Dance rock duo Death From Above 1979 – now actually just Death From Above – are a band with a story. They were big, they broke up, and they returned. And while they’ve released two studio albums since their 2011 reunion, DFA is leading a late 2018 tour with a major theme, revisiting their 2002 debut EP, Heads Up.
The tour’s title – Heads Up! Is Now – is a nod to both the EP and their latest album, Outrage! Is Now, meaning there will be new songs from their latest, plus 2014’s The Physical World and 2004’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, a mid-aughts dance party favorite.
But this tour is a bit different. Not only will the band be selling copies of the vinyl repress of Heads Up, but bassist Jesse Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger will also play the EP in its entirety. For fans, this is great news. The 2002 EP is a 14-minute, six-tracked explosion that does some serious damage. It’s move music. It picks up 13 seconds in and doesn’t relent until you’ve made it from point A to point B in a light sweat.
So why Heads Up in 2018? We electronically connected with Grainger for some answers.
Why a vinyl re-release of Heads Up in 2018?
Heads Up is the only record that [Keeler] and I totally own/control. When I was starting my label, Ancient Fashion Records, with my pal Adrian a couple of years ago, he asked me if I had any copies of Heads Up on vinyl kicking around. I told him that I didn’t even own a copy of it myself. So essentially, I am re-pressing Heads Up so that Adrian and I, and anyone that missed out the first time around, can have a copy.
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How do you feel the EP holds up in late 2018?
I thought that by now there would be a mainstream break from “perfect music.” Real music is imperfect. No one listens to Nina Simone and says: “God, she’d be so much better if they just ran some Auto-Tune and quantized the drummer.” The music industry as a system is like Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It got lazy and tried to automate everything, then fell asleep. When it woke up, it was drowning in a sea of its own failure. The only thing that is going to make it through is real music. Real music will part the sea. Heads Up is the least perfect of our records. In fact, I don’t think it makes any sense at all in 2018. But what does?
I would assume a throwback tour or re-release would be for You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. Why Heads Up?
Why assume anything from us? (Laughs) Heads Up is the closest we’ve ever come to pure. In fact, even this EP was already a distortion in a way. The closest thing to “pure Death From Above” are the demos from Heads Up that we made on my four-track cassette recorder in [Keeler’s] basement. With a little luck, those recordings will see the light of day before the end of the year. I dug out all my old tapes this year and our friends at Third Man Records in Nashville were excited by them. Fingers crossed!
How is 2018 looking for DFA?
This year is like any other year for us. We’ll continue to not really fit in and make music for people that feel the same way.