As the name implies Cardiff newcomers Dead At 27 have taken plenty of inspiration from a certain legendary Seattle musician – to the extent they’ve written a song depicting the events of his suicide. And their raw rock sound is almost an ode to Kurt Cobain, with gruff vocals supported by intense, pounding drums and big dirty riffs.
Dead At 27 initially began life as a three-piece back in October 2016, formed of long-time friends Nathan Gratton-Smith (vocals and guitar) and Mitchell Casey (vocals and bass), who soon found drummer Chris Lerwell on a musicians’ forum. In Mitchell’s words: “The moment Chris hit the kit we knew we had to have him. He’s an absolute powerhouse and his drumming totally shapes our sound.” The missing puzzle was provided by guitarist Dave Griffiths last June to add depth and extra creativity to their sound.
The band released debut single Lights back in January and, well, it’s a bit of a banger. It kicks off with a couple of cymbal hits, a burst of guitar, a pause, another burst of guitar that give way to a verse that begins fairly innocuously, then a raw throaty scream sees the song explode into life. Pounding drums and heavy guitar chords support heavy vocals screams that end “Turn on the lights so I can see.” The chorus is followed by a lone guitar riff, then a guitar slide brings in a mass of guitar chords before dropping into a more mellow verse that gradually builds towards another big hard-hitting chorus. Check it out in the video below:
Mitchell tells us: “Lights has gone down really well since its release and having so many people be complementary about it has been amazing. KROD Records from Germany and France put the track on their UK Spotify playlist, which has helped tremendously and has given us that extra exposure across the service. We can’t thank people enough for taking the time to check it out, promoting it across their social media pages and to independent run radio stations ‘Peppermint Iguana Radio’ and ‘X-iles Unsigned Show’ for airing it to their listeners.
“For those who haven’t heard the track yet, I would say to expect vicious noise with melodic overtones and dynamics reminiscent of a roller-coaster ride. I can honestly say that Dead At 27 is my proudest co-creation and the happiest I’ve been in all my years of playing. The simplicity and rawness in our music I find refreshing and the unity the four of us have is awesome.”
On the Dead At 27 sound, Mitchell tells us: “I would say that our sound is a battle between light and dark, quiet and loud and a balance of catchy melody and gritty rawness. Put all of that into a rock n’ roll blender and you’ve got yourself the sound of Dead At 27.”
Cobain, and Nirvana generally, has had a major impact on the way in which they approach their “more dirtier” songs. As Mitchell explains: “Nathan is the singer and is the one who pens down the lyrics to the songs. It all depends on the vibe of the song/riff or an idea for a story that one of us has that determines the end result.
“We are currently working on our debut album and on there we’ve got lyrics depicting the suicide of Kurt Cobain in a track called 1994, finding your woman in bed with another man in You’re Not Getting Up From This and the loss of a loved one in Miles Away. We like to write about relatable situations that everyone can understand, or events like the death of Cobain that most people will know of.”
Given Wales’ strong tradition of creating great rock bands, we asked Mitchell for his take on the current scene in the country. He told us: “The rock and metal scene is as strong as ever in Wales and there is an unbelievable amount of young talent where we’re from. As I’m getting older it’s great to see that the local rock and metal scene is not fading and tiring out thanks to these younger bands coming through.
“As musicians we’ve also got to thank our local venues for keeping the live music fire burning so as a band we would like to give a massive shout out to the EVI, the Dragonffli, the The Dolls House and ClwbIfor Bach for having us play their venues and getting our music heard to people locally.”
The band hope to have their debut album out by the end of May, having just been into the studio for some recording. They’ll also be playing gigs in Wales shortly, including the Dragonffli on 4 May and a gig for Alan McGee’s Musicians Against Homelessness in Cardiff on 19 May.