Musician to Musician: The Dead Revolt

The Dead Revolt have quickly evolved into my favorite Houston band. They take cues from so many of my all-time favorite bands — Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Yes, and At The Drive-In, to name a few. And they do it all with just three extremely talented individuals. Their songs are progressive, yet catchy in a manner that is tough to accomplish.

The first time I saw them play, I stormed up on the stage after they finished playing, grabbed the microphone, and yelled “OH MY GAAAAAAAAHD!” Yes, that was me. They should have won the “Best New Band” award in the Houston Press Music Awards. In fact, I can’t take the award seriously anymore because they weren’t even nominated. No offense to whoever won it, but if the Houston media don’t take notice of them soon, I’m going to get Veruca Salt upset. But DADDY, I WANT THE DEAD REVOLT TO WIN A HOUSTON PRESS MUSIC AWARD!

Here’s my musician to musician interview with George Baba, Spencer Golvach, and Dylan Golvach of The Dead Revolt.


 

SCR: First off, can you guys give me a short bio on the band?
George Baba: Spencer and I played in a band called VOID in high school. Like every other high school band, we broke up, but I continued to write songs. A year went by, and we started jamming again. One day his little brother just came in while we were jamming and jumped on the drum set.

It sounded pretty good, so we started writing songs and playing shows in late 2009. We had enough material to record our first full-length album, The Substance of Things Not Seen, and released it September 2010. Since then we have been playing around Houston and writing more material, which let us to record our second record Vanixer, released in October 2011.

Are people surprised to find out how young you guys are — 22, 22, and 16, respectively?
GB: Well, we are young considering the music we write, but people are mostly amazed at Dylan’s age. Spencer and I are 22, but Dylan is only 16 — he was only 14 on the first album. We’ve even played places where we don’t mention his age for the sake of not getting kicked out. In my opinion, he has more musical skill on the drums than we do on our instruments.
Dylan Golvach: Yeah, honestly, me in particular, but for us in general, yeah.
Spencer Golvach: People are usually surprised by Dylan’s age. The first EP we put out was recorded when he was only 14, but he has been playing longer than George and I, so he’s never having to keep up with us “older guys”.

What is The Dead Revolt songwriting process?
DG: One of us, usually George, writes a riff, and we usually all collaborate on it as far as time signatures and putting it into verse-chorus song structure.
GB: I will write riffs/melodies/etc., Spencer will write riffs/melodies/etc., and we usually find places in the song to properly place them all. When we are all together composing the material, Dylan helps us by filling in the empty spaces or rearranging the parts.

We have multiple songs that go well over 10-12 minutes, so there’s a lot of work to do. Most songs we aren’t completely satisfied with until we work on them for a year or so. To be honest, I was working on material for Vanixer way before The Substance of Things Not Seen, and we already have 60 minutes’ worth of music we are currently working on now for a future release.
SG: A lot of it is written by ourselves and then we come together to find where all the pieces fit. We revise and edit each other a lot, and having three members makes voting easy. At the end of the day, we usually are not satisfied with a piece until we all are. Dylan swings to the intense side of the music, George the moderate, and I would be the mellow. It makes Dylan and I musical enemies sometimes, but as I said, I think we are always happy with the end result.

You guys are all very skillful players! Do you make an effort to not step on each other’s parts when playing?
DG: Thanks, and yeah, for sure. Not that it’s any competition in the band — we all can have crazy virtuoso parts on our instruments — but we make sure not to have it all be too much at once. When George solos, I’ll try to kinda stay in the pocket more.
GB: The opposite, actually. We step on each other all the time. My guitar riffs are very intricate, and the drumming is very creative, while the bass is soothing and helps glue it all together. With all this going on, it’s hard not to step on each other’s parts, but we just let it happen. Eventually it all comes together the way we want it.
SG: Thank you! Yeah, I’d say we all know our place. It comes with playing with each other for so long. George and Dylan are the crazy ones, and I try to glue them together. We all complement each other very well. If you listen to some of the bass and drum parts, the toms can literally change the tone of the bass. It’s something Dylan and I have worked on a lot. George and I both know when to come together on a song and when to venture off.

Do you guys write and read music at all? Any formal training?
GB: No. All of my favorite players, including Jimmy Page or Tony Iommi, ever had formal training. I learned my guitar in my room by myself, in my own mind. When you train yourself, you’re creating a whole new perspective on an instrument because you have no choice but to do so. And also, because lessons are fucking expensive!
DG: Hell, no — lol!
SG: I think I’m the only one with any sort of “real” or “official” musical background, which isn’t to say I know what I’m doing any more then George or Dylan, but I can read bass and treble clef. I know what notes make up certain chords and scales. The only thing I’ve found it has done is frustrate me.

Have you ever considered adding more members to the band, or is the trio the perfect way to express yourselves? You remind me a bit of At the Drive-In, but you do a lot with just three people to get that sound!
DG: Thanks, Omar and Cedric are my heroes, and no, we like the three-piece. It enables us to stay busy on our instruments.
GB: So far the trio is working out for us, but on the new record our engineer J.R Paredes did add some keys and strings to make it fuller. I like the way I imagine keys would sound with us, so who knows, maybe in the future, but for right now I enjoy the challenge of making all the sounds with just three instruments.
SG: We originally wanted to get a singer. We just decided this way was easier. Less people, less equipment, less BS. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I doubt it.

