. To coincide with this premiere, I caught up with the band to gain insight into the making of it, as well as the influences and creative process that colored the Captive EP.
What is the “Ender” video about, and how did you seek to encompass the theme of the song?
Avril: The end of times, life and death, and that life is just as bleak as death. It’s dirty and nothing matters in the end. We were shooting in Atlanta in June in 100 degree heat. Nobody enjoys being alive in that. We were disgusting, so we embraced the filth. We got nasty and dirty and filmed us being in the grime. The location was in a friend’s salvage yard. In the warehouse where we filmed, the former owner was killed by his junkie kids when he cut them off financially. You could look into the office and see where they shot him. That’s the wonderful cycle of life. To create an unnatural feel, we filmed everything at a slower speed and then sped it up to normal, so when you watch it you can tell the motions are jagged and something is off.
Chvasta: Lyrically, the song speaks of love and trying to stay connected with those close to us while there is still opportunity to do so. A lot of our friends are dying. I was specifically thinking of one of Avril’s dear friends, who was also a friend of mine, when I penned this song.
Art Direction is another form of the project’s expression. How did this synthesis come about for you guys? Was it something that developed organically, or part of the band’s mission statement upon forming?
Avril: A little bit of both. It’s one of the very few things where I get the final say. Much unlike the commercial art that I do for a living.
Chvasta: Is commercial art… art?
Avril: This project gives me an excuse to create what I would not otherwise get a chance to. I make what fits the vibe and feel, which tends to be dark, and I guess, for lack of another word, our brand. The subject tends to guide me.
There is a Post-Apocalyptic vibe to the video. Is Science Fiction something that has been an influence?
Avril: Yes, I would not be the person I am today without the sci-fi movies from my childhood. As a kid, I wanted to be Ripley from Alien. Alas, I will never look THAT sexy holding cat in space in my tighty whities. My favorite authors are Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, and William Gibson.
Do you like Phillip K Dick?
Avril: Less his writing, more the movie. Blade Runner was one of the most gorgeous films ever made.
There is an undercurrent of Horror in some of the imagery used, it that an influence?
Avril: Not as much. A major influence on me is Jan Svankmajer, a stop motion artist/filmmaker. He stated that inanimate objects are more interesting and have more life than people. A lot of his characters are inanimate objects. He uses images that are gruesome and skeletal, more akin to body horror. He was a visionary.
Chvasta: We contacted him about collaborating, as he was supposed to be doing one final film. We told him he could just have our music to use (it didn’t happen). I’d say we lean more toward the aesthetic of weird and/or unsettling, rather than overt slasher horror.
I guess as it correlates to movies in terms of music, as I see death metal as the slashers of music – it works just off of aggression. I prefer heavy music much like I prefer my horror, where the darkness of it is sonically heavy, which seems more “heavy” than heavy metal
Chvasta: I tend to be drawn toward music that lets the sonics create the heaviness. Less caveman, more heart. That’s a good bit of what we are doing with Dead Register. Dark-themed, bleak-yet-hopeful sonic heaviness. Lyrical content included. I try to write lyrics from personal experience without making it too personal. Angry tangent: Once someone’s given name is introduced in a song, I can’t relate at all. “Roxxanne” – I do not give a shit about her red light. It is a clever hook, but nothing of merit if it doesn’t come from the heart. If that is what’s in $ting’s heart, then he is one $hallow motherfu¢ker.
For a horror movie that has depth, I would suggest “The House that Jack Built” by Lars Von Trier.
Chvasta: Avril reeeeeally doesn’t like him, but I’d still like to force her to watch it. I’m NOT a Lars Von Trier fan either, but that was a great film. A lot of shock, but still a heavy leaning into psychological horror, which I love.
How is art reflected in your live show?
Avril: We have a background projection of videos that I’ve mostly shot and built for our live show. I tweak it and change it as we go. Our good friend and collaborator Emily Harris is featured in much of it, dancing and contorting. She also contributed some footage. She’s NUMBER ONE.
Chvasta: We keep the lights dim, with floor cans silhouetting us and setting the vibe. We are proud of our records… but our visceral live show is where we truly shine as there is so much bass and sub bass sonic heaviness, sweat, volume, intensity, and catharsis.
Avril: I can never have enough bass.
Chvasta: I frequently unintentionally hurt myself onstage in the best of ways. I feel like I’ve been beaten after every show.
Any plans for touring?
Chvasta: We are working on our next fall, winter and spring dates now. We have two possible tours that are support slots, fingers crossed. We handle most of our booking ourselves, but it’s come to the point where we could reeeally benefit from the help of a booking agent.
These are dark, tense times – how do you see it being reflected in the shows you play, be it the audience or the other bands you share the stage with?
Avril: They have actually been very friendly. Great vibes all-around.
Chvasta: We have a varied fanbase, from fans of death metal, black metal, industrial, goth, hardcore, to regular-ass-folks who like the Cure. Our worst review is about how we sound like we listen to way too much Type O Negative, we don’t write original music, and that the only people who could ever like us would be folks who live in their parent’s basement and listen to Type O… and I am super-pleased with that. Dark, but not tense.
How is your newest drummer changing the sound?
Chvasta: Randy was our touring drummer, from 2016-2017. He’s familiar with our sound, material, and work ethic. He has great energy and has hit the ground running: we already have 3 new songs completed with him this month. He is one of my favorite drummers I have ever played with, and he has a great ear and it shows in these new songs, as well as the old ones.
Any new music that is re-igniting your love for music these days?
Avril: Waste of Space Orchestra (Oranssi Pazuzu)
Chvasta: Pinkish Black’s Concept Unification and Memoriam’s Requiem for Mankind
You get booked with a broad mix of bands, both metal and darker acts. What is the crossover of the two are you seeing? Which have the best response?
Chvasta: Since we are one of the two sort-of gothic tinged bands in Atlanta (Entertainment being #1 goth-proper), we get asked to support most, if not all of the spooky/hokey bands that come through. We tend to do much better with the darker bands than the spooky ones. We pair well with just about anything that has atmosphere, from black metal to shoegaze. Minor key + reverb? Sure, let’s do some shows. We tend to scare away the drunks, party bands, and thrash metal fans.
They can be one and the same.
Chvasta: They tend to stare with their mouths open for half a song, stare at their empty PBR can, and stumble away confused.
Avril: We can sometimes pair with some gritty doom bands, too. As certain elements of what we do are doom-influenced.
Chvasta: It’s oftentimes a surprise which style band Dead Register pairs well with on a bill. Either way, we’re glad to be able to play with tech-death to synth-pop bands and still walk away with new friends.
Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us. Many thanks to you and Cvlt Nation for your interest in Dead Register. Many thanks to Danny for his farewell appearance on drums in the Ender video. Finally, many thanks to our dear friends that helped us make this video happen.