Last week Canadian dance punk duo Death from Above 1979 played a sold out show at Birmingham’s the Institute. BurnFM’s Marita Farruggia had a chance to chat with Jesse F. Keeler, who plays bass and synthesizer in the band, before the show.
So how has the tour been going so far?
It’s been going well. On this tour we’ve basically been hitting a lot of places we played about four months ago. Then we’re doing a few places we haven’t played in a long time, like Birmingham—we haven’t played here in like, ten years.
Did you get a chance to do any sightseeing in Birmingham earlier?
Well, I had lunch at this café we went to the first ever time we played in Birmingham, which was cool.
You recently put out your first new album in a decade, The Physical World, how have fans been receiving it so far?
The fans seem to be liking it and there also seem to be a lot more of them now, which is cool. It’s amazing to me how many people even care and want to come see us.
You also recently released a documentary about the turbulent history of the band, Life After Death From Above. What was the process of making that like?
Well the thing is, we didn’t actually make it ourselves. With Instagram and everything these days it’s really easy to control how the world sees you and make yourself look cool. We didn’t want to do that. So we hired someone else to take pictures of us instead. Then someone came up with the idea of filming it. But I think they didn’t think we’d continue as a band; I think they thought the reunion was just a temporary thing. So when we did (continue), it took them a while to figure out how to end it (the film). And then they did and I was sitting in a theatre with a whole bunch of people watching myself, which was so weird.
What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
Oh dear, I’m pretty boring to be honest. I have a farm and I try to spend as much time there as possible.
Do you have mostly animals or crops on your farm?
We have pens, because the people who owned the farm before me kept some livestock. But mostly we grow hay, which is surprisingly lucrative. When I get home from tour I have to build a new barn. That’s the sort of thing I look forward to.
Maybe you should get some cows so you and Alex James from Blur can talk dairy farming together.
He does that? That’s cool. Cows are really difficult though. They get sick and they wander into the road and things like that.
Have you ever had an animal wander in front of the bus while touring?
Once. It was a van actually, and I was driving. We were in Germany, driving to take a ferry to Sweden. I hit a deer. Luckily it was a small deer, not like the big ones we get back home, so we weren’t hurt. There was blood everywhere, though and it was a white van as well.
Very punk rock. Speaking of which, if you had to describe DFA1979’s music to someone who had never heard you before in ten words or less, what would you say?
Oh, I don’t know. We always tried to be a rock band, but we kept ending up being a punk band.
Well maybe this will be an easier question: if you could have any super power, what would it be?
I guess being able to fly would be cool. I wouldn’t have to spend any time in a van anymore. Being invisible would be cool as well, but there are probably downsides to these I’m not thinking of.