Dead Fame
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Dead Fame

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Richmond, Virginia, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock New Wave




"Dead Fame Transports Listeners To A Spooky Yet Romantic Underworld On New EP"

Today, RVA postpunk quintet Dead Fame unleashes its long-awaited new EP, Vicious Design, upon this city and the world at large. It's been over two years since the release of their previous EP, Frontiers, and the arrival of this 30-minute slab of vinyl is surely a relief for the group's fans. Their dark, mysterious (dare we say goth?) musical style draws a great deal of influence from the 80s New Wave scene, and that influence is reflected in Vicious Design's format. Rather than delivering a full serving of new tunes, Dead Fame have split this EP between a side of new material and a side of remixes--a very 80s New Wave thing to do.

Side one contains four new songs, including "My Body, My Fool," which has been floating around the internet for a while now. As the oldest track, it's unsurprising that this song is closest in sound to the ominous gloom of Frontiers, with singer Michael Means recalling the baritone desperation of Ian Curtis or The Sound's Adrian Borland in his vocal tones. Meanwhile, the EP's newer original tunes show a greater emphasis on melody. The still-dark yet strangely upbeat opener, "Joan Crawford," features the sort of high, melodic bass lines that have long been the signature of New Order's Peter Hook (which might seem like a lazy comparison in this case, but sometimes the easiest comparison to make is also the most accurate).

Out of everything Vicious Design has to offer, I'm most impressed with "Girl Undone," a song driven by the steady ticking of a programmed woodblock percussion sound, which slowly gives way to a brilliant melodic chorus in which Christopher DeNitto's keyboard stabs and KC Byrnes's melodic guitar riffing play perfect counterpoint to Means's pleading vocals. The song concludes with a soaring crescendo that is emotionally evocative enough to make the listener completely forget their surroundings for the moment. This is where we see what Dead Fame are truly capable of--more like this, please! "Lift" ends side A with more Hooky-style basslines and a driving rhythm that makes me think of U2 back when they were still super-earnest longhairs with gig bags full of delay pedals. To avoid misconceptions, this is a compliment.

Side two forgoes another helping of original material to give us three different remixes of "My Body, My Fool," with varying results. Back in the 80s, when many of the bands Dead Fame are clearly drawing inspiration from were most active, it was common for UK indie bands to release 12 inch singles featuring extended dance mixes of their hits (see New Order's Substance, The Cure's Mixed Up, and Duran Duran's Night Versions for plentiful evidence of this phenomenon). Due to relatively primitive studio technology, a lot of those mixes just sounded like drawn-out versions of the original songs. DJ Nightstalker's remix of "My Body, My Fool" is right in line with this approach, though it distinguishes itself with a dramatic synth drop about a minute away from the end of the track. This gives an otherwise-downbeat postpunk tune potential to be a certified dance floor banger, which is the ultimate goal of any remix like this.

The fact that Xiu Xiu leader Jamie Stewart also supplies a remix here is most likely to attract the attention of new listeners. However, if you're familiar with Xiu Xiu's overall aesthetic, I doubt it's much of a surprise to learn that Stewart's remix almost seems like a prank. Rather than extending or augmenting the song, he's done a quite literal remix in which he boosted the echo on everything, cranked the treble, and drowned the low-end in murk. The end result sounds like Dead Fame are practicing in one corner of a huge empty warehouse space with high, echoing ceilings, and you're sitting 100 feet across the room from them listening to their music echo from the rafters. This is a neat trick, I suppose, but hardly lends itself to repeat plays. Finally, Double Duchess's remix has a more modern sensibility, in that it completely cuts up and rearranges "My Body, My Fool" into something resembling an EDM/techno track. It doesn't sound much like the rest of the album, but it's cool if you're into this sort of thing. And Dead Fame definitely deserve props for attempting to integrate their rock-based sound into the modern world of electronic music. In the end, though, I would expect most people to play the first side of this record a lot more often than the second.

Vicious Design is currently available on vinyl and as a digital download, and can be ordered from Dead Fame's Bandcamp page. Mp3s can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon, or streamed on Spotify. The vinyl version is available at local record stores, including Steady Sounds, and can be purchased at the official record release party, taking place at Balliceaux on Saturday, May 3. Show starts at 10 PM, admission is $5. - RVA Magazine

"Dead Fame -- "Joan Crawford""

Apparently we at RVA Mag are a bit off our YouTube game, because this Dead Fame video has been out for two months and we just discovered it. But better late than never, I suppose, and those of you who've also missed out need to see it. "Joan Crawford" is the opening track on Dead Fame's latest EP, Vicious Design, which came out on vinyl back in April and is still available from Dead Fame's Bandcamp page. As with a lot of Dead Fame material, this song has a resemblance to the early work of New Order, when they still hadn't quite moved on from the dark atmospheres of Joy Division. But Dead Fame bring a lot more to it than just that one influence, with some reverb-drenched guitar leads and Michael Means's strong vocal lines being standout elements.

The video has an atmosphere of the forbidden about it, with the band members appearing at the beginning to be breaking into a disused warehouse in order to perform. This is emphasized by guitarist KC Byrnes wearing a mask throughout the video, and spraypainting the song's title on a wall at one point during the video. Also, while it's not really relevant to the point I'm making here, it should be mentioned that leather-jacketed bassist Sadie Powers looks like a total badass in this video. To my mind, though, the most interesting thing going on in this video is the scattered shots throughout the video of old-school punk types hanging out and dancing. Any eagle-eyed viewer as familiar with gore films of bygone decades as I am will recognize these shots as being taken from Abel Ferrara's infamous 1979 slasher film Driller Killer. One of the film's subplots revolves around a (kind of crappy) punk band called The Roosters, and all of the scenes of old-school punks in this video are taken from that film.

Driller Killer was notoriously filmed for very little money, and on 16mm film, so the use of scenes from it in this video is fitting, as director Dave O'Dell has made many of the cuts between scenes look like static disruptions on an old analog TV signal. The video itself also features a lot of apparently analog artifacts (vertical black lines on the screen, etc) which may indicate a use of 16mm film to capture this video, or a post-production effect used to replicate the quality of 16mm prints. Honestly, it's probably the latter--as opposed to the late 70s, when it was the cheapest filming process you could use, these days it's pretty expensive to use film instead of recording digitally.

OK, I'll stop geeking out now. "Joan Crawford" is a good song with a rad video that you should totally watch. Meanwhile, those of you with weaker stomachs should probably confine your viewing of Driller Killer to the amount of it you can catch within this video. (Ye of stronger constitutions are welcome to watch the whole thing on YouTube, but this film is graphically violent. Don't say I didn't warn you.) As previously mentioned, Dead Fame's Vicious Design is still available for purchase on vinyl and mp3. The band also just announced that they'll be opening for Merchandise when they come to Strange Matter on October 23, but that's a while away yet. Don't worry, we'll remind you.

By Andrew Necci; live photos by Wes McQuillen, Driller Killer screencap courtesy Tenebrous Kate - RVA Magazine

"Dead Fame Releases “Vicious Design” at Balliceaux"

During my father’s 20-plus years as a professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, he was officially stationed in the Political Science department, but at every opportunity, he incorporated film into his classes. He loved movies, and in an attempt to land my own apple closer to that tree, I took a few undergraduate film courses. I enjoyed them a great deal, thanks in no small part to an awesome professor who went to Harvard at the same time as Matt Damon and introduced me to the idea that Damon had a genius complex. (Good Will Hunting, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ocean’s 11 — this still cracks me up, despite the clear knack for self-effacing humor Damon has exhibited via Jimmy Kimmel’s “Apologies to Matt Damon” running joke.)

One of the other things she introduced me to, though it’s only now that I’m realizing it, is the notion of an aesthetic. Before those classes, a movie was as good as its entertainment value, and black and white movies barely registered on that scale. But I can remember as clear as day being introduced to German expressionism via The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. As the DVD played on a projection screen in the University of Richmond’s Media Resource Center, Dr. Cheever pointed out how the brutally angular shadows and stark contrast between light and dark represented a specific movement within art and culture, and for the first time, I saw that picking apart a movie’s cinematography and mise-en-scène could be fun.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when Dead Fame’s new EP, Vicious Design, was released to vinyl. Steady Sounds posted a picture to Tumblr showing that they’d gotten copies in, and within the half hour, I’d picked mine off the wall. In the time that I’ve spent with it since, two things have become clear. First, that Dead Fame — a band that’s always been extraordinarily tight, both in terms of style and execution — is getting even tighter. “Vicious Design” shows mountains of forethought, resulting in an album that boasts plenty of energy while giving those of us who enjoy chewing the analytical fat lots to digest. It’s so much more fun to find connections and guess at decisions when you know that a band cares about how their work is experienced, and when I interviewed Dead Fame a few years back, it became clear that the quintet works with great deliberation, like each move is made with an eye to posterity. They’re dedicated students of the music they love and create, and we all benefit.

The other thing that’s become clear in the past few weeks is how effectively Dead Fame embodies the aesthetic that made me fall in love with aesthetics in the first place — German expressionism.

Linking a band that wears influences like Bauhaus and New Order on their Facebook-About-page sleeve to expressionism — representing an emotional or personal reality in lieu of an objective one — isn’t exactly going out on a limb. There’s a built-in relationship there, one that runs as deep as New Wave’s overtly emotional lyrics and as shallow as wearing black clothes. But what sets Dead Fame apart is the same thing that made the The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari so brilliant: Darkness is only half the equation, because darkness is most striking when juxtaposed with light.

All throughout Vicious Design, you find contradictions brimming with creative friction. Michael Means sings about knives and fire in a bold, menacing baritone, but his notes are far from morose, as he employs a lively, quick-hitting style that rarely extends beyond a half note. (The lyrics on “Lift” about throwing punches couldn’t be more fitting.) He keeps you on your toes, proving the perfect accompaniment for a band with beats as danceable as Dead Fame’s are.

If you’ve ever been to a Dead Fame show, you know how important that last bit is. Their shows are celebratory, Eric Klemen’s drums and Sadie Powers’ bass offering up driving, relentless rhythms, the kind you move with instinctively. That pervasiveness is on full display here, like on “Joan Crawford.” It’s fast, affecting — genuinely fun stuff. That said, maintaining the mood that their post-punk predecessors established (and that a song entitled “Joan Crawford” demands) is crucial to building dramatic tension, and the choices Powers makes to that end — avoiding the most obvious, safest-sounding notes — evince a real understanding of the psychology of music, like a melodic equivalent of Phil Lesh’s tendency to avoid the downbeat.

Chris DiNitto’s synths and KC Byrnes’ guitar bridge light and dark just as effectively. “My Body, My Fool,” which gets triple remix treatment on the EP’s B-side, is awash with big intervals that appear like lightning, from Byrnes’ staccato lead notes to DiNitto’s sudden, octave-spanning strikes. By placing low and high notes next to one another and side-stepping the chromatic progression in between, these wonderfully sharp, piercing shapes emerge, proving every bit as dramatic as the shadows that German expressionism is famous for. It’s uncanny.

As if that weren’t enough, you get to flip the record over and hear those pieces rearranged, club-ready in the case of Nightstalker’s remix, sideways and distant in Xiu Xiu’s and sparse and nimble in Double Dutchess’. It’s rare that you get to dig into a single song like this in a single release, and the true payoff comes when you flip Vicious Design back over and hear “My Body, My Fool” with fresh ears. It gets better every time that flip happens.

Shadows can’t exist without the sun, and Dead Fame seem to understand that in a way that few artists do. It’s all there on Vicious Design, assembled with great care and little middle ground, just as Dr. Caligari would have ordered. - RVA Playlist

"Album Review: DEAD FAME--'Vicious Design'"

The very idea of their name is quite an interesting one. Think about it: Dead Fame. All things considered, fame is just another one of those things you won’t be taking with you when you’re gone and six feet under, though in some cases fame will certainly outlast a lifespan. For now, Dead Fame seems content to look for mortal love, and to my ears they’re more than ready for it.

Richmond serves as the band’s home base, though their sound isn’t what you might expect from the city that’s got more of a penchant for metal and quirky indie. Instead, Dead Fame defiantly waves the flag for brooding, black-clad Brit-inspired synthpop. Decadent yet deconstructed, it’s a style they wear incredibly well. Their newest effort, the Vicious Design EP, is a deliciously dark, seriously danceable assault on the senses. Titillating with their knob-twiddling and taut, spiky riffs, the band is anchored by pitch-perfect and somewhat theatrically crooning vocals.

Tearing myself away from listening to opening track “Joan Crawford” on repeat proved to be quite a struggle, so addictive is that menacingly honeyed two and a half minutes. As with most Dead Fame songs there’s an underlying sinister vibe, married here to something almost coquettish, resulting in a feeling akin to getting in over your head. And it’s something I can’t get enough of. Thankfully, the rest of the EP delivers some major goods. “My Body, My Fool” is so catchy it’s ridiculous, wiry and edgy and irresistible, while “Girl Undone” turns the screws so very prettily, dancing along in the gloom. “Lift” is another treat, dizzyingly rambunctious and threatening to “set this place on fire.”

These four songs would have been more than enough to make yours truly happy, but the band has included three remixes of “My Body, My Fool,” including an slinky, vaporous treatment by Xiu Xiu and a seriously club-ready interpretation courtesy of Nightstalker.

This is a band that’s looking like they mean business. I’d strongly advise you to keep an eye on Dead Fame. - Fuzzy Logic |

"Dead Fame releases new album"

It’s been years, but Richmond’s new-wave post-punk group Dead Fame is finally back with a new album.
“We spent too much time overthinking it,” says lead singer Michael Means laughing. “It’s our tragic flaw. With the first record, we really just wanted to get something out there for people to hear, so we did everything quickly. With this one, we really wanted to take our time and make it a good Dead Fame record and something to be proud of.”

The group, made up of Means, along with fellow band members KC Byrnes (guitar), Sadie Powers (bass), Christopher DeNitto (keys), and Eric Klemen (drums), will be releasing its newest EP, “Vicious Design,” on April 8th, which features four new songs as well as three remixes of the song “My Body, My Fool” by artists such as Double Duchess, Xiu Xiu, and DJ Nightstalker.

“The remixes sound completely different from each other,” Powers says. “They don’t just sound like dance remixes. They’re like different songs, but you can still hear the integrity of the song in each remix.”
Already hitting the internet is the album’s latest single “Joan Crawford,” which presents vintage Hollywood glamour and “Mommie Dearest” madness conveyed with synthesizers and electronic arrangements.

“It’s a crazy song, but it’s one of my favorites,” Means says.

According to the band, these new songs almost never saw the light of day.
After the group released its debut EP, 2012′s “Frontiers,” Dead Fame began making a name for itself in the local music scene, opening for such acts as Weekend, Iceage, Yip Deceiver, Parquet Courts, and many others as well as performing at several music festivals including Tom Tom Fest, Midpoint Music Festival, and Richmond’s own Fall Line Fest.

Looking to advance its music career, the band began recording demos to send to record companies with no clear goal of making an actual album. When things didn’t pan out with certain contacts, they decided to take matters into their own hands and just release the band’s music themselves.
“We came to the realization that if we keep waiting for someone else to come along and help us get our music out there, it’s never gonna happen,” Powers says. “And we really liked how these demos sounded.
We thought that we could actually release these songs to the public and be proud of them.”

Dead Fame began spending its time dealing with audio engineering, album artwork, proper PR, recording, and other logistics – the “unattractive business part of the business,” Byrnes says.

According to the band, the new EP shows the group’s range as well as its progression.

We kept thinking about where we’re coming from as a band and how we wanted to represent the vibe and feel of of our music,” Means says. “It’s dark, but it speaks to the mood. It shows the breadth of what we’re capable of and that we’re not locked in some sort of box.”

“These songs get you in the mood to go out and have fun, yet dark and sinister at the same time,” adds Powers. “it’s weird how it works.”

After the release of “Vicious Design,” Dead Fame says its number one focus will be to play more shows, both around Richmond and around the East Coast, but not before throwing an album release party at Balliceaux on May 3rd.

