The Dead 60s
They’re on their way to conquering America, but The Dead 60s are still the unsung heroes on Deltasonic. Claire Sawers finds out why that’s about to change
Think of music from Liverpool and a certain type of chirpy harmony springs to mind. If it isn’t the original Merseybeat sound of The Beatles, The Searchers or Gerry and the Pacemakers, then the second round of new kids on the block – The Coral, The Zutons, Candie Payne – do a good line in honeyed, mellifluous pop.
‘Quite a lot of bands from Liverpool describe their sound as “Dead 60s”. But we’re a new generation with a new sound, so we thought, “Let’s move on”.’ Lead singer of aptly named The Dead 60s, Matt McManamon, wanted his band to sound like nothing Liverpool had ever produced before. Their self-titled début album was a bouncy, shouty mix of reggae beats, ska and dub, well timed for the mini ska revival that came with the summer of 2005. Proudly wearing the label bestowed by the NME as ‘the 21st century Specials’, the band spent two years touring in the States, where the crowds were loving their punky British noise, and supported Kasabian, The Stereophonics, Morrissey and Garbage.
Now with a second album queued up for release, what has happened to the booming dub and wired-up, fighty sound they used to have? McManamon describes new album, Time to Take Sides, as ‘grander, more epic, with more concentration on the melodies.’ Indeed, it’s a better behaved, far poppier version of what they were doing before, full of guitar anthems, tight chords and lyrics you can imagine muddy festival crowds screaming back at the band, but McManamon says it doesn’t mean they’ve mellowed.
‘It’s definitely a big change. We’ve all grown up and musically we’ve developed as well. The new record is slightly harder, I wouldn’t say rock; that’s too strong. But the guitar is a bit more distorted.’
Before, their ears were filled with The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, but this time around Matt, Ben, Charlie and Bryan, were listening to 50s rock’n’roll.
‘It just happened; the songs came out very organically. Rather than creating songs out of jams or grooves or whatever, this time we wanted songs that had more structure to them.’
Their first album, released on Deltasonic, home to The Coral and The Zutons, made a big splash in America, but had less of an impact in the UK. This next offering, out in January, is likely to make slightly deeper ripples in the British pop pond.
‘It’s probably more accessible now. We didn’t sit down and plan to write songs that would have a stadium sound, but if we end up playing big stadiums, that would be brilliant.’
Their current tour of Britain and France has already sold out a number of dates, and McManamon hopes fans will love the throbbing, singalong single, ‘Stand Up’, when it comes out at the end of the summer.
‘It’s really positive for us. We still love playing the old songs too, it’s a major part of the set. I don’t think we’ll lose fans; I think we’ll gain them. You’ve gotta keep changing – you can’t just pull out the same sounding record again and again. You’ve got to mix it up a bit to keep it interesting.