Interview with The Dead-End Alley Band

Have any of you played in other bands?

Seb: Yes. Each member of The Dead-End Alley Band have previous experiences by playing in other projects. The most experienced were Javier (Bass player) and Jafer (Drummer). They played for long time in the underground scene before being part of The Dead-End Alley Band. How is it that you started playing music? Javier: Well back in 2002 my friends at school used to gather together and grab a guitar and play Nirvana tunes and songs from the period of time, mostly what Mtv used to aired and some classics as Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Iron Maiden... the usual stuff. So that’s where my interest in playing music started, as well I started playing Nirvana, mostly Grunge music, that is my favorite music style, then I the other things came along. Seb: I guess, I was always in the music, because of my family. I got this conection with the music, very early, but it was in 2006 when I started to develop it in a public way, with small bands and projects, and also, my own compositions.

Leonardo: When I was a kid, I loved the music class in school. One day, I remember asking the teacher if I could play his guitar. As toying, I put some pens and crayons inside the hole of the guitar and it sounded weird, but I loved that sound and from that moment, I wanted to play guitar.

Jafer: It all started when I was 13 years old, at school. All these “school-bands”. What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you? Sebastian Sanchez-Botta / Vocal + Keys / 29 Javier Kou / Bass + Vocal / 29 Leonardo Alva / Guitar / 23 Jafer Diaz / Drum / 46 Have you had other previous members? Seb: We started being a 5-pieced-band, with two guitars. A guy called Rolando ‘Delfin’ Valle, who plays in some other Peruvian bands like Los Rezios, Morte Kvlto and Tröncho, joined us, but because of a tour with one of his bands, was difficult for him to be focused at 100% in The Dead-End Alley Band, so sadly we played just one show with us. After that, we turned into a 4-pieced-band and the line up remains the same from that date.

Did you make music even when you were young? Seb: Yes, we all did.

Where are you from?  Seb: We are from Lima, Peru.

What year did the band form?  Seb: The idea of having this band, started in 2011, but we started composing and recording in the beginning of 2012, so, we can say that 2012 is the year when the action started.

What's your style of genre? Seb: Heavy psych and blues. These are the styles we are actually focused in, but some others like to add that we also are stoner rock or even close to the doom thing. But, well, is all about heavy music in the end.

What inspires you?

Javier: Sometimes it’s hard to think about what inspires me. There are moments were I am listening to music, let’s say The Doors’ ‘Not to touch the earth’, which is my favorite band, and I start thinking “Wow, I would have liked to compose this song!”, then I grab my guitar or the bass and start fooling around the melody. Besides music, sometimes being alone at night, or a rainy day makes me think about some lyrics and how a song could sound. Seb: That’s perhaps a tought question. In a musical way, my inspiration uses to come with a musical phrase or motive or riff that comes into my mind. Then, I grab a dictaphone and record it to work on that thing later at home. Night is the perfect moment for me too.

Leonardo: A girl. Jafer: To listen to all kind of music.

How often and where do you reherse? Seb: We have some different ways or seasons for rehearsing. For example, if we have an upcoming regular local show, we rehearse just one in a week. Facing a tour, as it was in 2015, we rehearse really hard, the whole week if it’s possible. And during the demo sessions or songwriting process, we use to rehearse at home every weekend during the summer since.

How have you developed you started with the music?  Seb: Well, in the beginning, as many bands, we started playing in every venue or club we could play, here in Lima. Not so big expectations, to be honest, just playing and improving every day. But, when we signed to Nasoni Records (Berlin), we got more attention here. After the releasing of our first album in vinyl, we realized that we have to take this to a more serious direction. After that, we recorded our 2nd album, which was released again with Nasoni, getting more attention, and after that, the first European tour came out. That was the breaking point, that was shown out with the release of our 3rd album.

Do you have other interests of work outside the band?  Javier: Personally, I have it, but sometimes it’s difficult cause the logic thing it’s to team-up with other musicians you know but that already have a band, or more than one. Now, it's not a serious thing, but when I have time I phone-record some tunes in the style of Townes Van Zandt, at least I’m trying to ha, ha, ha.

