By Joe Gilson
Shane Parsons, singer and guitarist of Australian thrash pop duo DZ Deathrays, is reflecting on the last time he came to Belfast; “We played at McHugh’s. It was really great. There weren’t many people there but everyone was just standing around us head banging. We don’t get over here nearly enough.”
October 30th saw their return to the city albeit in a different venue. After walking past the two relatively cavernous Limelight backstage rooms which are housing tonight’s headline band, Band of Skulls, I come to DZ Deathrays’ frankly miniscule area. The band don’t seem to mind though, cracking open beers and nodding along to Dizzee Rascal played over a tinny phone speaker.
“We just do it all the time. Even when we are at home on a day off. It’s hard not to.”, Parsons replies when I ask him if their apparent party attitude is a source of inspiration or just a way to blow off steam whilst on tour. He continues, “I like to socialise, whenever we’re at home sitting around I’m bored, there’s always gigs to go to, people to see, parties. We DJ quite often, we stay out until five in the morning. I love doing that.”
It has been a good year for DZ Deathrays. Amidst seemingly infinite tour dates they managed to release their second album, Black Rat, to critical acclaim. The album saw the duo develop as a band musically whilst still holding on to that youthful, “no holds barred” attitude of their first LP, Bloodstreams.
Does Parsons think he has matured thematically or lyrically on Black Rat? “I think lyrics are the weakest point of the band but they have developed a bit. On Bloodstreams I just shouted gibberish and repeated it twice. I have to be in a certain mood to write and often I just don’t care enough to be in that headspace. I’m not someone who carries around a little black notebook all day making notes but I have written a lot more now. But they still come after the music.”
Midway through their set tonight, a third member joins the duo on stage and they announce that they are going to play some songs from Black Rat. They are evidently more layered and diverse than the continuous thrash of the first half. In particular, “Northern Lights”, a hazy melodic ballad that halts the crowd’s frenzied head banging and makes them stand and stare. “I do like having slow songs in the set. It lets you get the chance to just watch the band rather than moshing the whole time. It can get quite relentless so it’s nice to have those intimate moments where you can just set the mood.” Whilst not exactly losing any of the outgoing spirit of their formative years, Black Rat represents perhaps a few more contemplative nights in.
But don’t reach for the Scrabble just yet! Parsons tells me about their friends back in Australia who have a song where the music drops out and the bass player yells, “Hell f**k yeah!”; “It’s such a silly lyric but when you see them live everyone yells it back. It means a lot. People can get behind a “hell f**k yeah!”.
They can get behind a “hell f**k yeah” as much as they should get behind this promising young band. Just think, if you do it now, you can say “I told you so” later.