Dead Soldiers
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Dead Soldiers

Memphis, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Memphis, TN | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Americana Rock




"Dead Soldiers From Memphis is a Band on the Rise"

Slowly diggin' through all the photos and music from the epic weekend at Muddy Roots. Have a listen to a few great tracks from a new band on our radar, Dead Soldiers. Just can't get enough of a few of these tracks. Deep, soulful and well versed is a quick way to sum up these Memphis natives. - Rusty Knuckles Blog

"Dead Soldiers - All the Things You Lose"

The South is the gift that keeps on giving, a boundless source of romance and mystique to artists of all forms that prompts outsiders to relocate and natives to return to all the intrigues encapsulated within Memphis band Dead Soldiers’ All the Things You Lose.

The 12-track LP, released last March, starts off with the cascading flow of violin on “Teddy Gene Mountain.” Rollicking and bittersweet, it sounds like leaving home.

Dead Soldiers hide black pearls of wisdom in their songs, like on “A Matter of Blood,” which offers the observation, It’s a matter of blood/It makes the world go round. Or “It All Goes Black,” which is a reminder of the certainty and equity of death: When you die it all goes black/It don’t matter if it’s murder or if you had a heart attack.

Given the South’s rich geographic imagery, earth and water run rampant through All the Things You Lose, like on “Wicked River” or “Willow Tree,” which starts off sung a cappella.

“Somebody’s Darlin’” is a scene-setting attempt to capture love obliterated by warfare, while “Don’t Let the Fever Take Me” is riddled with haunting vocal harmonies.

“Church” conjures the image of drinking rotgut whiskey in the neon light and a character drinking gasoline and spitting fire with an auditory and emotional resonance created by surfy guitars and early rock ’n’ roll influence.

And “Martyr’s Park” is a lovely birdsong of soft-breeze harmonica and a banjo weeping over the words: In the tall grass down by the riverside/She’s got flowers growing out of her skull . . . her pale lips won’t tell no more lies/Because she’s got flowers growing out of her eyes.

All the Things You Lose, and the South is irrefutably, historically a land of loss, has well-written, well-played songs of the Southern gothic variety that wouldn’t be out of place sound-tracking an intentionally campy indie film adaptation of a Flannery O’Connor story made by an arty director. - 'Boro Pulse

"Dead Soldiers High Anxiety"

"There's no purist element to what we're doing," Ben Aviotti says about the development of Dead Soldiers' four-song EP High Anxiety, which marks their second release. Dead Soldiers evolved out of a songwriting side project between Aviotti, Michael Jasud, and Clay Qualls. The founders added Nathan Raab, Krista Wroten-Combest, and Paul Gilliam. All six of them will play a CD release show at the Hi-Tone on

August 23rd, with Birdcloud opening.

Dead Soldiers' march from its beginnings as a side project of metal heads to the music on High Anxiety shows an openness to ideas and an ability to execute them. The band is better focused on these four songs than on last year's full-length All the Things You Lose, a country record. But there is more to the Dead Soldiers' sound than meets the country label.

"It's a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, and we kind of like it that way," Aviotti says. "If it calls for violins or a rack of effects, so be it. I hate to say it. But I don't think we're a country band. That was sort of a thing in the beginning. We had to find a starting place, and that's what we did at first. Let's think in terms of classic folk rock and country and bluegrass. Those are things we all loved. But after playing together for a couple of years, this EP is where we've kind of found our own thing."

The title track to High Anxiety has a genetic sequence that's as much British-drinking-hall as country, particularly with the arrangement's ritardandos and accelerandos. It's what you do with a refrain, and it provides a rollicking, human contrast to music made on the grid. "Ironclad" works along a Kurt Weill-Tom Waits continuum. It's banjo staggers drunkenly down the street before shifting into a straight arpeggio while the rhythm section, notably the piano, rises like dough. The country-sounding "Nobody's Son" explores alienation amid a rise and fall of instruments and emotions captured in the mix by engineer Toby Vest.

"We wanted to do another record ,and realized it had been like a year since we put anything out," Aviotti says. "We were like, 'Let's put some songs out now.' Then worry about a record."

The band was comparatively tentative in earlier material, which makes sense given the guiding sensibility and the fact that there are six people involved. "When we started off, we were three guys who came from playing in metal bands for a long time," Aviotti says. "We had musical catalogs beyond that, but if you look through what we have done locally, that's what you're going to see with our bands (Cremains, Beheld, Galaxicon). When we started writing, it was a side project for us. We wanted to write something that wasn't crazy aggressive and heavy music, which we love still. But we wanted to try our hands at something a little more musical."

Getting all of those players in place is challenging, both in arrangements and scheduling. "We've had to do shows as a four-piece...and as a 10-piece," Aviotti says. "We've just now built up some folks we have as back up. When Krista gets super busy with the Dawls, we still have a violin player, even though she's our violin player."

"Yes. No," Aviotti replies when asked if there is someone driving the songwriting bus. "Mike writes most of the songs, followed by me, Clay and everybody else. [Jasud's] writing is a lot more influenced by Waits and John Prine. I hate thinking about my own thing. I grew up on jazz, classic country, and classic rock. My stuff leans a little to a traditional approach to songwriting. His is a little more left of center. Everybody has artistic input on everything, from the lyrics to the arrangement. If I write a song, it's got to pass through everybody. The changes are not as instrumentally driven. Everybody has found their place. Of all the bands I've ever been in, this is the most fluid, team-work process. There's no ego involved. If someone doesn't like something, we want to know why. In doing so, we're writing for ourselves. There is no wondering if everybody else will think this is awesome. If everybody in the band likes it, it goes."

Both the full-length and the EP were self-released by the band. "I don't know what labels do anymore," Aviotti says. "I've run into all sort of booking and PR stuff, where I wish someone would do this for me. We've got a booking agent now, through Bucket City." - The Memphis Flyer


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Dead Soldiers is an American Roots Rock Band from Memphis, Tennessee.  Much like The Band and Tom Waits, they draw deeply from influences ranging from Rock, Soul, Outlaw Country, and Bluegrass to Blues to carve out their own dark perspective on what it means to live and die in the American South.  Songs about anxiety, poverty, politics, history and death, are lifted by three and four part vocal harmonies, and paired with detailed instrumentation to create a dynamic musical identity with an energy and irreverence that sets them apart from what the world has come to expect from today's crop of soft-handed "Americana Artists."

They are a group forged in a city that is synonymous with musical innovation. Profoundly affected by the legacy of studios like Sun and Stax, and the way Memphis had become a mixing pot for the wide ranging musical styles of the delta to collide and evolve, Dead Soldiers are more interested in building on this foundation than simply paying homage to it.  They're more interested in capturing the outlaw spirit of the collaborations that defied the social structures of the Jim Crow south and later the music establishment to make something new, rather than purely emulating the styles of the past.

Band Members