1. Can you introduce the band for those that have never heard of you before?
DEAD NEON is a post-apocalyptic primitive nuclear doom metal trio trapped in downtown Las Vegas. We live among the empty foreclosed homes and empty unfinished high-rise condos and empty bankrupted Fremont Street casinos and empty broken people of Sin City. We draw inspiration from the Nevada Test Site—now called the Nevada National Security Site or N2S2—less than 100 miles away, where the Cold War dreams of mass death were forged. In our music, we conjure a ruined Sin City of radioactive mutants, hungry zombies, tumor-cooking cannibals, infinite guns, gutted Strip hotels, with only a pocketful of survivors failing to survive. Vocalist/guitarist Jarett Keen recruited Jessie from an indie-rock act and Jaq from a deathcore outfit to help realize his grim vision, which we share. Jessie and Jaq each brought his own musical style and personality to Keen's ideas, and the result is something that we hope is pretty unique in doom.
2. How would you describe the musical style that you worked on for the new release?
The sound or musical style of DEAD NEON is the result of a miserable bus tour of N2S2 with nothing but LEONARD COHEN's The Future and GOATLORD's Distorted Birth playing on a shattered iPod as the tour guide spouted nothing but Cold War propaganda. The combination of this savagely melancholy music and a desert wasteland filled with massive subsidence craters and a rambling nuke-enraptured moron sparked something in the Jarett's imagination. The musical style is akin to insane monsters finding shelter in a Sam Ash music store and beating the instruments and each other to bloody bits while screaming passages from a COHEN piano cheat book. COHEN is a master bard of the apocalypse, while GOATLORD was a Vegas proto-doom-death band from the mid '80s, before the tags "death doom" became common. The two influences, COHEN and GOATLORD, sound perfect together, we think.
3. What are some of the lyrical subjects that the band explores of the new release?
The lyrical content is completely devoted to a black fantasy in which God erases humans because humans are psychotic. Western civilization is nothing more than an uncarefully disguised death cult. Only metal bands like BLACK SABBATH, HELLHAMMER and GOATLORD understand and articulate this notion, which is why DEAD NEON plays doom. LEONARD COHEN sees the death cult in his darkest moments, too, which is why we adore his music.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band's name?
Because the songs focus on characters dying in Las Vegas, a dying city poisoned by radiation from an unspecified nuclear catastrophe, we decided to call ourselves DEAD NEON. Besides being a cool-sounding name, the three of us live just a beer bottle's throw from the Neon Boneyard, which is where old Vegas neon signs go to die and gather dust and occasionally provide shelter from the homeless. The old Stardust sign is in there now. We spotted it the other day on our way to a gig. A sad relic and a symbol of excess from better times.
5. have you had any opportunities to do live shows, if so what are some of the best shows that the band has played so far, and how would you describe your stage performance?
We have only performed a handful of times in Vegas, mostly in obscure, badly lit dive bars and taquerias. The best show we've played was in a bar called Lucky Lady that has no visible sign on the outside and virtually no Internet presence. You kind of just have to know where it is. But they have a great sound system there and great laser lights and psychedelic images coruscating on the flat screens. That night we opened for a bunch of black metal bands from out of town. They dug our set, and we dig their serrated music. We all got drunk and played terrifically and nearly gassed ourselves to death with the simultaneous use of a dozen or more fog machines. That was a highlight.
6. Are there any side projects besides this band?
Right now, no. That could change, of course. We just released our full-length debut cassette on a local black metal/crust punk label called Ecophagy Records. We plan to release our already written second album, Dead Neon II: Casinonomicon, with another new Vegas label, Hex Records, sometime next year. We just need to find a few days to record. We're hoping to get ex-GOATLORD/current SPUN IN DARKNESS drummer Jeff Nardone to produce it. That would be amazing.
7. How have extreme music fans worldwide react to your musical style so far?
We receive emails from all over the world, especially France, from distros asking if they can carry our cassettes. Sadly, the label only made 100, and there are only, like, seven left as of this interview. The reaction to our music has been overwhelmingly positive. We think it's because people know our hearts are really into doom, and we're not just trying to execute the same old Sabbath-indebted sound.
8. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
DEAD NEON will hopefully head in a more technically accomplished direction. Since Jarett has only been playing guitar for a year or so, his chops are Neanderthal-grade, but he is getting better every day. However, don't expect DEAD NEON to transform into a prog or power metal act anytime soon. We like it nice and slow and dark and sludgy, because that's how we view the future. That's how it will all end.
9. How would you describe the underground music scene in your home state of Nevada?
Since DEAD NEON is limited to Las Vegas, Las Vegas is all we know. There are so many incredible underground bands here in town: SPUN IN DARKNESS, LETHAL INJECTION, BLATANT, EYESORE, FACELESS AND DESCENDING, PANCHO VILLA, SHEEP ON A CLIFF, LIFE'S TORMENT, DIE LAUGHING, GUTTURAL SECRETE, RED STATE SOUNDSYSTEM, MINOR SUNS, PIGASUS, SEA AND LAND, GROOVER, SCRAP IRON SAINTS, ASTERIONELLA, SEVENTH CALLING, IN THE FLESH and many, many more.
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We are influenced by all kinds of music, but currently we are listening to a whole lot new doom bands who are absolutely: MEGATON LEVIATHAN, WOLVSERPENT, BRITON RITES. BRITON RITES has a debut CD called Carmilla that is especially compelling, being a doom metal concept album based on a 19th century gothc lesbian vampire novel called Carmilla that predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by a quarter century. The guitarist, songwriter and lyricist HOWIE BENTLEY is a total monster on the axe, and I can't recommend his new band's album enough. If you like pure old school doom with an imaginative and literary bent, BRITON RITES' Carmilla is unbeatable.
11. Does Occultism or Satanism play any role in your music?
To a degree. We are all big readers of H.P. LOVECRAFT, ALEISTER CROWLEY, ROBERT E. HOWARD, ALAN MOORE, CODY GOODFELLOW and other dark literary spiritualists. However, we're not atheists or satanists or occultists. The way DEAD NEON sees it, only God with the help of stupid humanity is seeking to destroy the world, not Satan. God has a long history of flooding and burning the world and eradicating humanity. The Bomb serves as another weapon in His mankind-killing arsenal. He enables man to be evil, then punishes him for it. Pretty sick, right?
12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Jarett is a poet, professor and academic who has taught at Florida State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is more comfortable in a library doing literary research or analyzing a novel or writing a poem than playing doom metal. In fact, he has written and edited many books. But because he is such a huge fan of doom and feels he has something to contribute, he spends most evenings writing riffs and metal lyrics for DEAD NEON to rehearse and eventually record and perform live.
13. Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
If you're ever in Las Vegas, just follow the sound of world's end. There you will find DEAD NEON.