Dead Letter Circus on Alt-Prog, Dream Theater and politics
They’ve got a suitably unique blend of alt rock, electronica and prog metal, but also top charts in their native Australia and have toured alongside big names. Is it finally time for Dead Lett
Dead Letter Circus are a tricky one for prog pigeon-holers. They’ve got the spiky riffs, the crepuscular, cloudy atmosphere and the expansive left-field ethos, and they’ve shared bills with the likes of Animals As Leaders, Muse and, er, Linkin Park… but don’t let that put you off. They may have radio-friendly readiness, but they’re certainly part of our world.
“I’d say we have a lot of prog stylings, but in more of a rocky format,” opines singer Kim Benzie down the blower from his native Australia. “Perhaps it’s a gateway for people before they get shipped over to the true prog kings.”
You may have heard Dead Letter Circus’ impressive latest album, Aesthesis, many months ago. The quintet, completed by bassist Stewart Hill, drummer Luke Williams and guitarists Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer, released their third record in Australia in August 2015, but Europe had to wait until late April earlier this year for an official release.
“It took us a while to find the right people on the ground over there,” Benzie explains. “We wanted to find someone where the heart is in the right place.”
The album found itself at the top of Australia’s ARIA chart – number two. But it wasn’t much of a surprise, with the Brisbane band’s previous two studio recordings, 2010’s This Is The Warning and 2013’s The Catalyst Fire, also bagging silver medals on the chart.
I wouldn’t say we’re a fully political band, but we always try to catch the perspective of the ‘little guy’.
Aesthesis continues Dead Letter Circus’ cunning knack for juxtaposing juddering rhythms and industrial flair with masterful melody making, and the record sees the group at their most collaborative.
In a first for the Aussies, they often used vocals as the creative spark instead of pieces of music.
“We did try something quite different with the writing this time,” Benzie says. “In the past, we always started with a piece of instrumentation, whether it be a drum beat or a riff, or something like that. This time we started a lot of these songs vocally, and I had a bit of time with them on my my own before jamming with the band.
“As a result, it felt like the guys reacted to the setting that I’d made, rather than the other way around. The vocals are really deep in the background of every song.”
The group hibernated inside the Loose Stones studio on Australia’s sun-kissed Gold Coast for one month of writing followed by a month of recording. “We just jammed and jammed. It was an amazing vibe, and it was a team vibe. It was probably the most positive we’ve had a recording