‘A little more suspicion in our fairy tales, please.’
Frank Turner Ben and I were the big Refused fans, I’m not sure they were really Cam and Julia’s cup of tea at the time, as I remember it. For me, ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ was a total game-changer, such an incredible artistic statement; Kneejerk, Ben and my previous band, had been slavishly derivative of them (in a shit, 17-year-old kind of way). I remember we were having a really hard time coming up with a band name, nothing that any of us could agree on. We had our first proper show coming up and in the end I think Ben just blurted out the name as a suggestion and we went with it for want of anything better. I can’t say it’s a name I like particularly.
Julia Ruzicka I was an alternative-rock, indie-rock kid I suppose? Kid? Actually, late teens and early twenties. In my early teens I was into all kinds of metal actually, the more extreme the better. I listened to Bathory, Slayer, Death and the like during that phase, for Christ sake, no wonder my mother was slightly (very) worried. And perhaps that was my underlining attraction to it. Ha! Pre teens, yup, lots of pop in there, but also 50’s and 60’s rock and roll thanks to my parents’ record collection.
“I’ll always remember the absolutely justified “who the fuck is this?!” expression on [Cam’s] face as he came down the escalators. I liked him instantly, and when I heard him play I loved his riffs and playing style instantly… He wrote some truly unique, dirty yet melodic riffs. That’s what you want right?”
– Julia Ruzicka
I would like to add however, that there definitely has been some Australian influence in post Million Dead playing and writing due to going back in time a little a few years ago and getting into Australian bands like The Saints, The Dirty Three and of course Nick Cave, and all Nick Cave associated output such as Grinderman, Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party. I love The Birthday Party and still quite astonished we (Oz) spawned such a band. Perhaps in a weird juxtaposed kind of way their origin may have been a larger factor than we may care to contemplate in terms of their conception. It doesn’t matter actually how they came about really when I think about it. They existed, and therefore bands like the Melvins and many others in that vein exist. Their influence it seems did cast a wide and crucial net.
Cameron Dean I’m from Perth and Jules is from Melbourne – a long way apart – so we didn’t know each other before we moved to the UK. We met through a mutual friend in London and quickly realised we both had similar musical interests and wanted to start a band. I initially moved to London for a number of reasons, music being a big part of it, but also just wanting to get out of Perth. I’d played in a number of bands there, but there were no real opportunities unless you were into playing covers.
Julia Ruzicka Music was the main reason for my move too. I grew up with a love for British music, film and comedy, so it felt very easy and natural settling in. It was an exciting time for me and I was just keen to meet other musicians, hence meeting Cam! As he mentioned, we had a mutual friend, a lovely girl who worked at HMV with me and she suggested that I should meet Cameron as I explained I was new to the country, didn’t know that many people yet, and wanted to play music.
At the time Cam worked at Tower Records so I decided to pop in. I asked a security guard there if they wouldn’t mind seeing if he was free. I’ll always remember the absolutely justified “who the fuck is this?!” expression on his face as he came down the escalators. I liked him instantly, and when I heard him play I loved his riffs and playing style instantly, and knew I definitely wanted to play in a band with this guy. He wrote some truly unique, dirty yet melodic riffs. That’s what you want right?
Ben Dawson Cameron knew that I played drums as he was my supervisor at Tower Records. He asked if I wanted to try out drums and I had the time and the enthusiasm. I think the first riff I played along to was the opening to what would become ‘The Eddison Address’. I hadn’t actually ever intended Frank to join the band but being that we’d been playing together for a long time, I asked if he wanted to check out what I was up to. He offered to do vocals and put all the energy and attack into it that he has today. What he didn’t have was any real singing ability and Julz wasn’t convinced for some time, I remember.
Frank Turner My only thing to add to this, really, is that I genuinely thought it was a set up when I went down to the rehearsal room. For some reason I had it in my head that they were a pop-punk three-piece type affair (I didn’t know Cam or Jules) and was just going down to hang out. Ended up screaming along for a bit enthusiastically, and remember that some people were more convinced by it than others!
“[Frank] offered to do vocals and put all the energy and attack into it that he has today. What he didn’t have was any real singing ability and Julz wasn’t convinced for some time, I remember.”
