Interview: Death Goals

We never approach a show with a mindset of like, we are not gonna make a mark on this one. Like, we are, we are gonna leave people wanting to come and see us again and wanting to check out the record because, I'd say we are quite an interactive band. Like we are, we are very crowd focused. Talk to the crowd a lot, get the crowd involved in things rather than being like a we are here and you could be out there doing kind of whatever you want and we are going to do our thing on stage. It's like, it's all give and take.

Chaotic hardcore two piece Death Goals (Harry Bailey and George Milner) have earned a reputation as one of the most hectic, hi-energy bands on the UK underground, and are proud to identify as queercore. Jody Dunstan caught up with them at ArcTanGent for a delightfully stream-of-consciousness chat about acceptance, making music with their friends, and their love for the festival.

E&D: So for, for those guys that are unaware, give us a quick history of view, where you’ve come from, where you’re going, how you got here.

Harry: So we have been in a band for a hot minute. Yeah. George has been in the band for three years now?

George: About three years. Yeah.

Harry: Three years. And since George joined, we recorded our first album. That was The Horrible and the Miserable. We put that out by ourselves. And then Prosthetic came knocking, so we signed with them. And now this year after touring and having a whole load of fun on the first album, we released our second album, our sophomore labeled debut A Garden of Dead Flowers. 

George: Technical terms!

Harry: Technical terms, (laugh) and we’ve been playing shows.

E&D: This stuff writes Itself, doesn’t it?

Harry: It really does. We’re very well-versed in this! We’ve been playing shows, touring. We just did a big like 10-day tour for the release of that. We’ve been some festivals and now we’re here at ArcTanGent, which is yeah, fucking ridiculous.

Harry: Amazingly. Somehow we’ve made it to here Yeah. We dug underneath the fucking fence and they’ve let us stay!

E&D: Maybe no one’s noticed yet?

Harry: No one has clocked, we made these wristbands ourselves. (laughs)

E&D: So I get that. I’m, I’ve seen that kind of heavy music’s becoming, thankfully, a bit more diverse. So what kind of reaction do you get? I mean is there still the kind of traditional metal guys or have you just been embraced?

Harry: We, I think for the most part we’re quite fortunate in the case that we are two masc presenting white dudes. So for the most part, anyone who would have an issue is gonna go under the radar. We’re playing in like a dress with a face full of makeup and all this sort of stuff. But for the most part, we play a lot of mixed bill stuff. No one’s ever given us much shit, which is nice. We sort of make sure of the space…

George: We fit in a lot of, a lot of places. I think that’s what we’ve always very much strived to kind of do. You know, we, we don’t just listen to bands that sound like us or even within the heavy music scene, you know, we want to be able to go and do things with indie bands. You want to be able to, if there’s like a, a pop artist, like, you know, jump on some shows with them, but if it’s heavy bands, like we sit just as well. And I think this band has always been about kind of carving in our own little niche and making sure that we are like, as prevalent as all these other kind of bands.

Like, you know, we don’t, we never approach a show with a of a mindset of like, we are not gonna make a mark on this one. Like, we are, we are gonna leave people wanting to come and see us again and wanting to check out the record because, I’d say we are quite an interactive band. Like we are, we are very crowd focused. Talk the crowd a lot, get the crowd involved in things rather than being like a we are here and you could be out there doing kind of whatever you want and we are going to do our thing on stage. It’s like, it’s all give and take.

E&D: People vibe off that, don’t they?

George: Exactly. Which is why we do it. 

Harry: You know, our partners are people who do not listen to this music. They come to the shows not just ’cause of support, but they can be like, “oh, we actually like the shows because the shows aren’t just heavy fucking riffs and people fighting each other”.You want to get people dancing, you get people involved. You make people feel safe and welcomed here. Being a queer band, we have a lot of queer people who come to our shows. A lot of trans people come to our shows who may not feel as comfortable going to a terror show or a fucking, like all these like hard and gnarly shows or whatever. Yeah. It’s nice to have that space.

E&D: But you know what I think though, it’s like, we’re all into this kind of weird sort of music, right? We should just all hang around together?

Harry: Yeah, that is what we fucking love about ArcTanGent!

George: know, every time you turn your head there’s someone, you know, there’s a band that we know, there’s like mates from years and years ago and it’s like, this is our thing, this is our people. We feel very comfortable here. I think, you know, that’s really gonna aid us later on, we play the set, but it’s just gonna be a, it’s gonna be a party, so that’s what exactly what we’re going into it with.

Harry: We’re not trying to be the fucking hardcore band on the bill. We want everyone to come and have a great time.

