Interview: Dead Sara Guitarist Siouxsie Medley Discusses Gear and the Band's Self-Titled New Album
Singer Emily Armstrong, bassist Chris Null, drummer Sean Friday and guitarist Siouxsie Medley -- collectively known as Dead Sara -- combine a high-energy live show with well-crafted, organic rock and roll music.
The band, which released a six-song EP, The Airport Sessions, in 2008, is now set to release their self-titled debut album on April 10 on Pocket Kid Records through Fontana/Universal.
They just performed at the SXSW Festival in Austin and are about to hit the road with Chevelle.
Guitar World recently sat down with guitarist Siouxsie Medley to discuss the new album, gear and influences.
GUITAR WORLD: How did you got into the guitar?
I had a nanny who was in a rock band when I was about 8 or 9, and she would bring her guitar to my house and teach me her songs. She was so rad. She never cared about me doing homework as long as I learned a new song or a few new chords each night. I then saved up my money and when I was 11 bought my first guitar, a sunburst Fender Stratocaster. I then started writing my own songs and making up guitar riffs and recording them on an old four-track.
How did Dead Sara come to be?
Emily and I met through a mutual friend. I was about 15 or 16, and we started jamming in my room on guitar together. Then I found my brother's old drum set in the basement and brought it up to my room, and Emily started playing drums for me while I sang and played guitar. We did that for a while, then found another drummer and Emily sang and played bass.
We have gone through so many different players. At one point, we lost a drummer right before a few shows we booked. I ended up on the drums and Emily sang and played guitar. This went on for years until about 2.5 years ago when we asked Sean and Chris to help us out in the practice space. We wrote "Weatherman" the first time all jamming together. It was instant chemistry. The next thing we knew, we were recording our first record.
Do you typically write as a four-piece band or do you and Emily work out songs?
We usually all jam together. I'll come up with a riff, Em will sing over it and the guys will start jamming to it. Occasionally one of the guys or Em will have some bit that we all just start writing to. Sometimes Em and I will dig up some of our old songs and the guys will add to them.
What kind of gear do you use?
I play a Gibson Les Paul through a 65amp half-stack. Love that amp. It's so huge-sounding. I'm all about big, nasty, sleazy dirty riffs, and that amp with the Les Paul make my sound. I also play around with some pedals. One of my favorites that I used on the record is a Death By Audio pedal called the Supersonic Fuzz Gun. It's so messed up and dirty sounding. I love it.
How was this recording experience different from your 2008 EP?
Doing this record was completely different. We have really found our sound since then. Sean and Chris added more elements and Emily and I have grown as writers. Also working with Noah Shain, our producer, was incredible. He is amazingly talented and a wonderful person on top of it. It was like a family this time.
Can you give us an idea of what the experience was like from a guitarist's perspective?
It was very hard and liberating at the same time. There were points where I felt so frustrated that I couldn't write a part or nail a part on the first take. Other times I was surprised at what I came up with and happy that I had 100 percent free creative control to do whatever I want as we are putting our record out on our own label, Pocket Kid Records, on April 10. That took a lot of stress off me as a guitar player and song writer.
You will be playing the SXSW Festival in Austin then hitting the road with Chevelle and then, later this year, the Warped Tour. Does Dead Sara plan on being road warriors for all of 2012?
Absolutely! We are all so excited to stay on the road from here till the end of the year and keep going after that. We all understand how hard it is to really "make it" in this industry and know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and can't stop. We also love seeing our fans and making new ones along the way.
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