Death By Stereo has been blending hardcore, metal and punk since 1998 and don’t show any signs of stopping. By the Barricade caught up with the band before their show with Strung Out, Implants, and Heartsounds at The OC Observatory on June 27 to learn more about what keeps them going strong. Through the sarcasm and wit in the transcripts that follow, Death By Stereo show they are a fun group of guys who are more than just great musicians.
Efrem Schulz – Vocals
Dan Palmer – Guitar
JP Gericke – Guitar
Robert Madrigal – Bass
Mike Cambra – Drums
The interview actually started by Dan playing a guitar riff for us to transcribe, but we don’t write music so we had to be more traditional and actually ask questions.
By the Barricade: You have been on many International tours. What is your favorite place to tour and why?
Efrem: Several …
Dan: Santa Ana, California is our favorite. That is number one right now.
Efrem: The best place is Southern California, but we do love traveling all over the world. On my list of favorite places I really enjoy would be mainland Europe.
Dan: Canada. I also like South America a lot
Efrem: UK is great. I like going everywhere in the UK, but I love the beach in Spain.
Dan: Topless beach in Spain is wonderful.
Dan: We are all topless when we go there. All male topless beach.
Efrem: Can you believe all these guys topless?
By the Barricade: That is really rare.
Efrem: South America is very beautiful.
JP: We had a good time in Australia. The world is a great place.
Efrem: We just like to travel.
Dan: Except for Indiana.
By the Barricade: Did you have an issue in Indiana?
Dan: We don’t need to go there ever again.
JP: We got a speeding ticket there and that sucked.
Efrem: The eleventh time we were ok with it. And that was years ago too.
Dan: It’s understood that we are never going back.
By the Barricade: Switching gears, what artists or bands have been particularly great to work with?
Dan: Strung Out, who were are playing with tonight. Heartsounds are great.
Efrem: Great people.
Robert: Masked Intruder.
Efrem: Strung Out. We have done so much with them over the years and they are just super fun. They are some of the coolest guys and great dudes to tour with.
Dan: BoySetsFire. AFI are great guys
Robert: Agnostic Front.
Efrem: Oh, yeah Agnostic Front is amazing. Good people
By the Barricade: You guys are on the upcoming Rancid Tribute album Hooligans. How did that come about?
Efrem: They called us and said, “Look, we have a budget of $500,000 for your song,” so I said, “I think we can make it work.”
Efrem: It came about because our friend Elvis (Cortez), who is now running Hellcat Records in conjunction with his label Smelvis Records, called and asked. I’m a gigantic Rancid fans so it is pretty exciting to play a Rancid tune. And Skinhead Rob (of Transplants) sings on the song with us and that is a special bonus because we really love him, he’s a good friend and we are a fan of his too.
By the Barricade: Did you get to pick the song or were you told which song to do?
Efrem: We picked it. I’m not telling you what it is.
Dan: We don’t remember it’s been so long.
All: * Laughing.
Efrem: It was a long time ago. We seriously recorded that before Rancid was a band.
JP: They covered us.
By the Barricade: Switching back to you guys and your songs, what does the writing process look like for Death By Stereo?
Efrem: It looks like these guys (Dan and JP) write songs
Dan: It’s like the third grade for us long, hard and smelly.
All: *Laughing … a lot of laughing.
By the Barricade: So it starts with guitar riffs?
Efrem: Yeah and I chime in after they finish writing the song. There has been magic many times when I have sat with Dan and he’ll pick subject matter and I’ll just jive into it.
By the Barricade: That was going to be my follow up question, do you write all the lyrics?
Efrem: Actually my mom writes them all, her and my brother.
Dan: Now his nephew writes them.
Efrem: I’ve got pictures of him, he’s a year and nine months. No, I write them all and I know it doesn’t seem very possible, but I pull it off.
Dan: He amazes us too.
Efrem: So, it’s music and then lyrics and melodies and then we go back and are very democratic and we all take things out, put things in and everybody pitches in on the writing. We try everything everyone’s way, except for when someone else’s way sucks.
By the Barricade: Is there a mutual consensus on when a song is finished? If you all agree then it is done.
Efrem: Yeah, absolutely!
By the Barricade: You guys are veterans and one of the groups that has sustained through the years. What were some of the greatest challenges you had to overcome to get to this place?
Efrem: What is rad is that I remember sitting in interviews where they said we were up and coming.
Dan: I think we kind of got lucky in a lot of ways. A lot of it is luck, making friends and I guess not being the worst band in the world.
By the Barricade: Like having talent.
Dan: We’re not the worst, but if you are an F+ you are not the worst band in the world.
Efrem: The trick is surrounding yourself with people that are really, really good at what they do … at all times because it makes you shine a little more. It’s the illusion that I know what I am doing. They do it for me.
Dan: It’s perseverance too. You ruin your life going on tour all the time.
Efrem: We were told a long time ago if you want your band to be really successful then don’t break up. We’re not successful but we do rad stuff and we haven’t broken up.
By the Barricade: Many of our readers are in up and coming bands. Do you have any advice for someone or a group that is just starting out? Or, is there something you know now that you wish you knew then?
All: Go to college
Dan: Go to college. Do not start a band, become an accountant and maybe play on the weekends at a local steakhouse. Make real money by having a real career.
Efrem: I was told that.
Dan: I was told that and I was stupid. Now I’m 58 and my life is ruined. (Editor’s note: He’s not 58 yet).
By the Barricade: You now see it from the other side. Anything else you would like to share with By the Barricade readers?
Efrem: Thank you for supporting our band. If you’ve never checked us out and you are learning about us by reading this because we are really old and irrelevant to the new generation so I thank you for giving us the time of day. I thank you for letting us be a part of this and check us out, we are on Facebook, Instagram and all the things.
JP: Christian Mingle
Efrem: So you will find us somewhere but honestly, thank you because the fact of the matter is that it is now over 15 years later and here we are talking to you and we are very grateful.
Dan: We are lucky, so it’s awesome.
Efrem: We get to play with our friends tonight so it is very cool.
Photos contributed by Jen Reightley.
If you enjoyed this article check out: