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INTERVIEW: JOE COTELA of DED – June 2017

According to a recent press release: “If you’re not pissed off, then you’re not paying attention. Heavy music is alive and Ded is bringing back the aggressive spirit that is authentic to the genre.  “There is an honesty and a “fuck you” about hard core music that I don’t feel as often anymore” says lead singer Joe Cotela.  Ded is loud and aggressive – but it serves as a positive outlet: the band produces an unapologetic sound that draws from the art of fantasy and expressive screams.  ”  As the bands takes a short break from touring, we get singer Joe Cotela to discuss the new release, upcoming tour dates including a stop at Chicago Open Air, and more…

Toddstar: Joe, I appreciate you taking out of your busy schedule. You guys are seemingly all over the place so we appreciate the time.

Joe: Of course, man, yeah. We’re just home right now for a couple of weeks so we’ve got a little down time, just chilling, so it’s totally cool.

Toddstar: You’ve got some big shows coming up.

Joe: We do.

Toddstar: But let’s talk about some big news, Mis-an-thrope. I mean, this thing’s coming out on Suretone Records, July 21st. What can you tell us about this disc people might not grab the first or second time listening through?

Joe: Well, I think there’s a lot of depth to it. We made it, so I like it a lot. There’s a lot of aggression in this album, there’s a lot of different styles mixed in. There’s punk, there’s alternative, there’s metal, there’s hardcore-y break downs. There’s all kinds of stuff. There’s rock, there’s anthems. You know, it’s really just, you know, when we step back and look at it, it’s really just a hybrid of the best parts of all styles of music that we like, as far as aggressive music goes. I’ve been getting some feedback on it from a handful of people, I guess they sort of send it out for reviews and stuff, and it’s been cool. These people have been getting it. It’s not bonehead-y contrived, trying to get everybody to like this rock music. It’s supposed to be something to make you think, something to make you question things, something to make you question yourself and the way that you are, because I’m always questioning myself and I’m hoping to just raise consciousness in people with it, and hopefully give some people something to mosh to, maybe something to work out to, whatever it works for people and I think everyone’s going to get something different out of it, so that’s cool. I hear people say, “Oh, I hear Marilyn Manson.” I hear people say, “I hear Korn.” I hear people say, “I hear Beartooth.” I hear people say, “I hear all kinds of stuff.” So I like that wherever you are, you hear something different, so it’s really cool.

Toddstar: Of those three you mentioned, Manson, Korn and Beartooth, which one made you feel the best inside when you heard it?

Joe: Oh, well I actually … I hear even way more than that because we looked at it like it was a dish, we put all these ingredients in, so… You know, we put in a splash of Slipknot, a splash of System of a Down, a splash of Bring Me the Horizon, definitely Manson, Korn, all those things, so I don’t look at it like you’re eating a meal and you go, “Oh, I taste some cilantro in here.” Something like that, you know, so I’m stoked on any of it, I just want them to like it, whether they hear … What influences are in there or not, I love all of those influences but as long as they like it, whatever they hear it, because music’s interpretive and our ears all hear things differently, and so I’m just happy if people dig it, however that is, it doesn’t matter.

Toddstar: That’s cool. I was just curious, which of the comparisons you really got into as far as someone holding you up against someone else.

Joe: I love all of those bands. We’ve got to meet the Korn guys and the Beartooth guys. I haven’t met Manson yet but we’re playing a bunch of festivals with Manson coming up, so hopefully I’ll get to run into him and have, you know, maybe have a drink or say what up to him, but I love all of those. I’m a music junkie myself. I love music, it’s one of my drugs, so any of those comparisons is a huge just… I mean, I appreciate it all.

Toddstar: You mentioned Korn and you say you’ve met the guys, you know the guys and you’re actually going to jump on, it looks like a couple week’s worth of dates with them mid-July, after you hit a couple of festivals. But going back to the album, you’ve got a lyric video out there for “Dead to Me.” Did you guys kind of steer the singles or was it more of a label decision? Who kind of picked how you guys were going to lead this out to the public?

Joe: I think it was a mix. We work really closely with our label and our manager and John, too, who produced the album, John Feldmann. We all kind of decided it together, I think. So we’ve released three songs, the first, “FMFY,” we wanted to release something that was heavy, that was going to really represent a lot of the beginning. Just get the band out and let them know that we are a heavy band and then “Anti-Everything” being a little more anthemic, having that go to radio, just because a lot of our songs cannot be on the radio.

Toddstar: “FMFY” is one of them.

Joe: Yeah, exactly, we didn’t really plan on being on the radio when we started this band or when we were making this album. We weren’t thinking, “Let’s be on the radio.” That wasn’t really anywhere near our thought, and so the fact that “Anti-Everything”… It’s still really heavy for the radio, actually, which I don’t think it really should be but we have had a handful of stations just say it’s too heavy for them and I get it. I don’t see it being too heavy because I do see a lot of heavier bands that were on the radio, at least when I was growing up or even in the last couple of years, there are a lot of heavy bands, but … So that song, though, felt like an anthem, it’s got some… Just a lot of hooks in it, you know, there’s kind of like Beastie Boy verses in it and so we just thought it was a really cool mix song but I have… “Dead to Me” was one that we thought about going to radio with and we didn’t because I feel like a lot of the feedback that we went with our radio team, they just felt like it was way too weird to be on the radio and I see that. So, I mean, either way, I’m not too worried about it because with the internet and with all the outlets you can get music now, to me it doesn’t matter because you’re still going to hear everything, regardless. I plan on making videos and media for every single song and having every single song have its own platform, whether it gets pushed on the radio or not so you’re going to hear everything regardless.

