The Dead Ships
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The Dead Ships

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Indie




"When you check your phone and it’s Coachella calling"

Indeed, it’s a welcome boost for a band that’s been writing an underdog story since they formed in 2011 after songwriter McCluskey, a Chicago native and veteran busker/open mic night performer, started jamming with drummer Christopher Spindelilus. McCluskey’s originally acoustic songs were flushed out on electric guitar and became the Dead Ships’ 2012 debut “Electric Ahab,” and they toured the U.S. as a two-piece. Later, when asked to perform at a Levon Helm tribute (and nailing “Ophelia”), Alex Moore joined the band as bassist. - Buzzbands.LA

"YAHOO! Music Rising: The Dead Ships Debut ‘Tomorrow Crashes’"

The Dead Ships are gaining recognition for their unique type of powerpop anchored by comparisons to the Strokes, The Pixies, The Black Keys and Alabama Shakes. Yahoo Music is excited to give fans a taste with the premiere of “Tomorrow Crashes,” from their latest release EP I.
The video was shot on a whim by lead singer Devlin McCluskey (who works in post-production for reality TV shows) in the Light Tunnel of Chicago’s O'Hare Airport, while he was waiting to fly back to L.A. It combines impromptu lip syncing and dancing, with performance footage of the band. - YAHOO! Music

"LA garage trio nab Broken Social Scene member to produce and play on EP 1"

"McCluskey’s voice soars across it all, strained and cracked like flares bursting off the surface of the sun".

Since 2011, The Dead Ships had earned a reputation as an energetic live band, but they knew they hadn’t been able to capture their shows’ intensity on record. After catching the Los Angeles band play a showcase in Toronto, Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning thought he could help fix that.

For the first time, Canning was willing to produce a record for a band he wasn’t a part of, and The Dead Ships made the most of the opportunity. “Getting to work with Brendan Canning on your guitar-driven indie rock is like getting to work with Barry Bonds on your steroid regimen (allegedly),” says frontman Devlin McCluskey. Spurred on by the presence of the revered artist, they recorded a number of new tracks, the first handful of which they’ll share on May 5th with the release of EP I.

“I chose to work with the Dead Ships because I knew as individuals they wouldn’t let me down,” Canning says. “Plus they’d also allow me to play rhythm guitar all over their record.” He calls the band “all heart,” and explains, “Whatever I asked of them was delivered minus the bitching and complaining which some bands are guilty of. Lyrically and musically, the songs came together in a way that needed to happen and thanks to an excellent engineer named Josh Steube, all sounds got captured correctly.”

Unfortunately, the way some of those songs came together was through tragedy. McCluskey lost his best friend, the “Wayne to [his] Garth,” to suicide, “and it opened up every floodgate. When I came home from the funeral, I read an article about scientists observing a rare solar state called a big quiet, and for a moment it felt as if the entire universe was sitting shiva.” He ended up writing “Big Quiet”, a track driven by sharp percussion and a jangly garage refrain that lilts ever so slightly sad. McCluskey’s voice soars across it all, strained and cracked like flares bursting off the surface of the sun — until he reaches that “rare solar state” of the chorus, calling out clearly, “When things get too loud and you’re over it/ You can come back to life/ Return to the big quiet.”

“‘Big Quiet’ was my first attempt at writing something to understand what happened and try to retroactively stop it from occurring,” McCluskey says. “I know I can’t write a song that would’ve saved my best friend … but that’s not going to stop me from trying.” - Consequence of Sound

"CRAVE Band of the Month: The Dead Ships"

A little bit Strokes & a little Black Keys, singer-guitarist Devlin McCluskey and bandmates Alex Moore and Christopher Spindelilus made a strong first impression with their 2012 debut Electric Ahab - which led to a collaboration with Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, who captured the band’s live blues-built intensity on record through the guitar-driven EP1. This material comprised the performances in their run as the Band of The Month for September, with the impassioned intensity of "Tomorrow's Crashes" and "Big Quiet," as well as the captivating Americana of "Citycide".