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that?  Seb: It is always a good thing to have a booking agency or a tour manager. It helps you a lot. During the booking process of the first European tour, it was a crazy thing to organize everything. We got a hand from StoneFree Bookings (Austria) and Radioactive Booking (Italy) for the first week of the tour. In the end, it was a really stressful thing, so yes, it would be nice if we can have a booking agency for the next tours.

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that?  Seb: We have already a label (a lot of labels for this album). If there’s something we’ve learned from the labels, is that they are a great support for making your music being heared beyond your circles. Having a good label as Nasoni or Clostridium Records (our actual label) provides your music or your band, a good impression for people who never heard before about you.

What made you decide to make this music?

Javier: The big love I have for The Doors, the idea of The Dead-End Alley Band was to play Doors’ songs, thing that never happened. So the idea changed to the creation of music with the 60s and 70s sound. Leonardo: I love blues. I wanted to be in a blues band, and, well, with The Dead-End Alley Band, I found some more heavy obscure psych and also blues, so I fit there perfectly.

Jafer: Listening to great drummers like John Bonham and Steve Smith, my favorites!

What are your songs about? Javier: Nothing in particular, we do not have a theme to talk about, sometimes the songs can talk about love, in particular way, or about the night, nightmares, or (twisted) stories. For example 'It's Too Late' (1st album), talks about a hostage that ended up suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, or 'Nightmare Goes On' (2nd album) that talks about a bug phobia but in a very gloomy way in a paranormal sceneario, or 'Headstone Forstress' (3rd album) that is a very own way to pay tribute to our World Wonder, Machu Picchu.

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? Seb: In the beginning, me and Javer worked in everything about music and lyrics. During the process, we realized that Javier was more deep inside the lyric-writing thing, so, nowadays, he is always behind of most of the lyrics of our songs. About the music, now the whole band is giving musical ideas or riffs to start building up the songs together.

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? Seb: We often start with the music.

Do you compose in a certain environment? Javier: Every time any idea comes up, it’s more likely to write in random moments that to force myself to do it. Seb: Yeah, it uses to come out spontaniously. Personally, I think that if you force the composition process, it would be noticed when you listen to the final mix. Leonardo: Wherever destiny finds me with a guitar in my hands.

Have you done any covers live? Seb: Sure! We played “Locked Up In The Snow” from King Diamond & Black Rose, and it’s a song we often include in the setlist. We also have a heavy version of “Venus”, from Shocking Blue. And, during the European tour, we played “Snowblind” from Black Sabbath, in the first three gigs.

What language do you sing in? Seb: In English. Just in this 3rd album we have only a little phrase in Spanish in one song.

What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? Seb: To think in the least people attending to a show of us, it probably bring us back to our very first show. Just 3 or 4 guys there. Then, during the European tour, perhaps the show in Vaals, Netherlands was the only gig with least people attending. But also, when we think in a gig with the most people attending, it brings us to the tour again, in Tübingen, Germany. House packed and the best show of our carreer at the moment.

What ages are most of your concert attendants?  Seb: It’s difficult to say. Yeah, there are always young people there, but also you can see some old-silver-haired-guys who loves the style. It happened during the tour, too, in that gig in Vaals, the most excited guys were the old ones.

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? Seb: We use to vary according to the gig subject. For example, if the gig is all about psychedelia, we play the most psychedelic stuff in the setlist. Also, we were invited to play in some metal things, and in that case, we line up with the heavier stuff in the setlist. But, also, there are some “musts” in the setlist that could fit in every gig.

Do you have a regular place you play live often? Seb: Well, in Lima there is a small bar and club called Hensley, that is some kind of hotspot for the underground scene. Yes, it is the place we’ve played the most.

What was your first gig like? Seb: As we said lines above, it was nice but at the same time, weird to play just for 3 or 4 guys there. We were part of a huge line up, and we was the last band of that fest. We played nearly 1am on Sunday, so… Yeah. It was like that.

