Pop-Break is proud to present the second edition of “Watermark Wednesday” — a new weekly series in partnership with ShoreAlternative.com where we spotlight rising artists performing at The Watermark, located in the beautiful, historic and culturally rich city of Asbury Park, N.J.
This week’s focus is New York City’s The Dead Exs — a powerful garage-rock duo heavily rooted in electric blues, crossed with punk-rock attitude, and guaranteed to shake you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. The group is led by the talented — and extremely busy — David Patillo. When he’s not tearing it up with The Dead Exs or his other band The Dirty Glamour, Patillo is running his record label, Bang Bang Boogaloo, or behind the boards, producing artists in the studio or for Live At The Artists Den — a public television series where he’s worked with a host of top artists, including The Black Crowes, David Gray and Alanis Morissette, to name only a few.
With the recent release of The Dead Exs’ debut album Resurrection and the launch of Bang Bang Boogaloo, it seems like 2011 is shaping up to be a big year for Patillo. In advance of their performance at The Watermark tomorrow (with Only Living Boy and The Loose Roosters), Pop-Break’s Jason Kundrath had a chance to ask Patillo a few questions about his new band, his new record label and the future of the blues.
Band Name: The Dead Exs
The Line Up: David Patillo — vocals, guitar; Wylie Wirth — drums
We Formed In: August 2010
We’re Based Out Of: The Nolita neighborhood of New York City
Find Our Current Music At: http://music.thedeadexs.com
Our Sound Has Been Likened To: Sex, spirit and rock ‘n’ roll
We’ve Performed With: Carney, The Fieros, The Othermen
Bands You’ve Seen Us In Previously: The future’s a mystery, the past is history and the moment is a gift that’s why we call it the present. Lets stay in the now.
Pop-Break: It is said a band can only be as good as its drummer. Tell me a little about the phenomenal Mr. Wylie Wirth and how you came to work together as the Dead Exs.
David Patillo: Wylie’s got the swagger and the love. He gave up the party to come and jam at my studio on his birthday, I knew he had dedication. When he kicked up that shuffle on his Vistalites, I knew he was it. He’s a swinger and a rocker. Most drummers are either — he is both. He’s got a vinyl collection that digs deep in blues, funk and rock n roll, so he’s got that catalog of beats. When I wanna write a stomp or a strut, he knows the ticket. We both are New Yorkers and got some punk in our blood, so its never a throwback. You can always bring something new to the blues.
PB: The Dead Exs’ debut Resurrection has such an authentic vibe. It’s a vibrant recording, but it also sounds like it could have been released at any time over the last forty years. How did you achieve those tones?
DP: Wow … bless you! That’s exactly what I was hoping to hear from a real music fan like yourself. I love the idea of postmodern lo-fi. However, with my mixing background, I was challenged to preserve low end. With my band The Dirty Glamour, I got super-intense with amp modeling and spreading a single guitar over the stereo spectrum. That came out great but was such a tweaker that it was time to destroy and rebuild my concept.
I have a bunch of vintage amps and was ready at this point to move on to the exact opposite of what I had done with the DG recordings. We put up five mics in the studio and just recorded live. The last thing I wanted to do was any kind of computer trickery to make the record raw and powerful. It’s recorded on an old Neve, so that helps, but I don’t think is necessary. We had Wylie’s dog present at all sessions — that may have helped. The record was a bitch to mix … no bass, man. Just spike the kick and the guitar in complimentary frequencies and get your bottom where you can.
PB: There seem to be more and more duos making music these days. What is it about that simplified lineup that is so attractive?
DP: Drama-free, ease of touring, the power of two, the twin flame. As a guitar player, I have total freedom. The other night at our label launch party, I broke into [ZZ Top's] “La Grange,” then “Bad Company.” I think Wylie was like, “WTF?” But if the crowd is pushing me, I will go forth into the great beyond and deliver the jam. There is absolutely nothing like that moment. It’s addictive.
PB: With Jack White reintroducing the tones and textures of the blues into the mainstream over the last decade, and considering the recent success of bands like The Black Keys, do you think the blues is ripe for a full-on revival in American pop culture?
DP: [The Black Keys'] Dan Auerbach is great. He embodies the blues, man. I dig the earlier records ’cause they are just so raw. The Danger Mouse stuff [2008's Attack & Release] is very hip and it’s all very well done, but I favor [2003's] Thickfreakness or [2004's ] Rubber Factory.
I looooove what Jack White has done. He’s an auteur. I would love to be the Jack White of NYC. I am working my ass off to build a label and be a supportive part of a growing community here. And it IS growing. I have seen metalheads and glammers loving the blues. We have them at our shows. Headbanging, thrashing, furs, feathers, leather — it’s all in there. Kids are discovering Free and Grand Funk Railroad and realizing that it’s so powerful when a band just rocks the roots. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to dance to rock than rap. A blog out in San Francisco a few months called us “Revival Rock.” I embrace it and have sought out others in NYC who do the same. Our first Bang Bang Boogaloo compilation will feature these blues-based rock ‘n’ roll bands.
PB: You recently launched your record label Bang Bang Boogaloo. Tell me briefly about the label’s vision and its plans for the rest of the year.
DP: The label will release three to four compilations a year, as well as projects that I am producing. Each will have a theme. The first will be NYC Revival Rock. It’s really about being a part of the community and giving back to those bands I feel are worthy of press. These are bands that are blues rock ‘n’ roll based, have rocked me live and write compelling tunes. They are independent bands that bust their ass to make it happen despite jobs or lack of funding, keep a presence on the web, and for the most part are self-managed. We also will be doing some events and partnering with a very cool new pictorial newspaper called The Passenger, run by a former Vogue editor/passionate rock fan and a badass photographer who are both obsessed with vintage rock ‘n’ roll. The Passenger will be featuring the BBB bands in their May/June issue.
PB: Are you excited about your Asbury Park debut at The Watermark?
DP:I dig the shore alternative station and the rock and roll kids in New Jersey. It’s our first show outside of NYC. We are pumped. I can’t wait to hang at the ocean. Can we have a bonfire?
[Editorial Note: Sorry you cannot have a bonfire until summertime, guys. Apologies for being a stick in the mud. Sincerely, The PB Management]
PB: What can people expect from The Dead Exs on stage?
DP: This ain’t your Daddy’s blues. Let’s kick up the jams, have a blast, and get air. If you really misbehave, we might jam some ZZ Top.