For our September Band of The Month run, Crave hosted The Dead Ships at United Recording in Hollywood, the legendary recording studio complex. An astonishing recording history fills the space, with the original incarnation hosting Frank Sinatra’s entire Reprise recordings sessions, in addition to Elvis, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and countless others. More recently, the complex hosted album sessions for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Rage Against The Machine, The Mars Volta, Weezer and so many more.

Check out our interview with the trio below, in which the guys discuss how the band came to be, the experience of working with Canning and the road ahead:

Read more at - CraveOnline

"KROQ Presents: The Dead Ships"

KROQ Locals Only presents The Dead Ships at the Bootleg Theater Friday, September 4th.
The Dead Ships have been featured on KROQ Locals Only with their song,”Big Quiet.”
5 weeks at #1
10 weeks in top 5

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 17th at 12:00 pm.
For more information, visit
KROQ Locals Only - KROQ

"Culture Collide Countdown: Meet The Dead Ships of Los Angeles"

Los Angeles-based garage rock outfit The Dead Ships are vocalist/guitarist Devlin McCluskey, drummer Christopher Spindelilus, and bassist Alex Moore. McCluskey’s raspy vocals are the crux of the band's sound, bolstered by grungy, spirited, guitar-centric rock.

The LA natives and Echo Park dwellers will play our Culture Collide festival in Los Angeles this weekend. Tickets here.

Watch the video for their song “Tomorrows Crashes,” directed be McCluskey himself, below: - Culture Collide

"The Dead Ships Howl at EP Release Party @ Bootleg Theater [LA]"

The Dead Ships played to a packed house at the Bootleg Theater on Friday, presented by KROQ’s Locals Only, so you can bet Kat Corbett was in attendance! Even celebrity unicorns Dimitri Coats of OFF! and Ryan Adams came to make this night feel even more like a Bigfoot sighting.

The rock trio, joined by a fourth member, guitarist Brady Erickson (of Ross Sea Party), played a 45-minute set including fan-requested encore of the band’s cover of “Ophelia.” Erickson lent extra weight to an already full sound for the 3-piece, offering singer Devlin Mccluskey the opportunity to release his wild side howling, shredding and giving into any impulse.

“They don’t sound like anything else,” commented an audience member. The Dead Ships’ performance is an emotional roller coaster, steering through songs of growing older, love, and tragic loss driven by ingrained rhythms that speak as deeply as the lyrics themselves. - Indie Rock Reviews

"The Dead Ships give riveting performance at KROQ show"

You gotta love people who will use their Friday nights to see an awesome band play a late-night set. The Dead Ships didn’t go on until 11:30 PM, but the Bootleg was packed by the time they took the stage.

Frontman, Devlin McCluskey was dapper-ed out in a nice suit and then also donned a sweet fur coat of sorts, all while his band ravaged the Bootleg with rock ‘n’ roll. This band’s sound is much more expansive than you’d expect, perhaps due to the fact they’ve expanded from a three-piece to a foursome.

“Tomorrows Crashes” featured a superb bass line from Alex Moore, whose backup singing provided depth to McCluskey’s searing vocals. This song sounded like a cross between The Strokes and Cold War Kids, firmly planting The Dead Ships in esteemed company. A trippy video backdrop accompanied the band on stage.

The Dead Ships have been working with Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, the first fruits of that labor being May’s EP I. The new stuff sounded great and polished, you could truly tell the band had a blast performing.

There’s a certain nostalgia that comes with listening to The Dead Ships rock, as if you’re time-traveling to the late ’80s distortion-heavy but extremely pleasant. It’s awesome to see these guys back at it after taking a little break prior to their recent EP. - Grimy Goods

"Video: The Dead Ships, ‘Tomorrow Crashes’"

It’s been a great last few months for The Dead Ships. Since releasing their EP, “I,” back in May, which was produced by Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene, the band has become quite the sensation on local radio, soaring to the top of the charts like a glorious bearded butterfly in a new suit. The closing song from the EP, “Tomorrow Crashes” is a comedown song after a long night of partying, when the morning hits you like a cymbal in the face. Lead singer Devlin McCluskey compares it to “waking up surrounded by still-drunk-strangers with all the color gone from their faces and you just want to run because something bad happened and something worse is coming.” Maybe they’ll all wake up and try to eat you? Or worse, wake up and tell you something horribly dumb you did last night that you’ve blocked out with excessive alcohol consumption. We get it. McCluskey shot the video for “Tomorrow Crashes” on his phone in the Light Tunnel of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport while waiting to fly back to Los Angeles. A little bit of post-magic and some additional performance footage later, and voila, a great video enters the world of hangovers. - Buzzbands.LA

