Interview with Death By Stereo guitarist Dan Palmer
So, you like Death By Stereo. You’ve seen them on tour, bought all of their merch, can’t get their songs out of your head, and yes, even named your pet Efrem. What is there left to do? Perhaps join the more than 25 others who have permanently branded themselves with a DBS tattoo. Devoted fans? I think so…
S&S: How is touring in Europe different than touring in the States?
Dan: In Europe, all kinds of different kids come up [to us]. You’ll see long-haired kids, straight edge kids, and everyone’s kind of a big melting pot. They’re rabid; they’re totally into it. It’s great. The people here are I guess a little more tame, and I think a little more spoiled as far as having all different kinds of bands here all the time. I think over there, they seem to appreciate you a little more. I love Europe. It’s great. It’s a different country; it’s a different culture. You get to whatever city and run off and go sightseeing for a little bit. Then, maybe hang out afterwards with whoever you meet. It’s great. I’d tour Europe year-round. I love it so much.
S&S: Where haven’t you toured that you would like to go?
Dan: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and I’ve heard of bands going to Africa. We wouldn’t mind going there. I want to go everywhere. We haven’t been to Hawaii yet, and I want to go there. I’ve been there as a little kid, but not playing-wise. I’m all for the adventure. I’ve been to places because of this band that I never would have gone to before, even here in the US.
S&S: What inspired you to write “Hippie Holocaust”?
Dan: (laughter) It’s just a joke. We were just like, “Oh, let’s write this song about hippies called ‘Hippie Holocaust.'” It kind of changed into “Emo Holocaust.” “Emo Holocaust” is about Jonah from Onelinedrawing. We were in LA, and he was really, really shitty to us. He was using our equipment, and he was making fun of it. We lent him these gold, sparkly guitars, and he was like, “Oh, gold sparkles. How rock and roll”. [We were] like, “You fucking asshole. You’re borrowing our stuff.” He gave us this whole thing, “Oh, I’ve got to play first because I have to go see my kid,” like this whole sob story. We were there forever. We didn’t want to stay there that long; we wanted to get the hell out of there. We were supposed to play earlier, but we didn’t because of him. After we had finished the show, it was one in the morning or something ridiculous. He was still hanging around. He didn’t actually have to go see his kid after all. It was kind of annoying.
S&S: How does your songwriting process usually work?
Dan: Usually, we throw a couple of good guitar riffs together, and Efrem comes up with the lyrics. The titles usually come from Paul’s dad, Tom Minor. He comes up with great titles, like “I Wouldn’t Piss In Your Ear If Your Brain Was On Fire” and all those goodies. It is pretty much a joint effort. On this last record, we had recording equipment. Paul, our bass player, is a recording engineer. So, we would get together the basic formula for a song and kind of nit-pick it and rewrite it until it sounded as good as possible. On the last record, we really went over everything with a fine-toothed comb, making sure everything was the best we could possibly make it. I think the record came out a lot better, compared to the other records which were totally rushed.
S&S: What bands do you guys like to listen to when you’re on the road?
Dan: Today, we listened to that band Cold. They have that new hit single, “Stupid Girl.” They’re a great band. We listen to Hulk Hogan. We listen to the new Weird Al CD, Poodle Head; [that’s a] great album. We listen to Eddie Money’s Greatest Hits, all kinds of stuff. We listen to 50 Cent a little bit. Sometimes, we’ll throw on some metal, but most times we go for something different because we hear hard, angry music all day long. We want a little change when we get into the van. We try to play the most ridiculous CDs we can possibly think of while Over My Dead Body is in the van to torture them a little bit. (laughter)
S&S: Is anybody edge?
Dan: Yes. Todd, our drummer, and Paul, our bass player, are.
S&S: Do they get flack for it from anybody else?
Dan: Not really. They tease us for being dumb drunks. I think it’s really good that they are straight edge because you always need somebody to drive after the show. Both Paul and Todd will hang out [at bars] and kind of babysit us. One time, I had a little too much to drink, and this gay cowboy wanted to take me home. Luckily, Todd saved me from that. It comes in handy. (laughter)
S&S: What would you be doing if you weren’t in the band?
Dan: I’d probably be going to school. I’d probably become a teacher or something like that. When I’m not on the road, I work at a restaurant. I’d probably be a restaurant manager and going to college. I really like reading when I’m in the band. I went to college for a while before the band started ruining my life. (laughter)
S&S: What’s your favorite book?
Dan: Right now, my favorite book is called City of Truth by James Morrow. It’s a book about this city where no one can tell a lie. You get this thing called “brain burn” when you’re ten. It makes you have to be completely and totally honest with everything. You walk up to somebody [and say], “Hey, you’re pretty good looking, except for that nose.” It’s a really cool book. It’s a quick read. I thought it was hilarious because it’s a simple concept, I guess, but I had never really seen anybody do it in such a way. As far as other authors, I really like Charles Bukowski.
S&S: What’s your favorite condiment?
Dan: It would have to be Frank’s Hot Sauce. I’m a big fan of hot sauce, and that’s the tastiest one.
S&S: Have you ever been in a fist fight?
Dan: Yeah. When I was younger, like in high school, I thought I was tough and all that. So, I used to fight quite often.
S&S: Were you a good student as far as grades?
Dan: I was a good student in junior high, but when I got to high school, I was a bad kid. I would fight people, do drugs, and all that good stuff. I’d go to shows and fight people there. I took kickboxing for a couple years. Ever since I actually learned to really fight, I’ve never been in a fight. I didn’t take that just to learn to kick people’s asses. It was more to get in shape. Actually, the real reason I took kickboxing was to able to try and do the splits, so I could do kicks like David Lee Roth. I still can’t do it. I’m not even close.
S&S: Girl scout cookies or girl scouts?
Dan: (laughter) Girl scouts. I do like the outfits, I must say. If I was only six months younger. (laughter)
S&S: Do you sing in the shower?
Dan: Yes, sometimes I do. I don’t do that on tour, but when I’m home, I’ll blast Van Halen or something. It gets me fired up for the day. It’s kind of fun to do to my roommates when I wake up a little early. They don’t want to wake up Van Halen like I do.
S&S: The Cure or The Hives?
Dan: Oh, The Cure, all the way. The Cure is awesome. I think they’re a great band. My favorite [album] is still the Standing On A Beach singles collection. Pornography is a great record, too. Don’t put this in the interview. You’re kind of burning me here. We want to talk more about the kickboxing, tough guy stuff. (laughter)
S&S: Boxers, briefs, or nothing at all?
Dan: It’s either boxers or nothing at all. When we play, it’s always nothing at all. During most of the day, it’s boxers. I hate playing in any kind of underwear. It’s just more comfortable. (laughter)
S&S: Thank you for taking out your time to do this.
Dan: It was a good interview, I must say. Very good questions. Thank you.
S&S: You have a good time off, at home by yourself.
Dan: Yes, I will. I’m going to not talk to anybody. I’ll probably sit around and listen to The Cure. (laughter)