Local cool cats Dance for the Dying have been keeping busy in the DC music scene, making them our featured artist for the week. The synth-pop, dance-rock band have been doing their thing for a few years now, creating catchy tracks that’ll have you dancing and hand-clapping with the best of the them. You could even play the catchy tracks yourself as their featured on the popular Rockband games.
M.C. (vocals, synth), Josh (guitar, synth), Brad (Bass, synth), and Chris (Drums) have been locked up in the studio recently, putting together another EP for all ears to hear. They even opened up for The Psychedelic Furs at The State Theatre last month. We got to speak them to recently, learning more about their EP, the story behind their name, Rockband, what you can expect at their shows, and much more!
Get to know your local dance machine, Dance for the Dying.
They are headlining Rock N Roll Hotel, this Friday (4/20)! Doors at 8pm | Show at 9pm. Don’t miss out!
Could you give us some background about the four of you – how did you all come together and decide to form Dance for the Dying?
JOSH: I moved to northern VA from Richmond in 2009 to attend school for Audio Production and answered an interesting Craigslist posting by Chris.
M.C.: I was between bands when Josh’s girlfriend introduced me to him. A while passed before I was invited to an evening with Josh and Chris, but once I was there I was in.
CHRIS: After playing in bands for many years, I had taken a break from it all for a bit. When the music bug bit again, I Tried out for several area bands but couldn’t find anything I wanted to invest my time and energy in so I thought “why not try and start my own thing?”. So I made a post on Craigslist and started flushing out some candidates.
Brad: After bouncing around the U.S., I ended up back in DC in 2009. I was kind of itching to play some music and posted a Craigslist ad. Chris answered.
There’s always a story behind the band name. What’s the story behind yours?
CHRIS: Actually, the band had a name before it had members in it. I had heard of a place in India where these kids were putting on skits and dances for the dying, sick and elderly in their village. The idea was to help them enjoy life in the moment and to cheer them up while they were alive. So I wrote down “dance for the dying” realizing that helping people enjoy life in the moment, listening to a recording or enjoying a live experience, were the same wishes I had for being in a band. So when trying to find other bandmates for the project, I decided to share the concept and it stuck.
I recently saw your band play live and thought you guys were great fun! How do you all prepare for a show? Any crazy or interesting rituals?
JOSH: From load in until the doors open is usually a little hectic with getting every bands gear situated and running through soundchecks. After the doors open we set up our merch and get to know the bands we’re playing with better and get a short time to relax. The 5 minute warning usually gets my heart pumping a bit, and then hitting the stage and hearing the first notes of the full band hitting together always gives me a rush.
M.C.: Getting dressed is easily the most stressful part of my evening.
CHRIS: Cheezy as it sounds, the whole process of getting ready to perform is a sort of ritual I guess. The intention for me is always to let the Universe steer me as it sees fit to let the music flow through me as its instrument. And to allow me to be my best. I love losing my sense of self in the performances and just being.
Brad: I usually just hide somewhere and prepare for the inevitable sweaty mess I become when setting up on stage. I feel like I look like a frazzled, confused IT guy.
The band has played some of the well-established clubs in the DC area. How important has the local support been for you all so far?
M.C.: It’s incredibly important to have local support. The clubs want to feature bands that people come out to see, and we are so appreciative of everyone who has come out to have fun with us!
CHRIS: The building support for what we do has been a welcome pleasure. We would likely still play music by ourselves at home because our individual creative juices have to go into some endeavor but sharing what we do with others is so rewarding. Especially when it is well received.
Brad: And I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of having local bands that support each other. D.C. has a ton of great bands. We’ve been lucky to share shows with Lenorable, Ra Ra Rasputin, Hiding Places, among many others. Its great to share shows and audiences.
As a synth-based, dance-rock band, can you tell us some of the musicians that inspire you all as a band, as well as your sound?
JOSH: My favorite band of all time is The Cure, but I pull influence and inspiration from many artists of all kinds. The other members of the group inspire my idea’s a great deal as well.
M.C.: Two of my very favorite bands are The Pixies and Metric, and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s give me some inspiration. Emily Haines has such great energy on stage, and I love vocalists who are unafraid to explore their voice as an instrument both lyrically and vocally.
Brad: I’m kinda all over the map, recently i’ve really re-latched onto OMD, John Cale, New Order and Pulp. Oh, and I love Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s base-lines.
You all released your Dance for the Dying EP over the summer. How has this experience been for you all as a band?
M.C.: Releasing our EP created so many more opportunities for the band. We’ve been included in a video game, on a Paul Frank compilation, we’ve been played on radio stations in the US and Canada. It’s become much easier to attract attention when so many first impressions are not dependent on people getting out to see us live – which we still recommend you do.
Brad: Its been great playing songs live and seeing people actually singing along and knowing where the changes are. Its a great feeling when the crowd is part of the show. Having an EP makes that happen much easier.
Can you tell us a little more about the EP, like where you guys recorded it and who helped you all put it together?
JOSH: Justin Long, producer and engineer with The Powder Mill, helped us put the EP together and gave us a great recording experience and an awesome product.
M.C.: We spent 4 days in the studio living off of Mexican fast food and bagels. All of the vocals were recorded between 1 and 3am.
Brad: Justin really did a great job. And it helps having another person giving us an objective opinion of the songs.
Between the four of you, could you tell us about your songwriting process; how does it all go down when getting a track together?
M.C.: We write collaboratively. Usually one of us will have an idea – maybe a riff or a verse, some seed for a song – and we build off of it as a group.
CHRIS: I love that we write that way! Sometimes we butt heads with different ideas, but the result is stronger from having been hammered by each of our hands.
It was pretty cool to hear that you all have some tracks [Echo, El Monstro, and Thug Love] on the popular Rockband game! As an avid player of the game, I’ve always been a bit curious as to how this goes down for the band contributing the tracks. Could you take us behind the whole ordeal?
M.C.: We are lucky to have a fan who is also an author for Rock Band Network. Andy Sage discovered us when he saw us open for a touring band, got one of our songs stuck in his head, and made us a project. All we had to do was provide the tracks. He even made avatars of us playing the song. It’s been a lot of fun to see the different songs go up, and they are currently being played in 7 countries.
Your band is big on the social media trends with Facebook, Twitter, and even a great blog that each of you contribute to. How important do you think it is for musicians to keep everyone in the loop with what they all are up to or to just keep being “social” with their fans?
M.C.: Especially as a smaller band I think it’s pretty important. You don’t want to be forgotten between shows and releases, and you become more memorable when you share some of your quirks and are accessible to anyone who wants to sent a message.
What’s next for you all in 2012? You all played some new tracks at your show, does this mean your fans have a full‐length album to look forward to?
M.C.: We’re focusing on playing more shows in cities away from home and will be heading north in the spring, and after some debate about album length we’ve decided to record another EP. It should be ready in the next few months.
CHRIS: We enjoyed the experience with Justin Long so much the first time that we are going back in with him mid March to lay down our favorite new songs. It will likely be another 5 songs but we are still batting that around. We have quite a few new songs we’d like to have recorded but allotted time and budget will dictate the results.
Lastly, for those who’ve yet to see Dance for the Dying live, what can they expect at your shows?
JOSH: Fire, dangerous amounts of fire. Seizures.
Brad: Highlander-esque swordfights.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. Any last words for the readers?
CHRIS: Just thank you! Thanks for reading this article, thanks for your interest in our band, and thanks for supporting those of us who are trying to enjoy doing what we love.