"Exclusive: The Dead Ships Premiere Long-Awaited Single "Seance""

The bluesy slow-bruiser's sonic quality is a fitting atmosphere for stark lines like, "Your ghost can haunt me whenever" and "She talked shit on the seance, till death took someone she needs." Notably, EPI marks the first time Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene fame has risen to the occasion of producing for any other act than his own. We're expecting a serious impact from the soulful trio as they continue evolving their garage-y stylings beyond 2012's Electric Ahab. - See more at: - Fuse

"The Dead Ships head outdoors in their new 'Canyon' video"

“Canyon” will appear on an as-yet-untitled EP produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, due out next spring.

For the new video for their single “Canyon,” garage trio the Dead Ships takes a rather literal route, juxtaposing shots of some of L.A.’s less scenic aspects with the band playing in the craggy nature that surrounds the city, where an out-of-place-looking hipster pays penance for getting into some romantic shenanigans. Somehow it’s a fitting visual accompaniment to a punchy, affably ragged song that sounds like the Strokes if they’d reinvented themselves as a folk punk band. - Entertainment Weekly

"The Dead Ships "Big Quiet" - Stream"

Brendan Canning continues to branch out. Having started his own Draper Street Records last year, he has now stepped into the producer's chair for an EP from Los Angeles garage rock trio the Dead Ships. EP I will be out on May 5, and the track "Big Quiet" is available to stream now.

The song is a boppy garage ditty with guitars that split the difference between distorted grit and serene shimmer. Similarly, the vocals merge raw shouts with tuneful melodies, and the whole thing culminates in a spaced-out outro in which atmospheric textures make their way into the arrangement. - Exclaim!

"Flavorwire Premiere: The Dead Ships Mine Sci-Fi B Movies for Hilarity With “Big Quiet” Video"

When Devlin McCluskey, the frontman of Los Angeles trio the Dead Ships, was in need of a space cadet outfit for their new sci-fi-themed video, he found the bare minimum in a hopeless place: a motorcycle helmet with the face guard sawed off, and a pair of women’s red tights. McCluskey’s task was to recreate costumes from a pair of vintage sci-fi films he had found while searching for space-related footage in the public domain: an Italian sci-fi film called Cosmos 2000, and a Soviet film about a mission to Venus. His band’s goal: to fit themselves into these absurd scenes via green screen, with slapstick results.

“Growing up I loved watching old Twilight Zone, Mystery Science Theater 3000, or anything you’d find trolling local channels at 3 AM,” Mcluskey says. “In college I wasn’t a great video editor, but I always liked recutting found footage into new weirder stories.”

Flavorwire is pleased to premiere the video for “Big Quiet,” an infectious nugget of jangle pop off the Dead Ships’ EP 1. The recent release is the first outside production effort from Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, whose band’s influence is apparent throughout the Dead Ships’ repurposing of ’60s sounds in service of indie rock.

The Dead Ships, who recently toured with Two Gallants, have been kicking around the LA scene for some time. But they seem to have hit a streak of momentum — much like their city and its music scene.

“LA has always been more Bukowski and Waits than beaches and walk of fame,” McCluskey says. “They might only keep the Hollywood sign up to keep snobs out. It seems as other cities get more challenging, LA keeps becoming a better option. It’s a versatile city that gives shitloads of people a bit more time and space so the music scenes are fairly diverse. Ty Segall has been putting on garage shows at the Griffin, we got to play there with the Coathangers a few weeks back. There are a bunch of more personal spaces like that that have been popping up in recent months. Plus there are five music venues on my block that have a ton of great local bands every night. Everyone seems to have wide music tastes so we’ve been lucky to play with a lot of different bands.” - FLAVORWIRE

"When you check your phone and it’s Coachella calling"

There, on the Coachella 2016 poster, in the smallest type at the end of the paragraph listing the 56 Saturday performers, you will find The Dead Ships, a Los Angeles garage-rock trio with no label, no booking agent and only a self-released album and self-released EP to their credit.