You have been “leaking” a couple of songs from your new CD to whet your fans’ appetite. Can’t wait to hear the rest! So far you’ve given us the catchy “Indigo Fashion Show” and the more progressive “Bombshell.” When the album comes out, will we find more tracks like “IFC” or more like “Bombshell”?
GB: When you hear the album, you will notice that every track has a catchy side and a progressive side. I love playing hard-as-shit guitar licks, but as a musician, I have to understand what people like. And people like catchy! Especially chicks. The great thing about this album is that there are moments when you have no choice but to sing along, and there are moments when you have no choice but to shut up and listen. And both are equally satisfying.
DG: The first half of the album seems to be a little poppier, blusier, more catchy, and the second half leans more toward prog and hard rock and roll.
SG: The album has a couple different sounds, but overall its a rock album; some blues some progressive and some pop. we are pretty happy with the flow of things.

What brands/models of instruments do you guys play?  What amps do you use?
GB: I play a Gibson SG and a cheap Marshall that I found at a pawn shop. Combined, they have given me my sound, but hopefully I can afford an Orange amp one day because I love those, too. Also, I don’t use a lot of modulation to my guitar, just simple things like delay or wah-wah. I’m not a pedal head.
SG: Ashdown Mag 300 4×10 combo amp. American Fender Jazz Bass 4-string — I’m going for the John Paul Jones thing — Eden Bass Direct. Maybe one day a fretless P Bass.
DG: I use whatever I can afford, but I’m planning on getting my hands on a DW Performance Series.

Why did you pick those particular instruments or amps or drum set?
GB: One day I was in a guitar shop and I saw a TV Yellow Gibson SG on the wall. It was love at first sight. I drove straight to the bank, pulled out 900 dollars, and bought it. And Spencer called me one day because he found a full-stack Marshall at a pawn shop for 500 bucks! I bought that shit, too.
SG: I go for a classic rock bass sound. I’m not too into distortions. I use a little bit of subharmonic at times, but for the most part a solid, simple setup is all I need and want.
DG: I play everything; I’ve been a drummer before I could talk, literally.

What are your favorite places to play? What’s your best gig so far?
DG: Fitz, probably Spring Forward Festival.
GB: Well, we have only played out of Houston once, so we’re prone to the venues in Houston like The Mink, Mango’s, Fitzgerald’s. Another cool but unknown venue is Jet Lounge. I would love to play bigger venues like House of Blues or Warehouse Live if we ever get the opportunity.
SG: Anywhere outside is great! The sound is always better outside. Other than that, Fitzgerald’s is pretty good. I just cant hear anything when I’m playing. As far as the best gig we played, in College Station in a little club during a thunder storm at Loudfest. George and I were both soaked. That took the cake for me.

Yes, I was at Spring Forward, too, and it confirmed me as a fan for life. How do you get ready/hyped up to play a show?
DG: I’ve never been more ready for a show than when George and I were on the way to a gig and we started singing “Billie Jean,” by Michael Jackson!
GB: I’m hyped up to play a show the minute I wake up, but I get ready for a show by warming up my vocals backstage and drink orange juice.
SG: We usually have a jam session before the show. That helps me to get in the grove.

What does it feel like to be on stage?
GB: It’s nice to see people you don’t know enjoying something that you worked your ass off to do. I love seeing people’s faces in the crowd, mostly, especially when they have never seen us before. And the more people I see, the better I play.
SG: It’s sex — nothing like it. A little anxiety… You are pumped up and in the zone. It’s funny when you mess up, and it’s awesome when you get it right. When you have good energy and a crowd has good energy, you can’t go wrong.

What do you like about the Houston music scene?
DG: There’s lots of talent, not enough showcase for it.
GB: Umm, Houston has a lot to offer, but I feel like the scene isn’t where I wish it could be. A lot of bands try to go for that late ’60s sound, so it’s hard to fit in. I think Houston should be a place where music is progressing into the future instead of staying put in a 40-year-old genre.
SG: I like certain aspects of the scene; the musicians are most always great guys/girls, some of whom have amazing, over-the-top talent.

Have you felt like you are getting any notoriety so far?
GB: Not really, but I don’t care. We’ve been playing Houston for three years now and we still have a hard time getting booked, for some reason. We’re not where I wish we could be, but fuck it. I just want to look back at my music when I’m 60 and smile.
SG: I’m not too worried about it. We don’t play because we want people to like our music. Don’t get me wrong — it’s nice. But if that’s what we wanted, we’d do the cliché psychedelic, ’60s rock that’s so popular. Having fans like you is all the notoriety I need, and I’ll be grateful for anything we get.
DG: Yes, but no at the same time…

Who are your favorite Houston bands and National bands lately?
DG: Featherface, RIVERS, Alkari — locally.
GB: In Houston, I like Featherface a lot. Not only are they badass dudes, but their music is excellent. They’re perfect for Pink Floyd fans. I also play bass for a band called RIVERS. I’ve been friends with them for a long time, but I wouldn’t be playing with them if I didn’t like what they were doing. Hopefully I can record an album with them soon. As for national bands…I don’t listen to much.
SG: Featherface, Alkari, RIVERS, Winter Wallace. I’m probably forgetting somebody. Nationally, I’ve been into a band called Zeus. they are awesome. I’ve seen a band called The Globes twice. I listen to their CD pretty often.

