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DYING DEGREE Make it weirder


If you’re enmeshed in the Perth heavy music scene to any degree, you’re bound to have come across Dying Degree at some point. Playing their own happy cocktail of metallic hardcore and punk, known around the traps as the most energetic, silly and inclusive live act in Perth, they’re followed everywhere they go by their “DD Army” which grows bigger with every gig they play. Ahead of their release party for new single Run at The Den on Saturday, December 14, MELISSA KRUGER joined the band – namely frontman and shoutey bloke Tony Westwood, guitarist Kyle Gilbert, bassist Nick Green and drummer Matt V – at a rehearsal session to have a chat.

What is so great about a Dying Degree show?

Nick: They’re fun! We party! We get drunk, we jump around, Tony dances. We just have a good time.

Tony: We are as interactive as we can be. We take our music seriously but not ourselves, so it means that we can have a really good fucking time but also put out some good tunes.

Tell me more about the ‘interactive’ bit…

Tony: We’ve got our army, our “DD Army” that is a group of crazy folk that have started to follow us around and we like to get them involved. There’s worms that happen… as in worms, the dance move…

Nick: That’s breakdancing Tony.

Tony: Ah yeah. Breakdancing. We’ve got a few of the guys that know lyrics to the songs now that we like to get involved so we throw them the microphone and then sometimes we can’t get it back. I like to get out there. If I’m not pushing Kyle around on stage or he’s not pushing me around on stage then I’ll get out into the thick of it and go and meet people and try and encourage them that if I can look stupid then they can dance and have a good time as well.

So do you need DDs to be in the “DD Army”?

Tony: It helps!

For people who have never heard your music, fans of which bands do you reckon would be into Dying Degree?

Tony: Strung Out.

Nick: Obviously NOFX (Dying Degree is a song by punk legends NOFX).

Tony: Yeah, NOFX… Rise Against… and then heavier stuff as well.

Nick: I always throw a bit of A Day to Remember into that mix.

Tony: And then things like Killswitch Engage and riff heavy stuff. There’s a lot of riffs but it’s still kind of melodic where we always call ourselves a punk band but that’s just an excuse to be sloppy, like we’re not actually THAT punk. We’ve got a punk ethos, in that we like to have fun and we like to do things ourselves and we like to keep it pretty loose, but musically we’re more of a kind of… metally hardcore band, which I guess you’d call metalcore. But we won’t.

Kyle, as the main writer of the music, do you have any other influences to add?

Kyle: Before starting the band I never used to listen to punk… so it’s always just been my interpretation of what punk could be. A lot of the punk influence comes from Matt on the drums and Tony’s vocals.

I listen to a lot of mathcore and experimental hardcore stuff, so I’ve brought a lot of that. And because we don’t like to take ourselves seriously, we like to throw in the odd occasional other genre into the mix, such as death metal sections. I’ll send Matt a new demo and he’ll come back with “Make it weirder!” and then Tony throws in some death growls, and Nick will do some weird bass solo. We like to keep it not serious, just go with the flow and whatever’s fun to play.

Tell me more about the whole “Do it Yourself” ethos of Dying Degree…

Tony: Obviously we write our own stuff. To some extent, we record our own stuff. The single that’s coming out, Run, is self-recorded, self-produced by Kyle in Kyle’s bedroom… which was hot as shit. And the rest of the EP we recorded with our best mate Josh from Kimura. He’s family so it still feels like it’s us doing our own thing cos he’s one of us. Kyle is our graphic designer as well as main music writer… and everything else.

Kyle: Tony and Nick do all the marketing and social media. Tony went and taught himself how to screen print T-shirts and merch and all of our stickers and everything.

Tony: YouTube and Reddit taught me!

Kyle: So together, I’ll design it, Tony makes it, Nick gets it out there.

Nick: And Tony made the video for the single!

Tony: Yeah! At the minute I’m making a lyric video for the single we’re releasing on the 14th at The Den, Run, on my iPhone. It’s taking fucking ages… but it’s looking pretty sick.

While we’re talking about the new single, Run, I have woken up with it in my head the last two mornings in a row. Did you know it was going to be this much of an earworm?

Nick: I’ve found myself singing it the last few days at work. Just, staring into nothing singing it. I can’t wait to get it out there. I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people. I hope it impresses a lot of people… but I think it’s definitely going to surprise a lot of people.

Why?

Nick: I think cos we’re stereotyped as this shoutey band with a shoeless frontman but… he can actually sing and it comes across on that recording.

Tell me bit more about the song…

Tony: I think that’s what’s going to surprise people. We like to dick around and have fun and people know us as that. But Run is a serious song. Lyrically, it’s dark. It’s super deep and it’s… sad.

I wrote it two years ago, at least, and when I wrote it, I thought it was a song about worry. I didn’t know what anxiety was. I thought I was just awake, late at night, with this song in my head because I was worried about going to work the next day and I was worried that money was a problem and I thought I was just worried about it, and thought well, yeah people worry about these things and I’m going to write a song about it. Now, I realise that it’s a song about anxiety. And it’s brutally honest and there’s no doubt going to be people who will be very sure that they’re involved in this song somehow but it’s totally not that. It’s just about all the life things that you worry about, not a specific thing or event. It’s just about how everything that’s external can just pile up on top and get heavy that way.

Which makes it super relatable. We’ve all had anxiety at some point about something…

Tony: Yeah! It’s fucked!

Tell me the funniest thing that’s ever happened at a Dying Degree show…

Tony: One time at The Den, I asked the crowd to bring me “something Mexican” to drink. After a few minutes, I’m handed a Long Island Iced Tea with fruit garnish and fancy straw. My heart sank and my stomach turned because I knew that as soon as the song finished I’d hear “chug chug chug.” I did… And I did… I forget the rest.

Complete this sentence: “It wouldn’t be a Dying Degree rehearsal without…”

Matt: An endless barrage of puns from me and a lengthy discussion about Star Wars.

Tony: And me mixing up Star Wars and Star Trek.

Photo by Renae Moore

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