by Keavin Wiggins
Depswa may be a new name to you at the
moment but chances are in a few months that will all change once their
debut album hits stores and they bring their live show to fans across the
US on this summer's Ozzfest. I recently had the opportunity to talk with
Depswa frontman Jeremy Penick to get a little background on the band, the
dangers of insects on the road and a look into their debut album. Here
is our first look at this explosive new group.
RNW: Since this will be the first exposure
most of our readers will have to Depswa, I’d like to do some background
questions. First: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t
heard it yet?
Jeremy: I would say it’s definitely
heavy in melody and emotion. It goes from extreme to extreme. Extremely
soft in some parts to extremely heavy. Really no boundaries. Mostly, songs
I hope that leave you thinking.
RNW: Is there any general overall themes
to your songs? A certain message or subject matter?
Jeremy: Each song is different.
Each song comes from a different time a different place. To me each song
has it’s own vibe and character.
RNW: You’ve guys have done a number
of EP’s over the years, did any of those songs end up on the album?
Jeremy: Yeah, like some of the demos
and stuff we did. We did all of the demos ourselves or our friend with
help us with them and all those, well some of those old songs are on the
record but there are still a lot of them didn’t make it too.
RNW: Any plans to reissue the EP’s down
the line for your new fans?
Jeremy: The demos? I don’t know
about the demos. I’d really like to record them for real, do a real good
job on them. Most of the demos, we’d do in like a day or two and just crank
it out. You know the sound quality and everything, it was all right but
it wasn’t everything that it could be.
RNW: Do you guys have a release date
for the album yet?
Jeremy: You know what, it’s no later
than May, is what they’re saying. We had February 24th but they pushed
it back and said “no, it won’t be no later than May”. I think April is
when the single comes out. Within the next couple of months I would say.
RNW: Do you have any personal favorite
tracks from the album?
Jeremy: I don’t know, I like em
RNW: You recorded your debut with producer
Howard Benson. How was it working with him?
Jeremy: It was great! I think we
all actually learned immensely. I’m also interested myself in recording
and stuff, I have my own little studio and I learned just a great deal
about how they really record an album. And you know, just listening to
different peoples opinions and perspectives on music was really enlightening
and got to see the inside of the way things… I always wondered how they
were done and it was really cool for all of us to go through that experience.
We definitely grew.
RNW: Where did the title “Two Angels
and A Dream” come from?
Jeremy: One of the songs is called
“Two Angels and A Dream”. The song is kind of a metaphor between like wrong
and right or heaven and hell, whatever. The chorus goes, “..and I caught
between two angels and a dream. One is pulling at my heart, the other ripps
the seams.” It’s sort of a metaphor between wrong and right sort of tugging
at you at the same time and trying to figure out which way to go or if
you’re gonna stay in the middle somehow.
RNW: I know you get this question in
every interview, where the name came from?
Jeremy: Yeah, initially we were
a band called Carcinogen years ago and we had a demo and we named it Depswa
and we got that name, for the demo, because we were a little more tribal
sounding, had a lot more drums, we did like drum solos and where it came
from actually was one of us watched “Medicine Man” and saw in there, in
the movie “Medicine Man” Sean Connery is in a Venezuelan rainforest and
he’s looking for the cure for cancer, he’s studying this and in the Venezuelan
rainforest there is a tribe that he is working with and the medicine man
or the healer they called the “Depswa”.
RNW: So the name just sort of fit with
what you guys were into.
Jeremy: Yeah, we wanted a name that
had no stigma. Which was kind of cool. We were just like, you know, when
it came time to change the name our music was changing so we were like
“I think it’s time to change our name” because Carcinogen has such a stigma,
like a death metal band, smoke whatever, you get all these images in your
mind but Depswa nobody knows what the hell it is. It’s either the
word you never heard before or you’ve heard of the band obviously.
RNW: You guys started out as an instrumental
metal band. How did you guys evolve over the years going from the instrumental
band to what you are today?
