Here in the late ’00s, there’s a lot of pressure on young bands to paint by numbers, bowing to what’s considered cool and fashionable in Indie World. It takes vision and guts for an evolving rock group to blast through the membrane of trendiness on the way to something truly audacious, authentic and vital. That’s what Atlanta-based five-piece Death On Two Wheels is cooking up, both onstage and on the band’s bracing and surprisingly diverse debut album, Separation of Church & Fate, released on their own label, The Ghost Umbrella, and artfully produced by up-and-comer Matt Malpass (Copeland, Relient K, Lydia) at his Atlanta studio, Marigolds + Monsters.
It’s safe to say that no record from a baby band in this decade sounds like this one—it’s a potent, churning amalgam of modern and classic rock moves, embedded with evocative lyrics that update the rich Southern Gothic tradition and the precise edge of a sushi chef with a Ginsu knife. While they don’t try to hide their cultural roots, they come off as a quintessentially American rock group rather than a specifically Southern one. If Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers had come along 30 years later, we strongly suspect they’d sound like Death On Two Wheels. And if there’s a modern-day reference point, it’s Kings of Leon.
“Some of the songs are dark,” says writer/singer/guitarist Trae Vedder, “but at the same time, when you see us play, we’re all smiling from ear to ear through the whole show. We feel like there’s backbone to the music and substance to the lyrics.”
The first songs Vedder wrote specifically for DO2W—“Calling Us All Back Home,” “Shaking Like a Leaf” and “Better Way”—are crunching rave-ups chiseled right out of the bedrock, providing the album with its basic hard-edged character. By contrast, the three songs he banged out near the end of the albums sessions in an eleventh-hour burst of inspiration intimate a wide-open future for the band. “Hey Hey Hey” mates thrilling guitar riffage that recalls vintage British blues rock with Trae’s most unabashedly Southern vocal performance; “How Love Is Made” locates the middle ground between Tommy James’ “Draggin’ the Line” and Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army”; and the bouncy, billowing “Sweet Love” could be the follow-up to the Turtles’ “Happy Together”—four decades down the line. Clearly, this band refuses to paint itself into a corner.
“We realize we’re going against the grain,” Vedder acknowledges, “but there’s no way we’re gonna box ourselves in on our first album. We don’t want to be easily defined.”
Vedder and some friends formed DO2W two years ago in central Georgia, an hour south of Atlanta, the area where the original members had grown up. Some personnel shifts went down in the band’s early stages, and the final lineup was nailed down less than a year ago. The very first day these five plugged in and let it rip, they realized they were on to something truly uncommon, and that inspired them to draw outside the lines. Before long they entered a churning rock & roll twilight zone, suspended between Kings of Leon, Wilco, The Killers and The Mars Volta—among the most single-minded of modern-rock bands—and groups from rock’s golden age including Steppenwolf, ELO and Joe Cocker & the Grease Band. In that sense, DO2W find themselves pretty much alone—which is just the way they like it. “We dig a lot of indie-rock bands,” says Vedder. “We just don’t sound like one.”
Vedder, who’s 25, is one hyperactive dude. Along with writing all the material and booking its shows, he designed the album package and the DO2W merch, as well as overseeing the band’s site. He knows his way around the primary sectors of the music business, having interned at labels during college, doing graphic design for a company that makes download cards for bands, working as a registrations manager for the Atlantis Music Conference the last four years, even starting his own booking company at one point. Now, he’s a fulltime bandleader. “I decided it was what I was supposed to be doing, and I’ve had no money ever since,” he told journalist Beverly Bryan for her recent piece on the band in Performer magazine.
One fervent believer in DO2W is Atlanta-based veteran manager Russell Carter (Indigo Girls, Matthew Sweet, the Jayhawks, the Bridges), whose company is now managing the band. “Trae has a great rock voice, a classic southern blues-infused style of writing and playing and stage presence that calls to mind any number of supercharged energetic no holds barred performers,” says Carter. “I’m reminded of what Chris Robinson was like when I represented him as a lawyer many years ago—voices like Chris’ come along once a decade or so, and that’s what Trae has—a truly distinctive rock voice, gravelly and soulful.”
Feeding the band’s ambition is the overarching impulse to expand onstage into a big-ass modern-day take on the sprawling rock revue—like Mad Dogs and Englishmen back in the day—with backup singers, horns, piano, Hammond, guitars, two drummers pouding away, and general pandemonium. Indeed, they’ve already framed it out, frequently expanding the lineup to include as backup singers the four-fifths female, harmony-rich The Bridges.
“This was probably my fifth time seeing this band,” a local A&R rep said about a recent performance on which 10 players and singers were shoehorned onto a cramped stage, “and every show is impressive, but this one saw them take it to another level. It wasn’t just because the lovely ladies in The Bridges sang backing vocals the whole time (although that was a nice touch); it was more because they played like veterans of a big stage who did us a favor by playing on a small one. The tighter-then-ever lineup, the transitions between songs and, of course, the songs themselves, quickly drove this band to possible ‘next big thing out of Atlanta' status.”
Vedder’s striking album-package design sports a black-and-white, retro-funky exterior that opens to reveal a blast of postmodern color. He says it’s intended “to parallel the experience of listening to ‘Calling Us All Back Home’ and then hitting the chorus.” This guy doesn’t miss a trick.
Rarely is the first album from a baby band as fully realized as Separation of Church & State. Given the talent, ambition and resourcefulness of Death On Two Wheels, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.
