I first fell in love with Death By Stereo way back in ’99 when I heard their debut album “If Looks Could Kill, I’d Watch You Die”—which also happens to be on my Top 10 Favourite Punk Records of All-time list (from start to finish that LP is perfection!)—a friend from their hometown of Fullerton had been going to their shows, thought I’d dig them and sent me out a copy. Their intensity moves me and their message, fearlessness and energy inspires me. This past weekend, I got to see them live at Hits & Pits Festival—they were so fucking RAD!
If you have a chance to see them live while they’re Down Under, DO IT! Remaining Hits & Pits Shows: 16 May – The Gov, Adelaide + 17 May – Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne + 18 May – Capitol & Amplifier, Perth. DEATH FOR LIFE!
Here’s a quick chat with one of my favourite people, DBS front-dude, Efrem Schulz.
Congratulations! Death By Stereo are celebrating 15 years! What’s the milestone mean to you?
EFREM SCHULZ: It means we are old [laughs]. We just love playing music so much that we can’t stop. Trends come and go. People come and go. We stay. Whether there is 5 or 5,000 people, we stay. We are here because it’s just what we do. Love it—Death For Life yo!
Does DBS mean the same thing to you today that it did when you first started out?
ES: Yes it does. My life is WAY different now but I still believe. I am not a big fan of reunions. I am into the bands that stuck it out. I am here to stay. Music isn’t just here for me when it’s convenient, it’s my life style so I guess it means more to me now than ever.
What’s one of your favourite DBS achievements thus far?
ES: Me and Dan are still alive. That in itself is an achievement for sure!
The DBS skull & bolts logo is instantly recognisable and synonymous with DBS – there’s a lot of folks walking around with it tattooed on them too! How did it come into being?
ES: Well, we were all sitting in Paul Miner’s bedroom. We were all talking and then Paul began to draw the skull signifying Death, and the bolts signifying the power of the stereo. We pretty much decided we all wanted to go out loud. It just kind of happened and Paul created it right in front of me. Pretty cool.
In February DBS started writing for a new record to follow up your sixth studio album, Black Sheep of the American Dream. How’s it progressing?
ES: We have nothing done at all [laughs]. The guys are all very busy with various projects right now: Austrian Death Machine, Zebrahead, Manic Hispanic, The Adolescents, etc. We do however have some songs recorded and will be releasing a split with SNFU coming up! We are also figuring out plans for a new EP. We have a track coming out on the new Rancid tribute.
A lot of DBS’ lyrics deal with themes of corruption, death and, in general, doing your best in navigating a world that seems pretty bleak; how do you personally stay positive and motivated?
ES: I try the best I can. I am too busy to not be motivated. You gotta stay posi in this world today. Keep pushing forward!
You guys often play benefit shows for various causes and post on social media about injustices that you see happening in your neighbourhood and the greater world; what’s something that you’re really passionate about right now or something that you’d like to bring to people’s attention?
ES: Cancer awareness. We are doing a benefit coming up for that. It is tearing our world apart one person at a time. Let’s get involved! Check out bandforacure.com and fuckcancerfoundation.org and see what you can do to help!
Efrem, as well as DBS you’ve co-founded skate/music store Programme with your friends Chris and Fabrizio and work for Artist Guitar Series; tell us a little about each project.
ES: I am in charge of artist relations at ARTISTSERIESGUITAR.COM. We make Limited collaboration art guitars with bands like Parkway Drive, Motorhead, Agnostic Front, The Walking Dead, Cypress Hill, Anthrax, Vans and a ton of other artists, athletes and companies. They are all very limited and hand numbered. It’s a really fun company. We also have a “Design your own guitar” program you can check out on our site.
ProgrammeHQ is about to launch soon. Programme is a collective skate/record shop in Fullerton, California—home of the electric guitar and the greatest punk band ever, the Adolescents. We throw shows, art exhibitions, team signings, skate demos and carry rare vinyl and skate gear.
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