I get your Facebook updates. Dylan especially has what seems like a musical taste from way before you guys were born! Where did you get this taste? How did you amass a music collection? Parents? Cousins? Illegal downloading?
DG: My dad is a professional musician; my world has revolved around classic bands and artists from the ’60s-’90s, Hendrix, Zep, Pink Floyd, Yes, Beatles, Lauryn Hill, Soundgarden, Rush…
GB: My father always promoted his music to me since I was little. My first Zeppelin experience was the 26-minute version of “Dazed and Confused” at Madison Square Garden in 1973. I was sold. He took me to every concert he could, including Neil Young, The Eagles, RUSH, Van Halen, Neil Diamond, Roger Waters, Peter Frampton, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton. I even had a spiritual experience at Graceland.
SG: Like Dylan said, our dad is a professional musician and a fantastic guitar player. He has music friends who are also all fantastic musicians. Plus, I work at a guitar shop with some very knowledgeable musicians. If you want to be humbled in your musical abilities and/or knowledge of theory, hang out with one of these guys. They will blow your mind.

I personally buy all my music — to answer the illegal downloading question. Not because I think it’s wrong to illegally download music, but because I can’t in good conscience sell my album and expect people to buy it if I myself illegally download music. I know George buys all his CDs, as well. My taste comes from being around my father, who made Dylan and I both memorize every Beatles song — who sang it, who wrote it, what album. Same with The Zep. The rest has come naturally. I’m not a snob. I like everything, but I only like little bits of everything.

Any favorite records of the past year or two?
GB: Portugal the Man, In the Mountain in the Cloud.
SG: Zeus, Say Us.
DG: Mastodon, The Hunter, and Radiohead, The King of Limbs.

Can you think of the best gigs you’ve been to this year, or ever?
GB: The Mars Volta at Verizon Wireless, Sept. 17th, 2009.
SG: I saw The Toadies at verizon in ’08. I’m not the biggest fan, but I had tons of fun.
DG: I’m too young to go out!

If you could get in a time machine and go to a gig any time in the last 60 years, who would you go see and where?
DG: Hendrix, Filmore East 1968, no competition!
GB: ELVIS. Anytime. Anywhere.
SG: The Beatles rooftop. END

(All photos by Jason Smith.)

[The Dead Revolt is playing the Montrose Winter Social Pre-Party 12/1/11 at Mango’s, along with Blvd Nights, This Name Is Temporary, The Pub Affair, DJ Pharmer, & DJ Stephen Ferrel.]
SOUNDS:

Interview by . Interview posted Thursday, December 1st, 2011. Filed under Features, Interviews.

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5 Responses to “Musician to Musician: The Dead Revolt”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Musician to Musician: The Dead Revolt | Houston Music Events on December 1st, 2011 at 11:59 am

    […] great guys/girls, some of whom have amazing, over-the-top talent. … … Read more: SPACE CITY ROCK » Musician to Musician: The Dead Revolt ← The Key to the Kitchen: Coppa's Female … – Blogs – Houston […]

  2. Jason Smith on December 1st, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I did this interview a month or so ago, before their album, VANIXER, came out. The album is now out. Make sure you get a copy as soon as possible. – Jason

  3. SPACE CITY ROCK » Tonight: The Tontons Tour Kickoff + The Dead Revolt, Interviewed on December 1st, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    […] in a while for cool rockers The Dead Revolt — whom writer/musician Jason Smith interviewed right over here — as part of the “Montrose Winter Social Pre-Party” thing, but it also happens to […]

  4. JE on December 3rd, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    @ Jason Smith,
    Great writeup/interview..! Great band, they need some more articles like this to further expose them to the main stream.. Thanks for helping them in promoting there music… They are the best band out there, the guitarist skills is amazing, they need to be famous..!!!

  5. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: The Wild Moccasins + The Tontons + Art Institute + The Dead Revolt + More on December 23rd, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    […] The Tyburn Jig/A Sundae Drive/Zipperneck/The Dead Revolt @ The Mink (free!) Dang, and this is a good, good, good one, too, with three of the most promising bands in town right now doing their thing (I’ve only heard a little bit of Zipperneck, sorry); A Sundae Drive are extremely cool, riding a great Pixies/Seam-esque drone that’s fuzzy and sharp at the same time. Then there’s The Tyburn Jig, who play Western-tinged surf-rock with vocals that drift somewhere between Johnny Cash & Nick Cave, and The Dead Revolt, who I still need to check out but whom SCR contributor Jason Smith has fallen for in a big way — see the interview with ‘em over here. […]

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