Toddstar: I have been one of those people and I’m able to run through this thing over and over and over as long as I’m willing to stream it, but it’s a good album top to bottom. It brings all those different sounds you talk about and the different moods you talk about, where maybe it’s a workout disc, maybe it’s a just get your shit out and be aggressive mix, whatever, but looking back over the list of songs, what song or two stands out in your mind most, Joe, as being the easiest to finish from start to finish and the hardest?

Joe: I think, the song “Architect,” the opening track, was the easiest. I felt like that one came very fluently, you know. David had the music down and I just heard the vocals over it really fast and sometimes those are the songs that are just the best because there’s just… You’re just in a moment and it just happens and it feels great when you’re done and that’s one of our older songs, too, and we still love it to this day, it’s one of our favorites. One of the more challenging ones, I’m trying to think. I mean, we wrote 50 songs for this album and we only narrowed it down to 11, so trying to think the most difficult. I mean, Anti-Everything, we rewrote a couple of times. We had written… We did that out in LA with Feldman and we had written the music. We had some different people throwing in vocal ideas, this and that, and it was a completely different song recorded. We just went into it, honestly, and then so I just took a step back, I just went out and so I spent the afternoon just walking around LA just letting the music in my headphones and just waiting for something to connect with me, and I do that a lot, or else I get in my car, just drive up and down the freeway, just wait until I hear that perfect note or that perfect melody or that perfect line and then I’ll build off of that, so that one did take a while but then once I got it, it all just flew down and we recorded it and everybody was stoked on it.

Toddstar: You mention all the different dates you guys have coming up and, again, we touched on the Korn / Stone Sour tour. One that I’m personally excited about is the Chicago Open Air Festival. You guys are going to play the closing day. In the scene of music, and you guys are still kind of the youngsters in the crowd, you guys have only been together a couple of years but you’re playing a day with Ozzy and Slayer and Lamb of God, what’s it like for you to know you’re on the bill the same day as some of these guys that you probably looked up to and listened to for years and years and years?

Joe: Yeah, it’s really cool. When we first announced Chicago Open Air, I think that was one of the first festivals that we got announced on and I was definitely freaking out about that. My dad’s way into Ozzy and stuff, so I grew up listening to the No More Tears, I had that CD when I was younger and that was like a big one for me, I loved when I was really little and then he would show me Sabbath and stuff like that, but definitely like Ozzy, Lamb of God. I’ve seen these festivals for years, just the flyers for them and none of them are ever in Arizona. We don’t have this huge three day festival, like Rock on the Range or any of that stuff, we got to do that too, and just to be there is crazy, man, and, you know, it’s just so cool. We’ve gone and done a couple of them now so it’s now a little more chill for me but when we initially saw it, I really was, I was so excited. I think I can go back and see my Facebook post and I think it was something about, “Opening up for Ozzy, I can die now.” Or something like that, it was like that, something like that so it’s amazing.

Toddstar: I can only imagine. You mentioned Rock on the Range and you’ve done a couple of festivals now. What was the band that you remember standing side stage just in awe that you were able to be there and be part of the day?

Joe: There was a couple, man. We went all three days, because we were doing press and stuff and we just tried to make the most out of every situation. I would say the stand out ones for me were, without a doubt, Every Time I Die were so good. Papa Roach. The two of them, and Gojira. I can’t pick one. All three of those were awesome and then I’d never seen Metallica before. We didn’t get to stand side stage, we tried our damnedest, we snuck around everywhere to get back there. We were back there until right before they made everyone leave. We stood there and then we tried to sneak around, it didn’t work but, yeah, those three. Gojira is one of our favorite bands, hands down, in the group. Papa Roach is just unbelievable live, their energy and their catalog is just insane, and I love their new album, and then Every Time I Die was just… I have them tattooed on my arm, they’re one of my favorite bands of all time and not playing favorites, they just absolutely just killed it.

Toddstar: That said, you’re starting to meet some of these guys, you’re starting to get to know some of these bands, they’re going to know you, I mean, there’s buzz about you everywhere you go. Even the journalist pages on Facebook and people are talking about Ded. You guys are really just becoming a word of mouth huge now but looking back over all these people you’ve met, who are the one collaborator you’d love to jump in a studio with and do something with?

Joe: I’d love to work with a lot of these people. My number one person, and I haven’t met them yet, but it’s El-P from a group called Run the Jewels. I don’t know if you’ve heard them, they’re actually like a hip hop group but El-P, his production is just absolutely crazy. If you haven’t heard them, check them out, they actually have a song with Zack de la Rocha on it, they have two songs, actually, with Zack de la Rocha from Rage, but I would love, all of us, collectively, would love to do something with El-P, whether it’s heavy or hip hop or whatever it would be. As far as the other stuff, I’d really love to write with Jacoby from Papa Roach, I think that would be really sick. He’s probably one of my number one people that I’d want to write with.

