“Walking around the woods with a bag on your head whilst holding a flaming torch can really keep you on your toes. We were literally in danger of setting ourselves on fire, and also getting arrested – a lady threatened to call the cops on us because ‘she knew what we were up to’.”
Heaven knows what that lady thought Muertos were doing that night. To passers-by it would have looked like they were practising some kind of dark witchcraft, but the truth is far less sinister. They were in fact recording a music video for the song Black Box, an experience which the band describe as “exciting, scary, dangerous and an overall, great experience.”
You could certainly use that summation to describe their music too. As you will gather from Black Box, Muertos don’t do love songs. The band takes its name from the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration (Día de Muertos), and the macabre theme is also reflected in the artwork which accompanies the band’s releases.
Come to see Muertos and celebrate one year of Public Pressure
The Mexican connection is largely due to DeAnna’s background. Her Dad was the official harpist for the town of Tequila, and I ask if this influenced her decision to become a musician. “Undoubtedly,” says the singer and guitarist. “I’m super lucky to have been raised in such an inspiring environment. I was surrounded by music and loved it ever since I was in the womb (literally, I would kick in my mum’s tummy when the Mariachi band was rehearsing at our house). I’d been begging my parents, pleading ‘quiero un violín chiquito!!!’ (I want a tiny violin). Then for my third birthday I got the best present ever: a little quarter-size violin, and some lessons. When I was 16, I discovered Hole and Nirvana and started teaching myself to play guitar… then I discovered Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, L7. They paved the way for women to be creative and loud.”
The horror themed artwork is designed by Marc, who fronts the band alongside DeAnna. He works as a comic book artist, creating illustrations for a noir graphic novel series which “takes a plunge into a troubled woman’s psyche.” Flicking through the virtual pages on Lilcomic, it is clear that Marc’s creative ability is a valuable marketing asset for the band.
Tom, the band’s drummer, isn’t lacking in interesting stories about himself either, and has just come back from Spain where he worked on a boat and learned to sail. “It was beautiful, nothing but the call of the sea,” he says. “The trouble with ship life is that there’s no room for a drum kit. I decided to come back to England as I missed playing music so much. I’ve started teaching drums and started my own business as a carpenter and handy man. I built a soundproof studio in my back garden so we can practice at any time of day or night. Next project… build a floating studio.”
Clearly these are three very unique individuals, so I ask them how they got together to create Muertos: “De and Tom used to play together in riot grrrl band Death of the Elephant. Marc played in vampire-psych-garage band Von Jergo which was around the same scene, so we all knew each other from playing together and seeing each other’s gigs. Life moved on, our bands split and everyone was itching to make music. Tom was living on a boat in Spain, meanwhile Marc and De got in touch and decided to create something new from the ashes and get things going again. Tom came back from Spain and then we were complete. That’s how this devil baby was born!”
It appears that the devil baby is growing up fast too. In addition to a busy touring schedule, Muertos are due to release their debut EP on 10” picture disc vinyl on 4th November (courtesy of Wrong Way Records). “We want our music to spread across the land like wildfire so everyone can hear it and dance along to our twisted tunes,” they say, and you can do just that on 16th October at the Finsbury, London, where Muertos will be playing as part of the Public Pressure Blogtober Festival.
Find out more about Muertos:
Cover photo by Mark Oliff