Sound Advice: Death from Above 1979 with Deftones, Incubus and The Bots

Saturday • Riverbend

click to enlarge Death from Above 1979
Death from Above 1979

It’s easy to see why bands with lengthy histories and voluminous catalogs would consider getting back together, but those rationalizations don’t hold much water for Death from Above 1979. The Canadian duo featuring bassist/synthesizer-player/backing vocalist Jesse F. Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger got together in 2001 and released a sole album of original material, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, in 2004. The pair considered breaking up in the wake of tours with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails, but held off for a year to appease their rabid fans, label and inner circle. When the creative friction between the duo became unmanageable, Keeler officially announced the death of Death from Above 1979 online in 2006.

That might well have been the last word on the thunderous twosome, but if we’ve learned anything from the James Bond franchise, it’s to never say never again. Five years after Death from Above 1979’s official demise, Keeler revived the band’s website and dropped the bomb that he and Grainger were reuniting and working on new material for a proposed Canadian tour. Although a few scattered dates were planned, Death from Above 1979 only played a handful of them, cancelling several for a variety of reasons. But it was not a sign that the rebirth was over.

Last July, the band dropped its first new music in nearly a decade, a single entitled “Trainwreck 1979,” as well as tantalizing details about its long-anticipated sophomore album, The Physical World, which was released to ecstatic fan reaction (and a slightly more subdued critical response) four months later.

Last October, director Eva Michon, Grainger’s wife, released the documentary Life After Death from Above 1979, which pulled the curtain back on the band’s murky history and unexpected reunion. The band’s third single, “Virgins,” hit the street this past April, accompanied by a startlingly surreal video, also directed by Michon, featuring Amish teenagers eating psychedelic mushrooms and licking each other’s eyeballs.

Now the roaring twosome is embarking on its first full slate of tour dates in a decade, though in fairly typical DFA 1979 fashion, there have been some speed bumps. A planned live recording at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tenn., plus three other headlining dates, had to be canceled due to visa issues, though the duo’s summer tour with Incubus and Deftones is, at press time, still on track to begin July 22.

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