All Murder Photography by Rebel Photo
Accomplices: The staff of The Black Sheep and Soda Jerk Presents
First off, why are you taking so goddamn long to release "Death Is My Only Friend"?!
Efrem: Well, we left did the entire record on our own before we found a label. So we were touring in between the recording possess to be able to afford to do this. We also spent tons of time writing and re-writing songs. We knit pick everything to death. Our producer Jason Freese picked them apart even more and helped us write the best record we have ever written, so I hope that everyone will think it was worth the wait!
Why did you leave Epitaph? Or did they drop you?
Efrem: Why? Well, we did three records with them and music seemed to be changing. The label seemed to be changing and so did our band. We mutually parted ways and are totally cool with them, we just felt like it wasn't the right home for our new record. Time for a change. That's what this band is all about, change.
And how did you come to be on Serj Tankian's label?
Efrem: Well, we have played with him in the past and I sang on a Buckethead track that he produced. he was such a great guy and so cool to work with. he just kind of stayed in the loop with what we were doing. When the time came to find a new label it seemed like an obvious choice. He has built everything he's done on a foundation of hard work and no compromise. He is a true artist. We LOVE that. So our good friend George that works with Serj called us and said, "Hey, let's do this." We were stoked! So we entered into a partnership with Serj and we are the happiest we've ever been.
How have you kept the Death By Stereo identity and vision intact throughout all these years, when you've had so many member changes?
Efrem: I think the vision was always change. never repeating our selves. Dan and I have been so fortunate to have played with so many great musicians, that it's pushed us to go as far as we can with our playing. We love a challenge!
What was the initial goal of Death By Stereo? have you reached it? Surpassed it?
Efrem: I think we have by far surpassed it. The original goal was to play music, have some fun and do something different. We had no idea that we would still be around today much less tour the world several times over. What a trip.
What contributed to the evolution of your sound to where it is today?
Efrem: I think it was just the pursuit of trying to learn. We are always trying to learn new things about music. Just trying to be better writers. Always trying to figure out how to better express our selves.
I find mortals in the world of loud music to be afraid to take any risks with their music or step out of their genre. Yet, Death By Stereo mix at least several genres. Has this pissed off purists of Punk? Hardcore? Metal?
Efrem: It always pisses off someone. But, isn't that the point off all three genres any ways? To piss people off! We are pissing everyone off at once! Now that's a good time!
Does it make it hard for you to promote the band? Being, you can't be comfortably placed in a box?
Efrem: Yes it does, it makes it hard to book us on tours, sell records, basically everything. But we wouldn't have it any other way!
Death By Stereo is becoming more and more melodic as well. Tell me about that.
Efrem: Well, we have gone across the board, we have done some melodic stuff, done a lot of heavy. So we just wanted to explore melody more. It's a challenge. and we didn't want to make the same record twice. We are on a whole issue-based positive vibe right now. That last record came out of two of the darkest years of our lives. Now we are back to hitting the issues and moving forward! Positive!
One song on the last record "Forever and a Day," was loved by some and pissed off others
Efrem: That song means so much to us. Most people are pissed 'cause they think it's a sappy girl song. In some countries it's our most requested song. I wrote it for a friend of mine who contracted "spinal meningitis". He left this world for a brief moment and came back. We don't get many second chances like this. I wanted to let him know that I would be by his side forever. In life, and in death. Not many people can survive an ordeal like this and he did. I love him and can't imagine living in this world without him. So there's the story behind the song. We have actually re-recorded it for the new record! (Laughs) It's way different and jason Freese played some incredible piano on it.
So, "Death Is My Only Friend" is pretty diverse, huh?
Efrem: It's the most diverse record we have ever made. It's the fastest/hardest/most melodic/slowest record we have ever made. There is songs with heavy guitar and songs with no guitar at all. I can't wait for you to hear it!
You have a very pro, funny approach to breaking up fights at your shows. Tell me about that.
Efrem: Well, I think that fights are just plain silly, So it's fun to make these tough guys feel stupid. So many giant dudes that are just scared of their own dicks that's it's fun to put all the attention on them and make them feel like an ass. (Laughs)
How has Punk changed over the years, since you got into it?
Efrem: It's totally changed. I am not sure I even understand it, but i'm sure people were saying the same thing about the bands I grew up loving.
Do you think the corporate side of the industry has hurt or helped Punk?
Efrem: Well, it certainly helped people make a living, but it has definitely hurt the "art". There are kids starting punk bands to be stars, when we started it was just to have fun and express ourselves....
You've been vocal about your disapproval of Prop 8. Most bands don't have the balls to do that. Tell me your point of view on Prop 8.
Efrem: I think that every human being has a right to be treated equal. Not letting two people of the same sex get married is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. In a world where pets can be married and people can't, You have to stand up and say, THIS IS WRONG. I think more bands need to be vocal about issues as well. We are not a preachy band by any means but WRONG IS WRONG. We have to use our voices to stand up for what we belive in and fight for our rights!!!!!!!!!!!!! EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL!