Deathboy is the work of Scott Lamb, his music blends addictive rock rhythms with trip-hop’s grace and industrial’s passion for destruction to create a truly venomous concoction. After playing successful shows in his native London and taking the north by storm with well-received dates in Leeds and at Whitby Goth Weekend in 2008 following the release of the critically acclaimed album ‘End Of An Error’ the previous year, all went quiet for Deathboy. Now, in 2010 we find out what exactly has been going on in the artist’s life and what his plans are for the future…
“I get a perverse satisfaction out of not being dead yet”
S] So, a lot has changed in the world of DeathBoy over the last few years – how does creating music fit into your working and family life at the moment?
DB] My output’s down right now, though strangely, not really because of work or family or any of the usual things that get in the way. Partially it’s something I’ve hit before – when I’m happy, I’m less creative. I just sit back and enjoy life in the rare times things are going well. But when it’s bleak as f**k, that’s when I’m full of energy and motivation, so the music pours out.
The other reason is a bit less pleasant, which is my battle with alcohol, which at the moment, I’m struggling against. It’s got to the point where I’m getting too drunk to hold the creative process together, so the songs aren’t getting finished. But, this has happened before, too, and I’ve got a lid on it in the past. These things come in waves.
S] It’s clear you have had some very positive moments and some negative moments over the last couple of years – can you tell us about your biggest inspiration and what has kept you going throughout?
DB] It’s staggeringly trite and cliche, but my son is the centre of my universe right now. My wife’s in the US and I’m living alone, so he keeps me company and makes me pretty damn happy. In terms of inspiration, my somewhat crazy relationships of the last few years have formed the majority of subject matter for my recent work. Singing about horrific things is my way of taming the demons and taking the power away from something that hurts, so my lyrics are often pretty soul-baring.
S] You supported Tricky at the end of 2008 and since have talked about a more trip-hop orientated direction – what inspired this choice?
DB] Since I was 17-years-old I’ve been an enormous fan of trip-hop – Massive Attack and Tricky are iconic, world-changing musical loves of mine. In the past, I’d tried to take from their style and given it up as something I wasn’t well adapted to, but recently, as my musical output became a little less relentlessly high-energy, I realised what I was writing sounded a lot like trip-hop. As I’ve got older, I’ve finally accepted that not every track needs to be a 160bpm stormer, and that there’s a lot of value in less ferocious songs, so I’ve decided to embrace this style, at least for now.
S] What do you think of the current state of goth and industrial crossover music in the UK?
DB] I have to say that I’ve spent the last year largely avoiding it. While I get a lot of enjoyment from smaller “scene” bands, I find myself very rarely enjoying anything played out by DJs at alternative clubs. In general, regular clubs represent the death of what I like in music, goth and alt clubs in particular – stale and endlessly recycled. Lee Chaos‘ excellent ‘Judder’ night is a rare exception, there it’s about how to intimidate a room full of people into listening to something different and enjoy dancing their little hearts out to it so much they beg for it again next week. The man is an educator! What I’ve enjoyed recently have been small, irregular events – one-offs or birthday parties that got so big they were more like a club night, where people are shamelessly self-indulgent in what’s played because they’re not trying to please punters for repeat door business.
S] You have had a number of very successful stints at Whitby Goth Weekend – what do you enjoy most about playing up north?
DB] I don’t know if it’s specifically the north so much as ‘The further away from London you get…’, but the more parochial the gig, the more people are honestly over the moon that you’ve got off your arse and come to play for them. They know you’ve spent four hours on the motorway and they’re grateful and enthusiastic because you bothered, so in return, they’re energetic and appreciative. Everyone wins. Plus, as everyone knows, northern women are dirty.
S] You started making music at a very young age, can you tell us how your opinion of the industry has changed since you began in music up until this point?
DB] I used to think it was magical and desirable, now I think it’s something to be tolerated at best, avoided if possible! The industry hasn’t actually changed much at all, that’s the problem. It’s become an anachronism. MP3s and iPods have changed how people acquire and enjoy music, and virtual studio technology has transfigured how they can make it. The net result is that we no longer need the industry. Good riddance.
S] Obviously you have grown and developed as musician, are you still inspired by the same things when you write, or has the ‘chattering’ in the back of your skull stopped?
DB] The crazy is still there, Sadly. And it still is a big reason for the creative process. As I said earlier, my output is lower right now, partially because I’ve found a bit of peace. Though, it never lasts, and my insides are still all wrong, so I expect they’ll be making themselves heard again very soon.
S] Outside of music you create computer games, can you tell us how your inspiration differs when you are creating in this manner in contrast to your work as a musician?
