This four-man Arizona nu metal/hardcore band has spent the last several years touring and gaining exposure and visibility, while finding the perfect blend of sound and noise to fit their moniker. Already seasoned road dogs, they’ve incorporated part horror move, part loud introspection and part insane thrash party into what became Ded. Vocalist Joe Cotela leads the mosh pit march of four possessed pupils into 2018.
Starting around 2013, they challenged themselves to make music that lived up to the name. The white contact lenses are used for uniqueness and effect. ”We just thought it’d look cool, [so we] went with it,” Cotela says.
The contacts have made fans reference everything from Alkaline Trio albums to The Evil Dead. “There’s a lot of references that happened with that, people brought it up to me and I’m like, maybe. It could be a million different things.”
They wanted to produce creepy horror-movie like noise. “We were trying to come up with the soundscape with all the weird noises Dave was trying to learn, strange things that didn’t exist anywhere else.”
Cotela has some scary childhood favorites that inspired him, “Jaws was one of my fav horror movies growing up. I love sharks. It scared me as a kid. The Shining and Misery were crazy. I loved the Creepshow movies. They had that comic strip vibe. Night of the Living Dead, I remember watching the original black and white version with my dad. It was one of the first ones that didn’t have blood or nudity and was safer to watch. It was scary as hell.”
They’re influenced by cinema as much as studio production, “We’re influenced by movies, hip hop and the production on hip hop and modern music. When we started, we weren’t trying to do anything but make ourselves happy. Here’s this vision of what Ded could sound like. We weren’t trying to show it to anyone, it was just fun.”
The Remember The Enemy video was shot in L.A.’s Griffith Park. “It’s an old zoo from back in the day that got condemned. You can walk around in the daytime but we shot at night. I think they shot Anchor Man there. I was screaming in cages, broke my toe, it was awesome,” he recalls. “People definitely go there and do weird shit. There was like séance shit, like little fires and contraptions. People go there and do weird stuff. It was nice and creepy.”
Fred Durst directed two of their videos so far, “He did that one and Against Everything. He’s always working on music, writing for movies and TV. He just does what he wants at this point, like truly what he wants as an artist. He’s a great guy.”
Cotela collaborated on the song Dead to Me, “It’s the first song we wrote with John Feldmann. He did the album with us and we co-wrote it. John wrote most of the chorus and I wrote around it,” he says. “It was the first time I’d done that. I’d always write my own lyrics. This was the first time we’d worked together and was like two or three years ago.”
The song could be interpreted as everything inside that can’t be let out in normal society, “It’s like for me, that moment when you’re standing on a cliff and that weird moment when you wanna jump off. Not because you’re depressed, but just like it would be crazy if you were at a bank and started screaming obscenities and everyone looked at you. I don’t know if you ever get that feeling, to do something absolutely insane. Like your body wants to for some reason and you have to stop yourself. We don’t ever actually do it but that’s part of it. It stems from anxiety and aggression inside of you. So John coming up with the line ‘Face down in a memory’ and stuff like that. I just love that line when he gave it to me, we just ran with it.”
Among the band’s many “holy shit” moments was last year they met Nikki Sixx on the Sixx Sense, “It was awesome. Nikki was so accommodating. I never thought I’d meet him in person. Everything we did last year I never thought I’d do. Meeting someone you’ve listened to your whole life and they’re like gods to you. They lived in your speakers, magazines, posters on your wall or TV. Then you’re in person and beyond that, they know who you are, what your music is and can talk to you about it.”
Cotela hasn’t been star struck but says everyone you meet has a certain energy around them that affects you, “When I met Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, like really met and talked to him, my knee was shaking, that kinda thing.”
Meeting Korn was also a great moment, “They were a really big thing for me growing up,” Cotela says. “We’ve been in bands before and done tours, so it wasn’t this super crazy thing other than Korn was huge for us. For me, Head and Munky are the main reasons I got a guitar. Jonathan Davis’ vocals really encouraged me. I had a room full of Korn posters. To be out with them was crazy and then Stone Sour. It was an honor. Everybody on the tour was so welcoming. Nobody treated you like the new band. Everybody was super cool.”
All the hard work paid off, “It was crazy the amount of people we met. All the shows went really well. We sent off demos to friends in the industry. Everyone got excited, it went crazy really fast. In a couple weeks we’re getting calls from managers and labels. The music industry really embraced us. It’s about how our energies interact with others. I think energy is very real.”
Their song FMFY is about Matthew McConaughey’s character in True Detective, “It was one of the best shows on TV,” he assures. “As a complete realist, that’s how I try to be in a lot of ways. It’s a very dark place to be because there’s no sugar coating anything for him. That resonates with me, not wanting to comfort myself with anything like fake hope or fake anything. I’m definitely not as gnarly day to day as that character but there’s a part of me that feels how that character is. It really resonated with me. The idea that we’d be better off without humankind, nature would be better off without us most likely. We’re not programmed to think that way and I’m not, but if you watch the show it’s very clear what he’s saying. We’re programmed to be a certain way with our egos. It’s just something that really makes sense. It’s not a fun topic but it’s what it is.”
The cover of Misanthrope was old-school influenced, “We wanted to do something comic bookish. I grew up with comic books and came across that image,” Cotela remembers. “It looked cool with the four of us and the eyes, making you larger than life. That’s happened since Iron Maiden and everything we grew up with. Walking through record stores, Iron Maiden covers, Metallica, Megadeth, and White Zombie, all the brutal and colorful artwork. Demons, skulls, aliens, all the way up to Korn and Bizkit. I guess it’s just embedded in our heads.”
The inspiration for Misanthrope came from “Me stepping back and seeing what my lyrics encompassed,” Cotela says. “What’s the album saying? I felt it was me saying how disappointed I was with humanity, and society. That’s the way I’ve been my whole life. Right after high school it dawned on me. I was disgusted with how mean and terrible people are to each other. How power hungry, greedy and shitty people are. It gave me anxiety, and we were starting to go to war. Why are we going to war? How unintelligent are we? How lost are we on love, energy and life that we’re fucking killing each other over religion, money and bullshit. To this day that’s how I feel. We can’t listen to someone else with a different opinion. I feel like everyone’s so lost in what’s important in life.”
Ideas for the next record are coming, “We just started. We tapped out everything for this album. We worked on it for two years and didn’t want to write anything for the past year, we were bone dry. We’re writing now, so we’ll see. We’re gonna keep going strong touring, depending on how things go, start recording end of the year.”
They’re currently on the 24 date The Witching Hour Tour with In This Moment, P.O.D. and New Years Day from January 17 to February 18, with seven confirmed shows with Islander and P.O.D. after.
“Thank you for supporting us if you do. Come out to a show, tell a friend. Thank you.”
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