How in the name of festival fever did that happen? Well, sometimes you check your phone and it’s Goldenvoice calling.

“This came out of nowhere,” frontman Devlin McCluskey says. “It always seems like there’s some invisible hand working for bands to get to the next level, but we have no label, no booking agent, nothing like that. It’s such a surprise.”

The band’s manager, Darren Jenkins, says he received a phone call from Goldenvoice’s Paul Tollett on Saturday offering a spot: “Apparently they had a spot and Paul asked his people to send him their favorites from 2015, and he checked them out and picked us. It feels special, like we were handpicked. We’ve been doing the hustle for so long, we couldn’t be happier.”

Indeed, it’s a welcome boost for a band that’s been writing an underdog story since they formed in 2011 after songwriter McCluskey, a Chicago native and veteran busker/open mic night performer, started jamming with drummer Christopher Spindelilus. McCluskey’s originally acoustic songs were flushed out on electric guitar and became the Dead Ships’ 2012 debut “Electric Ahab,” and they toured the U.S. as a two-piece. Later, when asked to perform at a Levon Helm tribute (and nailing “Ophelia”), Alex Moore joined the band as bassist.

The Dead Ships’ visceral sound and sweat-drenched live shows have endeared them to a certain core following (although, curiously, not the Burger Records crowd), and they’ve been hard to miss at local festivals: They’ve paid their dues at Brokechella, the Silver Lake Jubilee, Echo Park Rising, Culture Collide, Chinatown Summer Nights and Summer Concerts at Pershing Square.

It was a trip to the North by Northeast (NXNE) festival in Canada a couple years back that ended up making the Dead Ships “feel like 2016 was going to be a really fun year for us,” McCluskey says. There, the band met Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene, a relationship that eventually led to Canning’s producing 11 new songs for the trio. The first batch, including the single “Big Quiet” (which earned some radio play), was released last year as “EP I.” The best from that EP will be combined with the others for a full-length the band hopes to release later this year.

Maybe they’ll have a label and booking agent by then?

“The last couple of years have felt like a long ‘Rocky’ montage,” McCluskey says. “We’ve just worked and worked and worked and worked. It seems like it might be paying off.” - Buzzbands.LA

"DoLA's Best Show of 2014"

Taix had to lock down the Champagne Room for The Dead Ships and people still kept trying to bust down the doors. The garage rock trio weren't the Buzzbands LA stage finale but they put on a performance no one wanted to follow. Pouring so much energy, sweat, and killer songs onto the crowd, you needed a shower and a cigarette just to calm down. Watch their new video for "Canyon" and keep your ear to the ground for updates on their new album in 2015!

Out of the thousands of shows in Los Angeles over the past year, the team here at DoLA [with the help of some of our Tastemakers] has put together a definitive list of the 10 best. The most unbelievable, unexpected, and unforgettable live performances of 2014. - DoLA

"MTV Premiere - The Dead Ships Bring Summer Back "Righteous pure rock""

"LA garage rock band The Dead Ships are here to make you dream of summer today in this new video for “You Were Young.” The clip is spot on from the first frame to it’s bizarre conclusion with beautiful beaches & girls all shot in grainy 16mm glory and soundtracked by some righteous pure rock." - MTV.COM

"LA TIMES: L.A. Unheard: The Dead Ships' Pacific blues"

The two-man crew's music is a bluesy wrecking ball, ranging from the throaty '50s-style ballad "You Were Young" to the riff assault of "Amaze." The group's no-frills drumming and smoldering guitar tones nod toward the White Stripes and the Black Keys, but their tuneful charisma separates them from the legions of garage-rock imitators. - David Greenwald, LA Times - LA Times

"MOKB: "Raucous punk-garage rock with scorching vocals""

After adding third member and bassist Alex Moore, the trio rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Devlin McCluskey and drummer Christopher Spindelilus and known as LA-based The Dead Ships are releasing a split 7″ with Wake Up Lucid via Near Mess Records. “Cass McCombs” is the b-side to the digital release for this (it does not appear on the vinyl) and has a pretty hilarious story regarding its inspiration and the notable name in the title. McClusky explains:

On our first tour a friend in Baltimore told us this hilarious story, claiming he caught his ex-girlfriend in bed with the musician Cass Mccombs. One night, shortly after we got back to LA, I got a 3am call from a friend who just split with his girlfriend & desperately needed a place to sleep. When I asked what happened he said SHE’S FUCKING CASS MCCOMBS! I couldn’t believe that Cass had slept with two of my friends girlfriends! While I waited for my doorbuzzer, I started singing “the bitch is fucking Cass Mccombs”…

We never confirmed if Cass McCombs wasn’t actually the guilty party, but having just got off tour, I was going through my own horrifying feelings of what could have gone on with my girlfriends while I was out of town. So i tried to write a song about that blinding jealously to remind myself of how completely non-sensical i’m being.

Regardless of whether or not Cass McCombs did indeed feed on some taken women, the song is an infusion of raucous punk-garage rock with scorching vocals throughout. - My Old Kentucky Blog


EP I - May 2015

Canyon - Oct 2014

A Ramble for Levon - April 2013

Electric Ahab - Feb 2012



A lot has happened for The Dead Ships in the short time that they’ve been together. 

Within a couple of months after singer/guitarist Devin McCluskey and drummer Chris Spindelilus started jamming in the latter’s apartment, the soulful garage rock duo were playing sold out shows at The Echo in their native Los Angeles (opening for King Khan) and at San Francisco’s Bottom Of The Hill. 

They quickly became the most talked-about live show in L.A., picking up airplay on radio giant KROQ where their song “Big Quiet” spent five weeks in the number one slot on the station’s star-making Locals Only show.  The Ships were hand-picked by Goldenvoice to perform at Coachella 2016, where they won over the crowd with their punchy hooks and wiry on-stage energy.  And just recently, LA WEEKLY named them “Best Band” for their 2016 “Best of LA” issue.

Now, it’s time for the world to really get to know The Dead Ships as they look forward to the release of their debut full-length album CITYCIDE. Produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning (he also adds some sweet, sweet guitar playing throughout the LP), the now-trio with Alex Moore on bass put together a fiery collection of songs that showcase McCluskey’s engaging yowl and an unrelenting drive that refuses to let up on the gas pedal until the last notes of album closer “Tomorrow’s Crashes” fade away. 

For all its dynamism and momentum, once you start digging into CITYCIDE, you’ll start to taste the bittersweet tang of McCluskey’s vision for this album. For example, the title of this LP began as a reference to the sad fact that when people choose the Golden Gate Bridge as the location to take their own lives, they do so facing the city that they’re leaving behind. “It seemed like a sort of statement,” McCluskey says. “One last rebellion.” 

As he started writing a song inspired by that, it evolved into a full suite of songs about the alienation that folks living in big cities like Los Angeles or McCluskey’s former hometown of Chicago can feel, even as they’re surrounded by thousands of other people. On CITYCIDE that takes many forms like his frustration with people that give up on their dreams to make a buck (“Company Line”) or the feeling that the walls of your home are more oppressive than welcoming (“Floorboards”). 

There’s an added shade of sadness to CITYCIDE too, as many of the songs poured out of McCluskey in the wake of his best friend’s suicide. Using his art to process his grief and confusion at losing the closest person in his life helped pour some added depth of feeling into the songs. You can get by just rocking out to them, but once you let them sink in deeper, they’ll quickly become a part of you too. 

And if the music - a raw power mix of finely tuned dynamics with the unadorned grind of vintage Nuggets-style psych rock - isn’t enough to let you know that this isn’t a sorrowful album but rather a celebration of McCluskey’s friend’s life and the simple act of carrying on even in our toughest times, just spend some time with “First Mistakes.” Through the thick cloud of jangly power-pop chords, the message of the chorus bursts out brightly: “It was good to be alive!” 

The next step for The Dead Ships is to bring this feeling to as many willing bodies as they can. The band is coming off a sold-out tour of the U.S. opening for Les Butcherettes and stopping by SXSW before their triumph at Coachella. For the immediate future, that means more touring on the way, hopefully taking them further and farther out than ever before. 

Band Members