– Ben Dawson
Cameron Dean I remember Frank coming in and doing some talking style vocals too that sounded really good to me, and I thought he got the idea of what we were trying to do, so I guess it just went from there. Obviously he and Ben were such good friends that it was very easy for them to play together.
Frank Turner I had some recording equipment and offered to track a demo for them, with the sort of hint from me and Ben that I’d add vocals to it, which we did. Sounded like shit, I never was any good at recording. But it went from there.
Julia Ruzicka As the guys have summed up the first few rehearsals and how they played out I’ll leave it to them, but will add girly emotion to it here and say that I was very excited by it all and they were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve had making music.
Frank Turner I also remember that we had some pretty different ideas, influence-wise. Cam was into a lot of stuff that I wasn’t (although I’ve come around to a lot of it now, like Hot Snakes). Julia was talking about QOTSA, a band I’ve never been much into. Ben and I were still kind of on a hardcore trip. But I actually think that mix made us much more interesting as a band, in the long run.
Cameron Dean You have to bear in mind that there is a 7 or 8 year age gap between Jules and I and Ben and Frank, so there was a big gap in a lot of things, but we all liked heavy music. I had been into a lot of death and thrash metal as well as a lot of grunge and alternative stuff, which was similar to Jules maybe, but the pop-punk thing I never got and hardcore I really only got into after meeting them.
“There certainly wasn’t supposed to be any kind of “party line” or anything like that, it was me sounding off about things. I was a pretty typically angry adolescent at the time, and was still (just about) hanging out with anarchist types and being into that whole world, though the disillusion was setting in.”
– Frank Turner
Julia Ruzicka While the years between us weren’t ridiculous in length (it’s not like Cam and I were winding up gramophones as kids while the other two had Apple devices embedded in them during the foetal period) they were far enough apart to be an influence I think in terms of how we approached writing together. There was a lovely naivety in how we jammed and wrote (i.e. had no idea what we were doing some of the time perhaps?) which definitely was a contributor to the early sound of Million Dead. That’s what made it exciting I think. The differing cultural backgrounds coupled with age differences gave it a unique spin.
As with Cam, I got into hardcore and certain styles of punk after meeting, and through, Ben and Frank. That’s why I always found the comparisons to At The Drive In through UK press coverage etc hilarious as I remember reading reviews of us at the time genuinely thinking “who the fuck are At The Drive In???!!” I really didn’t know. Suffice to say, I found out pretty quickly who they were and I kind of understand the comparisons, and that’s fine, it’s just when the journalist would imply that we took direct influence from them which I found perplexing and amusing as I personally, at that point, hadn’t even heard a note of ATDI and don’t recall the others either talking about them, let alone trying to sound like them.
Ben Dawson We did a few recordings around that time and I really can’t remember which one actually made it onto that EP. We really went on a learning curve on all the early recordings.
Cameron Dean I don’t remember this much either. I was thinking maybe it was some recordings we did at the Whitehouse (?) out near Bristol. We only went there because The Heads recorded there and I remember thinking they were pretty awesome at the time. I really love psychedelic sounds, although I’m pretty sure I was alone in that. Obviously we didn’t sound anything like The Heads anyway and I’m pretty sure the recordings were a bit shit in the end.
Frank Turner We tracked that EP at Zed One studios in north London, I remember that. But little else. I can confidently say the lyrics are pretty shit though, haha. I guess a charitable term would be “naive”. There were a bunch of songs hanging around before the first record, like ‘I Am Become The South’ and ‘Hipster Clad and Clueless’ that actually have stood the test of time rather better than I expected. Not saying they’re great, just that they’re pretty decent given our circumstances at the time. And the lyrics were a tiny bit less shit.
|Hipster Clad and Clueless
Smiling At Strangers on Trains
Julia Ruzicka ‘Hipster Clad and Clueless…’ for some reason I was always really chuffed and proud of that song. I must dig it out soon and listen to it again and see how insane or right I was to feel that way about it back then.
