Detroit, Michigan’s DEATH FROM DETROIT are living proof that raw talent, ambition and honesty can prevail in an ever changing music industry. By aligning their unwavering dedication with a signature sound, DEATH was conceived by band leader and Guitarist David Hackney (1952-2000) in 1973. In 2008, DEATH’s music was rediscovered and noted by Rock historians as the sound that pre-dated the “Punk” movement of sound by five years. Staying true to David’s vision and concept for the band, Bobby, Dannis and guitarist Bobbie Duncan have continued to work together to write, refine and produce the best, most honest, fun loving and hard driving Rock-N-Roll music for their fans, young and old. They continue to present new innovations conceived by the current band and to present incredible songs written by both David and Bobby Hackney in the early days of DEATH from the 1970s. In recent exclusive interview, DEATH squeezed 34 years of music and thoughts, into twenty questions.
- What drives a band that first appeared in the early 70’s to comeback and release a brand new album in 2015?
Death: Unfinished business, songs that were written that never got the chance to be recorded in the studio, and most of all, support, love, and request and inquiries about new and more music from fans of Death.
- Is there any specific significance in the title of the album, which is called N.E.W.?
Death: We’ll leave that acronym to the fans of the LP. Whatever N.E.W. is to you-is what it means.
- Is the material on N.E.W. made up of entirely new tracks or have you included some unpublished stuff from the past?
Death: One song was written by the whole band, six songs are from the Death songwriting archive from the 70s, and 3 original songs were contributed by guitarist Bobbie Duncan.
- Were all the tracks on the album recorded in the same time frame, or there they recorded at different periods in time?
Death: Each song is a studio performance with Death recording as a full band, in the tradition of the recording style of the 70s.
- How did you go about choosing Bobbie Duncan as a replacement for David? And do the performances on the album only feature the 3 of you?
Death: The way Bobbie Duncan was chosen for Death is a spiritual journey. I suggest two things: watch the film “A Band Called Death” and read the new autobiography book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Victims: Story Of A Band Called Death” www.rocknrollvictims.com
- On the verge of breaking out big, in 1975, David apparently refused to change the name of the band after a request to do so from Colombia Records. After all these years do you have any regrets about not making that change back then?
Death: No, I am glad we stuck with David’s conviction. It may have taken quite a few years, but who knows what would have happened had we caved-in for our name. In time, no one respects a cave-in, especially the one who caved in-you have to live with that for the rest of your life. I’m glad David convinced us to hold true to our name.
- Essentially the name ‘DEATH’ still seems to bother someone somewhere. A look around the web finds some angry fans who think you’ve stolen the name from a metal band. What is your reaction to this, considering the hefty price you’ve paid for maintaining the name all these years?
Death: Sorry for that. Death from Detroit came first (1974) We have even been in touch with the representatives from the Metal band and we have worked out all of our differences and have moved on into co-existence, we hope those Metal fans can move on as well.
8. In an era where 18-yearold-kids who make music on laptops (and win Grammy’s!!!) are the rage, do you think there is still room left for real rock n’ roll bands like DEATH?
Death: There is room for Rock ‘N’ Roll period. True Rock ‘N’ Roll has survived every change the music business has undergone. As long as people want to Rock there will be room left for Rock ‘N’ Roll and DEATH!
- In the seventies you were pioneering punk rock against the tide of disco, funk, fusion and soul. Today you’re still rocking out in the face of Hiphop, Rap and Electronic music. What special kind of DNA do 3 black men need to even attempt this?
Death: The kind of love for Rock ‘N’ Roll and playing music together that David, Dannis, and Bobby Hackney had in 1974 and beyond.
- How would you describe the current state of Rock and Punk music in general?
Death: Thriving and surviving. If there were as many various cultures of people tuning in to Rock music back when Death was in Detroit as there is today, we might not be having this conversation.
- What are you ultimately hoping to achieve with the release of the new album. Is it primarily aimed at nostalgic fans or are you looking to capture the new generation?
Death: Anyone who loves Death and Rock ‘N’ Roll music from age eight to age eighty.
- In fact, in recent years you have been playing a series of live shows. How has the reception been with the younger generation, do you think they can relate to what you’re doing?
Death: It has been fantastic. The younger kids are definitely relating-very strong.
- Are you backing up the album release with specific live dates or a tour?
Death: Death will be in Austin Texas, San Antonio Texas, and Dallas Texas this month (August 19-24); we will be in Chicago, Ann Arbor Michigan, and Detroit in September. and we are slated to return to Seattle, Vancouver BC, and Portland Or in October., before heading out to London in November.
- What is your relationship with visual media and are you planning any videos to support the album?
Death: There is a pilot video of the song “Playtime” from the LP, and there may be more to come-or we may just opt to keep the music fresh like back in the 70s before video, where each song created a private video in the listener’s mind. Aren’t those the best videos?
- What kind of affinity does DEATH have with the technological era? Are you riding the waves of the web and using its social media tools to promote the band or are you relying on the trusted old traditional methods.
Death: Both. We have website: www.deathfromdetroit.com, and social media like Facebook, twitter, and instagram. This is the music business of today and Death understands that totally.
- Looking back, how does it feel to have preceded legendary bands like Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, in determining a genre, especially considering the popularity those bands achieved within that genre?
Death: If when the term “Punk started and Bad Brains was the first band to be called “Punk”, then we guess you would have to say they are the first punk band. When we were writing, recording, and performing this music in 1973 to 1975 we were not trying to pre-date or create a new moniker for Rock-N-Roll, we were just playing what we all of us Detroit Rockers called “Hard-Drivin Rock_N-Roll Baby!!!(That’s just the way we used to say it).
- If you were given the chance to be able to go back in time and change one thing you did during your musical career up until now, what would that one thing be?
Death: I would have taken more pictures of our United Sound recording sessions. Back then, you just could not take a photo and look at it or print it out then. You had to take the roll of film to a drug or department store and wait a least a week before you got em back. It was tedious, which is why we missed a lot of photo opps in the 70s. George Clinton of the Funkadelic recently shared that same sentiment as we were talking about the recording days at United Sound studio in Detroit.
- You’ve had a long and distinguished career, but is there any one thing you set out to do as a young musician, which you feel you still have not achieved to its fullest or at all?
Death: To do what David said our touring manifesto would be in the 70s: to see and play everywhere in the world, if even only once: “For The Whole World To See”. So far, it’s happening, as Dannis, Bobbie , and I have been and performed at places we once only dreamed of.
- Of all the songs in your catalog, which one brings on the most nostalgic memories for you?
Death: It would have to be “Keep On Knocking” that was our first bona-fied original Rock ‘N’ Roll song we were pleased with.
- What can fans expect next from DEATH…and will they have to wait another 34 years?
Death: No. We have a ton of projects in the works and we will also be releasing Death music (old, new, and waiting) for a long while to come.
DEATH featuring Rough Francis
A Special Tribute Performance
© TryAngle Records a division of DL4 Musical Enterprises Inc.
“Keep On Knocking”
© Elect Music Publishing BMI
Licensed by Drag City Records Inc.
Produced by:TryAngle Records
Executive Producers: Bobby Hackney, Michael Alston
Video Director and Editing: Zento Slinger
Special Thanks to:
Friends For A-Dog and Arts Riot Media and Arts Space