Dark humor, tragedy, bluegrass and banjos. If you’re looking for all four, you can only find that combination in one band: The Dead South. The band members, Danny Kenyon, Nate Hilts, Colton Crawford, and Scott Pringle explained their unmatched sound, discussed humor in music, and bucket list goals. Moreover, the members spoke about their newest album, Sugar + Joy (Six Shooter Records), which hit retailers on October 11th. Catch the group at one of their upcoming concerts, or “spectacles,” as they describe.
Don’t miss a memorable experience, orchestrated by The Dead South.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened?
We get asked this question a lot and it’s really difficult to answer. Bluegrass, Americana… A modern, gritty, bluegrass band.
Your music and style is always very thematic. Is this something you have in mind when you’re writing?
Lyrically it’s a story, it’s usually tragic, or some kind of dark humor. The storyline isn’t always the same, but there’s a tragic theme. It’s like the end of Hamlet, either everyone’s dead, or everyone dies.
We saw this humor come to life in your recent video for “Diamond Ring.” Tell us about that video; it looked like a blast to make.
The thing with music videos is that the result always looks way more fun. You don’t see us when we’re just sitting around waiting, a lot of narrating. It was cool getting into character, getting to dress up. It’s totally different.
There’s a ton of humor in your work; is that intentional or is this just part of your personalities shining through?
It comes from discomfort, like not being comfortable with what you’re saying so you say something stupid and just throw it out there. We don’t take ourselves too seriously so it’s nice to be able to funnel that into our music.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously so it’s nice to be able to funnel that into our music.The Dead South
What can fans expect from your upcoming shows?
We’re in the process of redesigning our stage setup and light show has been updated for our album release so that’s gonna be pretty cool. We put on a high energy show that we’re proud of. I’ve always thought about our main product being our show then our album is secondary. We put a lot of focus into our live events and our visuals. It’s more of a spectacle. You’re not just coming to a concert, you’re there for an experience.
How would you describe your latest album Sugar & Joy?
It’s a lot more grown up and we’ve just gotten better at making songs, structuring them and playing our instruments. The dark songs got darker. It’s still The Dead South, but with just a little something more.
We put a lot of focus into our live events and our visuals. It’s more of a spectacle. You’re not just coming to a concert, you’re there for an experience.The Dead South
You talked about your live performance. What’s your favorite part about performing live?
I feel like I can’t stop smiling, it’s ear to ear. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I’m feeling the energy on stage with my comrades another moment I’m right in there with the crowd. Sometimes I’ll just lock in one person in the front row. It’s a lot of fun to back up and see what everyone on stage is doing. It’s very liberating. You can scream, and people just love it. It’s like snowboarding really hard, or running, it’s like letting go. Sometimes it’s like 15 minutes before show time and you’re backstage and you’re like ‘I have no idea how I’m gonna do this” then you walk out on stage and it all just hits you. Energy and adrenaline.
Any bucket list places you want to play? Artists you’d like to tour with?
This place in Tennessee, it’s a cave, and you go underground. I think we’re doing Brixton Academy in London, so that’s gonna be pretty cool. We’d like to headline Red Rocks. That’s definitely on the bucket list. Not only the places we play, but the people we get to play with too is pretty cool. We got to cross off Trampled by Turtles, which was crazy. We went full circle since we started out listening to those guys and then to open for them and play with them was insane.
The Devil Makes Three, or a couple real punk rock bands we could play with would be cool.
This is out there but playing with System of a Down or The Misfits!
There’s such a variety of instruments in your band. How many can you each play?
We can play a lot of instruments, not well. Confidently though, the Trumpet. Guitar, piano, bass, drums. That’s the thing, the rules are pretty much the same so if you can play one instrument you can pick up another one and figure it out. The rules don’t change. Little technical details though. I tried the harp once, and the harmonica. That was awful. We played in the elementary band together and even played the saxophone. I’m not sure why… I hate the saxophone, I still don’t like the sound of it.
Think back to when you started to now. What tips would you give to new bands and how much have you changed?
Tips that I would give to new bands would be to just play whenever, as much as they can. If your uncle wants you to play at your little cousin’s birthday, do it. Get as much practice playing in front of people as possible. It’s different than rehearsing in the basement. Get uncomfortable. You have to feel uncomfortable in order to get better. You push through it.
Don’t get consumed with too much hype. There’s certain people that try to hype you up to some ideas and things and it’s okay to be weary. There’s people that try to sell you these ideas. Just have a good head on your shoulders.
We changed, we actually can play our instruments now. Also, a cool thing is that when we wrote a lot of our old songs, we were implying or using some technique that at the time we didn’t even realized. Now looking back at it, it’s cool to be like ‘Oh that was cool, I didn’t know we implied that back then.” Now we go into writing with the knowledge that we have developed now. Our learning process has definitely grown.