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Death's Bobby Hackney: "We Never Thought We Would See This Kind of Appreciation"

If you hadn't heard of Death before 2012, don't feel bad. Until recently (read: within the last couple years), few rock 'n' roll fans were familiar with the Detroit garage rockers/proto-punks, who were, at best, a minor footnote in rock history.

Then, a little documentary by filmmakers Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett called A Band Called Death debuted in L.A. around two years ago. And everyone became familiar with siblings Bobby Hackney, Dannis Hackney, and David Hackney.

They've rode the wave of newfound fame ever since, including touring venues around the U.S. This Saturday, Death rides into The Pressroom for their first-ever Phoenix gig. It's an improbable show at a new venue, so don't feel bad if you don't know much about the band, the venue, or why it so cool.

Up On the Sun caught up with bass player Bobby Hackney to talk a little bit about the band, their history, and what's happening now.

Take us back to the days when the band was creating the majority of your tunes. What kind of reaction did you expect to get from your audience?

The kind of reaction we expected was really geared toward radio airplay. We just wanted people to hear that Death was a great rock 'n' roll band with a new and fresh rock 'n' roll sound.

Your story is amazing and the documentary had tears in my eyes, both of sadness and joy, at different times. What kind of reaction did you think you were going to get while making the film?

We were not sure. We knew that it was going to be something special once we begin to see footage as the filming progressed. The filmmakers Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino really did their research and got into the spirit and mind of our brother David, our Death story, and the fabric of our family. That's what really made it special.

What kind of reception do you get now when you play live?

It's hard to describe. Excitement, appreciation, emotion, and adulation-the fans are awesome! It is surreal for Dannis and me as we never thought we would see this kind of appreciation for Death.

What is next for Death?

The film "A Band Called Death" continues to blaze a trail around the world. Death also continues to blaze a trail around the world. The third installment of the historic music of Death from Detroit will be released by Drag City Records on April 22 entitled Death III. Drag City has released a single from this album featuring the song "North Street" one of our favorite rocking tunes we recorded as Death, along with the song sung by David "We're Gonna Make It" which has received tons of response from being featured in "A Band Called Death".

Also, our current performing group has completed the first Death studio album since the '70s which is planned for release in the second half of this year. We have released a single from this album entitled "Relief", along with the song "Story Of The World" which was written by David and me in 1975.

Ever played Phoenix before?

This will be the first time Death has played Phoenix. We are looking forward to playing Arizona. Never thought Arizona would ever even know who Death is -- another one of David's prophecies coming true.

What do you think of being labeled punk or proto-punk?

We appreciate the rock historians labeling us this. When we made this music from 1973 on, we always called it hard-driving rock 'n' roll. The term "punk" for music was non-existent in those years, as a matter of fact, if you called someone a punk in those years -- us included -- those would be considered fighting words which usually got you either a black eye or a bloody nose.

Are you guys big Stooges fans? Any thoughts on Scott Asheton's passing?

Of course. Scott was one of Detroit's best and stellar drummers. The Drum track on "1969" will always be a Detroit signature.

Anything you would like to add?

We have a finished manuscript of a book that will offer much more detail and insight into the Death story and will complement the movie greatly. Encourage your audience to visit us on the web at www.deathfromdetroit.com. A lot more Death music, performances, and media to come.

Death is scheduled to perform at The Pressroom on Saturday, April 5.

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