Dead Sara is a rock quartet from LA fronted by vocalist, Emily Armstrong, and guitarist, Siouxsie Medley, along with drummer, Sean Friday and bassist, Chris Null. Emily and Sioux have played together since high school and produced their first ep in 2008. Just last month, the band released their debut album, Dead Sara, which includes their breakout smash, “Weatherman”.
The band performed to a sold-out crowd at the Webster Theater in Hartford on Monday night (first official gig ever on the East Coast!) along with Boston-based, Lansdowne, warming up for Puddle of Mudd. The band opened with the emotional “Sorry For It All” and concluded with a kick ass rendition of “Weatherman”. The set was electrifying, with Emily belting out songs from both the ep and the full length album and thrashing around the stage.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Emily and Siouxsie before the show.
lsg: Your band is Emily, Siouxsie, Sean, and Chris. Who IS Sara?
DS: That’s a good question for Stevie Nicks. We got the name from a Fleetwood Mac song.
DS: Yeah the song “Sara”.
DS: In it she says (Emily sings) “That’s Sara” or “Dead Sara” and we couldn’t figure it out. And it’s just a misheard lyric so we decided we liked it and it was the first thing that we could agree on. It’s our interpretation of what we heard and we went with it.
lsg: So, you started in LA. Tell me about that.
DS: We are from there. We grew up there and we started playing together, her and I (Sioux points to Emily).
lsg: Yeah, I read you guys were friends in high school.
DS: Yeah. Different high schools and we met through mutual friends. And we realized we both had a strong interest in music so we just started playing together. We’ve played together a very long time.
lsg: You have played the legendary venues like the Viper Room which I know you did because I’ve watched video of that on line. What’s your favorite place to play?
DS: Viper Room was really fun. It’s a great place and the crowd is awesome. We’ve gotten used to it there. We’ve played there many times. We like Hemingway’s. That’s a good place.
lsg: Did you ever imagine yourselves playing places like the Viper Room?
DS: Yeah. It’s not like. I mean we played it a long, long time ago. Its different growing up in LA because the Viper Room…we’re there all the time. People on the East Coast, honestly, hear more about the Viper Room than we do.
lsg: That’s probably true. For us it’s “Oh the Viper Room.” I mean, I’ve been to LA a few times and I wanted to see the Viper Room and places like Rainbow.
DS: Yeah. That’s right. But selling out the Viper Room…that was rad. That was great.
lsg: That is very cool. That’s selling out your home town venue.
DS: Yeah. Exactly.
lsg: So you toured with Bush. Is that done?
DS: Yes. We’re done.
lsg: What was that like?
DS: Fucking awesome! It was just us and them so it doesn’t get any better than that as a first tour.
lsg: And you got to hang out with them?
DS: Oh yes. They are all so nice.
lsg: Did you meet Gwen?
DS: No, not this time around. She wasn’t there.
lsg: When did that finish up?
DS: It was sometime the end of September.
lsg: You are doing this show with Puddle of Mudd. Are you doing anything else with them? Is this like a one-off?
DS: This we did for WCCC (Hartford’s local rock station, 106.9). They asked us to do it. They wanted us to play.
lsg: That’s very cool. WCCC have been big advocates of you guys. You get a lot of airplay from them here. They love you. And that’s where I heard you first.
DS: We love them. That’s so rad.
lsg: So this is your first gig on the East Coast? Is that right?
DS: Official gig. Yeah, actually. Wow. I mean we’ve played in New York but more private shows.
lsg: But not Boston or Hartford?
DS: No, this is our first one.
lsg: Are you doing anything else here in the vicinity or are you going right back home?
DS: We flew in today and we go home tomorrow.
lsg: We are really lucky here in Hartford then! That is so cool. That’s awesome.
lsg: What are your expectations of a crowd here on the East Coast?