The only recall from that time that I can scrounge up is down to memories via recognition as provided by the others. I definitely remember Cam being into the Heads, I can remember Zed One (as Frank mentioned) but a lot of those very early recordings are all a blur. It was us learning how to record and write together and as we had no money, we pulled in loads of favours from people who either ran or owned studios or were in bands who knew of someone we could use on the cheap. Cheap rarely means good though sadly.
There was some weird bunker type crappy digital studio in central London we used once, not sure if the guys remember that one, but that may have given us a song or two for the EP? I’ll need to dig that CD out really to trigger more memories. My main memory of early demo’s and EPs is getting them done cheaply, looking rubbish and sitting down cutting out sleeves for hours at home. They were simpler times. Ha!
Cameron Dean I think people always want there to be some underlying message in the lyrics, but Frank was also singing about going to his dentist as well.
To be honest I think most of the time I didn’t even know what the lyrics were anyway, the music and the melodies and the overall sound was much more important to me. I thought he came up with great melodies, which for me was much more important than the lyrics. I remember reading some of them for the first time as he was recording them for the album and wanting him to change them, much to everyone’s annoyance, oops.
Ben Dawson We let him do his thing lyrically, with the occasional veto or criticism so there certainly wasn’t a band focus on it. I think Frank was singing about the things that were important to him at the time.
“I suppose in reality, what we wanted was unrealistic from an industry standard. But I guess that’s business. I remember we played the Astoria, which was sold out, and got paid £50 for it. I think we worked out that was about 0.5% of the take from the door. It was easy to get a negative mindset, which was not very helpful.” – Cameron Dean
Frank Turner Hum, well. I think there was definitely a sense in the band that the lyrics were my department. Occasionally people would throw in an opinion or a veto, but for the most part I was pretty intensely scribbling away and the others left me to it. There certainly wasn’t supposed to be any kind of “party line” or anything like that, it was me sounding off about things. I was a pretty typically angry adolescent at the time, and was still (just about) hanging out with anarchist types and being into that whole world, though the disillusion was setting in (see: ‘Breaking The Back‘).
Looking back on it now, some of it is cool and clever and observational or whatever, but the most part is pretty much just intellectual machismo, which isn’t very appealing to me. “Check me out, I’ve read more books than you!” I was studying history at the LSE at the time and I think I wanted people to know that. I guess I stand by the more anti-authoritarian aspects of it, but I cringe at how naive and rent-a-quote party-line a lot of it is now.
Julia Ruzicka Personally, I remember being really impressed with most of his lyrics and I perhaps had a more naive take on the literary / political side too back then, so I totally see what Frank means, but whatever he or others think of them now you can’t deny their enthusiasm and excitable nature! They definitely were a talking point. And to this day I think there are some gems in there. They captured what he knew and was excited about at the time; it’s an open an honest snap shot of that phase of life for him. I also really like a lot of the song titles Frank came up with.
Cameron Dean The idea of us being a part of a scene is not how I remember it… We played with some cool bands and with a lot of cool people, but mostly in the last couple of years anyway, they were all organised by our managers or promoters. It made for some strange line-ups.
“We achieved that all important foundation, sound and identity as a band during the Cam years. I look upon that whole period fondly really. The news of him leaving was an extremely sad moment for me, but I perhaps did overreact a little at the time (cried and everything, yup)”
– Julia Ruzicka
Frank Turner I never had much time for “scenes”, and there was definitely an effort by some people to class us with a lot of bands around at the time which we resisted, as I remember it. We were friends with Jarcrew, ThisGirl, Engerica and others, but it didn’t have anything to do with the music we were making. We were pretty much in our own bubble on that score, something I’m actually kind of proud of.
And this is all without mentioning the whole “emocore” thing. Ben and I had been into some early emo bands, but the whole thing with FFAF and so on wasn’t, musically, anything to do with us. Even though the Funeral guys were (and are) lovely and helped us out a whole load (for which I will be eternally grateful); it just wasn’t our style of music.
Ben Dawson I never saw it as a scene at all and it never felt like that to me. With other bands I have felt, and do feel, like part of a particular community of bands and creative types or whatever but Million Dead was a rock band that existed at the same time as other rock bands. We weren’t singing about the same things or pulling in the same directions as other bands. Obviously we got to know a lot of the guys in all the bands we were playing with but it was nothing so coherent as a scene. Not to me, anyway.
