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The Dead Deads
"When I was in my early 20’s, my dad encouraged me to focus on ONE THING and stop spinning so many plates. I guess I didn’t listen. It’s working out okay, but yeah…sometimes I exhaust myself. Like right now I’m editing our next music video as I do this interview. "Hustle Blood,Wolf Blood." It’s just who I am. It doesn’t always work out, but usually I find a way."
Rock n' Rollers from Tennessee, The Dead Deads, bring a unique blend of Punk, Hard Rock, Alternative and a side of 80's New Wave. Fresh off the release of their new single, "Deal With Me," I caught up with the busy lead singer of the band, Tish, aka "Meta Dead."
By: Kreig Marks, May 2021
KM: Hi Meta. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. Let's get this thing rolling.
MD: Roll away!
KM: You're background is pretty interesting. At 5 years old you created your first "album." Do you remember that?
MD: Haha! Yes! I had one on it called “Oh Love” with lyrics such as…”Oh love, it’s hard to deal with…oh love, it’s hard to live with, but you can’t live without it in a way…so I guess that makes love okay…oh love.” So…yeah. My mom was like….”Where on earth are you getting this from?”
KM: Pretty deep lyrics for a 5 year old kid!
MD: Haha! Yes!! I was born emo and in love.
KM: At the age of 10, you played your first show. Tell me about that.
MD: I played tons at church early on, but probably my favorite early show story is the first time I played a bar. I was 14, and Roger Alan Wade, a wonderful rebel troubadour and Johnny Knoxville’s cousin, brought me up on stage to do a few tunes while he took a break. He introduced me and said, “Y’all be nice.” He brought me a few more times and introduced me to my first bar crowds. He was a big role model for me. Before every song, he’d always say, “Here’s a song I wrote about a girl.” I never forgot the charm of that, juxtaposed with his authentic brand of stage banter…I carry that with me. I never want to seem fake on stage. It’s fine to have those cute things you always say, but for me, it’s important to keep things loose and in the moment.
KM: In 2007, you wrote a song for the Miss Howard Stern Show. How did that come about? We are huge fans of Howard here at Tru Rock.
MD: Oh man! THAT could be a story or interview all by itself. If you’re a big fan, I can dish privately! Haha! Short version, I was Andrea Ownbey’s hairdresser, and she seemed like someone that needed an advocate. (Andrea Ownbey was crowned Miss Howard Stern and was a “character” on the show for several years.) She didn’t have anyone truly watching out for her, and honestly, she seemed kind of sad. We became friends and I don’t think anyone really knows how cute, funny or awesome she was—she felt like she had to be this caricature. Anyway, long story short, they started asking me to travel with her, because she famously developed addiction issues and needed someone with her. In the meantime, I had written a song for her for her birthday, and she told them about it and they had me play it on the show. Then, she got her own reality show, and they asked me to write and perform the theme song. It was important to me that it didn’t just make fun of her, but really payed homage to her. It was important to me that it laughed with her. Anyway, being on Howard’s show was a great experience, and he is an incredible human. I’m a big fan of him—A+ person, and I believe he truly did care about the well-being of Andrea, and for that reason, took her out of the spotlight. She’s still alive and kickin,’ and a full-on mess.
KM: Keep kickin' it Andrea! Moving ahead, you launched Rock and Roll Girls Club, to teach small children how to write songs and play piano, bass or guitar. Very cool. How did that come about?
MD: Rock and Roll Girls Club or the RRGC was a natural thing for me to do. I was writing songs when I was little, so I knew that was possible for all girls. I just wanted to offer the tools in an affordable and accessible way to see what could happen. I built the studio into my house, with a little CBGB’s style awning my friend Rod made. I had a little stage with a red velvet curtain. I taught songwriting, instruments, singing, and stage performance. It was adorable and we did little concerts. I guess it came about just because I saw a need. It was one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done. I certainly got more out of it than I bargained for.
KM: Is this what led you to work with Tom Peterson, where you both created Rock Your Speech, helping autistic children through music and lyrics?
MD: Not really. The work I did with Tom came about because of our friendship. I was invited with several other friends he had asked, and it was an absolute pleasure, and it inspired a lot of what I do now with kid’s music. Rock Your Speech is such an awesome idea—we may not all be able to use our words to the same extent, but music can transcend some of those barriers.
KM: This is great stuff! In my free time I teach kids with autism and Asperger's to ride bicycles. (not kidding). I love it. In 2012, you created 2000 and Future, a “hip-hopera.” Man, you don't rest! And, then in 2013 you join the Dead Deads. And somehow, you still find the time to work with your husband, Matt, on commercials and writing a musical based on They Might Be Giants. I'm exhausted saying all of this.
MD: Ha! I know! Me too! When I was in my early 20’s, my dad encouraged me to focus on ONE THING and stop spinning so many plates. I guess I didn’t listen. It’s working out okay, but yeah…sometimes I exhaust myself. Like right now I’m editing our next music video as I do this interview, "Hustle Blood, Wolf Blood." It’s just who I am. It doesn’t always work out, but usually I find a way.
KM:. Now that everyone who will be reading this knows a bit more about you now, let's get to the the Dead Deads. When did the band come together? Whose idea was this?
MD: Daisy, the bassist, and I have been friends since we were in our teens. We’ve played music on and off together over the years, but this band really started as a jam night that just grew into more. Luck, kindness, I don’t know, we just had the right mix of elements to make something bigger than us happen. Technically, our first public performance was as a cover band, with my sister on keys and a different drummer in 2014. Yet this lineup has been touring since 2018, I think.
