In response to their most recent single, and anticipation of an EP to which DRAB had the pleasure of listening in advance of its release, we spoke to the noise-rock outfit. You scream, they scream, we all scream for more Dense!
It comes as no surprise that Dense had a “bun in the oven” over lockdown, being the ever-developing driven three-piece that they are. This noise-rock trio are paving their path in front of them at a rate of knots and it’s only becoming more and more exciting. Without a doubt, “Abjection” warrants a red carpet laid over that paving, and an undeniable cause to get musicians back on stage… particularly these three lads.
DRAB had the opportunity to ask them a few questions in relation to their album and, below, you can read our conversation!
DRAB: Since your first show in 2017, what has been the most exciting part of your career as a band?
DENSE: There’s been so many fantastic moments we’ve experienced as a band that we really cherish and look back on fondly. I think perhaps the biggest highlight of this year so far was being asked to play Rifffest 2020 at Belgrave Music Hall, which was a really fun gig and we got to play with fantastic bands we really admire such as Brooders, Dead Naked Hippies and Crows. We also got the opportunity to play again with our good friends from LA, Prettiest Eyes, at the Brudenell right before the pandemic took hold and that was a really fun night too.
Aside from live, a real milestone in our band has to be being selected to release our single ‘Fever Dream’ on 7” vinyl with Leeds’ label ‘Come Play With Me’ at the end of last year. It has been a shared goal of ours to one day hear our music on vinyl, and to be selected from a panel of prestigious industry judges and gain the additional support from the label felt a big turning point for us as a band.
You’ve gigged around the North of England countless times, such as in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Where do you hope to see Dense play over the next year?
We’re hoping to maybe branch out to playing some more Southern cities like London, Bristol and Brighton next year as we don’t have too much live experience in those areas of the UK, but have a small following down there. Perhaps next year we might even play in Europe if we’re lucky! Although with how things are at the moment, we would take any gig on any stage just to be able to play right now, and we hope it isn’t too long before we can all enjoy that again!
Did this release see Dense draw from any new influences?
It’s hard to pin down what influences were unique and different this time around to writing and recording this release, but I think during this writing and recording we focused in to ourselves and tried to refine the elements we like to think constitutes ‘our sound’, based on playing live and past tracks we have created together in the past. We wanted to make sure we were making a record that matches up to our live show, and almost using that as the ‘theme’ of the recording so the EP would sound cohesive and consistent from track to track; a challenge we haven’t had to tackle as a band until now.
I’ve noticed that the vocal tone on this EP is noticeably different from that on your debut single. Did “Abjection” introduce you to a new approach to the Dense sound?
Charlie Fossick, frontman for Dense: I think as far as my vocal tone on the EP goes, I was trying to be more confident in my voice and not hide too much behind walls of reverb and delay which is a lot more comfortable for me. I never think of myself as a ‘singer’ or anyone of any significant talent vocal/lyric-wise so I wasn’t very comfortable in having my words sound clear and at the forefront. This time around I’ve decided to be a bit more vulnerable with what I wrote and how I’m performing it and listening back on the EP, I’m glad I did it. ‘Abjection’ overall is showing a shift in our writing in becoming more collaborative and realising what role we each play in the songs we try to write. It’s been really great locking into a wavelength for the song we want to write during a session and it just flows and we’re able to make something we’re stoked with.
There’s something very gothic and dark about this release from the sound, to the art, to the lyrics. What led you down that path for this release?
All of the songs were written with instrumentals in mind first, with the lyrics coming after. The instrumentals are incidentally written to sort of be ‘progressive’ with changing moods and vibes through each song to almost tell their own story. To pair with this, Charlie usually writes taking influence from writers such as H.P. Lovecraft (i.e. cramming a horror story into a single song), and this led to us landing on the main theme of the EP being a small collection of songs that are all essentially short stories about different forms of suffering, hence the title of the EP. Looking back on that, it makes us come across a lot more bleak and depressing than we like to think we are as people! I guess we feel a pretty secure separation between what is our art and what we are ourselves, which makes for some pretty interesting discussions between us at least.
There’s a bunch of great moments on this EP from outbursts of snarling noise to satisfyingly confident bass solos. What moments on this project stand out especially to you three?
Charlie: For me, I think my favourite moment on the EP is the ending of Dread where there’s this explosion of discordant noise paired with this sinister bass line and mental drumming which to me kind of sums up the overall feeling we wanted to put across with this EP.
