The December issue of The Cut is finally coming out and this is my DTM interview that's featured in the magazine.
Punk bands. Don’t they all sound the same, and isn’t punk dead anyway? Well, San Francisco punk band Dead To Me is not afraid to mix up their sound or freshen up the punk scene. Don’t take our word for it though—The Cut threw down words with core member of the group, Tyson Annicharico aka Chicken (Tyson Chicken, get it?), as he reflected on the band’s changing sound and his punk rock journey thus far.
DTM’s sound has changed a lot since the release of Cuban Ballerina and the loss/addition of members. Would you agree?
Chicken: I do agree with that and I’m proud of it. I don’t ever want to keep putting out the same records. There’s a lot of bands that every record sounds exactly the same, the first song on the record sounds like the ninth song. It’s an easy way to do things and an easy way to make sure people are going to stay your fans. Like with my favorite bands, their records sound different. The Clash—all their records sound different but they have that core element and that’s what we try to maintain. Jawbreaker and Fugazi records all sound different. I just don’t want to be repetitive. As far as the members being gone, it was always circumstantial. The dudes we have now are permanent and everybody quit their jobs to be in DTM. And we’re just going for it.
Do you see DTM's sound changing from what it is now?
C: We’re at the point now after two full lengths and the EP that keeping things fresh is always a priority, but honestly, songs just come out the way they do. Not to be a total hippie, but the Navajo Indians have this term called “catching a song” as opposed to writing a song. I feel like I catch songs more than I write them. I feel like there’s shit floating around in the ether, and when I was a young dude I started paying attention to all these sounds that I was hearing around me. Like I have this little antenna on my head and it comes through there. I don’t really get to pick what they send me, it just comes to me. By listening to that voice and listening to myself, I’ve got to go all over the world with my best friends. I grew up on a dirt road; I never thought I’d be in Prague or Tokyo someday.
Two of the songs on the new 7’’ were originally Bad Friends songs. What’s the story behind this side-project?
C: Bad Friends grew out of this weird, in-between spot of us being like “what are we gonna do after Jack (founder of the group)” and making a new DTM record, we weren’t ready to start playing shows as a three piece yet. You have to figure out how to play the songs differently with three people, because the songs are written with two guitars so you have to figure out how to do it with just one. So we started Bad Friends as an outlet for new songs. It was basically just to play shows in San Francisco because we love playing shows. We’re a live band and we’ll always be a live band, that’s our favorite thing to do. Honestly, it was just like a little secret code-name for DTM.
What was the inspiration for these songs?
C: All three of those songs are different, one of them is down-tuned which is guitar-nerd talk for tuning your guitar different. I’ve never tried anything like that and something was telling me I should tune down this thing and see what it’s like to write a song like that. So I did and that’s how “Wait For It” came. The other two songs were just like me staying true to the songs that I love to write, but also trying different stuff as a guitar player. The truth is I write DTM songs on guitar, bass is secondary to me. You know, we needed a bass player so I play bass.
Is it easier to write songs on guitar than bass?
C: I think so, and I think it’s easier to play bass...if you’re in DTM. I won’t say that for true bass masters out there, like the dude in the Descendents, don’t tell that guy it’s easy to play bass!
If you could pick one song for a new listener to hear, what would it be?
C: I mean, they’re all my babies, it’s really hard for me to say “check out this one” over the other ones. If I had to though, I’d say “Little Brother” because I love that song lyrically. It was this weird afternoon one time with me and Jack, and I had the guitar parts down and he’s like “Lemme take this home and work on it for a minute.” He came back the next day and he’s like, “dude, I think it should be a reggae song” and he had this really cool baseline—my favorite DTM baseline that I didn’t write and I was like that’s the shit! That’s why I love writing songs with people because they’re always going to think of something you didn’t and sometimes it just clicks.
How does DTM differ from the other bands you've been in and has your influence changed with the bands?
C: In the other bands I was in, I was never a songwriter. I never started singing before DTM either, so it’s different in that way. As far as influence, I feel like I’m influenced far more by life in general than by music. I don’t listen to a record and be like, “I wanna write a song like that!” I’ll experience something in my life and be like, “whoa, that’s pretty crazy.” Songs are this really cool outlet where we can express these crazy, surreal things that happen in our lives and there’s a place for them. I wish I could express my feelings better to the people in my life, but for some reason when I go to sit down and write a song I’m able to communicate with music. Me and music have this dialogue where she listens to me and I listen to her, and it works out.
What's your current outlook on music?
C: I could be anywhere and if I hear something that I’ve never heard before and it catches my ear, I’ll have to find out what it is. I’m like “What is this, it’s amazing, it’s hurting my stomach right now, in a good way, and I need to know what this is!” Also, the older I get I don’t have guilty pleasures anymore—I just like what I like. I don’t secretly listen to stuff on the side.
Future plans and final thoughts?
C: Well as far as our plans, we’re just touring, touring, touring. We just got back from Europe, we were there for a month. Now we’re doing the US for a month, then I’ll be back in San Francisco for a little while, and then we’re trying to get back to Europe early next year. It’s just tour, record, and write songs. For a final thought—tell people to love themselves because everything in our lives tells us that we are not good enough, but forget all that. We’re awesome.