DFA79 mourn romance

By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 10, 2005

There are five interesting and essential facts everyone must know about Death From Above 1979 (DFA79):

They are a Toronto two-man drum and bass band.

They are loud.

On the cover of their debut album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, they have elephant trunks to represent their music as an elephant in your living room: "You may not like it, but you can't ignore it."

They are really loud.

Really, really loud. Got it?

I recently spoke with drummer and vocalist Sebastien Grainger about DFA79's loud and brash form of rock. The elephant sound of You're a Woman, I'm a Machine has best been interpreted as noise rock by various critics, from NME to Pitchfork, who have championed the album, and Grainger could find little room for disagreement.

"It's not inaccurate. We make rock music and it's noisy," Grainger said. "If you called us punk or art wave then I would probably disagree, but noise rock is fine."

No matter what you call the band it'd be best to avoid noting any direct comparisons between their name and James Murphy's DFA record label. DFA79 was sued by Murphy in a matter that Grainger feels has become too focal.

"It's actually been talked out to exhaustion," Grainger said. "I usually say this about it, 'two lawyers walk into a bar,' that's all I say about it. It's the beginning of a joke and it ends in a joke and the punchline is we get a lot of press about it and we have a 1979 at the end of our name."

While the feud may be beyond DFA79, their band name remains an amalgamation of some fairly common influences. Grainger explains away the lawsuit and offers a hint at why their sound is equally noisy and organic.

"Death from Above came from a t-shirt in an army surplus store," Grainger said. "And 1979 came because it's the year of my birth."

The album itself offers a first hand look at how noise rock bands deal with breakups. Songs like "Romantic Rights," "Sexy Results" and "Going Steady" offer some of the most interesting, loud and jagged sounds of a relationship that was, unknowingly, on the rocks.

"I was still with the person through the completion of the record," Grainger said. "In retrospect it was (a breakup album), but that wasn't the intention when it was being written."

DFA79's influences are not something that can be immediately traced to a core source. While they are often linked with other noise rock acts like Lightning Bolt and Wolf Eyes, the similarities in sound and influence ends there. Their exclusion of guitar and, intentionally, abrasive rhythm section propels their sound and songs beyond those of any fellow musical acts, noise rock and beyond. Grainger cites their influences as an ever-growing process that becomes less prevalent as they mature as a band.

"You can pick any record from either one of our collections and that's influenced us as a band from Johnny Cash to Cannibal Corpse to Nas to Kanye West," Grainger said. "There's nothing specific. At this point in the band we sort of influence ourselves."

The band is fortunate enough to be coming from a very prolific Canadian scene right now, with the explosion of fellow acts like The Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. DFA79's loyalties remains intact with any of the bands, Canadian or not, that they've toured with as Grainger explained.

"We get along with pretty much anybody we've toured with," Grainger said. "We have a lot of allegiances to people all over, from a band that would be considered shitty to a band that would be considered awesome."

So, despite feuds, breakups and noise, Death From Above 1979 hasn't let anything slow them down. They're now set to embark on a 38-date tour across America and Canada (including an appearance on Conan O'Brien) leading to an 11-date stint in Europe and Japan. As far as the future, Grainger, appropriately, loudly pronounced their plans.

"Play more shows! Write more songs! Do more interviews!"

Death From Above 1979 will play Solar Culture on March 21. The all ages show starts at 9 p.m., and will cost you $8.