A catchy, raw blues-rock number if ever there was one, Melbourne’s own Dead Preachers have released their debut single, ‘Train’.
Packed with oodles of emotion and an uncompromised grit, Dead Preachers boast a new take on the traditions of the genre, self-proclaiming their sound as being Southern Gothic-infused – and they’re not wrong. Joking, though, vocalist Russell Clark says he can only take one fifth of the credit for the band’s creation.
Nevertheless, as Dead Preachers’ frontman, it’s Clark who will carry the bulk of the weight of ‘Train’ when the band perform their single launch at Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar later this month.
“I think every person has their role, every musician has their role in making it what it is,” he says. “With the drums, you don’t get that rumble, the keys flowing through, the guitar giving it the soul of the melody, and the vocals, I guess, traditionally tie everything together.
“It’s where people focus their attention, on the lyrics, the emotion that comes through the music. Then there’s all the other stuff that heightens it, stuff you don’t think about consciously. I like that part of it. Everybody’s as important as everybody else, otherwise I’m just a douche bag.”
With its members originating from various bands and styles of music, Clark feels Dead Preachers’ throwback to ‘60s pop and ‘70s blues is the most fitting sound for the band. “This song is our homage to this style of music. We wanted to pick up on the Hendrix style of playing. In a lot of the stuff that’s coming up though, it’s different.
“We class ourselves as Southern Gothic blues rock, which might sound a bit wank, but what it actually means is that it’s a lot darker. ‘Train’ is more accessible, which is why we chose to release it first.
“Beyond that, we’re writing songs that mean something to us and a certain time we’ve had in life.”
Though the simplicity of the single is effective, it’s hard to get past the narrative and how forthcoming it is – so what is the train? “It’s redemption. Self-loathing and redemption. That’s the whole song.
“A few personal things, mistakes I’ve made, but it’s a positive message, like, we all go through shit in our lives and everyone has their own experiences of that stuff.
“That’s the beauty of music – once you’ve released it and it has meaning to you, hopefully that’s transferable to someone else and it has meaning in their life.”
In ‘Train’, Clark croons “I know my train is coming in” alluding to a dynamic belief that redemption is near. The darkness, the gothic element in blues-rock for Clark, isn’t just in the sound, it’s in the sentiment.
“I don’t like to sing about things I don’t believe in, otherwise the emotion won’t be there,” he says. “I’m a bit of an introvert, I don’t really party, so if I was writing a song about partying it wouldn’t mean anything to me, it would sound fake.
“I write about things I can understand and that I know, and I hope people can relate to it.”
Dead Preachers aren’t just the sum of their influences and experiences, but their ambition, and their respect for their forebears. “This is what we want to do,” says Clark. “There’s this particular kind of thing called the blues and it’s generally about talking about your life, things that are hard to talk about – that’s where it comes from. Pain. Like, proper pain.
“Not my interpretation of what’s happened to me, but the guys who started the blues, those guys had nothing. Marginalised people living in the south of America with nothing. That’s why the blues is so powerful.”
Check out Dead Preachers’ new single, ‘Train’, via streaming services. They’ll be launching the track at the Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar on Friday August 23. Grab your ticks via Oztix.