“Now that we’ve had our hands in this new EP, it should be easier for us to take that next step without thinking so hard on it,” Means says. “We have a better idea of what we want and what to expect.” - RVA News

"Week in Pop: Hellogoodbye, Picastro, Spotlight Kid { With exclusives and support from Dead Fame, Liphemra, Sombear, Split Screens & more. }"

Meet Richmond, Virginia's Dead Fame who are following up their Frontiers EP on April 8 with the album, Vicious Design. Debuting the celebrity cult of obsessive glamor, idolatry and tabloid worship of, "Joan Crawford"; KC Byrnes, Eric Klemen, Sadie Powers, Michael Means, and Christopher DeNitto join us after the premiere a roundtable discussion and survey on these aforementioned topics. Fresh from a hometown show in Richmond with Weekend, and Nothing; Dead Fame spell it all out on this following single with the chill-thrill seeking refrain of, "because nothing makes you feel more alive than when you're terrified."

On "Joan Crawford", the vintage Hollywood glamor and mansion madness is conveyed in peculiar synthesizer patterns around bi-polar verses and chorus bridges. The balance of "ecstacy and madness" is thrown into the scolding orders of "discipline" buried in the bubbling electronic floral arrangements. The more forward pointed keys keep "Crawford" on a strict and structured routine and course in a Mommie Dearest histrionic display that pits iconography and mythologized modern personality cults, against the pain/pleasure lesson principles of corporal punishment.

We got the whole Dead Fame crew to talk about everything pertaining to the cult of Joan Crawford, and the even stranger and weirder cults of celebrity mausoleums.

What were the chain of events that lead to the genesis of Dead Fame?

Michael Means, vocals: Chris [DeNitto, synths] and KC [Byrnes, guitar] knew each other, had previously played together, and wanted to start something new--something bigger and fuller than their previous projects. KC and Sadie had also played in together, in a different project. Eric [Klemen, drums] found KC and Chris. I knew Eric, who kept mentioning the need of a singer for his new band, as all the previous prospects just weren't right. I took some early tracks, before the band had a name, sent over some lyrics and vocals, and that was that.

The name of your pop vehicle echoes a kind of buried cult of celebrity, what do you feel is the sort of iconographic worship of the dead, the Dead Fame if you will?

Sadie Powers, bass: Death can be a really great makeover. Your image becomes static, and after time, the image becomes molded into a sort of ideal. The most enduring image of Freddie Mercury is of Live Aid, not “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” The humanity is replaced by the icon.

Is it better to burn out or fade away? That’s the age-old question, isn’t it? The answer is neither. It’s far better to spontaneously combust and have people run in to grab at smoke. And ideally, according to Mishima and confirmed by, well, everyone, you should do it when you’re still young and beautiful. Then it's not so much a worship of what existed than a mourning for the idealization of what could have been. “They were so young, imagine what they could have done.' Words like 'potential' are thrown around. But the flip side of that is, 'imagine how much more they could have given us to consume.'

Means: People like icons, and they give the icons power, and for various reasons. Icons can be incorporated into your life for meaning and understanding, just for fun, or more significantly for identity or for re-mediating experience. It's impressive just how much power long gone figures still have today — James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Billie Holiday, for example. But also people, or rather constructs, like St. Sebastian, Cleopatra, or Caligula. I would love to have society today take me in and remix the idea of me, culturally, for decades and generations.

What's your own relationship and fascination with the specters of celebrity past, and that thin little line between immortalization and humanism that also encompasses mortality in that?

Powers: I don’t really understand celebrity in the covered-in-candy-and-latex sort of way, in the way of big movie stars and pop icons. I consider Tilda Swinton and Blixa Bargeld to be my celebrities, so my perspective might be a bit skewed.

I think it’s interesting that people can form very real connections with people whom they’ve never met, experienced in a very controlled environment, and how those bonds create an artificial feeling of knowing and intimacy. And in the case of movies and theater, they’re forming an opinion of someone else's personality based on that actor being someone other than him or herself.

Means: People love a good story. And while many stories can be lived, once you’re gone, those stories, particularly in regards to celebrity figures or prominent cultural figures, are no longer tethered to an actual being. I think this makes them, the stories surrounding an individual including personality traits, looks, memorable events and the like, available for greater social and cultural manipulation. In that way, immortalization is less about the person gone, the past, and more about the living, the present.

So let's talk about "Joan Crawford", the song and the celebrity. How did her movies and or maybe allegedly frightening role as a mother via Mommie Dearest inspire this song?

Means: I think Joan is a fantastic case in point in regards to the previous questions of iconography, celebrity, and immortalization. As a star during the Golden Era, she was idolized and used as a model for feminine virtue, and even motherhood (hardworking mother who still maintains a proper home). But when she died, her image was up for grabs, even more so than when she was living. All the 'stories' of Joan, including her constructed Hollywood image and the roles she played, could converge and morph, ultimately leading to Mommie Dearest, which I see as the brilliant model of iconographic culture-making. I feel that when you say the name "Joan Crawford," what immediately comes to most people's minds is actually the depiction of Joan by Faye Dunaway--"Joan" has taken on another life in death, and I think that is just fine.
The use of Joan in our song, evoking the post-Mommie-Dearest cultural construct of her, is really about the relationship between caring and abuse, and how sometimes--or most of the time that line is blurred. It's also about doing what you think you need to in order to get what you want, and hoping others might do the same--push yourself, feel something, even if it hurts.

Powers: I am a huge Bette Davis fan, so admittedly I was hesitant about naming the song after her arch nemesis. But when you hear the name Joan Crawford, you automatically think about Mommie Dearest, because that image with the wire hanger has been ingrained in our consciousness. I thought what Michael did with his lyrics, by juxtaposing that milieu with the idea of deriving pleasure from pain, was really cheeky.

Favorite Joan Crawford movie?

Means: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? A twisted, beautiful mess — such is fame.

Powers: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The disdain and venom that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford felt toward each other in reality is stuff of legend, and its manifestation on film is frightening and claustrophobic, farcical and campy. I read somewhere that their hatred stemmed from Joan Crawford wanting to sleep with Bette Davis and being constantly rebuffed. I hope this is true. We'll probably never know for certain, but I really, really hope this is true.

Worst Mommie Dearest nightmare?

Means: Having all my bendable and useful, yet ubiquitous, wire hangers taken away.
Powers: I think if someone called me ‘Mommie Dearest’ during sex, that would bum me out a bit.

Tell us about the grand design that was in mind for the creation of the upcoming Vicious Design album.

Means: I think we were most interested in pushing ourselves closer to our ideal sound, which is ultimately a constant endeavor, but that's how you grow as an artist--how you live as an artist: never being quite satisfied. This EP is definitely more of a merging of the dark and moody with the more playful and carnal. Dead Fame: we like juxtaposition.

What too has been in the key in writing ballads for those pumped up hooks and electro-pop-production diamond¬¬¬ adornments, and the like?

Eric Klemen, drums: Often we start with a single sound someone brings to the table -- a synth sound, a bass or guitar riff, or a drum trigger. Then each person contributes; adding layer by layer. The result is always a good mix of our musical influences. We also enjoy creating tension by including poppy, danceable rhythms with a moody or dark underbelly.

Means: I think that we are really good at swinging both ways: even if we slow it down, there is a deep pulse, a certain underlying quake; when we speed it up, at least for me, the point seems to try and reach a point where you feel spent but just can't stop. As far as vocals and lyrics, all that gets channeled into the vocal melody, delivery, and the words. That's also why I don't like to have lyrics pre-written; they should be shaped and help shape what is going on in the entire song.

Dead Fame's album Vicious Design will be available April 8. - Impose Magazine

"If You Miss the Warehouse, You Need To Go See Dead Fame"

Somewhere, somehow, everyone has an inner goth. I'm serious: there is inevitably a time in everyone's life when dark, gloomy, post-punk synth is appealing. It's more often for some of us than others. Me? I haven't been comfortable in my own skin since 1988. Pass me some Dead Fame.

Having caught this Richmond, VA, group at MPMF 2012, I can testify that anyone with a serious jones for an after-hours Depeche Mode party or a midnight viewing of Donnie Darko is going to be satisfied. Their desperate, emotive lyrics are richly layered over urgent, synaesthetic electronica. They are a throwback to be sure, but a welcome one.