Julia Ruzicka I think that swag of British bands at the time were placed into a slightly fabricated scene built more from an industry, journalistic angle rather than from sweaty venues and a bubbling underground, for obviously marketable reasons. That’s me being horribly cynical though and I will counteract that with the positive view that I feel people did have a genuine excitement for this emerging set of bands and liked what they heard but felt the bands perhaps couldn’t stand alone within “the market” and felt a scene would strengthen their chances commercially.
Not once was this our motivation. I can accurately and openly say commercial success was not our driving force. I just remember being really excited about what we were creating and playing and wanted as many people to hear it. We wanted to make music we liked playing, and were proud of playing.
Ben Dawson A lot of people loved our band, that I know, but I don’t think we were ever destined for stardom, even if we had a lot of people telling us we were. In retrospect I would have done a lot of things differently.
“Not getting picked up by certain big labels that we did showcases for seemed like such an injustice at the time, but the reality was that we were never going to make them money and it’s easy to see now why they wouldn’t have wanted us.” – Ben Dawson
It was only after the release of the second album where I think we realised that the success that we’d been talked into believing might happen wasn’t going to and we took a bit of pride in realigning ourselves to the focus of just being a band again and doing what we wanted to do. I can’t believe anyone thought we were ever going to be the kind of band to sell lots of records anyway, as even at our most commercial we were far from poppy and we never wrote with that in mind. Not getting picked up by certain big labels that we did showcases for seemed like such an injustice at the time, but the reality was that we were never going to make them money and it’s easy to see now why they wouldn’t have wanted us.
Frank Turner I think we had a slightly weird beginning because we caught a couple of lucky breaks which made people think we were bigger than we were (or even suspect that we were manufactured in some way, which is a laugh, looking back). We got some good press because some journalist friends helped out, and we got bumped up a couple of tours to main support due to other bands pulling out – that happened with Pitchshifter, for sure, and Funeral I think. I guess there was a bit of buzz around the first headline tour we did – we sold out the Garage! Fame at last! – but I don’t think any of us had any frame of reference to compare it to, so it was all a bit weird, or even unremarkable.
We went out, played hard, then went back to work or uni or whatever. Looking back now, personally, I have a ton more knowledge about what we were going through, but at the time we just kind of went with it.
Julia Ruzicka I don’t think as a band we thought we were rocketing to the top, but we knew there was some interest in us, even if it was just sheer curiosity. I think we were a bit of an anomaly to some. As Frank said, we did get some lucky breaks in the world of press, albeit small ones, which was very helpful indeed and purely down to fluke. That created a little wave of general press interest which in turn led to some people paying attention. And because of that, we had some nice opportunities thrown our way but by no means was it an easy ride.
“We went out, played hard, then went back to work or uni or whatever. Looking back now, personally, I have a ton more knowledge about what we were going through, but at the time we just kind of went with it.”
– Frank Turner
We learned quickly how fickle the music industry was and how indeed it ran purely, as a business, a stupid one at that, but dominated by numbers all the same like any other. I think we did realise though that we got more attention than some other bands and therefore didn’t take things for granted and enjoyed what we could despite being perpetually frustrated by the non-creative side of the fence as we sunk deeper into that world. Not that we wanted that, it just happened. That’s what unknowingly gained traction for us.
Cameron Dean What was it like being in a band gaining such traction? Stressful mostly. There were of course some pretty cool opportunities to play bigger shows and travel a bit, but mostly there was a sense of a loss of control over the decision making process. It seemed like all the other bands we were playing with had better deals than us, better equipment and were having an easier time. In fact we didn’t even have a record deal when we were playing many of our big shows. There were people “advising” us to do things and trying to typecast us, without ever really understanding what we wanted or what were our aims.
I suppose in reality, what we wanted was unrealistic from an industry standard. But I guess that’s business. I remember we played the Astoria, which was sold out, and got paid £50 for it. I think we worked out that was about 0.5% of the take from the door. It was easy to get a negative mindset, which was not very helpful.
Ben Dawson Gonzo on Ice, for example, was the single most stupid PR rubbish idea that anyone has ever had.
