INTERVIEW: Dead Harts (26/04/2015)

Coming forth with a raucous punk edged hardcore style akin to the likes of Cancer Bats, Trash Talk, Feed The Rhino, Gallows and Every Time I Die with their high-energy live presences alongside it to boot, Sheffield’s Dead Harts are certainly one of Britian’s more exciting up-and-comers. With their latest full-length ‘Cult For The Haggard Youth’ as proof of that alone, they’re fast becoming regular festival bookings too.

Whilst at the Nottingham date of this year’s Hit The Deck Festival, we caught up with guitarist Matt Pask and drummer Anthony Allen to talk about their set, their love for playing live and a lot more.

DP!: This isn’t the first time you’ve played Hit The Deck. What is it that you really like about the festival?
Matt: It depends which date you are on about.
Anthony: We always play Nottingham; everything is a lot closer. In Bristol, we had loads of our friends playing and we didn’t really get the chance to, kind of, see because everything’s so spread out. You normally get to go to different venues and stuff but, by the time we got to our hotel and we checked in and everyone had been showered and relaxed after the show, it was like “ah, I really want to go and see While She Sleeps” because they’re like some of our best mates, but we were like “we actually don’t have time to go back in and see them”. But, with Nottingham, it’s just like this hub of venues so it’s like you’re in a bit of a t-shape, and you swing a cat and you’ve seen like three shows. It’s close to Sheffield demographically as well, so a lot more people travel to see us. But, Bristol as well, is the place to be at the minute. Every time that we’ve played Bristol, it’s been banging. They’ve got good promoters and like really good venues.

DP!: How was the show yesterday?
A: Sick! Really good. It was one of those where you don’t want to measure it on other people because it was like bitter or anything. But, if I was playing to less people than other people were, then I’d be a bit like “ah, god”, but it was generally like rammed.
M: We saw people playing at the main stage, playing to less people than we were playing in The Fleece, so, obviously, we were dead stoked on that. It was our second time at The Fleece because we played with The Devil Wears Prada in 2013, and I just had a bit of a thing for that venue, and we went back yesterday. We weren’t sure because it’s the middle of the day, you’re never sure. It could go one way or another, but it was really busy and the sound was amazing, and it couldn’t have gone better.

DP!: What’s your favourite festival memory?
A: There’s a lot that I really can’t say (laughs). Okay, this is one that’s a little bit weird. My business partner, we were a sponsor at said festival, not going to say which one, and he got really bad under the influence of said substance and just started losing his mind to Andrew W.K. Running and just like grabbing people; that was funny and tragic at the same time.
M: I’m not a big one for going to festivals, but I like playing festivals. But, one festival I did go to, I remember one of my pals was out of his mind and, again, I’ll not mention what, there was another substance involved. And, again, he lost control and he was, at one point, running around, catapulting himself onto the top of peoples’ tents. On one of them he decided to use somebody as a springboard, so he got them to get on all fours, jumped over one tent, landed on another and didn’t know that there was a lass inside and he snapped her arm off. Not literally off, but he snapped her arm and literally got barred for life. They chucked him out immediately. So, that’s not a festival highlight, it’s more of one of those festival memories that sticks with you.
A: Those are the only ones that spring to mind but, playing festivals with a band, Hit The Deck here last year was amazing. That was kind of an eye opener because it was before things started to really pick up for us, so we took that as kind of like the step up. So, as a band, that was a special one for me.

DP!: You’ve mentioned previously that your edge is within your live performances. How do you make yourselves stand out as a live band?
M: Yeah. I think we talk about this in interviews because it’s our kind of selling point that we play less technical music and just make up for it in our stage presence. Bax isn’t scared of hanging off of the ceiling. He’ll quite happily spend most of the set in the crowd and, same with all of us, we’ve all got our own little traits. We’re not scared of doing them because we don’t have to concentrate on shredding our heads off on our instruments. That’s always been what Dead Harts have been known for, because we’re not scared of admitting that we’re not the best musicians in the world.
A: I can barely play my instrument! (laughs)
M: We’ve not got the technical prowess that other bands have, but a lot of other bands also stand still on stage and they’re boring to watch. Whereas, I don’t think anyone has ever described us as boring.
A: We’ve said this in a few other interviews we’ve done that Bax now, as a frontman, has really developed a skill of like he’s getting in peoples’ faces, but it’s like “this is your show, you’ve paid money for this, so why would he just stand still”. You’ve got half an hour to go as mental as you want and no-one’s going to say anything. The security aren’t going to do anything because, technically, they can’t really. You can get kicked out and that’s the worst that can happen. We tell kids to just go mad, obviously be safe, but just cut loose a bit because what’s the point in paying to go to a show if you’re just going to stand with your arms crossed.

DP!: Do you feel this intensity and energy reflects on your audience?
A: Definitely. Look at Devil Sold His Soul for instance. They’ve been around a decade now and, when we got offered this tour, we were like “yeah, let’s do it”. We’re huge fans! I was like 16 years old when I first heard Devil Sold His Soul, and they’ve got fucking such big riffs. We’ve kind of thought that coming on this tour, it would be a completely different market. We’ve kind of realised because Dead Harts is a name that has been around for quite a while, that it’s like “ah, Devil Sold His Soul are playing, who’s supporting? Dead Harts, ah sick”. So, it’s like, so nice to be able to add something to the line-up because we’ve also been around for a while.

DP!: You’re playing with Beartooth this May for the second time after touring with them late last year. How did you build up this strong relationship you guys have?
A: Just from being lads really. We kind of keep ourselves to ourselves on tour, but we do have a laugh and you, like, don’t want to not get on with anyone. You want to get on with everyone, don’t you? But, every now and then, there will come a band that comes a lot and it’s always like a one up manship on who can do the craziest shit and, with Beartooth, we just got on with them straight away. We got onto the Beartooth tour because we said “we like these” and, in return, it was like “oh, actually, we like Dead Harts”.
M: It’s been so nice because, obviously, they’re massive. The last two years have been big for them, but they come over and they’re an American band. And, I don’t know why, but, being an English band, you don’t necessarily expect them to come over and just be chilling and just be sound lads and be a group of lads doing the same as we are, just in a different country. But, they came over and, within two days, it was just like having your best mates out on tour with you. We talked about that every night when they were on stage, or when we had gone back to the hotel. It was a case of, I cannot believe we are on tour with these guys, and they’re the soundest dudes we have ever been on tour with.

DP!: Who are you guys excited to see today at Hit The Deck?
A: Brawlers very shortly; they’re an amazing band.
M: Bad Sign, which are actually on now.

The band’s latest album, ‘Cult For The Haggard Youth’, is available now through Transcend Music. You can follow Dead Harts online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Interview by Kieran Harris