Last year, Dead Fame's MidPoint showcase at Mainstay was so well-received, frontman Michael Means was inspired to write a song, "Protected by the Blood," which will be featured on their forthcoming EP. I don't particularly recall any free-flowing sanguinity — at least not in the Blade bloodrave sense — but then again, I was pretty hammered. Either way, Means reported, the group is eager to share the new track with the MidPoint crowds this year.

Dead Fame will play MPMF 2013 in advance of the release of their second EP, My Body, My Fool, in 2014. Give in to your dark side and check them out. The lead single is now available for free download on Soundcloud and as expected, it brings the blissful nihilism.

Who needs ethos when you have a Roland?

WHO: Dead Fame (Richmond, VA)
WHEN: Friday, September 27, 2013, 11:15 pm
WHERE: MidPoint Music Festival - Below Zero Lounge (opening for Leopold and His Fiction)
TICKETS: $15 day of show, or MPMF festival pass

- Cincy Music

"Interview with Dead Fame: DC Deli's Band of the Month"

We need more coverage of Richmond here on DC's Deli, hands down. I mean, with bands like Dead Fame killing it down there, we know that Richmond continues to reign as one of VA's best music cities. Dead Fame's dark wave post-punk sound has been perfected and showcased on their first EP Frontiers (2011,) and a single released early 2013 that you can check out below. Oh, and as mentioned- they are our band of the month with major support from their growing fanbase. We wanted to learn more about the bunch comprised of KC Byrnes (guitar,) Eric Klemen (drums,) Sadie Powers (bass,) Michael Means (vocals,) and Christopher DeNitto (synths.) Here they tell us about chance meetings at dance parties, upcoming festival performances, and Swedish pop. Now onto the interview...

Deli: How did the band start?
Christopher DeNitto (synths)- I was faced with either start a new band or kill myself.

KC Byrnes (guitar)- Chris and I met up with Eric, then added Sadie.

Sadie Powers (bass)- I ran into KC, Chris, and Eric at a dance party. They said they were looking for a bass player. I had played music with KC before and was looking to do another project with him, so I'm glad it worked out.

Michael Means (vox)- Eric kept talking about the band he had joined and how they couldn't find a good singer. I finally convinced him to let me try it out and to meet the rest of the band, still unnamed at that time.

What are your biggest musical influences?

Eric Klemen (drums)- Prior to Dead Fame, I was heavily influenced by bands like Q and Not U, Braid, Shiner, June of 44, Mercury Program, Engine Down, and others. Since Dead Fame, I've been seeking out more electronic and dance influenced music for the sounds and beats found in these genres.

Means- That's tough: so many. I like powerful singers and performers, mostly: Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, and Tina Turner for example.

Powers- Bauhaus, Steve Reich, Mingus, Nina Simone, Stereolab, Joan Jeanrenaud.

Byrnes- ESG, The Clash, Sade, Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

DeNitto- Old school goth, new romantic, post punk, synth pop, witch house, indie remixes.

What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?

Powers- Einsturzende Neubauten, Suicide, and The Birthday Party are always on steady rotation. The new Dirty Beaches is the best album I've heard this year, and SAL MINEO is also fantastic. It’s a side project of Eugene Robinson from Oxbow and Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu. Also currently revisiting PJ Harvey's early albums.

DeNitto- Trust, Thieves Like Us, Suuns, S.C.U.M., M83, The Knife, Holy Ghost!

Byrnes- Future Islands.

Klemen- White Lies new release, "Big TV.”

Means- It's been a lot of Ssion this past year, but I've also been listening/streaming my Tanlines station on Pandora a lot. Just this past week I've listened to a lot more from Perfume Genius because we are opening for him at the Midpoint Music Fest this September.

What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?

Byrnes- First concert was Rod Stewart. I think I was 12, my mom was a big fan. First album: X, More Fun In the New World.

Klemen- First concert: Smashing Pumpkins in high school. First album: Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet when I was 6 years old.

DeNitto- First concert: The Cure, First Record: Michael Jackson Thriller.

Means- I'm pretty sure it was Puff Daddy and "the family," with Lil Kim, Mase, etc. in high school. I guess that was cool then, and I'm still on team Lil Kim; she's the real queen B. I think the first album was actually the Ace of Base cd, "The Sign." I still have an affinity for pop crafted by Swedes: Robyn, Abba, Peter, Bjorn and John, Roxette, Lykki Li, Jens Lekman, The Sounds, The Knife.

Powers- I practically stole my mom’s copy of Ziggy Stardust when I was four. Does that count? Otherwise, Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream. I saw Sting in high school. “Roxanne” is an awful song to begin with, but being subjected to a 17-minute calypso rendition in the middle of his set just took it to a whole new level. I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered.

What do you love about Richmond's music scene?

Means- There's a good variety of bands and genres, although I believe we are the most truly unique thing happening right now. There are a lot of music lovers and people who support and like making sure music keeps happening here.

Powers- I love that people in the scene just make things happen. We have a strong and eclectic noise scene.

Klemen- The music scene reflects the size of the city itself, not too small to go unnoticed, not too large to be oversaturated. It's rich and diverse.

DeNitto- People actually go to shows, and there is a lot of diversity in styles.

What would you like to see change in the local music scene?

Byrnes- Less "quietly intense&quot - The Deli Magazine

"Dead Fame--An interview w/ You Hear That?1? Blog"

When it snows here in Richmond, even just an inch or two, things tend to shut down. Stores close early. Employers send workers home. Schools cancel classes before a single snowflake’s hit the ground. It can be a little ridiculous.

But there’s one intrepid organization that doesn’t scare so easily. A quintet that stares down Old Man Winter with ice in its collective veins. I’m talking about post-punk/New Wave-influenced indie rockers Dead Fame, who were kind — and brave — enough to stay late after practice two Thursdays ago, while a particularly wet, slushy snow was falling outside, and chat about their evolving stage setup, pre-Dead Fame musical experiences, favorite albums from 2012, and more.

Despite the inclement weather, this turned out to be the perfect time to catch up with the band. They’re performing at The Renaissance this Friday, February 1, for WRIR’s Party For the Rest of Us 8, and they’ve just released “My Body, My Fool,” which is the first in their new “Mask Singles” series. We kicked off the conversation by talking about the round of Pedro Aida-helmed recordings that gave birth to The Mask Singles.


You Hear That: What was working with Pedro Aida like?

KC Byrnes: He’s super-fast.

Christopher DeNitto: It was a pleasant experience. He put a lot of effort into it.

KB: I would say it was a good deal.

Eric Klemen: I didn’t know Pedro, but I was like, ‘If we just get a clean recording out of this, I’ll be happy.’ But he exceeded our expectations, at least mine.

Sadie Powers: By far, yeah.

EK: He was just really focused the whole time, I think because we did it in a small amount of time. He was like a machine, just hammering away, non-stop, little breaks in between.

YHT: You were able to play a number of shows outside the central Virginia area in 2012. I saw you went to North Carolina and New York… What did you take away from those experiences?

KB: You have to set up fast. It’s a cold, cruel world out there. [laughs]

CD: We have an intensive setup, with our lights and everything.

KB: We streamlined our setup time, I would think, since our early days.

Michael Means: We’ve gotten so much better about that.

EK: We definitely try to optimize. I think we learned that from the two New York shows we played.

CD: We also learned that you won’t always get a sound check.

SP: I kinda like the spontaneity of not having a sound check, because I’ve noticed that whenever we have a sound check, something always happens badly in between the sound check and when we actually go on. And then if there’s something that’s not quite working in the sound check, you stress out about it until you play. You just are so much harder on yourself, I think, instead of actually enjoying that moment.

YHT: Is there any situation in which there was a problem that was insurmountable and you had to take a left turn and do something different?

KB: I feel like we’ve always gotten through it.

CD: I’ve had problems with equipment failing, with all the MIDI stuff I have going on, like all the electronics. Sometimes something won’t work, so I’m constantly changing things to streamline and minimize our setup.

EK: We’ve had power problems. For some reason, we tend to trip power wherever we go. [There] was a recent show where we had to cut two songs because the power kept going out. Eventually the guy who was running the venue had to run to the back and grab an extension cord so he could plug into a different outlet so we would have more power on stage. All these venues don’t have the power supply you’d think they would. It’s kinda interesting.