KM: The band's sound seems to be a mix of Punk and a bit of Alternative. Are you a fan of 80's New Wave music? It's as if you took some New Wave and added a Hard Rock edge to it.
MD: You nailed that influence, but I’m also a fan of almost everything, so it’s hard for me to tell where the true influences lie with The Dead Deads. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious, but other times I’m thinking, “Wonder if that’s coming from Tchaikovsky or Shakira….?” I can tell you that when the band started, we made a mix of “Dead Dead's Inspiration Jams” that we all listened to before we would write. It included a lot of Melvins and Melvins, adjacent stuff like Tweak Bird, Big Business, Nirvana, Helmet, Electric Wizard, Earth, etc. Then we were adding in a strong Epitaph element. Bad Religion is an especially big band for me, NOFX, Every Time I Die, Motion City Soundtrack. All pretty big for me. Then Hip Hop, then more big fat Grunge and Alternative and Doom, and Weezer and The Pixies. We made a mix of just drums, too. I wanted big busy drums and lots of harmonies. I wanted everything, and so did everyone else, so everything is what we wrote. Rainbeau is this weird, wild wonderland of us learning what we wanted to be, and then all the other recordings are us fine-tuning what we wanted to play LIVE.
KM:. The new song, "Deal With Me." I really like it. How do you think the band's songs have evolved over the past several years from Rainbeau?
MD: Hm..I think we just like to craft a little more. It used to be just throw it out fast and get something down to sell at shows. Now, there’s more pride and pleasure involved. We’re basically the same, just older, wiser and more powerful.
KM: I was gonna leave this question on the floor, yet I have to ask it. Meta, where did the name come from?
MD: It came from that first show where we played Dead Milkmen covers as The Dead Milkmaids. We wore XX’s on our eyes to look “dead” and we liked that aesthetic for lots of reasons, so we kept the XX’s for the original band and just made up a name that went with them. We wanted to be sisters too, so we gave ourselves the last name “Dead,” so we could be the dead Deads. We are sisters and we are dead. This is the heavy-hitting content your readers are here for, right? Hahahaha!
KM: Exactly! Now I think they'll all be able to rest a lot easier knowing this. Tell me a bit about McQueen and Daisy.
MD: Oh wow, how long do you have? Short story—They are undoubtedly the coolest girls I could ever dream of making music alongside. When I show up to rehearsals or writing sessions or recording or whatever, I always kinda fangirl out on them. They are both so SMART and hilarious, and down for whatever, be it a throw-down or a chill-out. They inspire me with their diverse musical interests, as well as their social and intellectual pursuits. Daisy and I have been friends since we were 17, and we met McQueen later through our mutual friend, Derry Deborja from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The three of us just gel and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m really grateful to know both of them.
KM: Are you the songwriter for the band or do all 3 of you take part in it?
MD: We write together in a room almost always. Occasionally, one of us will bring a song to rehearsal or send it via email for all of us to consider, but more often than not, we are all just jamming together with the intent of leaving with at least one song. We write the musical structure, record it on an iphone, and then I usually write the first draft of the lyrics on the drive home. When we are writing the music, I’ll ask the ladies what they would like the song to be about, or if the music is bringing up any imagery. Daisy is really great about sharing what she’s reading, and it’s a fun challenge to try to delight her with lyrics that recall what she shared.
KM: Any examples?
MD: Yeah. One of my favorite examples of that is she shared a Cormac McCarthy line from a book that accidentally referenced three different 80’s bands within a sentence because the big words had band names within them. I tried to use all those words in the song. Ya know…hardcore rock stuff like that. Hell yeah! LOL.
KM: (laughing) I imagine during the pandemic, you really didn't take much of a break from anything except performing out live, or maybe shopping. What did you focus on the most during 2020? I know you have new music for a new show on Nickelodeon.
MD: Yeah. I mean, the first part of the pandemic was definitely figuring out what the fuck to do about touring and whether we should postpone the album release or what. Then the next few months were me retooling my vocals and lyrics on the album, and Matt mixing it. Then, my focus did turn towards the animation world, and my husband and I pitched for a bunch of shows, and I landed some songs. The Barbarian and the Troll is my big show right now. It’s epic and hilarious and I wrote and sang the theme song and wrote all the songs for the season. I also have songs on a show that will be out this summer called Middle Most Post. I wrote that theme song too and my husband produced it and sings it. So, yeah, the pandemic got real kidtastic and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
KM: The Barbarian and the Troll. I think I knew both of them in high school. Moving forward, what's the next step for the band?
MD: One day at a time!
KM: (laughing) When is the LP supposed to be released? The 3 of you must be pretty excited about it.
MD: We are dying to release this record, which comes out in August called, Tell Your Girls It’s Alright. Please love it like we do! Haha! We have a new single and video dropping May 21st that features Corey Taylor. It’s a song he and I wrote together via video, and then arranged with the band and it’s sick. It’s called “Murder Balled II.” Just finished shooting the video yesterday. Be on the lookout for that. Honestly, we just hope that the album we made makes some people very happy. If it does, maybe we’ll get to make another one. I’m up for it!
KM: Very cool! Anyone you'd like to thank or give a shout out to?
MD: The Dead Corps. Always and forever. And YOU! Thanks for the fun interview! Let’s do it again after the record comes out!
KM: Sounds like a good plan. I'll hold you to that.
For more information about The Dead Deads, follow them on Facebook. To purchase The Dead Deads music or merch, visit their store on Big Cartel.
Kreig Marks, Founder/Publisher, TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and he enjoys promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.