Live at CMJ: Dead Confederate

photo by Doron Gild

interview and review by Miriam Lamey
photos by Doron Gild

Dead Confederate may be from the south (mostly Athens, GA, to be precise) but don’t think these lads produce run-of-the-mill Southern rock. In fact, this band hopes to distance themselves as much as possible from typical Southern rock associations. Instead, the band made up of Hardy Morris (vocals, guitar), Brantley Senn (bass, vocals), Walker Howie (lead guitar), Jason Scarboro (drums) and John Watkins (keys, vocals) produce gritty, multi-layered rock, that transmits a thoughtful beauty and frenzied energy. This dualism makes for some intense and highly listenable rock that, at times, leans towards the more experimental, thanks to extended breakdowns and crazy keys and drums. Dead Confederate debut at CMJ this week and have plans to release their first full-length album early next year.

While not self-proclaimed chatters, the boys of Dead Confederate gladly talked to Miriam after their astoundingly exuberant performance.

Miriam: How did you develop your sound and how are you changing Southern music, in your opinion?

Hardy: I don’t know: it’s just music. We’re just having fun with the sound. Other than that, it’s just rock and roll.

John: There’s nothing Southern music about it. We’re just from the South.

Walker: Well, I guess we use slide guitars.

Jason: We’re breaking the stereotype of crunchy Southern rock. Like, you’ve got to be Marshall Tucker band or Lynrd Skynard to be from Georgia and to be playing in a rock band: it’s completely untrue.

Walker: And talking about whiskey!


Walker: Like all those old Southern rock songs, whiskey bottles are always in the lyrics.

John: I love whiskey.

Walker: I love it too, but you don’t have to put it in the lyrics to every song!

Miriam: How would you describe your sound then?

Brantley: Loud

Miriam: Loud?

Jason: Loud and sloppy, really.

Brantly: It’s got a lot of layers; spaced out garage rock mixed with some Southern influence. Pink Floyd , a lot of dynamics; loud, quiet.

John: They touch our soul, but punch you in the face at the same time

Miriam: Nice. So what are you mainly influenced by?

Brantley: Everybody listens to different stuff.

Miriam: What are you listening to?

Jason: Music Hates You – they’re a metal band out of Athens.

John: Radiohead.

Walker: I’m the same. I’m a big Radiohead fan. And I like old music too.

Miriam: What kind of old music?

Walker: Hendrix and Pink Floyd, and stuff like that. Old rock and roll, definitely.

Brantley: I’m the Pitchfork geek in the band who listens to everything.

John: He’s our music connoisseur. He passes music down to us.

Miriam: What kind of comparisons to other bands would you want to avoid and what would you want to encourage?

Hardy: Skynyrd.

Miriam: I’m guessing that’s avoiding.

Brantley: Yeah. We definitely don’t want to be associated with them. That kind of music is just misleading; a lot of papers will write about that as Southern Rock: we really just aren’t Southern Rock. It’s weird how we get that thrown on us.

Hardy: Well, “confederate” is in the name.

Miriam: Yeah, whose idea was it for the name? Where did that come from?

Hardy: Well, we just made it up, it sounded good, sounded strong.

Jason: And it goes back to the image of killing the old Southern Rock kind of thing. Kind of destroys that kind of image.

Miriam: So is that your first time at CMJ? How do you feel about that?

Hardy: Yep. We just came into town, loaded in, we’re ready to have at it, walk around, we’ve got a lot of shows to go to, we’re playing like 7 shows in two days. We’ve got some friends playing in town, we’re going to check out some shows and check out some stuff we’ve never seen.

Miriam: How do you find your music is received in your hometown?

Jason: Athens seems to be receiving us really well: good crowds, everybody’s enthusiastic: they fill the place out, they spread the word. Athens is a great town.

Brantley: Bands that do well in Atlanta are usually from Atlanta and it’s hard to do well in a big city like that . The difference with Athens is that so many people aren’t from there, they moved there and the support system’s a little stronger for people from the outside because everbody’s wanting to meet other people because everybody gravitates there, that’s what I’ve found, being in both places.

Miriam: What are your future plans with your music? What do you hope to achieve?

Jason: Take over the world!

Hardy: Keep making records and hope people like them, tour Europe, tour, play, make a record, make a bunch of records.

Brantley: We’ve got an EP we’re working on Mike McCarthy went in and mixed: he worked on the Spoon album: we went in and remixed a bunch of stuff in there and it sounded fantastic. That will be out hopefully in November and and we’re going to hopefully go into the studio in January, then release in the Spring and tour.








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