YHT: What’s your idea of the perfect crowd? I know from firsthand experience that your music is extremely dance-friendly. Would it be a big dance party?

CD: Me, personally, I like house shows and small venues where people came to dance anyway. I like those scenarios better than playing a huge venue.

KB: You can put me down for huge venues where people are going crazy!

CD: That’s just me personally. I like small spaces and being really close to the audience, instead of having that big buffer where people are standing there watching.

MM: It’s just good when you have a crowd that, no matter what the size [is], everyone who’s there is ready to have a good time. And I guess we’re kinda dancey, but not everything’s so dancey. So you can get a crowd, too, that actually wants to mellow out a little bit, and then you have the highs and the lows of the show.

SP: We’ve had crowds that weren’t necessarily there to dance, but you could definitely tell that they were into it, and they were really feeling it and going there with you. I really appreciate that. It doesn’t mean that everyone’s dancing all the time. I know when I go to shows, I’m that creepy person in the front just staring at the musicians with dead eyes.

KB: Oh yeah, I’m standing beside Sadie staring at the musicians. [laughs]

SP: I don’t move the entire show, r - You Hear That?!?

"Coming-Out Party Will 2012 be remembered as the year Richmond music broke?"

The local music scene also welcomed new groups that caused the city to take notice, such as: Dead Fame, which had a killer EP. - Style Weekly

"Last night in an isolated warehouse"

Last night in an isolated warehouse space in a once dead industrial district in Richmond, Va. I discovered I had been doing myself an incredible disservice for the last year. I finally saw Dead Fame, probably one of the most promising new bands Richmond has produced in some time.

I had known about Dead Fame for a while now. Though the stars had never aligned just right to catch them. So when I heard that they were playing in a brand venue/space’s “Synthmas Party” and it was within walking distance of the very office I was standing in, I jumped at the chance.

Stepping outside, I walked quickly down the cold, dark deserted street. In a matter of what was only minutes you could hear the thump of the kick drum and wail of synthesizers drifting across the parking lot.

The door opened the purple fog of a smoke machine spilled out into the night. The scene before was something to behold.
Lights flickering on and off. The air thick with smoke, hazy and dreamlike.

Dead Fame was already in the midst of filling the room with their unique take of the dark synth pop from the 80’s that they obviously love.

Driven by strong distorted bass lines and drums that sound like unrecorded New Order songs, you are drawn in. The catchy guitar hooks and synth accents are what keep you interested. Their singer was pretty entertaining as well, wrapped in christmas lights himself and adding flourishes to his stage presence that, when performed by most others would come off as contrived, but work very well for him.

Dead Fame manages to channel a dark wave/synth pop sound directly from the past without sounding dated. They have a new record coming soon. I’d suggest you get it - Joecontrol

"2012 In Review: Shannon Cleary's Best RVA Music Of The Year (Part 1: The Singles)"

3. Dead Fame – Turning

Dead Fame may be RVA's resident dark wave/dance pop outfit that takes their cues from the eighties, but that doesn’t change the fact that they write great songs. Their latest EP, Frontiers, seems to encapsulate what the band had been up to since their inception. While most of the songs are familiar to me, “Turning” was the song that caught me off guard. In its melancholy, the band focuses on ideas of lovers attempting to defend what means the most to them in a world that denies anything but conformity. With a subtle line like “your body wasn’t built to move like this,” it’s a statement of defiance. It’s a perspective that is reiterated as a way of self-perseverance, and never being forced to change. Its correlation to the way a pop song can transcend sonic capacity and exist on a contemplative level of its own is a beautiful reminder of the sad truth that the world can be a difficult place to find acceptance. - RVA Magazine

"Best Richmond Albums of 2012"

Every year, the Richmond music scene has so many incredible albums come out, it’s such a hard time narrowing it down to a select few. Here are the best albums Richmond musicians had to offer for 2012. Enjoy.

Dead Fame "Frontiers" - RVAplaylist

"Dead Fame, 'Frontiers'"

Dead Fame released their EP, “Frontiers,” earlier this year. The self-proclaimed indie rockers are a well put together, modern reincarnation of the 70s/80s New Wave era. With the title track, “Frontiers,” the band impresses. The song is chock full of dance-inducing drum beats and the other instruments fill in the fun melody. The vocals are noticeably mature; in a world that worships Justin Bieber and Ne-Yo, this low-voiced frontman is a pleasant surprise. “Frontiers” prepares the listener to put on their dancing shoes for the upcoming tracks.

“We Can Run” continues the go-go dance-y theme with an energetic instrumental and fun lyrics. The brief instrumental solos are placed throughout the song, giving the listener proof that they are experts at this craft of creating catchy melodies. The sick drums take center stage again, but the guitars add the necessary energy to make this song a hit.

“Glass Jacket” is considerably more moderate than the previous two tracks. That said, it still has an energy that would hold over an audience during a live performance. You focus more on the strength of the vocalist in the almost-5-minute-long song. Whether vocalist Michael Means is actually British or just sounds like one , he sounds amazing. Plus, the distinct vocals make sure that the whole album is rather memorable.

The band finishes up their album with two energetic electro-pop tracks. The indie club-friendly songs seal Dead Fame’s fate as brilliant artists.

Dead Fame is far from commercial or Top 40 material. But their distinct sound, plus their loose similarity to acts like Coldplay and Gang of Four, adds to their alluring charm. Their club beats are inspired and their hooks are tight. They definitely are pushing the ‘frontier,’ or limit on what great music is.
- Truth Or Sarah

"Dead Fame"

Name: Dead Fame (Sadie Powers — Bass, Eric Klemen — Drums, Chris DeNitto - Keys, KC Byrnes — Guitar, Michael Means — Vocals)

Sounds Like: Wire and Love & Rockets meet The Killers and White Lies with Grace Jones hanging around somewhere; glamorously subversive, of course.

History: KC and Chris have known each other for some time, and have played in projects together in the past. They wanted to start a new project, but wanted something more than just a duo. Like most good relationships these days, this one started when they posted an ad online looking for a drummer. Eric answered and auditioned, and the guys played as a threesome for a bit. While Eric has been drumming for years — mostly in the privacy of his own home and mind—this is actually his first band. Sadie knew KC from around, and the two have always talked about working together. On a chance meeting, the two reconnected, and KC asked Sadie to contribute to the newly forming project — the perfect opportunity to finally work together. The foursome wrote together for some time as they searched for a singer and lyricist. It so happens that Michael and Eric were friends, and Michael kindly tolerated Eric’s lamenting over the fact that the group could not find the right singer. Finally, Michael, hearing so much about the band, and liking the influences they had and the sound they wanted to create, decided he wanted to tryout: he thought he might just have what the others were looking for in a singer. At last, Eric could quite his whining. While he was apprehensive about having a friend tryout for the persnickety lot, it all worked out in the end. Dead Fame have gone on to win over audiences with their live show and their first ep recording, and our now looking to push forward to the next level.

Something Special: KC has a sweet mod-style scooter—mountain of lamps, ornamental bling, and all. He is also vegan. Eric is (mostly) gluten-free. He actually admits to liking Poison—yes, the band. Sadie is super smart, not to mention she has the body in the group. Chris has worked almost any job you can imagine, just ask him. Michael has an MA in English and has lived in Japan. Loves a good “Housewives” show: the trashier, the better. In fact, one of the band’s goals is to play in Japan someday (KC is really keen on the idea, while Michael is a bit more apprehensive; he doesn’t want to blow his low profile for when he moves back to Tokyo). If you were in the tour van with us, you would also undoubtedly find that we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing fetishes too.

Where to Find:,,, and

Future Plans: We are working now at organizing a winter tour. We definitely hope to have some more dates in NYC this winter. We have written a slew of new songs since releasing the EP, and are considering whether to release a “single” of some sort, or record another EP, or something. We’ve been adding the songs to our setlist, but want to show them off to those who folks who can’t make it out to a show. A video is in the works as is the new website launch. A highpoint for us, thus far, has been traveling to Cincinnati to play the Midpoint Music Festival: we definitely feel like we gave one of the better shows during the entire fest, and will be working to harness that confidence as we plot our next move. We are our worst critics and our biggest champions. Who else is gonna do it for you if you don’t do it for yourself? Really, you should hear us in the van after we play yet another great show — we are such a modest bunch...