“Gonzo on Ice… producers running out of ideas? Monkey Tennis anyone? I can’t even remember if we got paid for that?” – Julia Ruzicka
Trying to play in that cold was a nightmare and it was also another experience for me of the lack of focus on music that there is in the music industry. The microphones on the toms weren’t working but the sound guy didn’t think it was an issue (because he didn’t intend to mix them in anyway). The focus was on the singer alone. It was a really pop way of looking at it and another example to me, at the time, of the fact that we were playing in circles that would never understand what we were actually trying to do.
It’s not like we had any noble aims, we just wanted to make the best music we could and simply be a band. The labels, the radio stations, MTV etc. want to sell a product. Not only that but they want to sell that product in the same way that they’ve sold all the other products. There’s little margin for being different or unique.
Julia Ruzicka Gonzo on Ice…..producers running out of ideas? Monkey Tennis anyone? I can’t even remember if we got paid for that? Hope so. They (MTV bods) wanted me to interview some “dudes on boards” there….I honestly told them that my knowledge of snowboarding was comparable to my knowledge of quantum physics, as in minimal, let’s say none more accurately, and they didn’t care! I gave it a shot, it was awkward and rubbish, and I hate the cold.
Cameron Dean Yes I also agree that Gonzo on Ice was a shit idea. Trying to play metal strings in a freezing environment is not a smart idea. Also, Atmosphere pulled out, which was quite disappointing.
“Not meeting John Peel was disappointing, but I took a piss next to Jules Holland.”
– Cameron Dean
Frank Turner Gonzo on Ice was fucking stupid, though that’s where I met the Jetplane guys for the first time, which was cool (Cahir is on my crew to this day).
The first headline tour, with Jarcrew and Minus, was pretty special for me; Jarcrew were unbelievable, so good; Minus were dicks. And it was the first time people were excited about us, we sold out a bunch of shows, we had a van with seats and a TV, it felt good.
Julia Ruzicka Jarcrew were bloody brilliant and I’m so glad we got to watch them each night. Playing a sold out Garage in London was a triumphant and hugely enjoyable night, loved that show, and also finally getting to play the song ‘A Song To Ruin’ live at the Underworld was a highlight for me too amongst many other great moments, which I can’t remember right now. Memory bank shrinkage due to ageing….. and perhaps years of alcohol consumption.
Cameron Dean With the ‘Smiling…’ video, for me, I was definitely up for anything. I think we were all pretty excited to be doing a video, but came away with some mixed feelings from it. We were trying to show some elements of our personalities in the video for some reason, so I’m not sure how I ended up in a pool of my vomit receiving a golden shower but I was very supportive of the idea of Julia’s boyfriend at the time (Dave!) being led down Camden High St in a gimps mask and his undies!
“For the record, I hate The Smiths, I never wanted to do that cover. Almost as embarrassing as the Blade debacle.” – Ben Dawson
Ben Dawson I think we were just up for a laugh. In Million Dead I continued to be frustrated that people with an interest in our success tried to edit our activities in order to try and make us successful (how dare they!). That video was actually a disaster because we had an idea (not a particularly mature one if we’re honest!) and the director had an idea. Neither wanted to compromise so we ended up with this mishmash video that makes no sense whatsoever.
Frank Turner Yeah there was definitely two different plot lines being put forward and the end result is nonsensical. I remember being pretty disappointed with it actually.
Julia Ruzicka Haha! Everyone’s answers on this made me laugh, especially Cam’s enthusiasm for Dave and the gimp mask. Again, pure and utter naivety! Spotting a common denominator here? Haha! No, we definitely weren’t aiming for edgy to gain press, and to be honest I can’t remember what the fuck we were aiming for!
It was a lot of fun making it, I remember that, especially the group shots in the rehearsal studio when we were playing, but I really don’t know what we were trying to achieve aside from getting a cool video perhaps? And we couldn’t have been further from cool if we’d tried! It’s just utterly bizarre with no narrative at all. Watch it on crack, it might make sense then. Though I don’t encourage the use of crack. Or watching this video.
Ben desperately wanted to get his Boba Fett helmet on the screen. He loved that helmet.
