Interview: Shane Parsons delves into Bloody Lovely, DZ Deathrays’ monstrous return of an album

Brisbane rockers DZ Deathrays’ new album opens with a throat-shredding shriek  of singer and guitarist Shane Parsons. His voice becomes overwhelmed by an earth-shaking riff and drummer Simon Ridley’s explosive beats on “Shred For Summer” to the point I couldn’t quite hear the chorus’ final line. Was it “Bleed a riff from my blood” or “…lungs”?

“It’s blood,” he laughs. “I’ve got a bad singing voice in terms of enunciating words. Even when I’ve looked up Apple Music or something, I wonder what they think the lyrics are, and their completely wrong. It’s fine. I’ve spent the majority of my life singing incorrect lyrics to songs; I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

“Shred For Summer” is the opening track and first single from their new album Bloody Lovely. It’s the follow-up to their 2014 ARIA award-winning second album Black Rat, and took longer to record than expected.

“It’s four years in the making. We toured Black Rat for a year and a half, and then we started working on the next record. It took us a while to get this one going. We had a few false starts.”

It wasn’t until 2016 when the duo began recording in the studio, but the songs still didn’t feel right. Things began to click into place when they recorded two one-off singles, “Blood On My Leather” and “Pollyanna”,  helping steer them towards the vibe for the album.

“We did a session in a week in the studio we’re we recorded “Blood On My Leather”. That was the one we’re we were like, ‘Let’s write a more party record’. We had some other songs that we thought were finished, but they didn’t work very well and we had to revisit them. From there we’ve had a bunch of other songs that worked well and fitting into that style: a bit poppy and upbeat. We wanted to hold on to what we started out as; a bit more like a house-party rock n’ roll band but develop it songwriting wise.”

While Black Rat and Bloody Lovely have different vibes, the two albums were written in similar circumstances. Both were written with the members living in separate cities, with Ridley remaining in Brisbane while Parsons moved to Sydney. “It’s not as hard as we expected to achieve a record via Gmail,” laughs Parsons. The band also returned to The Grove Studios to work again with former Gerling member and producer Burke Reid.

“Once we finished Black Rat and started writing new stuff we just started sending it to Burke. There was no real talking about who we were going to get to produce or record. With Bloody Lovely, it was just always going to be Burke. He’s a dear friend of ours now, we got along well and we can work together quite well in the studio. Ever since working with him I’ve approached song writing in a different way because of what he’s taught me. He’s put a lot into those records. He’s one of those guys who throws his whole physical and mental state into the record to the point of exhaustion just so that you’re happy at the end of it.”

It’s a beast of an album, with riffs so heavy they’ll pummel listeners on tracks like the speeding punk blast of “Bad Influence”, the monstrous guitars on new single “Like People”, and the Jane’s Addiction-influenced “Shred For Summer”.

“”Shred For Summer” was kind of a piss take,” he says. “It’s more about playing your guitar instead of playing sport. I played sport in school, but some days I wanted to spend my lunchtime in a classroom writing songs on a guitar rather than going out and doing stuff. I just remember me putting the quarter-notes, slap-back delay thing on the vocals and thinking, ‘Oh, that sounds like Jane’s Addiction. That’s cool!’ And when I sent it to Burke he said the same thing. I told him that’s what I was going for, and he said he meant it in a good way.”

The album sounds like it will be a blast live, which is what the band aimed for. Fans will be able to experience the album live soon as the band has announced a May tour, where they’ll play their biggest headline shows so far. With the band’s continued rise, it’s enough to make you say ‘Bloody Lovely,’ a phrase they took from Parson’s girlfriend’s Dad for the album.

“He says it all the time about food and whatever. I just thought it was a funny saying that people probably say quite often but you don’t really notice it. We always described the band as ‘evil fun’, so we wanted to have that sort of crossover when we were thinking of album titles. Bloody Lovely sort of stood out as beautiful and brutal. Simon thought it was funny and an awesome name.”

How does he feel about his catchphrase being their album title?

“I haven’t shown him yet. I need to give him a vinyl copy once I get them. I’m sure he’ll like it. Her parents are big fans, so it’s great. They’re always rocking a DZ’s shirt when they go out.”

BLOODY LOVELY is out now. Follow the band online here.

DZ DEATHRAYS TOUR DATES

May 4th | The Gov, ADELAIDE | All Ages
May 5th | Capitol, PERTH
May 10th | Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE
May 11th | The Metro Theatre, SYDNEY | All Ages
May 12th | Hellenic Club, CANBERRA
May 17th | Karova Lounge, BALLARAT
May 18th & 23rd | 170 Russell, MELBOURNE
May 19th | Republic Bar, HOBART
May 25th & 26th | The Triffid, BRISBANE | All Ages