UC Takeaway: As we discovered in our interview with the band, few individuals take the phrase "divide and conquer" as seriously as the members of Dead Fame: "One thing we try to do is to utilize and accentuate—or exploit—the strengths we each bring to the table: Sadie is meticulous with calendars and time, so she heads up booking and organizing shows; Chris has his ear to the ground, keeping up with what is happening in “the scene,” so he keeps us in the know; Eric is the IT guru, heading up most of the technological and digital pursuits including designing posters and our new website—launching soon—in addition to organizing our internal communication tools; KC is great with his hands—as any good guitarist should be—and has worked to prepare our tour van for the road (building a storage loft and installing seating) and even designing and building our one-of-a-kind merchandise display; Michael reads a lot, including tons of blogs, so he likes to keep us connected with blogosphere, media, press, and social media efforts." We've said it time and time again here at UC - if you got it, flaunt it, (or, you know, utilize it)! You'd play up your best features in a job interview, so why not in your musical career? As an independent, unsigned group or solo artist, you're often stuck doing the jobs you never even thought you'd have anyth - Unsigned Corner

"Dead Fame"

It’s incredibly satisfying when a band you’re seeing for the first time meets the expectations that took root when you listened to their recordings. You know what’s even better? When those expectations are totally obliterated, the band is even better than you could have hoped, and you walk away feeling like this.

I’d been trying to make it to a Dead Fame show for months, and the big moment finally came last night, when supporters of Richmond Playlist packed the Camel for the blog’s super-fun birthday party (yes there was cake, and it was delicious!). DF took the stage as the second of three bands, installing a snazzy light show that included a roving, green laser that, while the band was working out a few technical difficulties, became the subject of a fantastic English-majors-talking-about-science conversation between my wife and me about how the laser seemed to be moving the smoky air it touched, and whether this was actually possible. Our conclusion? We have no idea what we’re talking about.

Dead Fame’s set got underway a few minutes later and, within the first few moments of “Glass Jacket,” I was floored. Blown away. Gobsmacked. The first thing that hit me was how complete their sound was — a fully realized, energizing and enveloping arrangement — followed soon after by Michael Means’ stage presence, which was pure electricity. This second bit came as something of a surprise, given how cool, calm and collected his baritone vocals come across on the group’s Frontiers EP. In person, he was dancing furiously, engaging the crowd at every turn and punctuating his syllables as if he was an extension of Eric Klemen’s drum set. I have a huge amount of respect for any performer who leaves that much sweat on the stage; there’s nothing more contagious than unbridled energy, and that’s exactly what Means gave the Camel last night.

Of the many things that hit me just right about their performance – Eric Klemen’s drumming, which felt both frenetic and composed at the same time, and Sadie Powers’ masterfully manipulated fretless bass are two great examples — KC Byrnes’ guitar was particularly interesting. His hollow-bodied Gretsch provided shape and color to each composition, with a feeling of variety that reminded me of the great Bob Ross. Yes, that Bob Ross. You know how he always made people feel like they could paint the same awesome landscape he was painting… only no average person had the ridiculous arsenal of brushes he did, like that wedge-looking thing he’d use to make mountaintop snow? Byrnes sounded like he was working with every brush under the sun, only instead of adding happy little trees, he was adding harmonic swells here, driving rhythms there, always with an eye towards complementing, not overwhelming. Sneaky-impressive stuff.

I could go on and on, but I encourage you to go see them for yourself at your first opportunity. In the meantime, have a listen to two Dead Fame songs below (I posted two others yesterday), pick up their EP here and find out more about last night’s party by checking out the Cheats Movement’s awesome photos here and Richmond Playlist’s write-up here. Thanks for the shout-outs, fellas!

- You Hear That?

"Style Weekly 2012 Music Issue--Dead Fame "Frontiers""

Taken from the EP of the same name, Dead Fame’s “Frontiers” can be thought of as a song about living life as an outcast, lead singer Michael Means says. “It’s about doing what you think you need to do to be accepted and finding that, in the end, it is never good enough because you aren’t being yourself. … In the end, you learn to say, ‘Forget it,’ and you go about being who you are.” Dead Fame’s sound is reminiscent of bands such as the Cure, Bauhaus and New Order. While dark, the music features enough new wave and electronic shadings to keep it fun and entertaining. This song “is definitely our most straightforward song, in terms of the pop-song structure, which was something we were consciously trying to do,” bassist Sadie Powers says. - Style Weekly

"Dead Fame - 'Frontiers' CD EP Review / Shows at at Lit Lounge & Pianos"

Richmond post-punk band Dead Fame released their debut EP “Frontiers” early this year which shows the band’s sound firmly rooted in the darkly melodic melancholia of bands like Joy Division and The Chameleons. Dead Fame started in 2009 when synthesizer player Christopher DeNitto reunited with former band mate, guitarist KC Byrnes and duo slowly found additional players to give the group a “live band” sound. The group is fleshed out by bassist Sadie Powers, drummer Eric Klemen and singer/lyricist Michael Means. Given that Dead Fame is Eric and Michael’s first band, the group’s debut EP is strikingly mature.

The five songs on “Frontiers” all run about 4 minutes in length and the disc’s clean mix brings the band’s edgy drive quickly to the surface. The disc was produced by Cam DiNunzio [of Heks Orkest, Denali and others] at Black Iris Studios and he did a wonderful job of balancing all of the instrumentation. There isn’t one instrument that stands out over another but I was especially taken Eric Klemen’s innovative drumming and Michael Means’ world-weary, almost British-sounding vocals.

Adding to the music, Michael Means’ lyrics are detailed and interesting: “As far as lyrics go, it is usually several "pictures" or contexts that feed into the lyrics. It seems to be that several ideas always go spinning around, interacting with each other, leading to the lyrical fabric for each song, with the music helping to spark or trigger many of those ideas and pictures. So for instance, "Glass Jacket" isn't about one thing - it’s more contextual, with various themes working off the other to create an overall effect. ” (from Magazine33's 2011 interview with Dead Fame).

The disc starts out strong with the dark and raw sounding “Frontiers” which starts with prominent keyboards and a pulsing bassline before heading into a big chorus. This track is followed by the edgy Chameleons sounding “We Can Run”. The band changes pace on the slow burning “Glass Jacket” but keep the high-energy and drive consistent across the disc. What makes Dead Fame exciting is that they have been able to put their own personal imprint on a well-traveled genre.

Dead Fame is playing two local shows at the end of the month. The first is at Lit Lounge on March 31st and the second is at Pianos on April 1st. At the Lit Lounge show, Dead Fame is playing with Praha Depart (from Japan), Keeps (NYC), and Good Morning Valentine; Cover is $6. At the show at Pianos, Dead Fame is playing with Autodrone, Star Fawn, and Labirinto and cover is $8.

- Brooklyn Rocks

"The Hear and Now: Love Songs With No Borders and Post-Punk 'Frontiers'"

Dead Fame: "Frontiers" (Self Released)

The love-will-tear-us-apart sound of Manchester, England, post-punk legends Joy Division is alive and well in the capital city. With its debut EP release, "Frontiers," Dead Fame, the local five-piece group consisting of vocalist Michael Means, guitarist KC Byrnes, synth/keyboardist Christopher DeNitto, bassist Sadie Powers and timekeeper Eric Klemen, has re-created the agit-dance port city sound of old and infused it with a darkly seductive joie de vivre that openly acknowledges its influences without being stilted by the historical weight of their post-Bowie inspirations.

The propulsive "We Can Run" and the carefully measured, slow burn of "Glass Jacket" will instantly appeal to anyone enamored with early '80s, agro-disco booty shaking. With DeNitto's swirling synth aggrandizing the band's sinuous and cogent arrangements, Means' stylish, Bryan Ferry/Ian Curtis vocalizations enhance the surreptitiously calculated coolness of compositions "Static State," "Turning" and the EP title track that is at the lascivious heart of the group's furtive appeal.