Ben Dawson For the record, I hate The Smiths, I never wanted to do that cover. Almost as embarrassing as the Blade debacle.
Frank Turner The Smiths thing I wasn’t hugely into either actually, haha, though I may have talked myself into it at the time.
Cameron Dean As opposed to the other guys I quite like The Smiths. We only did that song because we were so late in recording for the CD that was the only song left on the list.
“I always liked ‘The Rise and Fall’ ending as we did it in one take and it represented some of our different interests musically, also the track ‘A Song to Ruin’. I think we could have expanded on those directions of songwriting in the future had we continued.”
– Cameron Dean
Frank Turner With the Peel session… I was annoyed to discover that we weren’t going to meet him. Other than that, it was cool to be on it, I guess. Long ago now, but I think we only did the four songs, one of which has to be a cover. I am and always have been a big Tori Amos fan, and I also think we were trying to be contrary, or at least show that we had more musical hinterland than At the Drive In or whatever. The title of ‘It’s a Shit business’ was a quote from League of Gentlemen. ‘Mute Group’ is the only song I ever played second electric on, and I don’t think we ever did it live – it was kind of Cameron’s baby, I think.
Cameron Dean Not meeting John Peel was disappointing, but I took a piss next to Jules Holland.
Ben Dawson My ride cymbal was broken. I can still hear it on the recording now. It’s pretty depressing.
Julia Ruzicka I really thought we would meet John Peel, so it was a bit of a let down when we didn’t, but it was still exciting to record at Maida Vale. I recently went in there to record a session with Future of the Left for Radio One and it was quite lovely to be recorded by the same engineers who were there for our Million Dead Peel session! And they remembered it too without any prompting from me! With the thousands of bands that have sulked their way through those doors I was sincerely shocked that they recognised me and remembered. I’m extremely happy we got to record a Peel session – very lucky to have been able to do that.
Frank Turner My main memory of recording the album, from a musical point of view, is that Joe [Gibb, producer] taught me about diction – about singing in such a way as you could be understood. It was a big and important lesson for me that I stick by to this day. Other than that, not much stands out other than it being cool to be in a proper studio. We were all staying in a one bed flat on the marina in Swansea that was pretty brutal, haha.
Cameron Dean Joe was a cool guy. I remember him driving us around in his car to listen to the mixes on his crappy stereo. It sounded pretty good. I would also not recommend spending a week of your life in Swansea, certainly not in a cramped b&b.
“‘I chase Aeneas back to his ships, I bring the rhythm back to the hips’ is still my favourite moment on that record.”
– Ben Dawson
Julia Ruzicka Working with Joe was fun. I do remember the playback in his car as Cam mentions, which was a great memory. It’s bizarre how little I remember of the accommodation and our time outside of the studio, but that may be a good thing seeing as though we were in Swansea. Poor Swansea, so much dissing. Haha! It was OK though. I remember odd things in the flat like Ben working on course projects….bizarre thing to think about, but we store some strange and random memories sometimes in our brain don’t we?
I was just very excited to be there recording our first album and production wise, again, due to the experience and time we have under our belts now, I wish we had the knowledge of the process we have now back then, but saying that, it’s not a bad first attempt and glad it has a raw and organic sound to it. It wasn’t overly “produced”, which is so important in terms of having any chance of standing the test of time I think. The first play back was loud of course and very exciting.
Ben Dawson I don’t really remember much of this session. I don’t think we changed anything in the studio, though. We were never a band to be “produced.” We simply had people record us, not rewrite our music.
Julia Ruzicka I really, really love the cover of that album. In all honesty I can’t remember how passionate I was about it then, but all I know is that I love it now and think it’s perfect for that record.
Cameron Dean I liked it and Ben didn’t. I convinced the other two.
“I guess I was using my Big Muff and a Vox overdrive pedal, a Boss DD-3, maybe a crybaby wah, for the end of the album. I think I had an old Ibanez flanger that I used as well. Might have put them all on at some stages.”
– Cameron Dean
Ben Dawson There was an alternative cover that I wanted and got very stroppy about being voted against. Frank showed it to me a few years ago for the first time. It was awful. I was wrong. Thanks, guys…
Frank Turner Thanks Ben, for finally conceding. I can’t say I’m hugely into the cover we did go with, but it was better than the other option. Steve from The Murder Of Rosa Luxembourg did the art and indeed the logo, which was cool. Nice guy, as I remember.