Dylan Metcalf, bassist for Dense: ‘The last drop of Cleanse/Despair for me, it’s a proper naughty drop that finishes off the EP in the right way’
Sam Heffer, drummer for Dense: I’d say what I’m most happy with is being able to capture the overall energy of what I feel we have on stage translated onto record, which I think we have struggled with in the past and is testament to our producer, Adam. I think a moment that illustrates that well for me is the very start of the EP as Calcium drops, and it always gets me excited to play again live.
You recorded this EP with the fellas from Brooders. How was working with them and how did it feel compared to previous recordings you’ve done?
It was a fantastic experience working with Adam Bairstow. He’s a really good friend of ours and he’s the most fun person to be around when you’re recording. He knew exactly what we wanted to get out of the EP and what’s great about his producer-methods is that he’s very encouraging in pushing yourself to be really weird and unafraid whilst also not shying away from disagreeing with you if he doesn’t think something is right and in doing so is constructive in the studio to bring the best out of you artistically. Overall he’s great at making you feel comfortable in being yourself in the studio too. He also fed us an absolutely inordinate amount of coffee, which probably contributed to the frantic elements within the EP.
You released the single from the EP “Electric Chair” through the Leeds label Come Play with Me. What drew you to them, and do you see yourself utilising your involvement with the label further?
As we briefly touched on earlier, we first came into working with Come Play With Me when we submitted one of our previous tracks ‘Fever Dream’ to them and we ended up winning a competition after being selected by a live panel of judges at the Live at Leeds: Unconference to release that song on 7” vinyl. Tony and the team are amazing and they really know what they are doing when working with upcoming bands. It’s very quickly evident that his heart is in supporting underground music and showcasing the musical talents, which may get overlooked in Leeds without the appropriate support, which CPWM offer so generously. Following that release, they were kind enough to ask us to contribute a track off our EP for the ‘Come Stay With Me’ 12” compilation, supporting Leeds artists in the wake of the pandemic. It’s been really exciting working with them again on this release as well as all the other fantastic artists that we feature alongside. We are big supporters of CPWM and we hope we can work with them more in the future (if they will have us!)
Photographed by Sarah Oglesby
How have you distinguished your brand and are there any new developments that “Abjection” will spur?
There are a few things we try to maintain as a band to ensure our identity is clear, and a lot of those came about subconsciously from our own interests and ideas when forming the band, which is the only way to do it really. It’s been fun to see how those ideas have evolved and conveyed onto our first multi-track release and we feel happily represented by that piece of work. Ultimately of course, it’s up to each individual listener to decide how distinguished we are as a brand and band as each listener will have their own opinions on our sound and overall vibe. Whether people think we are ingenious revolutionaries or just plain derivative crap is not for us to decide I guess, although we often lean towards the second as many self-loathing musicians do!
It’s always exciting to see bands put out EPs and albums, especially when they’ve mostly only put out singles. What made you want to go with a collection of tracks rather than just more singles?
I think we just felt it was the right moment in our arc as a band to release an EP and something more than just another single. We’ve technically been together as a 3-piece since 2016 and we all felt an EP was long overdue for us, and it’s been an exciting new challenge which for all its hard work, has been a really enjoyable experience for us and we are buzzing to be sharing that very soon.
For this release you’ve been working with artists like Sadie O’Donoghue and Steve Miles. How’s that collaborative process been for you?
It’s been fantastic working with both of them! Sadie smashed it with bringing a unique approach to designing the EP cover by incorporating elements from all of the songs into the design and we’re really happy with it. We’ve been admirers of Steve for a while having seen him many times play in his band Cattle, and we’re really happy to have had the opportunity to work with him and have him design us this new shirt which we love. Definitely hit up both of these artists if you’re looking to work with professional people who will push the boundaries and deliver high quality work!
Regardless of Covid-19 precautions have you been planning anything ahead of the release to promote the new EP that you can tell us about?
With the absence of gigging as a way of promoting ourselves, we’re heavily reliant on trying to reach out to as many people as possible in order to get the word of this EP out there. Luckily we have some amazing supporters that have helped spread the word (DRAB included) during this difficult time in the absence of live music. We want to thank you all so much as it means the world, and a special thanks to you guys for chatting; big love to DRAB!
Thank you for agreeing to be a part of this and make a much awaited appearance on our page. We’ve loved hearing from you guys, and anticipate a collaboration between Dense and ourselves in the not-too-distant future! Take care and stay ugly!
Keep your eyes peeled for their release on Friday the 28th!