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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Dead Sara Finds New Life
Thursday, March 26, 2015

In 2012 Dead Sara were poised to take over the rock world. Their buzz was huge, earning praise from Dave Grohl and Grace Slick. The band, however, was derailed by record label issues. With the label now in their past, Dead Sara are filled with new life.

The band’s sophomore album, Pleasure To Meet You, will finally see the light of day on March 31st, and with the Los Angeles rockers currently on tour, not only is the magic back, according to lead singer, and guitarist, Emily Armstrong, that magic is better than ever.

Armstrong, along with Sean Friday (drums), Siouxsie Medley (lead guitar) and Chris Null (bass), are enjoying their triumphant return from their unplanned hiatus, and I caught up with Armstrong to find out more about how they managed to turn such a negative into a positive.

Adam Bernard: Before we get to the new album, and the tour, what makes Dead Sara feel alive?

Emily Armstrong: The passion in music. Every single one of us plays it for that, and we love to perform our craft, and that’s always something that’s gonna come out as very alive, and meaningful. If you try to fake that, or if you try to do anything else, as our band, it’s not gonna quite feel like Dead Sara, so everybody has 100% in what they do, especially live. We push each other very much in that direction, and we feed off each other, and from there we feed off the crowd, and the crowd is into it, and it’s just like this whole amazing feeling that’s like no other. That’s what really draws you into playing live. It becomes addicting.

Adam Bernard: You had some unintended time off between 2012 and getting this album out, because of label issues with Epic. How did you cope with going from all the positivity of all the great things that had been going on with your debut album, the tours, and the praise, to suddenly hitting the breaks?

Emily Armstrong: Oh gosh, it was the hardest thing that we’ve ever done as a band, and hopefully it’s the hardest thing that we will ever have to do.

The only thing that we could do to stay sane was write. You had to have some type of creative outlet. There was no way that we could get that record out, or make plans on our own, and have them agree to it, but because writing songs is writing songs, nobody can tell you yes, or no. Nobody ever has to hear them, but at least you’re writing, and you’re together.

There was a lot more negative than there was positive, so trying to find a balance, we found it in writing the third record, and we’re still writing.

Probably the hardest thing that we did do (was) to finally see it through. We’re no longer with Epic, and things just really turned out better.

Adam Bernard: How many months were under what was essentially musician’s house arrest?

Emily Armstrong: It felt like a lifetime. I would say probably eight months, or more.

Adam Bernard: Did you have concerns that even though you were writing, “Are people going to remember us if we ever get back out there? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?”

Emily Armstrong: Right. Exactly. It really messed things up a bit at the time, but you know, everything happens for a reason, and that’s what we had to think about.

At the same time we were going to a new management (company), a new label, obviously, and just kind of rebuilding. That was nice, in a way, because we were thinking about the future, like, “OK, cool, when this happens, this is what we’re gonna do.” Things like that made it more real, that we were gonna get back out there, and do what we do, and do what we want to do, because it was working.

I don’t want to look at it as the most negative thing, but I would definitely take the band that we are now over who we were two years ago, for sure. We are that much stronger.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like it was an ugly battle with the label. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes how the best bonds are made, when you’re fighting against something.

Emily Armstrong: Unfortunately. Yeah.

Adam Bernard: Is there a Cliff’s Notes version of what happened between you and Epic? Are you at liberty to discuss any specifics?

Emily Armstrong: I just wouldn’t want to. I’ve heard a lot worse stories, let’s just say that. We just had to keep positive. That was the hard part. They weren’t necessarily mean to us, or whatever, but it just wasn’t the right fit at the end of the day.

Our manager at the time started working for them without us even knowing. There were things like that going on. It's like, oh, of course you wanted us to sign with Epic, because you got a job there. {laughs} And finding this out months later, it’s like oh my God, it just goes from good to bad. So we fire the manager, but we’re still stuck with the label, but then there’s bad blood, and we don’t know what’s going on, he doesn’t want to talk to us. It’s just like oh my God, what are we gonna do?

Adam Bernard: It’s like a bad relationship break up.

Emily Armstrong: Exactly! That’s basically what it was, and it wasn’t as horrible as the stories that we heard growing up, and read about. There have been some nightmares. This was definitely a nightmare, but it wasn’t hell.