Jeremy: Well, it’s gone a few different
shades, it’s just.. like me and two other guys years ago we started a band,
we were a three-piece instrumental. It came time to record, we had a bunch
of material and wanted to record a demo. We had no signer, and there were
no singers where we lived, we lived up in Northern California by Turtle
Rock. And I just thought, maybe I’d at least give it a try. That’s when
I started (singing) right then and later down the road the bass player
quit and that’s when we got Ryan. Then we moved to LA, just to get away
from people and concentrate on music and then the drummer parted ways with
us and we got our new drummer Gordon, of almost a year and half now. I’ve
known Dan for years, even before Carcinogen, I played with him in a band
up in Sacramento, so when we came down to LA I asked him to join the band.
That’s kind of how it all meshed together.
RNW: Was it like a big culture shock
going from up in Northern Cal to LA?
Jeremy: It was really interesting;
it felt like I was in a whole new world. I think it was helpful to creativity
and I was there for music, just period. To concentrate on music, we rented
a house which I’m still living in that’s in an industrial area by the city
dump in Sun Valley and you can practice all night long, so we got a lot
of practice done there and we did all of our demos and everything there.
That place where I live is a pretty special place.
RNW: Now you guys have been together
Jeremy: Yeah, as we are right now.
RNW: That’s a long time waiting for
something to break, did you guys ever get discouraged along the lines,
thinking “this thing ain’t gonna happen,” you know what I mean?
Jeremy: Yeah, you know what we’re…
everybody wants to be noticed and wants to be appreciated but I know from
many different experiences that things don’t always come out the way you
think they are. Regardless, you can’t go forward if you quit. We love music
and that was the whole thing, we just wanted to improve on our songwriting
and really develop our sound. I guess get more intensity of emotion in
the songs musically and lyrically.
RNW: So do you think the deal (with
Geffen) came about right at the right time?
Jeremy: I think so, yeah. I think
the album has a great bunch of songs on it and they’ve come, I think the
oldest song on there is probably 3 – 2 ½ years old. So we had a
lot of material to pick from to make this album.
RNW: Cool, I heard that you were considering
a deal with Slipknot’s vanity label, Maggot Corps but decided to go with
Geffen instead. What happened there?
Jeremy: We were confronted by Corey
from Slipknot, he really liked the band. But when all that happened Geffen
got involved also so it was kind of a bidding thing and who had more to
offer. It was nothing personal, we love Corey and we appreciate everything
but to be honest I think it was kind of a lucky deal because their label
folded shortly after we signed with Geffen.
RNW: Yeah and Geffen has a track record
to go with.
Jeremy: Exactly, and you know we
had to make the right decision for our career.
RNW: So how has it been working with
Geffen so far?
Jeremy: they take care of us. I
think they appreciate us, which I think is really cool. And we’re willing
to work, because we’ve always worked.. our motto has always been “we have
to work twice as hard to get half as far as anybody else.” So we’ve got
that attitude going into everything and whatever we get, we usually feel
we’ve worked for twice over. So we stay very modest and the label
really supports us so it’s really cool.
RNW: Has there been any major surprises?
You know preconceived ideas you might have had about what it would be like
to get signed and things turned out differently?
Jeremy: Yeah, you know I was looking
from the outside in like everybody else who is not in the business who
say “I’d love to do this, this is great,” but there’s a lot of weird stuff
on the inside once you get in there and you’re like “wow, I didn’t realize
this is exactly how it was.” But you know, such is life and that’s the
way things are everywhere a lot of times. It looks good in the store window,
you get it home it might be a piece of s***. You never know, it might be
just as good as what you thought.
RNW: So what’s your songwriting process
Jeremy: Usually I’ll come up with
a melody on the guitar, some riffs and stuff. Then I’ll hear something
in my head, a vocal melody over it and what I’ll do is I’ll introduce it
to the band a lot of time and we’ll just start building off of what the
band does. Usually, I won’t write the song entirely because I like to feel
the band out, like musically, like what kind of things they’re gonna put
in it. Then we all sort of combine our minds and start building it and
start shaping it. And usually by the time the music is done, I’ve got some
ideas for the lyrics.
