Dempsey release their debut album Saturday at New Brookland Tavern. Facebook Event
Bands always need that “it” factor to make it to the next level. That indescribable quality that you can almost figure out, but can’t quite put your finger on. Is it the heartfelt lyrics? Is it that slight inflection in the singer’s voice that draws you in? Or is it the overall feel that comes over the listener as they fall deep into the songs. The first time I saw Dempsey live I knew they had something special, but the shows were rough and what you’d expect not only from a new band, but a young band as well. Over the last six months Dempsey have turned from a loose casual local band to a local band that other bands want to play with. As their live show has tightened, the bands songs have developed as well.
As you can hear in the lead single and title track from the debut EP due out Friday November 13, “In Retrospect” sparkles with layers of delayed guitar lead lines, and a memorable hook. The whole vibe of the new EP is reminiscent of bands like Copeland, The Rocketboys, and Lydia though these guys aren’t directly influenced by that scene, it’s more of a natural progression as the band fine tunes personal lyrics with broader song structures.
We caught up with frontman Zach Santiago about the new tunes and their release show Saturday at New Brookland Tavern.
You started Dempsey about a year ago and it really moved quickly. How did you get your music in front of so many people so quickly, especially without true studio recordings until now.
Zach Santiago-Well social media has been crucial, but it wasn’t until SceneSC put us on a bill that there were more than just our close friends coming to see us play. There’s this killer band called Alarm Drum that recently did a Papa Jazz with y’all and he told me the same thing. It’s really a blessing to have something like that(SceneSC) in the area.
How have you grown as a musician with the guys you play with leading up to the recording of this EP?
ZS-It was a wake up call when I started playing with these guys. All I really knew about the guitar was how to work a capo and Grady (bass) and Aaron (guitar) have taught me so much in the past year. It’s completely changed my outlook on songwriting too, writing with accompaniment in mind.
What were some of the inspirations for this release? Is this mostly songs you had written before the band started or came after?
ZS-The first 3 songs came before the band, and the other 2 we wrote together. When I looked back to pick which songs we should record together they were all kind of rationalizing mistakes or projecting blame. We finished the title track like a week before we went to record and it’s pretty much all about looking back and coming to terms with it all.
How did you get started playing music personally? What were some of your early influences and inspirations to make music?
ZS-Well, I was probably about 16 or so and super heartbroken when I heard The Bitter End from Andy Hulls solo project Right Away, Great captain! And that record broke me and put me back together. I started writing some super awful poetry around the time and picked up guitar and its really cool to have that as an outlet.
What was your recording experience like at Archer Avenue? The album sounds amazing and Kenny seemed to help bring the best out of the band.
ZS-Thanks man. As soon as I found out that Kenny recorded that new All Get Out record, I was sold. I was super nervous about recording because we’d never really done much but he was such a cool dude and really knows how to make you feel comfortable and work with you to find the sound you’re looking for. He helped me find harmonies and told me where I should double up vocals, even pointed out to me that one of the chords I was playing in Nevermind was out of key and showed me an alternative. Not to mention he let me play his guitars and run through his mahogany handwired AC30. Damn that thing was gorgeous. But anyways, yeah. It was perfect. I’ll never record anywhere else.
What have you learned from really being involved in the music scene so far?
ZS-It was nothing like I expected. I figured that there’d be a lot of competition but there’s this kind of camaraderie about most musicians around here that’s rad. It’s a really tight knit community and I’ve met some of the coolest people I’ve ever met so far.