By Chris Leo Palermino
A cursory listen to Brooklyn's Dead Stars and it's easy to think you're listening to a scrappy, talented group of '90s-inspired rockers. What isn't as easy to wrap one's head around is the fact that they're a mainstay on the hipper side of the local Brooklyn indie scene in 2014.
Five years in, the three-piece have taken an organic, slow-and-steady route. They chose to release three EPs and only do occasional regional touring before taking a bigger plunge. We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Jeff Moore about their debut full-length, "Slumber," their throwback vibe and their upcoming 11 city Eastern US tour.
Metro: How did Dead Stars come together?
Jeff Moore: Jaye [Moore], the drummer, and I are cousins. We've been playing together for awhile in various bands. A few years ago, we started playing these couple of songs that I had written and we decided to put the band together. A mutual friend introduced us to John [Watterberg, bass]. One of the most important things for music is just making sure we all get along. He was a super cool guy and so we brought him in. We had three songs. Immediately, we recorded some demos and just started booking a bunch of shows and going from there. It's been pretty much that ever since.
Metro: How does it feel to finally have a full-length record to your name?
J.M.: It's great. When we started, we did a couple of EPs that we self-released, and after that we did a seven inch. We never had the money to record a bunch of songs at once, so we'd just record a few songs and put them out. After that, things were going pretty well and people were starting to pay attention to that. We were like, 'Alright. We definitely should follow that up with a full-length.' We went in, scrounged up some money, and recorded all of these songs. Old Flame, which was one of our first choices, was really into it and put it out. We were super psyched about that.
Metro: There are obviously lots of '90s college rock influences on the record. Are you guys all fans of that era?
J.M.: Yeah, I mean, it's funny. People always compare us to that. Yes, we love all of that stuff, but we don't really try to do it on purpose. I think that it's just kind of the only way that we know how to write. Growing up listening to Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, all of that stuff. It kind of just seeps into your brain. I like to think that all of [our] songs are just songs. Maybe it's the way that we deliver them that sounds kinda '90s — super fuzzy, and stuff like that. We're definitely not opposed to it, because we do like that kind of stuff.
Metro: At the same time, you guys are certainly milking some sort of throwback vibe considering the recent music video that you guys did.
J.M.: Oh... For the first video, the guy who directed was like 'hey, that song has that '90s feel. We have that '90s video camera, do you guys want to film it on that?' We were like, 'yeah, sure, that would be cool.' It just kind of turned out that way. We're not trying to do it on purpose… it's just that's what we like. We do what we like.
Metro: Along with Dead Stars, throwback bands seem to be having a revival in New York these days. Why do you think that is?
J.M.: I don't know. Right now, there are a lot of guitar-based bands in Brooklyn. When you have that, inevitably it's going to be compared to something from the past because you know guitar, bass and drums. You can only take it so many places. There's a big punk revival thing happening right now. Then, the whole '90s thing. I think that it's just what it is. It's a cool thing because that's what I like. it's a really cool thing that all of these bands can play together and have that kind of vibe.
Metro: Awesome. Can you tell me the story behind the the LP's first song, "Someone Else?"
J.M.: That was the first of the new batch of songs from the record. It was basically just a continuation of the vibe that we were going for from our last EP. I was somewhat trying to write something that was fast and upbeat to start the record. I had a whole plan in mind of how I wanted the record to pan out — the track order, the flow of the record. It's a really easy song which I'm into because I'm into simple, minimalism type of songwriting. It's cool to be able to convey something while keeping it simple.
Metro: Is this your longest tour?
J.M.: Yeah. When we decided to tour, we were talking with this band Sharkmuffin. We've done a couple of sporadic regional dates — going up to Boston, playing Philly. We've been waiting to do a longer tour until we had a little more going on. Having the full-length definitely makes a difference. We're planning on doing more touring, but this is the start of that, so… I'm pretty excited about it.
Dead Stars celebrate “Slumber” at Union Pool (484 Union Ave., Brooklyn) for their record release party tonight. 8 p.m. $8.
This column is part of a Metro Boston and Metro New York music feature called Locally Amped. Follow us on Twitter@Locally Ampedand on Facebook atLocally Amped.