Dropdead's Bob Otis Talks Grindcore, "Greed-Driven Corporations," and Miami's 305 Fest
Last December, Providence brutalizers Dropdead made their South Florida debut.
It took them nearly two decades of ripping red-faced, super-political grindcore before blowing the roof off Churchill's Pub. And their arrival in Little Haiti was doubly historic, as it also ushered Miami punk and hardcore into the Speedfreak Presents era of big-name acts on the marquee and completely ridiculous festivals.
This weekend, Dropdead returns to Churchill's to help ring in Speedfreak's first (presumably annual) 305 Fest. So Crossfade spoke with vocalist Bob Otis on the eve of the band's valiant, crushing return to Lemon City.
Crossfade: Dropdead's music is fast, extreme, pummeling, etc. Would you also describe the band's music as "tough?" Why or why not?
Bob Otis: I don't think I would use the word "tough" as it implies that we are trying to be be macho or "tough guys," and that is not the case at all. The music is desperate, but it backs the lyrical content which is equally so. Our subject matter is largely about perpetual warfare, subjugation, class war, media manipulation,mass starvation and government domination. I would classify that as "intense".
Why write such political/message-oriented music when the lyrics are so difficult to understand? Why not sing clearly articulated folk music? Or, for that matter, write a pamphlet or deliver a speech?
We initially formed Dropdead out of a mutual love for aggressive hardcore. We wanted to play brutal, fast and no holds barred. The political ideas developed later on as I began to see the music as a delivery system for our message. I do understand that people who first come to shows like ours probably don't get the message between the screaming and high volume. Which is why we often explain what our songs are about during the set. We try hard to communicate with our audience. Whether it's onstage, through our artwork or our lyrics, which we provide in every release, by the way.
In an interview published last year you said you were worried you were preaching to the converted, or, even worse, the apathetic. Why continue preaching?
I guess for the simple reason that I believe so much in what we are trying to convey. To me, this is a philosophy more than music. I would rather scream at a wall than stay silent. It is hard sometimes when we do a show and discuss important issues like animal exploitation or greed-driven corporations...and then there's a kid sitting in front of the club eating McDonalds and smoking a Marlboro. But I take it with a grain of salt. That same show will have another kid who will come up to us and tell us that our music made him go vegan. Or made him go to a protest. So that's the trade.
How do Providence's punk and experimental/noise scenes intersect? Do they? Or are they tightly segregated worlds?
Providence is a unique place in that there is a lot of crossover between the "scenes." It's not uncommon to have a show with a hardcore band, a metal band, a noise band, and some just plain crazy avant garde act playing together. It's always been that way here. It's a small and tight scene and I think most of the bands truly respect each others creativity. Dropdead has shared the stage many times with Lightning Bolt, White Mice, Landed, Arab on Radar, etc. All of those bands shred in their own way...
Does Dropdead have any major influences outside of the punk/hardcore/metal spectrum?
Everyone in Dropdead are music nerds and into ALL kinds of music. Ben, our guitar player actually owns two record stores. We are huge fans of all different genres and I'm sure it influences what we do in some fashion. I love political hip-hop, world music, dark ambient, industrial/noise, even some heavy techno.
How would you describe the band's limited relationship to Florida thus far?
It's been great and very welcoming. We have a lot of friends down here so it's a good time everytime we come. The audience's have been really energetic and I think everyone has been psyched about what we have to say. We are really happy to be part of it.
305 Fest with Dropdead, Bastard Noise, Iron Lung, Dropdead, Noothgrush, Torche, Jacuzzi Boys, Floor, and others, presented by Speedfreak. Friday, July 6, to Sunday, July 8. Churchill's Pub, 5505 NE Second Ave., Miami. Doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Three day passes cost $60 via speedfreak.bigcartel.com. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.
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