Interview: DEAFKIDS

Yesterday after our show with Eyehategod in Switzerland, one guy told us that if he needed to describe our live experience to someone, he would say it's like taking DMT hahaha so I would go for that for now!

Brazilian band DEAFKIDS mix d-beat indebted punk rock with psychedelics, metal and Latin American rhythms to create a wonderful noise. A noise that is captured perfectly on the bands last single Espiral Da Loucura that came out in May. The band have recently toured Europe, which included debut dates in the UK and playing at Supersonic Festival. We caught up with drummer Mariano to hear all about how the tour went and their live experiences as well as their latest release, being signed to Neurot Recordings and their experiences with Neurosis and the influence of d-beat as well as music from their homeland in Brazil.

E&D: You have recently been on tour across Europe, a trek that included debut dates in the UK How did the tour go?

Mariano: Hey! This was our third time touring Europe and things were marvellous! We played in some countries we’ve never been before, like England and Poland, met new people, got more in touch with friends from the Neurosis crew, saw some nice bands and crazy environments and landscapes… Killer!

E&D: You played dates on the tour with Neurosis, Eyehategod, Converge and Wolves In The Throne Room among many other killer bands. How did those shows and experiences go and which bands have you enjoyed watching the most? 

Mariano: So far, we had amazing times with our friends from Neurosis and Eyehategod, and we also had a really good time with The Dwarfs of East Agouza too. That’s one of the most special experiences about touring – through sharing music from the heart you might be able to meet and feel some kind of a connection with these people, you know? It feels very special when you have the chance to make good friends and nice connections from all over like that! So far, the 3 bands I’ve mentioned were amazing, and also in UK we had the chance to check some really deep stuff like Yves Tumor, Group A, Lichens (with Yunohana Variations), Daniel Higgs, UKAEA, GNOD, Terminal Cheesecake and Casual Nun.

E&D: What do you bring to your live performance to make it so intense? 

Mariano: It’s about celebrating life and death through sonic release and hypnotic rhythms. It’s a discharge of dense energies and it’s about resistance, we could say. The fact that we make music which is deeply focused on rhythm turns it into a corporal thing for us, and (if we’re doin’ it right) that hits the audience, then back on us.

E&D: What have been some of the highlights of the tour been?

Mariano: Playin’ in a whole variety of contexts – from the concerts with Neurosis to the dates on our own, as well as travelling with Noyades across France, playing Supersonic Festival, we’ve been through many different situations, places and venues. This is probably the best part of touring – you never know what to expect. I would quote the dates with Neurosis, not only for actually playing with them, but just by hanging out with the crew, the Eyehategod concert, for all the beers shared, Supersonic Festival and UK as whole, a killer concert with The Dwarfs of East Agouza in Brussels where everybody went nuts and a concert in Vera in Groningen where we played downstairs and then upstairs were the Togo All-Stars playing the real deal in African groove! We’ve danced until our feet fell off!

E&D: You played your first show in the UK at the legendary Supersonic Festival in Birmingham. How did you find the festival and how was your performance? 

Mariano: Supersonic was such an amazing experience!! That festival was a total celebration of life and creativity and it was very inspiring to be there!! That’s the exactly kind of environment we feel at home, you know? The feeling of being creatively defying. A lot of people were very excited about us, we did some really nice friends there and we couldn’t have been more well received by everyone than that. Establishing connections with people who feel linked to several (and sometimes ‘conflicting’) influences is one of the things that drives us forward

E&D: How did the rest of the dates in the UK go? 

Mariano: It was totally perfect! We loved to play in UK. Both Bristol and London were great! We want to be back as soon as possible.

E&D: How would you describe the DEAFKIDS live experience to someone who hasn’t seen you before? 

Mariano: Yesterday after our show with Eyehategod in Switzerland, one guy told us that if he needed to describe our live experience to someone, he would say it’s like taking DMT hahaha so I would go for that for now!

E&D: Who would you love for DEAFKIDS to tour with in the future and who have you loved touring with in the past? 

Mariano: We love to tour with TEST,  an amazing grind/experimental band from Sao Paulo. We got into a Kombi together and went through Brazil – crazy! We also loved touring with Neurosis, can’t wait to meet this guys on the road again. In the future, touring with bands like RAKTA, The Dwarfs of East Agouza, Eyehategod, Petbrick, Acavernus… I don’t know man, we still have a long way to go, so… Who knows about the future.

E&D: What has been the best and most memorable show that you have ever played? 

Mariano: It’s hard to say. As there have been quite some memorable shows. For this tour, I would mention a gig we played in Brussels with the aforementioned Dwarfs. That was unbelievable!! It was inside an underground big space at an abandoned brewery. Their set was amazing, we played in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by people and everybody went nuts!

E&D: Who has been the most inspiring live band that you have ever seen live? 

Mariano: It’s hard to say, we’ve played with and saw so many neat acts during our lives! I think that everything that’s done straight from the heart and talks to the hips as a way to hypnotise the mind is something inspiring for us – fever music. Speaking of this tour specifically, a lot of the previously quoted bands were like it, a huge success in this aspect.

E&D: Do you try and have a visual element to your gigs when you play live? 

Mariano: We sure do! When we can we experiment with projections and/or stage lights – but in Brazil is not that common for venues to have both the lights themselves or the technicians to deal with them, since generally it’s not feasible to own those.

E&D: What are your plans after the European tour is over? 

Mariano: Writing, recording and playing as much as we can!

E&D: You are signed to Neurot Recordings. How did you come to be signed to such an influential label? 

Mariano: We were featured on a list of albums for 2016, and so was Neurosis – Steve Von Till read the article on our record and gave it a try – he really liked it, got in touch and then things happened!

