“We lived In New York for about three months. New York is rad, but we were very much scratching to survive. I wanted to be doing music full-time, not working a job and doing music when I had time off, you know what I mean?” Johnny Siera is half of the maniacally energetic and spastic band, The DeathSet. The duo is a relatively new presence on the scene here in the States, arriving a bit over two years ago from Australia’s sleepy surfing town, The Gold Coast. “It’s really hot there and there are lots of retirees,” Siera explains in a happy, laid back Australian accent, “and it’s really devoid of anything inspirational. There’s lots of club music and ecstasy. It’s really beautiful, but it’s not too hard to move away from there.”
After scratching it out in Brooklyn for a few months, Siera and original bandmate Beau Velasco decided to haul it down to Baltimore, which offered a more affordable and perhaps more suitable environment for the pair. “Our next door neighbor in Sydney – his friend was working at a label in Baltimore, and we were speaking to them and they got us down here to play some shows. We met a lot of the kids and I saw a bunch of the shows. I remember going to see a Dan Deacon show a couple of years ago and it was just insane – the kids down here are just awesome!” Siera’s consistent use of the word “kid” to describe the people (probably of all ages) wherever he goes is very telling. If The DeathSet infuse anything into their audiences, it’s a childlike enthusiasm for doing all things smart and stupid.
Recently, Velasco left the band to pursue tattoo art and Matt Papich stepped into the picture. “I needed a kind of totally crazy high-energy spazzy guitarist,” Siera laughs, “Matt sort of fit the mold perfectly.” Matt and Johnny play bass and guitar over a very distinctive style of backing tracks. “They are mostly electronic based. All the drums are electronic. Sometimes, I’ll sample the drums. We use everything,” Siera muses, “from pots and pans to tambourines and electric bass. Mostly it’s just really fuzzed out.” A party with The DeathSet is a party without a fourth wall. It can be a challenge for any band to bring their fans into that private bubble of energy. Siera has no problems with this and literally grabs audience members and throws them against each other if he’s not already throwing himself against them. The electricity generated by The DeathSet is literally born out of the intimacy of bodies thrown together.
No doubt more bodies are soon to be thrown together when The DeathSet release their first full-length. “It should be coming out later this year or early next year,” Siera says. “We’re finalizing the beast right now.”