“Cats and tortoises are very relatable; don’t you think?” – An interview with Sam Matlock from Dead!


Southampton band Dead! played their first show in 2012, and have since played alongside Ashestoangels and Fearless Vampire Killers. They were Zane Lowe’s ‘Next Big Hype’ in 2013, signed to Infectious BMG in 2016, and spent the time in between touring, playing festivals and releasing lots of lovely music. I got to talk to them ahead of their Bestival appearance about dream venues, festivals, and cats. And it wasn’t me who brought up cats this time!

What’s your favourite city to play? 

That’s always a tough one. I think we used to collectively say Glasgow, because we always get a good crowd, but you’d probably get four completely different answers now. We’ve had some amazing sold out shows in London, and an insane one in Birmingham earlier this year. And Groningen in the Netherlands was brilliant; we played at about 1 am. There’s too many great places full of great music fans, to give this a fair answer.

What would be your dream festival/venue to play? 

Living in London, I have to say headlining Koko would really be something. And obviously Brixton Academy would be ridiculous. But to go to Japan and play Summersonic festival in Tokyo and Osaka would be the dream for me.

How differently do you see gigs and festivals and do you prepare differently for those? 

I don’t think we do. Maybe if our set is shorter or the stage is bigger we’ll switch in some faster songs or something we find more appropriate. I guess I eat a better breakfast if the stage is bigger too. (laughs) We’re just there to do our thing and share it with people, whether that be our own show or a festival. We like to be as natural as possible about what we do.

What’s your most extravagant rider request? 

We haven’t got past beer and water yet. (laughs) We saw one band that had puppies on their rider and they actually got them one night. It would be nice to have cats, not kittens, just cats. Just chilling in the dressing room. Or tortoises, we kind of have a thing with tortoises. Cats and tortoises are very relatable; don’t you think?

Which festivals are you most excited to play this year? 

We’ve kind of done most of our festival season already. Rock Am Ring was a highlight for me. I used to come home from school and watch live videos from that festival on YouTube; dial up internet and everything. Bestival is going to be a big one for us, it really moves us into a more indie-rock scene and a new crowd.

What was the first gig you went to?

Our first proper non-local show was Iron Maiden at Earls Court in, I think, 2005. I can’t remember. All I know is it was ridiculous. The power went out and they got a search light out, then Eddie came out of a tank or something. Really, really did it for me!

What are your tour and festival essentials?

The right attitude, and a small sports bag with the important stuff.  Tissues, hand sanitiser, too much water; too many tinnies, too many socks. A guitar is pretty important for me personally but I guess that’s optional for most…

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be? 

I’d love to do something with Die Antwoord. That would be bizarre. Or Romily Alice from an old band called Japanese Voyeurs. She has such a weird and unique voice and I would love to go down an odd Thom-Yorke-esque route with her.

What’s your favourite thing about the festival season? 

Everything! The people, the line-ups, the vibe. The buzz going around a field full of drunken people just enjoying music is always so cathartic.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

I’m currently overplaying the new Queens of the Stone Age song. I think we would have loved to do an album with Mark Ronson. I’m a bit jealous, to be honest. Bruno Mars gets played loads in the van. His whole ‘feel good/huge drop’ sound would be something we would be interested in working on.

What’s your favourite song to play live?

For me, it’s either ‘You’re So Cheap’, because of the crowd reaction it gets (and it’s easy to play) or ‘Something More Original’, which is also easy, but I just love showing the songs off and hearing the words sung back. They feel very natural. I’m going to stop there because I’m about to change my mind to ‘Alaska’. Or ‘Skin’. Or the new ones. Or…

Dead! are touring from July 27th at Kendal Calling to September 10th at Bestival. Find more information here.


About Author

Politics and International Relations graduate, Live Editor 2016-18, now a semi-functional adult and journalist. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about the above @cmkavanagh on Twitter.

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