Ask the members of Get Dead how long it’s taken to release their new album, and they’ll probably say, “Forever.” Even though the San Francisco band started recording it more than two years ago, Dancing with the Curse (Fat Wreck Chords, Oct 9th) feels perfectly timed for now.
Look no further than the song “Pepperspray,” written long before the protests of summer 2020. The band had begun collaborating with activist-artist collective Indecline on a video before the George Floyd protests erupted. If there was any time to share the message of “Pepperspray,” this was it.
“We wanted to just be able to cut through the noise and have some kind of impact,” says vocalist Sam King, “and to try to let people know that what they're doing is okay, and people are behind them.”
Get Dead rolls only five deep—King, guitarists Mike McGuire and Jeremy Korkki, bassist Tim Mehew, and drummer Scott Powell—but Dancing with the Curse sounds like an army. Produced by D-Composers (Fat Mike, Johnny Carey, Baz Bastien, Yotam Ben Horin) and Chris Dugan (Green Day), its 12 songs build on 2016’s Honesty Lives Elsewhere without rehashing it.
While Dancing with the Curse features Get Dead’s signature NorCal punk sound, balancing bombast with up-picked bounce and dirt-smudged acoustic songs, listeners will notice some curious moments. Subtle electronic flourishes lurk in songs like “Disruption,” “Glitch,” “Confrontation,” and “Take It.” The album opens with an atmospheric intro built on King’s gravelly voice and hip-hop-inflected cadence—a happy accident.
“I was supposed to be sending Fat Mike a new demo for one of the songs,” King says. “I ended up sending him some of my stuff that I just screw around with at home because I used to do hip-hop stuff. I sent that to him, and he really liked it. He’s like, ‘We're putting this as the intro.’”
These sonic detours suit a band that isn’t known to stay in one place for too long. “Our first EP was hardcore, and then the next one was straight acoustic, almost country shit,” King says. “We get bored easily if we were just to stay the same thing.”
And after writing Honesty Lives Elsewhere in the aftermath of a friend’s suicide, Get Dead was ready to move on.
“I don't think anyone really realized that it was happening, as much as it was a way that we were processing what happened,” King says of writing Honesty. “It just so happened that we were supposed to be making an album at that point. That one was a bummer, man. This one, it's a lot more upbeat, more along lines of how we normally are.”
Reaching that place was a process. Get Dead originally recorded with Chris Dugan, but then Fat Wreck Chords co-founder Fat Mike heard the songs. “He was like, ‘Naw, you guys can do better than this,’” King says, laughing. So the band decamped to Six Floggs Studio in LA to continue with D-Composers.
“Chris did an amazing job. It sounded great, and we were super psyched on it,” King says. “Mike knows how to keep us on track with our stuff and just call us on our bullshit. I’m glad that he and those boys had us do what we did to it because it got way better. But it’s been a long journey for sure.”
Yet a worthwhile one. Dancing with the Curse is Get Dead’s most self-assured album yet, one perfectly suited to the times: raw, energized, frustrated, but ultimately unbowed.
Hannah Louve Benedum