DS: I don’t think I really wanna think about it. We are gonna just go with the flow on it and just have a good time. I don’t want to think about any expectations because they could be too low or too high.
lsg: Oh I have a feeling you’re going to get a great reception because we really do dig you guys here.
lsg: Your ep, The Airport Sessions, came out in 2008. How does that differ from your debut full length, Dead Sara?
DS: Everything is different. We’re a full band now. Before it was just us two. And we were searching for a bass player and drummer. We kind of rushed doing the ep. And we really didn’t know what we were doing so it was kind of our learning experience. So with this record, we have our band now and it’s not just us.
lsg: And how did you pick the other two, Sean and Chris?
DS: They were friends of ours from LA. They have played together in like 4 or 5 other bands before us.
lsg: That’s great so they’ve got that really nice rhythm section going and play well together.
DS: Exactly and we’ve been friends forever and we play well and it just works.
lsg: I like “Sorry for it all”. I dig the lyrics there. Do you have any favorites?
DS/Siouxsie: I love “Lemon Scent”. It’s fun. It’s a gritty dirty song and it’s very groovy and good beat.,
lsg: Oh I like that…Gritty dirty…(And it IS!)
DS/Emily: Siouxsie gritty dirty!
DS/Emily: Her nick name is “sleazy” in the band.
DS/Siouxsie: I like that sleazy tone. I like everything to be dirty and gritty.
DS/Emily: It has to do with her guitar, of course.
DS/Siouxsie: Yeah, not anything else.
lsg: Well, of course! But see I like that. It’s one of those things that strikes me about you guys. You have this raw, balls-out energy.
lsg: A serious question because I have many female friends here in CT who front bands. Do feel like, even now, that it’s more difficult for women-fronted bands? Do you feel like it’s been a harder road for you because of that?
DS: Not necessarily. We’ve never been in a guy-fronted band so we can’t tell the difference. I know from growing up that it was difficult for women like Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks you know and even earlier like with Janis and Grace. It seems like they have a lot more to say about this because they were the forerunners of it and I think they took a lot more shit and paved the way for people like us to be more accessible, you know. That’s the way I see it. It is male dominated, rock n roll. And you have to look at that.
lsg: And that’s why I ask. Because it is male-dominated still.
DS: And you have to just be…don’t back down, you know. You have to just say fuck that, this is who I am. Do amazing rock n roll and that’s it. That’s what I think.
lsg: Ok so last question. I pull out bullshit questions at the end…well, just cuz. So, if you could pick one food that you could eat forever with no repercussions, no worries, what would it be?
DS/Emily: Yeah. I really like chicken. Its protein and lean.
DS/Emily: We’re carnivores!
lsg: So it’s not like pizza or something good?
DS/Emily: Well you know we want to stay healthy and slim.
lsg: I know but there are no repercussions!
DS/Emily: Oh shit! I definitely love pizza. I could eat it all the time.
DS/Siouxsie: Oh burritos!
DS/Emily: Oh my god burritos. Yeah.
Mmmm. Burritos…- lsg
Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez aka lsg
Lover of music and the visual arts, Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez is the insanity behind lsg original photography. lsg specializes in artist and performer photography. She’s had the honor of photographing national bands such as Weezer, Snoop Dogg, A Simple Plan, Paramore, Whitesnake, Wye Oak, and The Antlers along with countless local bands and performers.
Hailing from Hartford, CT, Lisa is a life- long music connoisseur. Growing up, her mother exposed her to everything from The Stones to Simon and Garfunkel to Earth, Wind, and Fire to Loretta Lynn…and everything in between. No genre was left unexplored in her vinyl collection. She saw her first concert at 14…Rod Stewart at the (then called) Hartford Civic Center. Thirty years later, it’s still her favorite pastime.
Lisa has two kids (grown!) and a day job. Her loves of music and photography have melded into a second career. And her love of CT keeps her promoting and pushing for local artists and performers. Lisa spends the greater part of her free time seeing and shooting live bands, performers, and artists and art work…and purchasing vinyl!