By Nicholas Jason Lopez
After their EP ‘Jacob Eats Dog’ dropped, Newcastle-based act Stolen Dead Music recruited new drummer Keith Halpenny during lockdown and worked on new tunes with a more intense sound, which fans can hear, with the tracks “Raison D’Etre” and “Complaints Department” now available via ScreamLite Records.
They were recorded at Heart Studios in Gateshead and was mixed and mastered by George Collings.
Stolen Dead Music is currently vocalist/guitarist Jimi Trimmer, drummer Keith Halpenny and guitarist Isaak Patterson.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk to the band about their two-track single and more.
Music Bugle – How did your single “Raison D’Etre” come to be?
Jimi Trimmer – So, I’ve had the song for a while. We made a demo, but it didn’t do it justice and with Keith now on drums, we really wanted to take our time and push the boat out. The first half is a short punk song, but I’ve written a few of them, so I wanted to have it go somewhere else, so its half punk and half prog. When we play it live, it kind of turns into a wall of sound, wig out, jam thing and never sounds the same twice. That was the challenge, making it sound free and spontaneous without playing live putting down one part at a time and it was a challenge, but we are really happy with the way it’s turned out. It’s full of happy accidents that happened in the studio, that we just ran with. As for what the song’s about, it’s about me being in loads of bands that for one reason or another, all fell apart and me as always, carrying on, starting another band, finding another drummer or bassist and me being really stubborn about it.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Keith Halpenny – Social media makes it much easier to get your songs out there. Without it, we’d be relying on gigs, radio and word-of-mouth for people to hear our music. Now, we can reach thousands of people in seconds.
Isaak Patterson – Although in the current climate, competition is huge within the music industry. We feel having the opportunity to publish and promote music online tends to give everyone a fairer chance to be heard. Also, reaching out to listeners and people in the industry has never been easier.
Jimi Trimmer – I would say its easier to get music out to a big audience, but yes, just due to the sheer volume of content out there, it’s harder to stand out. You can try and get around that by being controversial, trying to shock people with your look, your terrible haircut, band name and what you say in interviews. That’s not what we’re about. All we can do as a band is put out what we think is our best music.
Music Bugle – What helps you stay focused in the recording studio?
Keith Halpenny – The price of recording makes me focused in the studio. I know we must get in and out because we can’t afford to be there any longer.
Jimi Trimmer – I would agree. It’s time and money, getting the rhythm section and basic guitar parts done, getting the vocals completed, which never takes that long. It’s the extras – the lead guitar parts, over dubs of guitar sounds, extra vocals and noises. It’s the part where we get to play about with stuff and try things out. Someone has an idea, we try it, maybe it doesn’t work and so we take it out. That’s what you need time for, so the focus for me from the second we get there is always trying to leave as much time we can for the end, which has always been my favorite part, getting to use the studio to do the things we can’t do live. In the past, we’ve tried to record too much and didn’t give ourselves enough time. Everything was, like, one take, maybe two and then onto the next bit.
Isaak Patterson – I think having extra time takes the stress and weight off. Extra time lets you try things and experiment more. Something we struggled with the first couple of times in the studio, but we’ve learned the value of quality over quantity.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jimi Trimmer – I know I’m lucky. No one I know has really been affected by it. Lockdown was a good experience for me. I got paid to take time off work with my family and I really needed that.
Keith Halpenny – Personally, I’ve been off work playing golf most of the time, so I can’t complain. As a band, it’s been rough having to cancel gigs. Looking forward to getting back to it, though.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Keith Halpenny – I miss everything about playing live shows. That’s the reason we do what we do. We’re not planning on making millions. We just love other people enjoying watching us play.
Jimi Trimmer – It’s the kick I get out of it, because there’s the risk of it falling apart. When you’re recording, you’re trying to get the best version you can of the song. When you play live, you’re trying to make the best version you can get right there and then, so you’re in the moment and that’s addictive.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Jimi Trimmer – So, the band was called Stolen Dead Music before Issak and Keith joined. Originally, I came up with Stolen Music, but it just didn’t scan right, so I put “Dead” in there. Unlike all the other band names I’ve played under, this one actually means something. In my opinion, all music is stolen. No one comes up with anything new. We all just recycle what we like. You write something you like, you play three chords in this order and you really like it because it’s in a song you’ve heard before that you like. Even the most avant garde, weird, “cutting edge” music is still ripping off someone else who came before.
Music Bugle – What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in 2020?
Keith Halpenny – Biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is not to let circumstances hold you back. During lockdown, it would have been easy to get depressed, but I tried to get out and kept in contact with family as much as possible. Also, currently learning how to be a father.
Jimi Trimmer – To expect the unexpected and get used to it.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest struggle lately?
Jimi Trimmer – So, on a personal level… What has been my biggest struggle lately? The world outside, 2020 in general. I’ve always been a news junkie. I studied politics, so I take an interest and this year has been a bit much. As for the band, we lost a bass player, but before he left, Lewis Patterson met up with us for the first practice we could get after lockdown to help us go through the set, which surprisingly after three months, we got through really well and he recorded “Raison D’Etre” and “Complaints Department” with us. We have just got a new bass player, so all we are doing now is practicing getting us back to where we were and we hope to get into the studio in February 2021.
Keith Halpenny – What has been my biggest struggle lately… same as the previous question. Trying to keep my baby safe in these strange times has definitely been my biggest struggle of late. Also, trying to function on four hours sleep. Apparently, it gets easier?
Isaak Patterson – The biggest struggle has been making the band work around COVID and Lewis leaving us.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about the band?
Jimi Trimmer – Well, as Issak and Keith probably aren’t going to answer this, I’ll answer for them. Issak is at university studying drama, so he’s a musician and actor. Keith – as well as being a new father and keen golfer, he’s also a football coach and is Irish, which makes us an international band. When this is all over, he is going to help us get some gigs in Ireland. Yes, it’s just one country, but it still counts as a European tour.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Keith Halpenny – I sit in my garden at night to escape the sound of my child screaming. Is that what you mean?
Isaak Patterson – Sound Inc., where we practice.
Jimi Trimmer – Books. I’m reading “Count Zero” by William Gibson at the moment.