Toddstar: Two ends of the spectrum, it speaks to the music on the disc as well. You guys can’t be pigeon holed based on the songs, that’s the fun part, for me, listening to it.

Joe: Yeah, thank you, man.

Toddstar: Joe, you guys are up and coming, you’re building the reputation out on the road and with great music but so far, in your experience, what’s the best part of being a musician, in your mind?

Joe: Oh, man. That’s a good question. The best part of being a musician… Man, that’s crazy. I’d have to say the best part for me is just creating things, is just making a new song or making songs and doing it with my friends. That high of, like, “This is sick, we made something awesome.” And then showing it to people and getting a good reaction and then playing it live and getting a reaction. The creative part of it is the best part of it for me. I like making things. I like getting the thoughts out of my head into an idea, into something semi-tangible for someone to have and, yeah, I love the creating aspect and I love playing it live and having people sing it back or just, you know, getting a reaction and enriching other people’s lives with that music. It’s great.

Toddstar: Before this whole musician thing took off, what was your career path? What was your goal in life before music got in your way, so to speak?

Joe: Well, I’ve been in bands since I was 15 years old, I started a punk band, like a Blink-182 band, like everybody’s first band, so I’ve been doing that for a very long time. I’ve been very into music. I got a guitar when I was 11 or something like that. I was way into sports, I liked basketball a lot. I played a lot of basketball. I liked skateboarding, but then I compound fractured my arm really bad and I stopped doing that. I don’t know that I really had an idea. I liked drawing a lot but I don’t think I was necessarily good enough to be an artist in that sense, but I do like creating things, like graphics and I do a lot of that for the band. My mom’s a graphic designer, so that would be something I would do or maybe I’ll do in the future as well, graphic design, but, yeah, just music’s really always been a huge thing for me, I’ve been just doing it really hard since I was younger, so I guess there literally has been no other thought for me. This has really been it. I’ve been nose deep in it, man.

Toddstar: Fair enough. Other than the new album, Mis-an-thrope, from Ded, if you could magically go back in time and be part of one album, or one recording session, what would it be and why is that important to you?

Joe: Well, I overthink things so I’m going to overthink this question.

Toddstar: I was waiting for the knee jerk reaction of No More Tears.

Joe: Nice. Well, obviously if we’re talking Ozzy, yeah. Man, I love so much music, so much of it is so important to me and, so, then, again, like I said, my brain would overthink this question and then I would worry if I was there and watched something be created and I saw the guys and everything, would it ruin the album for me? Would I not enjoy it anymore? I don’t know. You know what I’m saying? That always happens if you know too much about something, it’s ruined. Man. There’s a handful that come to the top of my head. I would love to have been there to watch Nirvana, Nevermind, be made. I would love to watch Vulgar Display of Power or Far Beyond Driven be made, because it seems like it would be awesome to just have some beers and kick it with Dime, you know, shred it up. I would love to be around when Blink made Enema Of The State, because they’re just fun dudes. They’re always around Feldmann’s, they’re so much fun, just the nicest guys. There’s so many. I mean, it would be sick to be around watching Zeppelin make Zeppelin II, that’s my favorite Zeppelin album. Dude, I sure am a music head, there would be so many albums I’d be so intrigued to be around and just to watch and if I was a fly on the wall or if I got to hang out, you know, it would just be amazing so there’s so many things.

Toddstar: Being a self-proclaimed music head, what’s the last piece of music, whether it be a single or just a song or a whole album, that you listened to, that your fans might scratch your head wondering what you were thinking?

Joe: I absolutely love the new John Mayer album. We listen to it on the drives a lot and it is so smooth and it’s got soul and funk and pop and everything in it, man. I love just his tab choices on the guitar, the notes he picks are absolutely great. I’ve been a John Mayer fan for a long time, maybe not the early, early stuff, the bubblegum-y stuff quite as much, but heavier things, A Little Bit and Continuum is just a masterpiece in my opinion and then this newer album, I think, was great, it was return to form to him for me, so that would be one of them. There’s probably other ones if I looked in my Spotify. I mean, I seriously sit for hours at night and just try to find anything that connects with me and then I put it in a playlist and I come back to it and I just want to always hear something new and new and new and new with music, I’m obsessed with it. The new Kendrick Lamar is so sick, I love that as well, I’ve been jamming that non-stop.

Toddstar: My son’s been trying to get me into that one so we’ll see how that goes.

Joe: It’s so good. I love it.

Toddstar: Well, listen, Joe, I appreciate you taking time out for us, we know you’ve got so much going on with the promotion of the band so we appreciate you giving us a little bit of your time and I can’t wait to see you guys kick the day off, Sunday the 16th, at Chicago Open Air.

Joe: Yeah, hell, yeah. That would be awesome, man, looking forward to getting there. Thanks a lot, brother. Take it easy.

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INTERVIEW: JOE COTELA of DED - June 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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