- Bud Scoppa
Death On Two Wheels has shared the stage with acts such as Norma Jean (Tooth & Nail), Butch Walker (Epic), Matthew Sweet (Shout Factory), Janelle Monae (Bad Boy), & many others.
Trae Vedder | Vocals, Guitar
Paul Doss | Lead Guitar
David Fountain | Bass
Jon Cole | Drums
Wes Flowers | Organ, Vocals
Separation Of Church & Fate
Produced, Recorded, & Mixed by Matt Malpass
1. Calling Us All Back Home
2. Shaking Like A Leaf
3. A Song For Em...
4. Bobby Havis
5. Take It Away
6. Sweet Love
7. How Love Is Made
9. Hey Hey Hey
10. Better Way
11. Two Dollar Bills
3 Song Sampler
Produced by Kyle Hale & Death On Two Wheels
1. Calling Us All Back Home
2. Better Way
3. Shaking Like A Leaf
Death On Two Wheels at Lenny's
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This show started off with indie rockers Death on Two Wheels. These guys brought some rock and roll ...This show started off with indie rockers Death on Two Wheels. These guys brought some rock and roll with them complete with boots, blues hats, sleeveless shirts, screams, and funky beats. At first they seemed like every average indie rock band out there, but after continuing through their set it was apparent that they are a hard working rock band. They were tight, the energy was big, and the music just flowed from them almost as if they didn't even have to try to make it click.
Death On Two Wheels on R3Vrb
[+ Show ]
Step 1: Take two fingers and place them on your jugular. Step 2: Feel for a pulse. If you've g...Step 1: Take two fingers and place them on your jugular.
Step 2: Feel for a pulse.
If you've got one, then you need to be at this show tonight. If not, then climb back in the grave gramma.
Of the three bands I picked for today, Death On Two Wheels is the one I'm most excited about and, frustratingly, also the band about which there is the least amount of information. They only have three songs available, but all of them rock really hard. Their myspace page and various other social networking sites all have a professional gloss to them, yet they apparently aren't signed by anyone. MTVU has a page for them, but it contains NO information whatsoever. I think we may be dealing with an independently wealthy band of web-designing CIA agents. Here is their tour poster, which I'm sure contains subliminal messages that make you want to do dirty, dirty things.
Death On Two Wheels at Bottletree
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You can’t dismiss Death on Two Wheels as just another attempt at swaggering, modern classic rock. Fo...You can’t dismiss Death on Two Wheels as just another attempt at swaggering, modern classic rock. For one thing, they’ve forgotten to add a joking veneer. They’re also inspired enough to add dorky little touches, such as choruses worthy of Toto or Styx. That’s a far, piercing cry from the typical unofficial Black Sabbath tribute act. It even adds an element of originality, or at least sincerity. That’s a valuable trait right there.
Death On Two Wheels Tours!
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Death on Two Wheels Tours! November 13, 2007 For everyone who is already a fan of that group tha...Death on Two Wheels Tours!
November 13, 2007
For everyone who is already a fan of that group that calls themselves Death on Two Wheels you are most certainly not going to want to miss out on this chance to see them perform live. Bring your friends, even those who may have never heard of this band, and you are sure to have a great night out!
Highlights of Death on Two Wheels’ tour include stints at such locales as JJ’s Bohemia on Chattanooga, Tennessee on December 12, Corner Lounge in KNoxville, Tennesse on December 13 and Connect Downtown in Urbana, OHio on December 14 as a newly added date. Other newly added dates include gigs at such places as Ronny’s in Chicago, ILlinois on December 15, Bernie’s Distillery in Columbus, Ohio on Deember 17 and The 5 Spot in Nashville, Tennessee on December 18 as well as Bottletree in Birmingham, Alabama on December 19 and The Star bar in Atlanta, Georgia on December 20.
You know you aren’t going to want to miss seeing this impressive band live, so get yourself Death on Two Wheels tickets today at stubhub.com!
* HA! We (Death On Two Wheels) realize this blurb is completely web generated and phony, but it's also hilarious! This posting came in the hours following Pollstar.com making a legitimate posting about our tour dates. We appreciate the love from both parties, but we'd have to offer an actual tip of the hat to Pollstar for the love ... and maybe a pat on the back to the web team over at Stub Hub (minus those dirty typos of course!). We hope you enjoyed as much as we did, good day.
Death On Two Wheels at Tasty World
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Leaning towards '70s rock with prominent guitars, there's also a little bit of later stuff at play -...Leaning towards '70s rock with prominent guitars, there's also a little bit of later stuff at play - like Dire Straits- and Huey Lewis-styled pop - in this Atlanta band's strutty tunes.
Death On Two Wheels Atlantis Show Review
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Saturday I spent with Death On Two Wheels, hanging out at rehearsals for their debut performance. I ...Saturday I spent with Death On Two Wheels, hanging out at rehearsals for their debut performance. I ducked out for Colour Revolt's performance @ Center Stage… not the best I've seen them play, but still better than what most bands can pull off. Then I headed over to Star Bar for DOTW. They finally went on after 1:30 & it was well worth the wait. I'd been waiting ten months & couldn't have been happier with the set. Country, blues, & good ol' fashioned southern rock… the bar was packed & the band put on a killer performance… the funnest time I've had at a show in a short while. So much great energy. Everyone I talked to loved it. Hopefully the show will pop up online soon, though nothing could ever compare to being there.
Two Dollar Bills
Calling Us All Back Home
Shaking Like A Leaf
Take It Away
How Love Is Made
A Song For Em...
Hey Hey Hey
There are no upcoming dates at this time.