George: At a festival especially like this, I’ve watched a number of bands now where every single member of the band is so like, incredibly tight and on the fucking click and everything. We are a scrappy band. We are gonna go in and do our scrappy thing and there may be a couple of bits that both of us will probably fuck up during the set, but, but you know, it’s what we do. . . It’s all about the energy, man.

E&D: Yeah. If you wanna listen to precise music, I listen to a classical record or something, right? 

Harry: Precise music. There’s a lot of precise music at ArcTanGent!

George: Yeah. There’s like, there’s a bunch of prog bands here so (laughs) you’re fine.

Harry: The technical ability of everyone at this festival…well besides us. Everyone else knows how the play guitar!

E&D: So what would you give any advice, for bands coming up into the scene?

George: I Think just one thing that we’ve always been very good at, especially Harry more than myself, is just being social and giving a shit about the scene around you and the bands. Like, you know we, wherever it’s the shows that we are playing or if it’s just like shows generally around where we live in London. We are always going to shows, we’re always trying to make friends with people. We’re always trying to support other people because then when it comes down to it, those people then come and support you.

Harry: Those people will help you put on shows when you’re fucking poor.

George: Because then it’s not like, you know, the situation of piggybacking on someone else’s success and trying to get in with circles like that. It’s like if we’re proving ourselves to be respectful as much of part of a scene as everyone else, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t come up at the same time as everyone. 

E&D: We’ll try and bring people with you though, right? 

Harry: Yeah, exactly. You can take your friends, so this tour we just did our headline tour, we wanted to bring our mates Vicarage with us. They’re fucking unbelievable band who don’t get to tour that much. And they’re different and they’re so different playing mixed bills, making shows and making it interesting. Like playing with bands that you wouldn’t usually play with. 

Harry: Don’t just play with the bands that sound like you

George: A hundred percent

Harry: Diversify your scene.

George: I mean, like we, we have a very sort of family ethos, I suppose you could call it with this band. Like everyone that we work with is someone who we also have very good friendships and relationships with because  you know,  I feel like if you jump into things and go, “I want to be the best, I wanna be the biggest”, and you try and like seek those things out and you just disregard the people around you who actually care and like wanna support. You can find that those people around you in your everyday life are actually lik, an amazing photographer or they’re just really organized and they’re really good management and things like that. 

It’s like actually, well if you stop trying to just go,” okay, we’re gonna get the biggest management company, the biggest PR company, we gonna sign to the biggest label, we’re gonna do all these X, Y, and Z things”, and you actually just care about what is around you and really nurture that, then you bring up more than just yourselves and it then it makes everything so much easier. I mean you know, when it comes to like releasing a record, it’s okay, well we know who’s gonna do the cover art because it’s a very good personal friend of ours who we know, who we go to the pub with.

Harry: We know who is going to record us because he is an incredible recording engineer. But he’s also a fucking great mate who understands us. I’m not saying just get your friends to do stuff, but like nuture these relationships  and be a stronger community.

E&D:  But I suppose there’s benefits from that then, ’cause they know what you’re trying to do. 

Harry: Right, exactly. They know what you’re trying to get. Also they fucking believe in the vision; and you know, I think we have a very clear cut idea and definition of what we want. No one understands your vision better than someone you’ve gotten hammered with and gone, “listen man, [I have] a really fucking good idea for this song.”

E&D: But  also I wonder if they’ll turn around and go, no, actually that’s shit, I think you should do it this way. 

Harry: Exactly, Gabe, the guy who does all of our, cover stuff. He’s very good at going, “okay, your idea is cool, but it’s not gonna work. Let’s twist and shape it so I can actually shoot it properly.”

George: Also,  I mean especially the fact that we’re a two-piece we need as much help as we can get! You know, for the most part, especially from a writing perspective, it’s very siloed between the two of us and, you know, our producer Tom is always really good at ideas when we’re in the studio and like in the pre-production process, especially on this last record. But because it’s so siloed, and the music is obviously very personal and important to us, then [it’s great] having those outside people who are like,” I want to be part of the vision that you have”, but also knowing when to kind of step back and let it be essentially Death Goals, the two of us.

E&D: And you probably don’t wanna be surrounded by people going, “Oh, you guys are amazing!” all the time?

Harry: Yeah, people who are like, oh, you know, “oh, you’re absolutely amazing!” And then they’re collecting their paycheck at the end of the month and it’s like, yeah, of course. You think we’re amazing (laughs) and we’ll tell you every day!

E&D: So is s there anybody you want to give a shout to? Anybody we should be listening to?

Harry: Yes. Loads. Going Off, Lure In, Knives. (who are from Bristol), Vicarage, Trading Hands. Good Cop, Chalk Hands. Juliet who played today who are from Mexico. Fucking amazing Screamo band.


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