RNW: You’ve shared the stage with quite
a few notable bands. What were the most memorable shows or tours
Jeremy: In Oregon we played with
Rob Zombie, Switched, il nino, Adema. We played a couple of shows, huge
shows like ten to fourteen thousand people and I remember one time at one
of the shows out there, I was signing some autographs for people, then
I stopped for a little bit and everybody left and I went to the bathroom.
I took a piss and came out and there was a bunch of kids waiting there
for me and I was signing and all of sudden there was this immense pain
in my penis. I didn’t know what the hell it was, I was thinking a spider
bit me or whatever. I finished up signing the autographs in total pain,
it was just immense pain and I went back into the porto-potty and pulled
down my shorts and there was a bee singer in my…
RNW: oh Jesus!
Jeremy: The bee was like totally
flopping around inside my pants. I guess when I went to the bathroom before
it dropped down into my pants and I didn’t even know it.
RNW: Ah man!!
Jeremy: I was in pain a couple of
RNW: That’s probably one of the
craziest road stories I’ve ever heard!
Jeremy: yeah and nobody believes
it! How in the hell does a bee get in your pecker? What is the deal with
that. I must have deserved that for doing something wrong, I don’t know.
RNW: You ever write a song about
RNW: Man, that’s hard to top… who would
you most like to tour with? Is there like one band that you’d really love
to tour with?
Jeremy: Really not one band, there
are a lot of bands that we’d really love to be able to see every night
and it would be amazing. Like my favorite bands like Radiohead, that would
probably be a bill that would never be made but I love Radiohead, Perfect
Circle, Tool, and then there are so many other new, up and coming, bands
too. I like onesidezero, Apex Theory is cool, we have such a diverse influence
of music we’d love to tour with just about anybody. The Foo Fighters, Queens
of the Stone Age… there are some great bands out there!
RNW: So would you say that those are
your main influences?
Jeremy: Not all of them, we’ll they
all influence me but I have so many different influences from Tori Amos
to Bjork, you got like Jeff Buckley, there are just countless numbers of
CD’s that I’ve gotten inspiration from.
RNW: Cool, so you have really eclectic
Jeremy: Yeah, I think that’s what’s
really cool about this band; we’re all a very eclectic bunch of guys. We
don’t have one style of music we just listen to. Everybody has an immense
RNW: So I take it you bring that into
your songwriting as well.
Jeremy: Yeah, we don’t have any
boundaries in our music. We play what we feel I guess. Whatever comes out.
We don’t really like imitate anybody we just kind of take stuff like your
feelings or something.
RNW: So you aren’t like some of those
bands out there that says, “ok this is what’s hot on the radio, let’s write
Jeremy: No (laughs) We didn’t even
know. When we were writing this stuff I think it’s kind of different music
from what’s out there. I don’t even know if people are gonna get this.
As we kept going on, we were like I guess we are radio friendly.
RNW: So where would you like to be in
Jeremy: Let’s see that’s a long
time.. Geez, I don’t know. Hopefully had toured around the world and I’d
love to get into producing also, eventually. You know recording, helping
out young bands and hopefully have some sort of success with this. And
just be able to live modestly and live playing music. That’ always been
my dream. It’s been all of our dreams. It’s always really cool when you
are able to work at what you really want to do in life. I feel really fortunate
and I know everybody else in the band does too. Hopefully we have longevity.
RNW: Well if you’re doing your own thing
it sounds like you probably will. Those are the bands that stick around.
Jeremy: We’ll see. I’ll talk to
you in five years!
On that note the interview came to an end.
A couple days later I finally got a hold of a copy of Depswa's debut and
was very impressed. Those last few lines of the interview rung out loud
and clear. The music is there and if luck is on their side we will be talking
with Jeremy in five years about the breakthrough success of Depswa. This
is rock n' roll and anything can happen but they do have the goods to back
them up so we'll have to wait and see where the road leads them next. Until
then check out the links below to learn more about the group!
...and look for more on the band right here!
Website - learn more about the band and preview songs from their debut