New York City-based band The Death Set originally hails from The Gold Coast, Australia. It is there where Johnny Siera, Dan Walker and Beau Velasco met, drawn together by the local experimental music scene. Sharing a love of punk rock, electronic music and hip hop, the three would collaborate on various projects, including Walker and Velasco’s DJ collective, then punk band Black Panda whom all three played in at various stages. Black Panda would eventually slim down to Velasco and Siera and morph into The Death Set. Drawn to each other’s reckless approach to music-making and intense live performances, Siera and Velasco began to write quick songs with lifelong hooks and driving melodies. Hell-bent on recording and touring, Siera and Velasco moved to Sydney and then Baltimore, where they were buoyed by the DIY network.
There the band recorded and released EPs To (2006, Rabbit Foot) and Rad Warehouses Bad Neighborhoods (2007, Morphius), honing the noise of jury-rigged gear and overblown mics. The Death Set quickly became known for their out-of-control live shows, and were awarded “Live Band of the Year” by Baltimore City paper. They carried that energy onto their first full-length album, Worldwide, which they recorded and produced in 2006 at The Copy Cat, an artists’ warehouse and home of burgeoning artists like Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Beach House and Double Dagger. Worldwide’s twenty-five minutes of eighteen breakneck songs would catch the attention of seminal UK experimental indie label Ninja Tune, who would sign the band and release Worldwide in 2008. Boasting an endearing unrefinement, the album won critical praise throughout the world and the band was touted the “#1 Biggest Hope of the Future” by NME. Artrocker magazine named Worldwide the album of the month, calling it “Loud, abrasive and sickly fun. Black Flag for a new generation.” With a new lineup of original Gold Coast collaborator Dan Walker on guitar and Jahphet “Roofeeo” Landis (TV on the Radio, Santigold, Spankrock, Amanda Blank, Ninjasonik) on drums, they set about destroying stages all over the world, from massive festivals like Fuji Rock in Japan or Dour in Belgium, to DIY spaces in Parisian basements.
Hundreds of shows and eighteen months of solid touring later, The Death Set went about writing their sophomore album. However, the album would be prefigured by tragedy. Just as Siera, Walker and Velasco began embarking on a new album together, Velasco, who had recently re-joined the band after a hiatus, died of an overdose. The band was shattered. Relocating to Brooklyn and enlisting long-time friend and Baltimore associate XXXchange (Spank Rock, Kele, The Kills) to man the desk, The Death Set came out with Michel Poiccard. Losing none of the charm of their previous “punk spazz,” Michel Poiccard brings considerable depth, both in terms of punch and emotionality. A sense of loss and longing permeates the record and reaches a pinnacle on tracks “I Miss You Beau Velasco” and “Is it the End Again?”. The album found critical acclaim on the music press, scoring an eight out of ten in NME and being described by BBC as, “Full-tilt, power-pop catharsis and ecstatic blaze-of-glory euphoria.” New York City embraced the band, The Village Voice writing “Brooklyn loft-show fire starters, the Death Set are a post-modern pizza party: the tireless punk-o grind of an ABC No Rio bubblecrust band, the whizzing ghosts of New York electro (and electropunk), and the pounding 808 boom of classic hip-hop and modern crunk”.
2011 and 2012 saw The Death Set propelled into the mainstream, earning them the success they had worked and toured so hard for. Their songs were featured in Google Chrome’s commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl; on HBO’s 24/7 and How To Make It In America; in films V/H/S and V/HS II; video games NBA 2K12 and Sunset Overdrive; Red Bull’s mountain biking video Red Bull Rampage, and a remix in a Ministry of Sound compilation. The music video for “They Come to Get Us” won “Best Alternative Video” at the 2012 UK Music Awards. In 2012 Siera and Walker joined forces with Dim Mak and hard-hitting drummer Will Broussard to unleash their latest offering.
Always strange and ridiculously catchy, with King Babies, their latest EP and first release for Dim Mak, The Death Set return to their punk origins. Capturing the mayhem of their live shows, King Babies is both noisy and melodic, with maximum energy. Produced and mixed by Dan Walker in his Brooklyn studio The Submarine, King Babies is a collection of what people have grown to love from this bizarre art punk band. Opener “Lite the Fuse” is a screaming punk ode to its moombathon-inspired beat and grimy bass line. Explosive stream of consciousness lyrics break with just enough time to catch your breath before hitting the pit. Eighties-hardcore-inspired “Think Shank” follows suit with electronic builds, back and forth vocals and a half-time bridge that begs you to bounce. Voted most likely to get uncontrollably stuck in your head is the EP’s anthem “Soar Away.” Paying homage to their popular tracks like “Negative Thinking,” “Soar Away” is a melodic journey about conquering self-doubt. With “The Enemy,” King Babies closes strong, with electronic blips and a stomping beat behind lyrics that give voice to the madness of our internal dialogue. The Death Set is excited to join Dim Mak, a label that launched on hardcore seven inches and has grown into an EDM superpower — the fit is snuggly and perfect.