Expertly mixed and recorded by Cam Dinunzio at Black Iris Music, "Frontiers" is a powerful debut release from a band that has quickly become one of Richmond's most intriguing live acts. I can't wait to hear what they do next.
- The Richmond Times-Dispatch

"That One Song: Dead Fame, 'Frontiers'"

Given the wave of Dead Fame proponents that surfaced within the band's first six months of neon-lit performances, you might assume this was all planned. But after synthesizer player Christopher DeNitto moved back from California and reunited with former band mate and guitarist K.C. Byrnes, they were mostly composing on drum machines and computers. As they dropped in Sadie Powers on bass, Eric Klemen on drums and eventually vocalist Michael Means, 21st-century electronics became the foundation for a bolder brand of new romantic post punk. The upcoming five-song EP, "Frontiers," will be Dead Fame's official declaration to listeners beyond Richmond.

Style: Tell us about that one song. ...

Powers: "Frontiers" was the first song we wrote where I felt it was us as a band, as Dead Fame, rather than five musicians trying to fit in together. It's a jumping-off point. K.C. brought in the drum machine beat that's in the background. He was like, guys, we have to do something with this drumbeat. So everything was written around it.

Byrnes: I was using the drum machine in practice just to get us going, but [in a finished song] the original riff would usually be gone, completely replaced by something else.

DeNitto: The drum machine he wrote that beat on was from our old band, the Soft Complex, and the battery died.

Powers: The battery died two weeks before a gig and we were kind of freaking out.

Klemen: We tried to operate on it.

DeNitto: We needed to replace the internal memory battery, so [to save the drum beat] we had to figure out how to do it like Indiana Jones when he takes the skull and replaces it with a bag of sand. It was not going to happen, so I had to rewrite it on my computer.

Powers: "Frontiers" is raw. We were trying to figure out where to go with it and K.C. says, "You know, this song sounds like Wire." All of a sudden, my bass parts really clicked. I tried to take Wire's "154" album and turn that entire album and how I feel when I listen to that album into a bass line.

Klemen: And I wanted to make the chorus big and powerful, so I use the thick drum pads and a lot of layering.

What inspired the lyrics to "Frontiers"?

Means: I personally don't like to write lyrics ahead of time and make them fit. It seems more natural to have them inspired by what I feel after we start playing. One time about 10 years ago, I had this past-life experience. It was completely random. I was on the brink of sleeping and dreaming, but it stuck with me. I was in the Wild West and I think I was an Indian, because I was able to see my feet.

There's a beat in "Frontiers" that [implies] movement, like walking, and it retriggered this memory or dream or whatever you want to call it. So I went with it. I would go into town, into the saloons, but on the weekends I would go to the outskirts [of town]. People were pissed off because I was playing both sides. [The Indians] wanted to know if I was going to stay and be with them, the tribe, or if I was going to stay in town and gamble. In the end, they dragged me into the center of town, but I don't know what happened after that. It was this idea of being on the border of things, crossing the frontiers, going here and going there. Sometimes people will hold that against you. Like: "You're too liminal, you need to pick [a side]. Are you inside or outside?"
I don't know if it was historically correct, but in the dream it was.

Powers: The lyrics reminded me a lot of the plot to "Edward Scissorhands."

Means: Which is an inside-or-outside story.

Powers: [Director] Tim Burton has said that it was based on how he felt growing up. He was an outsider. For awhile, the norm is to look at the outsider as a novelty, something interesting and insightful. But, also something to be exploited. And then after awhile, people get tired of [the outsider] because it's not familiar. They rebel against it.

Michael, have you sung in a band before?

Means: No. Just to myself.

Byrnes: Michael took some of our practice recordings and did his own vocals over them and we all loved it.

Means: I recorded them on my laptop. I would always try to piece together my own songs, but it was so much work and I don't have a background in piano or anything. [Those songs] will never ever see the light of day.

Powers: I came into practice and K.C. was sitting on the couch with his laptop and he was playing a track Michael had sent back, and K.C. said, "I don't know what Eric's talking about, this guy's awesome."

Byrnes: Eric was nervous we'd give him the boot.

DeNitto: He was afraid of losing another friend. Eric had brought somebody in before and we rejected him.

Klemen: It was a little awkward.

Powers: I started in January and Michael joined in July, so it was almost seven months that we didn't have a singer. It was getting to that point where you have that manic look in your eye, that heroin, harried look like: Where is this going? What am I doing here? All of - Style Weekly

"Top Singles of 2011"

4. Dead Fame - “We Can Run”

As the year came to a close, one of the most talked about bands was Dead Fame. With their stylistic similarity to the likes of Bauhaus and New Order, they have won over audiences left and right. “We Can Run” is a strong showing that only further builds on the hype that they have deservingly received. Its contemporary take on the sounds of the past are full and lively, with every electronic nuance that shivers it’s way through it’s demure setting.

- RVA Magazine

"Artists to Watch in 2012"

Seriously, I don’t need to say anything more about Dead Fame (pictured above) than I already have this past year. Just listen to them. The group has its debut EP coming out early next year and they’ve made such an impression on me, I’m excited to see what happens next. - Richmond Playlist

"Dead Fame Comes Alive"

I know that I’ve written a lot about Dead Fame recently, and I know I say this a lot about every band I write about but seriously, people. Believe me when I tell you that you NEED to check out this band.

It’s dark synth rock that’s very catchy to listen to, much in the vein of The Cure and Bauhaus but a little more upbeat and danceable. I really don’t know what I can say about them to make you listen. They’re really nice?

They’ve been playing everywhere in the past year including a showcase for the RVA Music Fest. They’re playing this Saturday, Dec. 3 at Gallery5 with Dance for the Dying and Fire Bison, both of which are great bands that are also worth checking out.

Just listen below and you’ll understand what I mean. - Richmond Playlist

"Dead Fame at Gallery5"

It’s not every day you see a new band hit the music scene with so much power that it’s impossible to ignore. While most local bands spend a lot of time finding their sound and style, the indie rockers of Dead Fame have come out with guns blazing, attracting enough attention to earn a spot on the RVA Music Fest lineup. The group, which has been playing Richmond only since early 2011, is reminiscent of bands such as the Cure, Bauhaus and New Order, and while the music can be dark at points, it features enough new wave and electronic shadings to keep it fun and entertaining. Dead Fame performs at Gallery5 on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 9 p.m - Style Weekly

"5 Local Bands You’re Not Listening To But Should"

"Indie rock band Dead Fame just formed this year and are already taking Richmond by storm. They take many styles of bands like The Cure, Bauhaus and New Order, and you can hear plenty of influences from New Wave and electronic music of the early 1980s. However, the group adds its own dark style into the mix, keeping it fresh and contemporary." -

"Dead Fame: An interview with Richmond's latest breath of fresh/decomposing air."

Rising from the ashes of various projects, this meticulously assembled group is ready to make moves on Richmond and beyond ...

33: How did Dead Fame evolve from the original duo into a full band?
Christopher DeNitto: We wanted to get away from having pre-recorded tracks and have more of a live band feel.
K.C. Byrnes: Chris and I stuck it out trying to find a drummer. After Eric was secure, I really wanted to get Sadie to play bass, because we wrote some stuff a few years ago and I knew she would be perfect for our sound. After practice one night we ran into her at No Richmond [post-punk dance night], and she was at the very next rehearsal.
Sadie Powers: It’s funny, because there was a period of about a month or so a couple of years ago, where I felt like I kept running into KC everywhere: the grocery store, the thrift store, the Lowe’s parking lot. Every time, we mentioned that we needed to do another project together, but I guess the timing never worked out. I didn’t see him for a while, then I randomly ran into him, Chris, and Eric at No Richmond. I was playing in another band at the time, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play with KC again. And they said “post-punk,” which is kind of my mating call.
KB: We went about six months auditioning singers and NOBODY had what we were looking for. Then Eric gave his friend Michael a few rough recordings, and Michael put some vocals over the demos. We all just loved what he did with the songs.

