Los Angeles Bands that Kicked Ass in 2016: The Dead Ships

The Dead Ships

The Dead Ships — Photo by Zane Roessell

With 2016 quickly slipping away, it’s time we highlight some of the best Los Angeles bands that really made the most of themselves in 2016. As the first in our Los Angeles Bands that Kicked Ass in 2016 series, we’d like to highlight The Dead Ships.

It goes without saying that The Dead Ships are one of the hardest working bands out there. And to be quite honest, they are some of the warmest hearted humans as well. The past five years has been a pleasure to see these men grow as a band, and in 2016, The Dead Ships really put their shine on. We’d be lying if we denied the fact that The Dead Ships are one of our favorite L.A. bands. It’s no surprise Grimy Goods presented their 2012 Echo residency, other memorable shows and even featured the boys in our annual bands on the rise forecast (2015 & 2016). It’s pretty straight up, The Dead Ships just fucking rock.

From touring with Le Butcherettes to performing at Coachella, check out our interview below with The Dead Ships, highlighting their extraordinary year of 2016.

The Dead Ships

The Dead Ships at The Hi Hat (2016)

In three words, describe your 2016.

Al: Dreams. Fucking. Rule.

Chris: REALLY FUCKING WEIRD

Devlin: The Walking Dead — It’s been a horrible year for humanity, and by far our best year as a band. Sort of feels like we made it to the town with hot showers and high walls while we’re surrounded on all sides by people eating each others faces.

What have been some highlights from 2016?

Al: Finishing and releasing a record with my best friends that I’m not only proud of, but that I actually listen to. Probably too much.

Chris: I assume nothing can top Coachella. It was an amazing experience that I’m really glad we got to experience. We were able to bring along friends who have helped us since day 1, so it felt really good to be able to give something back (since we usually can’t pay anyone :)). Touring with Le Butcherettes was pretty amazing as well as the other festivals we were lucky enough to be a part of, like Music Tastes Good and Make Music Pasadena.

Devlin: It’s been unreal. Coachella, Make Music Pasadena, Milwaukee Summerfest, SXSW, touring with Le Butcherettes, touring with the Cult, signing to nevado records, releasing a new album. Best memories are probably meeting Cody Chestnutt, having the band stay at my parents for two weeks, and throwing my mom a surprise party.

What would you say attributed to your growth in 2016?

Al: Perseverance is a slippery slope for the heavily medicated daydreamer, but sticking with it and damning all who have doubted really helped all of us pull through some uncertainty.

Chris: I would hope that it’s because we’ve been ourselves since the very beginning. I think people finally caught on that we weren’t chasing trends or trying to copy another band. The Dead Ships are just the product of 3 friends who have never really been in bands, with totally different musical influences, playing songs together.

Devlin: Personally, I ate a ton of lentils, started using a Neti pot, discovered coconut oil and listened to a lot of Pete Holmes’ podcast. We’ve been working on this band for five years. I think the biggest thing is that the three of us have stayed together and stayed focussed on getting better. we enjoy hacking away whether or not we get any recognition so it’s all just been a plus this year. You have to be a little delusional to keep going when you suck and no one likes your band, but it’s important to know when being delusional is helpful and when it’s hurtful.

What have been some difficulties/obstacles in 2016?

Al: Keeping people interested in Los Angeles is like trying to nail jelly to a tree, and it has proven to be a difficult task in the technological ADHD age. But if you have the product, and you can play the hell out of it live, you’re golden.

Chris: Being in a band is always difficult no matter what. Every year is a struggle to try and make a little bit of money to keep the train moving along. 2016 showed us that hard work can pay off a little bit but there is always room to grow and we should never stop pushing ourselves to be better musicians as well as better people.

Devlin: I just had my power shut off in my apartment, it’s hard for any creative person to balance this stuff.

the dead ships photos

The Dead Ships at The Echo (2012)

How important is marketing yourself as a band?

Al: It’s one of the most important things as a group. You have to honestly portray yourself to the world so that your fans love you for not only your music, but your personality characteristics as well.

Chris: Social media can be such a weird thing. I’ve always tried to be really honest with our posts and I think that’s why people are inclined to engage with us. I always spend time liking and giving credit to other bands who have good news. That is probably the biggest thing. Even though this is all kind of a competition, I feel bands should spend more time lifting each other up instead of hating on one another for the good things that come along. Hiring PR just seems totally necessary since they have all the contacts. Trying to get anyone to listen to your music without having a prior connection is nearly fucking impossible.

What advice would you give to other bands seeking growth and success?

Al: Don’t chase trends. If you’re playing within a temporarily unpopular genre at the moment, wait for it to come back around. It will.

Chris: Just do what comes naturally. Bands who chase fads and try to copy other bands will inevietably move along to the next big thing and leave their fans disappointed. It’ll probably take years, but then people will eventually take notice and you’ll get the accolades that you deserve.

Devlin: I don’t feel in a place to give advice, but we’ve received a lot of good tidbits from others. A director told me that when he was in film school he traveled to Italy to work on a film starring Jim Belushi. Somehow they became friends on set. And Belushi told him Fellini was shooting just two hours north of their hotel. So the two of them drove out to Fellini and the young director asked the old and wise and incomparable Fellini for advice. He looked him over and said “always take the money”. So he spent the rest of his life working on commercials. I think if that advice sounds appealing you should take it and you’ll probably be happier. If it does not sound appealing to you, or if you think Fellini was joking, then you should not follow it and you’ll probably be happier.

Photo: The Dead Ships by Monique Hernandez - They play the Roxy this Wednesday!

The Dead Ships at Silverlake Jubilee, 2013

What reoccurring dreams have you had in 2016?

Al: I finally learned how to drive a stick this year, albeit very poorly, and I keep having this dream where I’m trying to parallel park a Maserati in a cardboard box. I’m pretty sure it means that one day in the near future I’ll actually have to attempt to parallel park a Maserati in a cardboard box.

Chris: I smoke so much weed that I don’t ever remember my dreams.

Devlin: I don’t think I’ve had recurring dreams this year. But I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve had a dream where my teeth fallout or are getting pulled, so that’s probably a good sign.

What’s up for The Dead Ships in 2017?

Al: New record, with some sonic exploration. I’d love to hear our sound progress into uncharted territories, for us. Who knows, we might sound fucking great as a jazz trio.

Chris: I think we will just keep doing what we think is right and hopefully will have people on our team that helps us along that journey. Everything is always so up in the air that it’s hard to tell what could happen. As long as we are still happy doing this and making the sacrifices we need to, 2017 should be fucking awesome no matter what happens.

Devlin: I’ve been writing tons of songs over the last year so we’ve got shitloads of material to dig through. Would love to release an album or two next year.

For news, tour dates and new music, be sure to follow The Dead Ships on Facebook.

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