Death By Stereo: 'We’re like Van Halen with a conscience’

Death By Stereo with Efrem Schulz, centre.

Black Sheep of The American Dream
Death By Stereo
Released April 24, 2012
Viking Funeral Records

Californian hardcore punk band Death By Stereo have long been known for their politically charged lyrics, energising the scene with their debut If Looks Could Kill, I'd Watch You Die 13 years ago.

Critics began laying into them when bassist and founding member Paul Miner left to produce other bands in 2005. But he has returned record their most socially relevant and impassioned album yet - and the critics agree they are back with a vengeance.

Green Left Weekly’s Mat Ward spoke to guitarist, vocalist and frontman Efrem Schulz.

In what ways has the return of Paul Miner helped in the writing of this record?

Man, it made the atmosphere so fun. It felt like the old days. Hangin' with your best bros, playing music. It's way more no-nonsense. We get in, do our thing, and get out. In your face the whole time. We just wanna explode all over people’s lives. Paul got some epic performances out of [lead guitarist] Dan [Palmer]. Fuck, have you heard those solos?! Dan was on fire already! I think Paul just let him completely go off! They still retained a sense of melody while just shredding your face off. We did everything at Paul’s Buzzbomb Soundlabs in Orange, California. You may have heard some of the records he's produced like the last two H2O records, Terror, New Found Glory, Thrice, Atreyu. I don't even know how many epic bands have recorded with Paul.

You say you've become pissed off watching the hardcore punk scene that you came from lose sight of the reason you played music in the first place. Tell us about it.

People don't seem to start bands for fun any more. Kids just wanna be famous. I don't think that this scene was ever supposed to be a vehicle for that. Where is the message? What happened to the passion? If you have an audience, I think you should use your voice and speak out! Fuck, have a great time doing it though. Party hard! We are like Van Halen with a conscience! Ha!

What are your hopes for the upcoming US elections, if any?

I hope people don't vote for a candidate that believes he's gonna get his own planet when he dies.

What are your thoughts on Australian politics?

I think that the government could spend a little more time working on global and societal issues. I know that there has been some turbulent history for the Aussies, but hell, I'm from the States and we have a crazy, fucked-up history. We love Australia! Some of the coolest people we have ever met on the globe! Everyone that reads this, hope to see you soon! Let's have a beer next time we are out your way! We can't wait to come back and party our fucking faces off with you! We seriously LOVE Australia! One of the best times I have ever had in my entire life. Some of the most amazing people I have ever met. So damn friendly. Like Canada with a tan! Can't wait to come back, let's surf, eat good food, drink tons of beer and have the best time ever! Seriously, one of the funniest memories of my entire life was touring Aussie with Strung Out.

You have said "this record is more of an attack on the system than any of the records we have ever made". Can you take us through it?

“WTF Is Going on Around Here?”

"Let's fight! This system that holds us down, choke the right, force them down!" We just won’t stand for it any more. We won’t take this lying down. I will spend my life living against theirs. This song is a pure 100% battle cry for the disenfranchised and people who are just plain fed up. If they aren't, it's a wake-up call.

“Much Like a Sore Dick”

"We keep on trying, until we're dying." This one is about never letting anything or anyone stop you. This band just can't be stopped and we are damn proud of it. Ups and downs, society, trouble with the law, booze, drugs, NOTHING can stop D.B.S.!

“Growing Numb”

"Slapped if the face so many times we just can't feel." How many times can the governments of the world come down on us as a people? After being hit so many times, we grow numb. Then we strike back, we use this pain against them. They can't hurt us any more. We will stand up in the face of oppression and never back down. "Your pain, our meal. Mmmm."

“Get British”

"I wear my party on my sleeve, in god you trust, I believe in me." This song is about my best friend on Earth, [lead guitarist] Dan Palmer. This little lad from the UK came over to the States when he was a just seven summers old. So whenever Dan gets fucking drunk out of his mind, the accent comes back! We always say "He's getting British!" We all admire Dan and his shredding abilities on the guitar and at life. So we say to you all "GET BRITISH!"

“Harmonic Divisor”

"You always made it back, and started again in a place that you called home." This song is about my amazing father, Herbert. He was deported back to his birthplace of Mexico from the US 27 times before making it to number 28, when he finally stayed and then I was born and bred in Cali. "28 times, it became a game.” I think in telling the story of my father it opens up the entire issue of immigration which is so close to our hearts not only because of my experience with my parents and their struggle dealing with trying to make a better life for themselves and contending with prejudice in this society. Because Dan's parents had to deal with it too. Dan is not even a US citizen. It hits close to home. We need immigration reform now! We are one people, one planet. Everyone is so nationalistic, can we be a people together?

“Depression Expression”

"All I can do is fight and show you how I feel.” I have never been a great communicator. That's why I'm in a band. I am not quick to dump my feelings out on the table. So that's why I write songs. I had gone through some heavy personal issues a while back and was this thinking that I am not alone and there's gotta be some people out there that feel the way I do. We don't have to say a thing about what we are going through but can still exchange these common threads amongst each other and just fight it out. Get it all out in a song, fucking go off at a show. It's all I know.

“Something's Changing”

"You can't eat, or pay the rent, you wake up, you're dead again." It's a state-of-the-world address, it's a personal revolution. True change comes from inside and that's what I have been trying to get to my whole life. A personal revolution, "Something's Changing." I am gonna take this world back! I am gonna attack the things that are wrong with this world one day at a time and try and make myself a better person doing it!

“Following Is What You Do Best”

"You're following blindly baby, your eating right outta their hands.” People are just swallowing what is spoon-fed to them. There is this huge part of America that is just lapping up all the lies like good little doggies and it makes me ill. The right wing over here like to point their complacent fingers at us... I think we just need to start snipping them off.

“5th of July”
"How do you live with yourself? You are the meaning of disgust." On July 5 last year, a harmless, mentally-ill, homeless man was murdered by police officers from my hometown of Fullerton, California. There was an attempt to cover it up and the people of Fullerton and the rest of the world just wouldn't stand for it. It was protested until some justice was found. This topic also opens up the discussion about the abuse of power that police have been forcing down our throats.

“Please Go to Heaven Now”

“Watch as your virgin bleeds, harlot catastrophe. Kneel down before your wealth, not me. NEVER." Corruption, lies, abuse, you name it, the church has done it. They all keep telling me how awesome heaven is, well why don't they go there and leave the rest of us alone?

Black Sheep of The American Dream promo video:

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