The music of Phoenix-based rock 'n' roll outfit Dead Eyes of London is the sound of a reboot. It's a terse re-imagining of the beats of vintage Motown, the slinkiness of jazz, the sweat-caked T-shirts of garage rockers, and spilled cocktails.
But it's not retro-minded and stuck in the past, either — guitarist Chan Vallarino, bassist Alfonso Lucero, and drummer Nick Ramirez simply remember where the good stuff originated. All veterans of the Valley music scene, the band draws on soul, blues, and punk, pairing the psychedelic heft of Queens of the Stone Age with the swinging, strutting jauntiness of Detroit proto-punkers MC5 and The Stooges.
And as of right now, the band is giving away its records, produced in the home studio of Jeremy Parker (who's sat in the chair for records by HellYeah, Evanescence, and Mudvayne). Dead Eyes of London is fine with your paying for the music, of course, but the idea of getting the sounds into the earbuds of the masses is more important than turning a profit right now. That, and getting noticed by the ladies.
"[Our music is for] the fan that has listened to punk rock and matured," Vallarino says. "[It's] heavy and darkly romantic — with lots of influence from women."
The band's new single, "You're My Queen," a funky falsetto jam featuring vocals from all three members, certainly should speak to fawning female fans, with its sexy, lustful vibe. "I think it's a pretty straightforward representation of our sound," says Ramirez, but it stands in stark contrast to the much heavier acts all three members have been a part of.
Separately and in differing combinations, the three have played in outfits like Redfield, The Jedi Five, Sam the Butcher, Vistalance, Butcher Jones, and Beezlewood.
"I wanted Dead Eyes to be the opposite of Redfield," Vallarino says. "We can be out of tune, out of key. Like Nirvana: They could be not as articulate, and at times, sloppy, but were still good. We wanted to write songs like The Kinks' 'All Day and All of the Night.'"
Their self-titled sophomore album, recorded in summer 2011, catalogued a dark time for each of the members — but you'd hardly know it now as the three banter while hanging out in the studio.
Vallarino's hair is a big topic of conversation. "I think he should grow it out — kinda mullety, but not, you know?" Ramirez muses. They sit around drinking beer, chatting about the Dandy Warhols and other music they love. As Vallerino puts on Fitz and the Tantrums, Lucero enthusiastically states, "we're big Hall and Oates fans."
Their breadth of influences is vast, which makes their tracks that much more interesting to listen to.
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"In the Middle of the Fog" feels like it should be performed on stage with Marvin Berry and The Starlighters in Back to the Future, "Born to Lose" is a Black Keys-style anthem that epitomizes the band's swagger and talent, and the sexually charged "Revenge" feels like a live act at some in-the-middle-of-nowhere roadhouse thick with smoke and swing dancers.
"Chan and I have played together for so long, I can anticipate his musical moves," Lucero says. "And in comparison to other bands I've been a part of, I feel like with Dead Eyes it's okay to be less planned out. We're having much more fun."
"It's like we're using out chisels, but they aren't sharpened," Ramirez says.
And in these days of Auto-Tune and engineering effects, a dull chisel-approach has a certain kind of dead-on charm.