DB] The process for game development and creation requires a huge amount of planning and forethought. Music can be created in a similar way, but importantly for me, it can be the absolute opposite. As well as getting my demons out, music is how I relax and unwind, it’s the part of life I get to enjoy on my own terms, so I deliberately choose to make music that’s spontaneous, unplanned. Part of the thrill for me is being in the moment when the music starts leaping out of you of its own accord, like you’re just an observer on a ride that’s happening without your conscious control. In one part of my life, I have to balance equations and construct pretty complex systems, but in the other creative sphere, I like to lose control.
S] What are you looking forward to most about getting back on the road with a band in 2010 – what are your feelings about it at this time?
DB] There’s a whole load of material that while not entirely new, hasn’t been gigged at all. One of the things I enjoy about live performance is seeing how a song develops and evolves from the studio to the stage – some numbers really take on a new life that way. I get a perverse satisfaction from not being dead yet, too. There will be some punters and probably some promoters whose reactions I will enjoy when they realise that we still exist and are still making music. On a less misanthropic note, some of the best people I’ve ever met are event organisers and musicians in other bands on the scene and getting to socialise with them at gigs is a genuine pleasure. Some gigs feel like work while you’re performing, but part of the reward for me is kicking back with the other people who don’t think you’re some kind of psychotic for doing what you do. Plus, as a devoted fan of motorways and Pickled Onion Monster Munch, I get the opportunity to spend a lot of time in vans, looking at traffic saying, ‘Are you sure we shouldn’t have got off before Leeds?’ Ah, Leeds.
S] How is your relationship with Line Out Records?
DB] We’re still great – Bob from Line Out is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, another of those times I consider it a perk to making music that I made a proper life-time friend, as I did with Mark and Lee of Wasp Factory Records. That said, while I can’t officially speak for the label, to the best of my knowledge, Line Out is taking a breather at the moment, as like the rest of us, Bob has a life to lead and other priorities can take priority sometimes. If I have my next commercial release ready and the label isn’t in the right place torelease it for me, I know I’ll have Bob‘s assistance and blessing in taking it where it needs to go, regardless.
S] It’s our opinion that ‘CogRock’ and tracks like ‘Buddhabox’ represent your most personal and self-biographical work – what are your thoughts on this?
DB] I always try to be candid in my music, but I do think some of the tracks on ‘CogRock’ are pretty naked, even for me. I’ve had my world turned on its head over the last handful of years and the music reflects that, and helps me deal with it. I almost always think in specifics when I’m writing lyrics, I know the place, the time, the person, the event, the feeling that I’m writing about, but I might express it in an oblique way, either for artistic reasons, because it would hurt someone to refer to something so obviously, or it hurts me too much to approach head on, but recently, I think I’ve abandoned a lot of the foils and filters and just put my life on the table. Sometimes, I’m not certain if I’m writing a song or a blog entry.
I used to get hung-up on the idea that this might make my songs less meaningful to other people. I think there’s a quality to vague lyrics that allows anyone to connect, as they can interpret it however they like, and I can imagine I lose that when I write with greater specificity. Primarily, though, I write for myself, not for the reception the work might get, so I’m not too troubled by that.
I’m told the candour and honesty are one of the things that set me apart from other artists, but this may also be why they’re wealthier than me. You can do well by singing ‘la la la, love’s good, doo doo doo, some days are a bit bleak, la la la and I have stereotypical insecurities, doo doo doo but largely remain hopeful’, but I see that as a kind of lyrical confidence trick, akin to cold-reading. It’s disingenuous and cynical to write about the common factors of life so that everyone sees something in your music. You’ve basically said nothing. I might be an obstreperous [stubborn] b*****d a lot of the time, but I like to delude myself that our music generally has something to say. If you don’t at least believe that yourself, I don’t see the point in wasting the energy.
S] Are you working on a new record and how will you develop following the ‘CogRock’ album?
DB] Well, I need to put the finishing touches on ‘CogRock’, which will be over the next month or two, then I’ll be approaching the next commercial album. Generally, this involves the better work from the previous non-commercial albums, plus new material (I always consider the non-commercial albums as demos, though they’ve evolved into reasonably well-produced demos that could be mistaken for finished tracks). In terms of a new direction, I am starting to feel as though it’s time for one, and I know the toys I want to play with and the processes I want to shake up, but haven’t got a clue what the result of that will be. I’m really digging the ability to use mobile kit to create music anywhere, on a train or in a car-park, and I want that to be a big part of what I make in the future, so that tracks really start to fuse with the environments that inspire them. If I’m writing about a gritty, rainy, shitty day in London, I want you to hear ambulances and traffic going past, I want to have actually written, hell, even sung part of it while sat on the top deck of a bus, I want to sample the doors closing from the last tube home on the Piccadilly line. That sort of thing really excites me.
For more information visit the official DeathBoy MySpace and website.