Hailing from London Death Koolaid are one of a new breed of bands bringing punk rock back to the masses but with a twist. Their sound is an angry hybrid of genres which is meeting the digital age head on rather than looking back to the past. They have a reputation for hard hitting stage shows and dress accordingly when playing live. Gary Trueman had a chat with vocalist Siren Sycho, guitarist Roy Darkwater and drummer The Crossman about award nominated videos, playing Brighton Pride and a new EP in the offing.
Your music is a mix of punk and hard core with a bit of metal thrown in. With all that anger on stage typical of this type of music does that allow you to chill off of it? Is that common to aggressive music where bands and fans let off steam inside venues then tend to be quite placid elsewhere?
Roy: “I reckon. It’s probably true I’d say”
The Crossman: “We do save a lot of our energy for on stage, we have to.”
Roy: “That doesn’t mean you’re not going to be a little bit pissed off walking down the street.
Is that what London does to you. Make you pissed off?
Roy: “Yeah, pretty much. I think if I lived out here (Spalding) then I would would be pretty chilled out the whole time. Then maybe Death Koolaid would be a heavier band.”
The Crossman: “I think we’re pretty chilled generally and we rehearse quite a lot and you have to save the really aggressive stuff for stage because everyone’s got make up and stuff on and the lights and everything is tiring up there so you have to save it.”
You already have an EP out and have released three videos off of that. Do you have plans to hit the studio again any time soon?
Siren: “Yes we are in July.”
The Crossman: “We’ve got a whole new batch of songs ready to go and we just want to get in and get them recorded now.”
Roy: “I think we’re going to do pretty much what we did last time and do a mini album, maybe seven songs, something like that. Record it in the summer and release it after the festival season maybe, if we can afford it.”
The Crossman: “That’s the thing we’re not on a label so in terms of recording it it’s harder to do but you get more control and it’s more rewarding.”
Your video for the song ‘The Second Rule’ was special because people could interact with it. You got quite a lot of recognition for that.
Roy: “Yeah, it got nominated for a UK music video award, which was weird because we were up against Pharrel Williams, Bob Dylan and Damon Albarn. There were a lot of big names in that category, and Bob Dylan won. We went to the award ceremony and that was fun. Hopefully we’ll do some more videos soon.”
The Crossman: “It’s handy having a video director in the band (Roy), that helps.”
You played Brighton Gay Pride, how was that and how did you fit in with the other musicians and how did people react to your music?
Siren: “I think the reaction was all right in the end but the band before us was a string quartet, so it didn’t really work. This year they’ve got a full on punk stage but we’re not playing it. I asked them but they’d already filled it up. We were the heaviest band to play Brighton Pride.”
Roy: “It was a pretty fun day in general, we had a good laugh there, it was fun to do a big festival vibe and Brighton Pride is a bit different to just playing a rock festival.”
You’ve just played in Italy. What did the Italians make of Death Koolaid?
Siren: “They liked us, we got a good reaction.”
The Crossman: “It was really good fun. I’ve never been to Italy but it was nice to just get over there and play our music. No one knew our stuff and everyone was really receptive to it.”
Siren: “There was a bit of a language barrier.”
Roy: “I wrote this Italian gibberish on my arm before I went on but it sweated off half way through.”
The Crossman: “We had our merchandise stand but……nah……nothing.”
Roy: “I ended up throwing out a t-shirt into a girls face in the end.”
Please tell me you tried the food?
The Crossman: “Ah man! The promoter took us out and the food was amazing.”
What’s next for Death Koolaid this year, more gigs or festivals?
Siren: “We’re playing Camden Rocks on May 30th”
Roy: “We’ve got this battle of the bands thing we’re doing, we’re playing at The Garage on June 14th which clashes with Download.”
The Crossman: “We’ve missed out on most festivals, we don’t have a booking agent and it’s hard to get in with some of the bigger festivals so we’re just going to record and get back on it after summer. We do take quite a lot of gig bookings but we want to get the new EP together, that’s really important.”
Roy: “We want to move up a step. We’ve done the London scene for a bit and now maybe we could look for a support slot with a bigger band.”
The Crossman: “We want to get our name out there, to see if there’s a distributor or agent out there that’ll want to work with us.”
You make a real effort visually on stage. Do you think that it’s important to engage with people with more than just sound?
The Crossman: “People want to see a show, they’ve paid money and they want to see a show. When you see your favourite band you want to go away and feel like you’ve had an experience as well as listening to some songs, and it’s a good laugh as well.
Roy: “I’d feel a bit wrong if I’m just standing there, I think people deserve a bit more. It doesn’t matter if there’s two people in the room, or twenty, or two hundred we play exactly the same, even in rehearsals. There’s people banging on the studio door from five studios down saying can you turn it down a bit.”
This is specifically for Siren. You’ve got an awful lot of ink. Have you got a favourite tattoo?
Siren: “Probably my back piece, and my sleeve. The back piece took a long time.”
Siren: “The bit on the spine was the hardest bit. I might have shed a tear or two, and had to stop on one occasion. It took about a year. It was well worth it but I can’t see it.”
Within the band what are your best or worst traits?
The Crossman: “I wear ear plugs and I forget I’ve got them in and end up shouting at everyone. I don’t know, we don’t argue or anything, we all get on really well and have fun. Roy is chief song writer and he keeps forgetting his songs which is funny.”
Roy: “I do sometimes blank.”
How would you most like to be remembered?
Roy: “Just being remembered would be good. If someone came to see us and two months later remembered something.”
The band’s EP Death Koolaid Vol1 is available now as a digital download or can be bought on vinyl. You can order merch from http://www.deathkoolaid.com/shop/