Ben Dawson “I chase Aeneas back to his ships, I bring the rhythm back to the hips” is still my favourite moment on that record.
Frank Turner Thanks Ben. Actually I’m pretty proud of the whole record, I think it sounds heavy, intense, energetic and distinct. We were a fucking weird band, but somehow it came together, at least on that record. That whole spoken section at the end of ‘Rise & Fall’ is pretty cool, and a lot of the guitar work sounds great to me. The basslines are pretty odd as well, which I like. Fuck the drummer (HAHAHA).
Cameron Dean There’s really only one or two things I think I would change if I had the chance. I’ve always been pretty happy with it… I always liked ‘The Rise and Fall’ ending as we did it in one take and it represented some of our different interests musically, also the track ‘A song to Ruin’. I think we could have expanded on those directions of songwriting in the future had we continued.
I guess I was using my Big Muff and a Vox overdrive pedal, a Boss DD-3, maybe a crybaby wah, for the end of the album. I think I had an old Ibanez flanger that I used as well. Might have put them all on at some stages. Towards the end I’m just fiddling around with the setting on the delay. I used to do this at the end of shows as well. I can’t say I’ve listened to it in a long time, but I’m pretty sure Ben is still wrong on this one…
Ben Dawson I still wish you’d double tracked it, Cam! Coming into the opening section still sounds like a damp squib to me.
“Actually I’m pretty proud of the whole record, I think it sounds heavy, intense, energetic and distinct. We were a fucking weird band, but somehow it came together, at least on that record.” – Frank Turner
Frank Turner You know, I agreed with that at the time, but I have to say, Cam had a totally unique guitar tone, and listening to it now it sounds great to me. I was wrong on that score.
Julia Ruzicka It’s easily one of my favourite songs on the record, if not my favourite. That song was always a highlight in the live set for me too. I’m really proud of all of our parts on that song, and glad we were free enough in attitude and in our creative senses to go for an ending like that.
Cameron Dean I think I started using a Big Muff after seeing another band using one and thought it sounded pretty heavy. I liked the idea of a couple of different levels of distortion, particularly with only one guitar in the band, so I would use that and the vox overdrive to try and layer the sound as well as a slightly overdriven clean sound. You have to have a good clean sound, or you have nothing. Use Fender amps and never use Marshall!!!. Maybe this is what made it sound a bit different.
Julia Ruzicka For such a baby band, I love everyone’s writing and playing on the whole thing and our energy that was captured on it.
Frank Turner I think, and this is a sentence I’m phrasing carefully, that the period we spent with Cam is the more interesting and unique to me. Partly because we took it from nothing to whatever it was, and partly because I just think we were a musically stranger beast then, which is down to Cam’s guitar playing, which is something I really feel like I didn’t appreciate as much at the time as I should have done. There’s me being a soppy cunt, but it’s true.
“Anything in particular that I’m proud of? No. It was just a great and life forming experience.” – Ben Dawson
Julia Ruzicka We achieved that all important foundation, sound and identity as a band during the Cam years. I look upon that whole period fondly really. The news of him leaving was an extremely sad moment for me, but I perhaps did overreact a little at the time (cried and everything, yup) as I was relatively immature emotionally still, and really, as gutted as I was he was leaving, in hindsight, at the end of the day, no matter how important the band is to you, it’s still just a band and people have lives outside of that which need to be respected.
Like a relationship, a band works when all members want to be there and that’s what they want to draw from at that particular point in their life. So yeah, I’ve learned that now. If anyone left my current band say, tomorrow, a band I am also very dedicated to and love whole heartedly, I would be disappointed and sad of course, but I’d be fine with it too as I have a bit more perspective on people and life generally now, thankfully.
During this period of Million Dead I also recall Cam taking delight in telling the occasional male fan at gigs that I was a lesbian, and beam with delight as they slumped off. Cheeky shit!
Ben Dawson Anything in particular that I’m proud of? No. It was just a great and life forming experience.