Interview With UK Post-Punkers Deadcuts!
UK four piece Deadcuts got their start on a full moon in 2012. Founded by Mark Keds and Jerome Alexandre, the band has come a long way since that fateful evening. Having previous supported acts such as The Libertines and Pete Doherty, it’s no wonder they also toured with Killing Joke last year!
Below is my interview with Deadcuts singer, songwriters and guitarists Mark Keds and Jerome Alexandre. We discuss the band’s origins, their latest LP Hit On All Sixess, their recent tour with Killing Joke, and more!
When and how did Jerome and Mark first meet and what led to forming the band? Were you in previous bands?
Jerome: Mark and I met through two girls we were dating at the time who both worked in a secondhand clothes shop in the West End. We had a night out, as the girls rightly suspected we’d get on well. A little while later, Mark invited me to a night club, The Rhythm Factory in East London, where he co-ran a night at called “Bring Your Own Poison.” He was mixing up a wide range of bands – Asian Dub Foundation – local friends of his, with groups like The Libertines, Selfish Cunt and 80s Matchbox B-Lone Disaster. It was a lively scene in the early 2000’s and we’d gig together occasionally too, and every time we’d end up spending more time with each other than our bandmates. Our common ground, shared interests – great art, film and, of course great music – is inevitably what led to us working together and forming Deadcuts on the first full moon of 2012.
Mark: We both played in a few bands – my first was an English garage punk group called Senseless Things, followed by a brief stint in the Wildhearts, then Jolt and the Lams. Jerome played in a great band when we met called Automator and later on the Scuzziies, a tour with Slyvain Slyvain, and more recently we both collaborated with Kane Groceries / Goth Money, the Flatbush Zombies and Sir Eu from Washington DC.
How did you come up with the name Deadcuts?
Mark : I wanted something unique, as the band sounded so original to me. *Deadcuts* – the first 8 letters that consecutively I couldn’t find used by anyone else, anywhere. At the time, that is. Historically, it has religious connotations which I also like. It was apparently used many, many moons ago by Christians who described the desecration of flesh as in tattoos, ritual or tribal markings as “deadcuts.”
What music did you grow up listening to?
Mark: The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Adam and the Ants, the Velvet Underground. The John Peel show 10pm – Midnight on Radio One every Monday through Thursday night. Before that, when I was really young? The top 40, same as every other kid on the block.
Jerome: A real mix. Bauhaus, The Banshees, Killing Joke, PIL, Rozz Williams, Current 93, Death in June..
How long after your first album’s release did you begin writing Hit On All Sixess?
Mark: We were writing so prolifically at the time of the recording of Dark is The Night that we literally had to draw a line under what we were doing for the (overwhelmed) producer, Harvey Birrell’s sanity, so we literally were writing our second LP during the recording and mixing sessions for Dark is The Night. We broke the writing process up by demoing some 8 or so brand new songs directly after mixing, and several months before DITN‘s release in the summer of 2014. Out of that initial session 3 songs: “Summon The Witches” (the original working title for “Sixess”), “Vains,” and “Venus” all made the final cut. We did two more similar demo sessions of 6-8 songs that year and early 2015 with Harvey Birrel – and then continued demoing together – using Pro Tools and my home studio for the first time during a break the rhythm section took in the summer of 2015.
“Dope Girls” was written and recorded in this way and the 7″ version is in fact just a really great mix of the original demo. We recorded all the previously released 7″s when it came to recording the final 22 or 23 songs that we considered strong contenders for Hit On All Sixess. By the time we recorded the LP for real in December that year – it was straight off the back of a brief UK tour opening for the awesome US indie rockers Sebadoh, and the first time Jerome and me had decided on changing up our rhythm section.
What was the inspiration for the LP?
Jerome: The main theme was ascension. Yes, these are dark times, though throughout the LP there is a persistent message of hope, that no matter how hard things get, one’s in total control of one’s own path. The song “Opium Style,” for instance, has nothing to do with drugs – it’s about the detachment which mirrors the opiated calm in which murder can be committed.
Mark: Often on a large scale.
Jerome: There’s a line in the chorus which reads, “someone had to pull the trigger, someone had to take the fall.” After we wrote and rehearsed that day, it was written we came home to the terrible news that there had been a terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris – a truly bleak and terrible coincidence.
Who did the LP art? How does it relate to the LP?
Jerome: The artwork is by Sophie Macdonald – a fantastic artist born and raised on Portobello Road in West London. It represents the archetype of the sacred feminine.
Mark: Love her work. I find that Sophie M translates my ideas visually in a way that few artists can. We’ve been blessed by working with her, as well as TRXTR and Adam Espira. Deadcuts have consistently great record sleeves which I think is really important – now more than ever in this digital age.
What was it like touring with Killing Joke recently?
Jerome: My father passed away recently from leukemia. He had drummed on the Killing Joke LP Outside the Gate – Jaz was a childhood fan of his work with Jeff Beck (fond memories of them live together) and an immense respect for his talent. They share a manager with our old friends the Libertines and it was David Bianchi, who put us in touch with each other upon Jimmy’s passing.
Did you vibe well together?
Jerome: Jaz and the whole band in fact were incredibly supportive. We met at KJ’s 2017 Scala gig in London, and I passed on a copy of Dark is the Night – Jaz was immediately drawn to the artwork and our relationship has blossomed basically from that night onwards…I was welcomed into the Killing Joke *family*.
What was one of your favourite or more interesting gigs on tour?
Mark: We had a struggle getting out of London due to an accident (fortunately not us!) on the journey up to the opening night of the UK tour, so that first night in Nottingham’s Rock City was quite chaotic and more rushed I guess than any of us would have liked it to be. It was great for the band to see us live though – bear in mind, this is before our current (and brilliant) drummer Lui Rampino had joined, and by another bizarre and beautiful twist of fate we had Spike T Smith on the skins that night. Spike had toured as KJ’s drummer in China some time ago, and had a great rapport with Youth especially. The beginnings there of something quite promising. I’m saying too much already (!)…
Jerome: There are stories and there are stories…
Where would like to tour that you haven’t already?
Mark: Russia, China and the far east. And then the US and South America. Canada too, of course. Europe is on the cards first, though. Hoping to get to Berlin and back to France very soon.
Jerome: The US without a doubt…Mexico…Poland…
Mark: We’ve finally got a booking agent who’s really keen so I think 2019 you’ll be seeing a lot more gigs from Deadcuts, soon as we finish recording Reveal the Love that is. First gig is March 9th at Electrowerkz in London, then we have a date at the Rough Trade shop in Nottingham in the Midlands over here.
What is in store for Deadcuts? is it true your working with Youth?
Jerome: I’m very superstitious when it comes to discussing that kind of thing – particularly at this stage before the record’s been made. The ideas we’ve been discussing after Youth witnessed our full set first hand, well, they’re *promising*…
Mark: That’s an understatement if ever there were one. I like it though. Youth’s not produced a bad record that I can think of off the top of my head…You’ll have to wait and see!