33: Do you feel there is a void in the Richmond music scene that Dead
Fame could potentially fill?
KB: I think music in Richmond is great right now. We have always had great bands, but now seems really good, so rather than filling a void I hope we can just add to the scene and help it expand.
CD: Yes, while there are a lot of really good indie bands starting to come out of the woodwork lately, I don't feel anybody is doing what we are doing.
Eric Klemen: Indeed. We'd like to think Dead Fame is something different to other styles Richmond has to offer.
Michael Means: I think that we offer Richmond music that is somewhat more widely approachable. The city seems to be known for more of the "hardcore" scene and music. We represent an expansion and diversification of the Richmond music scene, which could also correlate with an overall transitioning for Richmond as a city and growing creative community. There is so much more going on with Richmond music right now, other than the "metal" influenced stuff.
SP: The music scene isn’t something that really enters my mind during the writing process. As a musician, I’m more concerned with creating something with which I resonate, emotionally and technically, and to work with other musicians who have that same need. I think it’s pretty remarkable that we -- or any band, for that matter – can write songs that satiate our individual urges to create something great. People can see that when we perform, and I think that people are drawn to something that’s honest, regardless of the genre.

33: I've read that Michael has never sung in a band before. How did
he come to fill the role of front man, and how does he feel about this
new venture?
CD: He was a friend of Eric's and after hearing what we were writing, he was really proactive about letting us know he wanted to try out. He even went so far as to take it upon himself to record vocals over a practice recording we had made and after hearing it, we HAD to try him out. I feel he is very excited but very professional about the whole thing , like he's been doing it all along.
MM: Eric was always talking about his new band -- he was excited about what they were doing. But they had yet to find a singer. It seemed as if he was always mentioning some awful audition they had sat through and that things with interested singers just weren't clicking with what the group was about and looking for. I always sang and wrote, and I always knew I wanted to take it further. A lot of the influences Eric said the band had were some I shared, so I thought I might be able to offer the missing piece to the band's structure. I convinced Eric to let me audition; he was worried about damage to the friendship if things didn't go well. I wrote to a couple of songs, sent those over, and then came to sing live -- everyone seemed to like it, and that was that. After a couple practices, it seemed very natural. I've always known I wanted to perform on a larger scale, but was just waiting for the right opportunity to do it. Being a part of a group helps to take you to places, artistically, that you may not have gone to on your own. For me, it has been very fulfilling to give a part of myself, find new aspects of myself, expand upon aspects--within the frame of Dead Fame.
SP: It’s interesting, because it’s also Eric’s first band. They both offer diverse textures to the band that I don’t think we would have achieved otherwise. They’re both so polished and willing to take risks, and it’ - Magazine33

"Richmond Music: Walk of Dead Fame"

After witnessing the Richmond band Dead Fame for the first time the other night, I was astonished to find out it was only their third show. Even more bewildering was the fact that Dead Fame’s vocalist, Michael Means, has never sung in a band before. Dead Fame is his first go at it.

Michael, where in the hell have you been? It was your stylish vocals that I felt carried Dead Fame into lore thanks to such a demonstrative performance. Dead Fame not only rose to the occasion last Friday night at Strange Matter, but grabbed Richmond by the collar and proclaimed their arrival.

Dead Fame blossomed out of a 2009 project by keyboardist Christopher DeNitto and guitarist KC Byrnes. According to DeNitto and Byrnes, recruiting extra members wasn’t easy; but when has putting a band together, especially in Richmond, ever been easy? Thanks to patience, in the past year DeNitto and Byrnes did find their perfect counterparts to expand their synth, guitar and sample-based sound.

With the additions of bassist Sadie Powers, drummer Eric Klemen and vocalist Michael Means, Dead Fame is now evolving into what I feel will be a power of intensity in Richmond’s music scene.

Dead Fame is reminiscent of late ’70s-early ’80s New Wave entangled with a contemporary darker, synth-pop sound. They take their cue from bands such as Wire, Gang of Four, Bauhaus, Joy Division and New Order. There aren’t many bands in Richmond like Dead Fame, which is lovely, because this city can get a tad bit over saturated with the same old thing. Metal, I’m looking your way. Dead Fame is taking a historical style of music and updating it with their imaginative junction.

I have often stated that everything has been done in regard to music, but how you mesh your own ideas, creativity and originality to a sound you want to emulate is the lure. Dead Fame has made this transition beautifully and despite being a young band on an old scene, I expect this quintet to be even better as it earns more exposure and familiarity through live performances and recording.

Dead Fame is currently working on a five-song EP recorded and mixed by Cam Dinunzio of the bands Denali and Heks Orkest at Black Iris studios to be released in September.

Dead Fame will be performing Saturday, Sept. 10, along with Canary O Canary and League of Space Pirates as part of the RVA Music Festival @ Balliceaux, 10 p.m., 21+


"RVA Music Fest: Dead Fame"

It’s so beautifully obvious which bands Dead Fame had huge crushes on when they started writing songs. With their gothic cues, the newly formed group seeps personality in every lyrical swoon and electronic dash. Their songs could find a home as the soundtrack to a Bret Easton Ellis party or in the dirges of a society missing its core. Dead Fame’s new wave sensibilities are very much at home in a city whose eclectic nature continues to flourish. Dead Fame will be playing the Balliceaux Showcase at the RVA Music Fest on Saturday September 10.
RMF facebook page

By Shannon Cleary - RVA magazine

"Say Hello to Dead Fame"

Here’s a new local band you should be checking out. - Richmond Playlist

"Activate! July 6 - July 13"

Check out what bands are playing locally this week, tonight on Activate! at 7pm. I have hand-selected songs by the cream of the crop, including one by new Richmond post-punk group Dead Fame (pictured)! - 97.3 WRIR

"Live from Richmond by John Lewis Morgan"

Richmond needs some post-punk, new wave and glam around this summer, don’t you think? Well its right here and it’s also here to stay. Dead Fame is a new Richmond band and word on the street is that these guys are electrifyingly exciting. I love electrifyingly exciting. I also want to love a band whose influences include T.Rex, Roxy Music, Love & Rockets, Wire and The Damned. Fun is back in town, but even more importantly, rock and roll is back in town. -


Vicious Design EP (Forthcoming, April 2014)
Frontiers (January 2012)



Dead Fame (Richmond, VA) gives synth pop a makeover for twenty-first century life, forging a musical space in which listeners can revel in an increasingly complex world a world in which ones own discursive dance becomes par excellence.

An upcoming EP, entitled "Vicious Design," (release date April 8, 2014 on Human) will help audiences find beauty within the conflict.

Dead Fames music provides the soundtrack to your favorite Bret Easton Ellis novel as easily as it weaves a musical tapestry for a society in ruins (RVA Magazine). Their songs are vignettes of a post-modern terrain, where borders are rendered almost meaningless, only to be transgressed.

KC Byrnes (guitar), Sadie Powers (bass), Christopher DeNitto (keys), Eric Klemen (drums), and Michael Means (vocals) shape their distinct sounds into songs that juxtapose light and dark, with blazing guitar and synthy flourishes that float in and out and across driving drum and bass-line rhythms, whilst world-weary vocals capture a contemporary milieu of uncertainty.

Dead Fames influences are quite diverse, reflecting an appreciation for music produced during the early days of new wave but with an ear turned toward other genre-bending acts. In their world, Sade and Grace Jones hold just as much clout as Roxy Music and Wire. The bold synthesis is a lush, pulsating and intensely illumined sound that can be just as welcoming as it is attractively menacing.

Dead Fames wish to establish a musical contact zone is no more apparent than at their boisterous live shows. The bands sound and show have been described as fully realized, energizing, envelopingpure electricity (You Hear That?!). The band constructs a scene where it is just as possible to think as it is to surrender to the rhythm. Since their first show in 2011, they have played up and down the East Coast, sharing the stage with the likes of Cold Cave, Xiu Xiu, Parquet Courts, Iceage, Weekend, The Gentlemen Hall, Yip Deceiver, and Leopold and His Fiction; they have performed at several music festivals, including MidPoint Music Festival, Fall Line Fest, STPP, Tom Tom Fest. 

With their first EP, Frontiers (2012), Dead Fame garnered praise for a strong debut that crossed post punk with dance. With "Vicious Design," the band bends the boundaries even further in order to create something that much more enigmatic, powerful and urgent.

While todays society and its cultures are becoming progressively de-centered, Dead Fame offers a soundtrack for the ride, a touchstone for listeners to make sense of their present as they look toward the future. 

Band Members