by Kylie Cobb, published also in Issue #17 of MouthZoff Magazine
DLC lead singer Kim Benzie tells Kylie Cobb that reimagining a whole album can mess with your head, but with amazing results.
Getting the five boys from Dead Letter Circus together for an interview may be harder than herding kitty cats, but the same cannot be said when it comes to the real work. Undoubtedly one of Australia’s hardest working rock bands, Dead Letter Circus is dominating the alt rock scene with two #2 Aria charting records, Gold selling plaques under their belts and tour after tour of sold-out national shows.
However, this band are not ones to rest on their musical laurels. DLC are constantly looking for ways to innovate and push their own, as well as the industry’s boundaries. Inspired by Tool’s reinvention of hit song ‘Pushit’, DLC’s lead singer, Kim Benzie had no qualms about rewriting Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ for Triple J’s Like A Version. Met with controversy and internet ‘trolling’, Kim stuck to his guns explaining there is a deeper message in the lyrics that deserved more than a “beer-garden” delivery.
Their ballsy Like A Version was merely a prelude. If you, like me, cynically suspected the recent ‘reimagined’ album and tour was going to be a camp-fire version of Dead Letter’s latest album, ‘Catalyst Fire’ to squeeze every last drop of musical goodness from the album...then you are forgiven but must stand corrected!
Deep in the tropical recess of Fortitude Valley’s fresh coffee grinders, The Fifth Battery, Kim assured me that what began as a bit of fun and something different to do between album cycles, soon turned into “the biggest head fuck of all time.” As soon as they rewrote the first song, they felt they owed it to explore the ‘Sliding Doors’ for all of them. The result? Dead Letter Circus like their fans had never imagined. Acoustic, instrumental, melodic, sitting down to perform?! Each song was completely and wholly reimagined into what it could have been with different instruments, tempos and melodies.
Fast forward three months from their short yet intense studio time and the guys feel it was well worth it. And, from the magic I witnessed at the very first ‘Night in with Dead Letter Circus’ at Brisbane’s New Globe Theatre, their fans thought so too. An audience used to a heavy band with a high energy, full impact performance - it could have gone one of two ways really, couldn’t it?
All, band and fans alike, were visibly nervous, treading in this unfamiliar territory. But certainly at the Brisbane show, there were many moments you could hear a pin drop the audience was so enrapt in the performance and other moments they all sung at the top of their lungs once they recognised the song. “They didn’t know we’d gone to that much effort and they were playing ‘guess the song’,” said Kim, “everyone was really buzzed.” So much so, even Benzie himself couldn’t sleep that night reliving the magic moments!
So, what can we expect from the next album by these uber talented multi-instrumental rockers? They’ve certainly set the scene for anything is possible and from my chat with Kim, here’s what we know:
The boys played it somewhat safe with The Catalyst Fire following the departure of guitarist and co-writer Rob Maric;
Since the last album Benzie has wed his longtime girlfriend. In our interview he mused that they had been broken up when the last two albums were written, leaving him “depressed and broken, but it got great results!”
All band members are now writing; and
They’re ready to step out of their comfort zones in a massive way!
I predict this next album will see Dead Letter Circus move the boundaries for how we define rock.
We’ll no doubt see the band’s trademark meaningful messages and hooks, however they’ll be embedded in melodies and beats that leave space for the lyrics to breathe and be more readily comprehended. If the reimagined tour gives us any clues, I think we’ll also be seeing a lot more of our friend, Tom, on the keys and perhaps more of the electronic drums, Luke?
Whatever form it takes, I have no doubt Dead Letter Circus will blow us away with their next album, due for release in 2015.