Now that we’re through it it’s easier to say that. While we were in it, it was just fuckin brutal, but we were positive enough that it would turn around, that we would get out of it.

Adam Bernard: It did turn around, and you did get out of it, and now you’re releasing Pleasure To Meet You, which you funded via PledgeMusic. Some of your backer rewards have you up close and personal with your fans. Have you done an acoustic house concert, DJed a fan’s party, or hung out with a fan at Disneyland yet?

Emily Armstrong: Yeah, we did do Disneyland. That was really fun, actually.

We’re gonna be doing some acoustic stuff on the road. That was the easier approach to do it. I think the first stop is Houston. We do an acoustic show at somebody’s house there. It’ll be fun.

Adam Bernard: How did you guys do Disneyland? What did you hit first?

Emily Armstrong: Oh gosh, what did we do? Oh, the food court. {laughs} We were literally on our way like, “Alright, we’re so excited,” then it’s, “I’m hungry,” “I’m hungry, too,” “I’m hungry.” It’s like oh my God, let’s get some food everybody.

We were with like 12 people as a group, and from there we hit Frontierland, we hit Tomorrowland, then we went over to California Adventure, we hit up Goofy, we hit up California Screamin’. We went on quite a few rides, actually.

Adam Bernard: You know it’s not really a great idea to eat before you get on the rides.

Emily Armstrong: Yeah, I’ve heard that. I guess everybody was a pro, because nobody had problems.

Adam Bernard: Wow, you guys are pros! Switching gears, let’s talk about the content of Pleasure To Meet You. I know it was written a while ago, because you mentioned all the lyrics you were writing while on hiatus are for a third album, but what was going on in your lives that inspired Pleasure To Meet You?

Emily Armstrong: We hadn’t been a band for a long time when we did the first record. Then, of course, when the band hit we were touring everywhere, we were going places that we’d never been.

We grew, and we were seeing a lot more of what we could do as a band. In that process of becoming closer, we just sorta started writing differently, and adding things that we didn’t necessarily know, or use, the first time around.

I think touring really helped sculpt us for the second record as more of a, just more mature record, and that’s kind of still writing the same way that we usually do, but I think we were just a lot closer together as a band, and understood more of a sound, and a direction.

Adam Bernard: Do you have any especially memorable bonding moments from touring?

Emily Armstrong: Yeah, when we all went to the UK together. It was kind of like, oh, this is us. We were going somewhere we’d never been to before, and touring, and it was foreign, and we just kinda looked to each other for guidance, or trying to figure things out, and we realized, oh, this is our group.

There was something special about that. It makes you really see how tight you are, and how much you rely on them. It was probably my favorite tour ever.

Adam Bernard: You have a heck of a video for “Mona Lisa,” which is the lead single off of Pleasure To Meet You. What do I have to do to get invited to one of your house parties?

Emily Armstrong: {laughs}

Adam Bernard: How did that video come together? Was it as simple as an evite and some drinks?

Emily Armstrong: Yeah, it was just hitting up all our friends. “We’re gonna throw a party, and we’re gonna film it, please dress like this.” We gave them a little bit of a mood board to make it kind of like a themed party.

We’d never really thrown a party before, so it was like, OK, we’ll see who shows up. We were actually very surprised, and we were very pleased with what our friends came up with, and what they were wearing, it was perfect. I love when things work out like that.

Adam Bernard: What was the mood you were trying to set?

Emily Armstrong: Just kind of what you see. A little bit more avant-garde, so it picks up on camera as more interesting characters.

Adam Bernard: Whose house was it? The pool was really nice.

Emily Armstrong: It was a friend of mine’s house. We were surprised when she was totally fine with it, but she has parties there throughout the summer.

Adam Bernard: Finally, you are currently on tour. All bands have fun while on tour. With that in mind, during all your time on the road, what’s the closest you’ve come to getting arrested without actually getting arrested?

Emily Armstrong: Gosh, I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve ever done anything that stupid.

You gotta have everything in moderation. I think that’s the smartest way. Especially the way that I sing every night, I can't go too wild. I have some responsibilities. I want to be 100% as much as I can every night.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 5:00 PM  
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