E&D: Were you big fans of Neurosis before you signed to Neurot and how much of an influence and inspiration are they on DEAFKIDS ? 

Mariano: I don’t think Neurosis is a direct musical influence to us, although we like it… But the fact that they are always self-releasing, producing their own thing at the top of their sincerity and never backing down from changing or taking risks – that is something that deeply influences us! This got way more visible to us by being with them all those days – they just do the things they wanna do, with integrity, truth and love, with no ‘star-attitude’ or something alike. They are really down-to-earth, sweet people. Everybody that works with them and makes things happen feels and acts the same – this is something that inspire us way beyond music.

E&D: Listening to your music, it seems to mix the power of Neurosis with the rawness of d-beat and a healthy dose of psychedelica. Are all of those elements crucial to the DEAFKIDS sound? 

Mariano: The roughness of d-beat and mind-blowing psychedelia are main things to us, for sure. I think, as aforementioned, that Neurosis influence is pre-musical thing for us – by no means less important, though. We like to think about what we do as ‘wild dancing noise music’, hehehe.

E&D: Were Discharge and the d-beat sound a big inspiration and how did you get into that music in the first place? 

Mariano: Hell yeah! When we got into punk one of the first things that jumped up on our faces was the power of Discharge, and the groove of d-beat. This is something that we keep with us to this day, even if the sound changed a lot – the harsh groove of it! I think we all got into Discharge by the ‘traditional’ punk process of knowing people which introduce you to bands, which liner notes or interviews take you to more people and bands.

E&D: You brought out your latest release Espiral Da Loucura in May. What has the reaction to it been like so far?

Mariano: It is a a one-song single, and the reaction has been really nice! We’re developing our own thing and it’s really cool to see that people dig what we do. If it makes you dance then we did it!

E&D: Did you play much new material on the recent tour?

Mariano: Well, aside from this song we have a new song called ‘Templo do Caos’, which made its debut on this tour as well.

E&D: How has the music of DEAFKIDS progressed with the new material from your earlier albums like the brilliant Configuração Do Lamento

Mariano: Configuração Do Lamento is our second full-length album and our 7th release (Counting EPs, splits, tapes, etc) – I think on Configuração Do Lamento we got in touch with our our own melting pot of influences, from there we keep going with our path of developing and changing, experimenting and defying ourselves creatively, rearranging and twisting it.

E&D: Who or what has been the biggest influence on the music of DEAFKIDS?

Mariano: We could say it’s threshold music, frontier music. We feel very attracted by music which establishes possible connections between worlds – Brazilian 20th century music is all about drinking from different cultural approaches in music – Portuguese/European, African and Indigenous ways of doin’ it – and at the same time being like none of those. I think this sense of fracture is something that moves art in general to whole new levels when used as a creative tool. Besides that, there’s this drive to push ourselves creating something different, but gets born from the same first creative breath – exploring sound processing and effects, but still founded a lot on a human perception of nuances of rhythm, therefore trying to reach a certain retrofuturism of sorts – not one is attached to BEING or SOUNDING like any kind of reference we carry about the term, but one that carries past, present and future in itself.

E&D: How did the band get together in the first place?

Mariano: The band originally was only Douglas (guitar/vox/effects) recording and writing all the instruments by himself, in Volta Redonda (countryside of Rio de Janeiro). Marcelo (bass) is from a nearby city and was invited to join the live lineup of the band, along with Robinho on drums. As Robinho left, I was invited to join the band. We kept the band like this – after our first Eurotour (2014) we moved together to a house in São Paulo and then the band stated operating as full unit.

E&D: What was the Brazilian heavy music climate like when DEAFKIDS were first starting out and what is it like today?

Mariano: When we started, hardcore punk and metal scenes were quite active, but still based on genres and a certain dose of traditionalism. On the other hand, right now the ‘scene’ is not that cohesive, but a lot of people from those scenes are trying to thrive on many different music-making approaches, so there is a lot of space for innovation.

E&D: Were Brazilian bands like Sepultura and Ratos De Porão an inspiration to you, in terms of a Brazilian band making it big and touring around the world? 

Mariano: For sure! We were raised on Sepultura and Ratos de Porão, and they’re references not only musicwise but on the grounds of answering the calls, talking to people and going out there! These bands paved the way for a lot of people to believe they could, and by making really good music they showed the power of creativity and intimacy with what you’re doing vs. structure and access to resources (something quite limited over here). This quality, above everything, was the thing that attracted the eyes of the world to this contradiction-laden Latin-American country.

E&D: Are there any new Brazilian bands you could recommend to check out? 

Mariano: There are some nice acts rollin’ here, like Rakta, Test, Mau Sangue, RG Noise City, Vermes do Limbo, Noala and many others (we just can’t remember everything from the top of our heads, hehehehe) – Also worth of mention are some labels and collectives which are putting out much neat stuff, from metal/punk to other ‘multidisciplinary’ efforts as well, like Sorriso Selvagem, Meia Vida, Raw Records, Nada Nada Discos and so forth. Also, if you’re willing to check, there’s our other projects, like Douglas’ Yantra, trippy psychedelic music. I also play percussion for some projects, like Afrohooligans, Cavalo Serpente – plus we’re always collaborating with each other as much as we can.

E&D: What music were you listening to when you were touring?

Mariano: A perk of being on tour is that you spend so much time inside of the van… but on the other hand that made us listen to tons of music! We listened to stuff we love – a lot of old reggae/dubwise music, afro-latin percussive music acts like Tito Puente, a lot of Funkadelic, the Brazilian master Zé Ramalho, drumming avant-garde mavericks like Djalma Correa (from Brazil) and Guem (Algeria), Indian Hindustani master Bismillah Khan, plus many more – it’s just hard to remember everything!

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