photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
honestly, before watching this documentary id never heard of the 1990s NEW JERSEY METALCORE band DEADGUY.
and thats not particularly surprising given the fact that when they were at their peak i was out of the country, more than that the hemisphere, given that my family as abroad in WEST AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST for most of the 1990s into the early 2000s.
that being said, what drew me immediately to DEADGUY: KILLING MUSIC () was the fact that members of some of my favorite EXTREME METALCORE / POST-HARDCORE bands of the last two decades were interview for this film, from LAMB OF GOD, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and THE LOCUST to CONVERGE, EVERYTIME I DIE and BOTCH among many others. if DEADGUY has their collective imprimatur of QUALITY then i am all in on investigating and learning more about them.
whats interesting is that the band was part of the same collective northern NEW JERSEY scene that i participated in, just a decade and a bit earlier. this included cultural and educational entities like the late former INDEPENDENT record store VINTAGE VINYL in FORDS, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY (my alma mater) in NEW BRUNSWICK and 89.5FM WSOU out of SETON HALL UNIVERSITY in SOUTH ORANGE. when i attended RUTGERS, it was just after THURSDAY broke out, themselves influenced by the likes of LIFETIME, THE BOUNCING SOULS and DEADGUY before them, all stemming from the same NEW BRUNSWICK HARDCORE / PUNK ROCK scene.
according to the many interview participants, what seems to differentiate DEADGUY from their cohort of peers was their sheer INTENSITY and BRUTALITY. much energy and time from the film is devoted towards explaining the POWER and INFLUENCE of their most celebrated album, FIXATION ON A CO-WORKER (VICTORY, 1995), as well as its place within the broader national HARDCORE movement of the period. in essence, their sound and stage presence has been described as UNINHIBITED, CEREBRAL, UNHINGED, CATHARTIC, EXPRESSIVE and COMBATIVE in the film and to the uninitiated, they come off like the primeval PRIMAL SCREAM of BORED suburbanites seeking an IDENTITY and PURPOSE past the COOKIE-CUTTER EXISTENCE and DRUDGERY of approaching PROFESSIONAL CAREERISM and ADULT RESPONSIBILITY. as the film elucidates, its a rage and anger that is UNBRIDLED and UNCONFINED, rather than the more PERFORMATIVE and fashion-conscious HARDCORE of the period.
its just interesting that the band splintered while on their first national tour for VICTORY RECORDS, which was haphazardly planned and executed to the point that band essentially FRACTURED into two warring factions, which later manifested in the RECONSTITUTED DEADGUY and KISS IT GOODBYE. there is a long history of groups BREAKING UP on the road, especially in the INDEPENDENT circuit. it happens to the best of bands, just look at OPERATION IVY a few years earlier which DISINTEGRATED under similar circumstances. i cant imagine having to travel long distances in an era pre-smartphone and online mapping services. sounds like an absolute LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE and INTERPERSONAL MINEFIELD. for such a singularly INTENSE band, its very much INTRIGUING that the financial and emotional GAUNTLET of the road is what ultimately DISMANTLED them.
at least 25 years later they are all able to laugh at themselves over the whole thing. im especially glad that they didnt succumb to the "getting the band back together" film cliche. just another CONTRARIAN decision much like the ethos of their catalogue in one group action.
notable DEADGUY: KILLING MUSIC interview participants include the likes of RANDY BLYTHE (LAMB OF GOD), BEN WEINMAN (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN), JUSTIN PEARSON (THE LOCUST / DEAD CROSS), KEITH BUCKLEY (EVERY TIME I DIE), JESSE LEACH (KILLSWITCH ENGAGE), TREVOR STRNAD (THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER), JACOB BANNON & NATE NEWTON (CONVERGE), SEAN INGRAM (COALESCE), STEVE AUSTIN (TODAY IS THE DAY), BRIAN COOK (BOTCH / RUSSIAN CIRCLES), DIC COYLE (GOD FORBID / BAD WOLVES), DUSTIN PERRY & DARYL TABERSKI (SNAPCASE) among other musicians from SNAPCASE, TOUCHE AMORE, DOC HOPPER, CABLE, BREATHER RESIST, SHAI HULUH, MONSTER MAGNET, THOUGHTS OF IONESCO, SAETIA and SWEET DIESEL as well as representatives of various INDEPENDENT POST-HARDCORE, EXTREME METAL, PUNK ROCK and HARDCORE record labels. thats a hell of a lot of community involvement from a band id never head of.