What was your latest gig? Seb: They were great! Before this interview, we played the first two gigs of the 3rd album era. The first one was in a metal open air festival in the highlands, and it was mind blowing! The second one was in Lima, at the Hensley bar, introducing the whole album live. Was a good one too.

Have you had to cancel a gig? Seb: Sadly, yes. Just a couple of times in all our career.

Where have you played live this year? Seb: Most of the shows of this year were in Lima, and also in that metal festival in the highlands of Peru. We are about to travel to the North to play in a small fest, and then, close the year again in Lima.

Where do you plan to gig the coming year? Seb: We are planing our first South American tour, so perhaps next year we will be playing in some other countries in the region.

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? Seb: We started with the Cds and vinyls during the gigs. After that, we got merch for the tour (t-shirts) and now, we have to reload our merch table for the upcoming gigs.

Where can people buy your merchandise? Seb: For the moment, at the shows.

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? Javier: I can say that it’s better to buy ‘em but truly I also download music, it was more often a couple of years ago, nowadays I use the Youtube to listen to some stuff, it's better that way cause I don't occupy the space in the hard drive ha, ha, ha. But I buy records, I’m a vinyl and tape collector. Jafer: Both methods are good.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this?  Javier: For the big-well-known bands is a loss, for band like us it’s a free window of advertising. Seb: Things are easy now, yes, but at the same time, you have to find the way to get well promoted in that huge ocean of bands and digital albums nowadays, with a label and physical editions of your work, also merch and, obviously, gigs.

What do you think of my work? Seb: It is great to take your time to search for a band that is so far away from your hometown, to know more about them. It’s really nice!!

How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? Seb: Supporting and spreding the word is always welcome! And it’s a great thing that you take your time to share the band experiences to your contacts with this interview. Thanks a lot for that.

Do you have any role models or idols? Seb: Perhaps, the bands or artists we love.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?

Seb: It’s about to get the best of both worlds.

Javier: Older bands, personally I don’t listen to a lot of new bands, and when I do it’s just for pleasure and not for inspiration, but sometimes you can’t handle that and ends up inspiring you in some ways. Leonardo: For me, older bands, totally! Jafer: Older bands!

What have been your biggest obstacles? Seb: I think, the flaws of each member in the band. We all have flaws that could be against the things we want to achieve as a band. The thing is not to let them to be more than our responsabilities with the band. Also, there are some other things like money or the difficulties for artists here in Peru, but we keep playing and having fun together, no matter what obstacles we find ahead.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? Seb: To always search for professionalism, no matter where they have to play. Have fun, yes, but don’t forget to look for good gear, proper outfit, proper show off and sound, and also, have a restless search of everything in the underground music business… To ask people who knows. To ask for contacts. To send emails and demos constantly to the promoters and labels. In other words, not to wait next to the phone.

How do you get psyched for a gig? Seb: Experience taught us not to get drunk or extremely high before a show. We can drink or smoke, yes, but in a normal way. After the show, do whatever you want. In my case, I always prefer to have a bottle of red wine with me. It keeps me in my best mood for a show. No more, no less. Javier: There's not such thing like a ritual or something like that, sometimes it's some drinks before going to the place we're supposed to play, or sometimes I grab those drinks before the show and also at the place of the show ha, ha, ha. One thing that is true is that I play with a couple of beers on me, or sometimes 3. Leonardo: I used to pray to Father Duane Allman to get his blessing. I remember, with Seb, during a show in the highlands, we payed a kind of tribute to Pachamama (Mother Earth) as the ancient Peruvians used to do. He he he. Jafer: To get focused, calm and start finding my inner beat.

Do you have any new material? Seb: Yes! We have already released our 3rd album digitally via South American Sludge Records, and in CD via Necio Records and Inti Records. It will have a US edition coming out in December, via Forbidden Place Records and also, the vinyl edition in January 19, 2018, via Clostridium Records.

What are your web sites? Facebook: Bandcamp:

How can people reach you? Via Facebook, or also, just write an email to [email protected]

What are your plans for the future? Seb: To promote this album, with a tour, and then, start working for the upcoming album.

Do you have something to add? Seb: Just to say thank you for digging into the band and making this interview to us. Great work!