Nathaniel Reid‘s Dead Animals project has slowly been gaining traction.
With his debut EP, Taxi Driver, the Liverpool-based Reid takes the plunge into the depths of punk and metal.
Inspired by the 1976 film of the same name, Taxi Driver starts with Travis. A ditty possessing a grimy new wave feel. If Depeche Mode ditched melody and went full on balls to the wall it may have sounded something like this.
Travis‘ companion song, American Hero, is a twisted-scrap punk ditty with beats inspired by the industrial clatter of early Nine Inch Nails.
All told, Taxi Driver is a solid offering and on the back of it, we were fortunate to ask Reid some questions about the Dead Animals project as well as the usual randomness that our 13 Questions feature comprises.
1. Sun 13: Congratulations on your new EP, Taxi Driver. How’s the reception been so far?
Nathaniel Reid: “It’s been great so far, I’ve had way more streams than I expected! I think it’s partly down to scheduling and all the boring parts of making music that kind of drain your soul but you’d be an idiot not to take just as seriously.
“…And yeah, I’ve been pretty relieved that people are enjoying my first foray into more straightforward rock music. It’s definitely reinforced my belief that I should trust my gut instinct and basically do whatever the fuck I want.”
2. S13: Can you shed some light on the history of Dead Animals?
NR: “Well… I started Dead Animals when I moved to Liverpool in my first year of uni. The name came from when I used to smoke too much weed and walk around the city on my own, before I made friends here. I’d see dead animals everywhere! Rats, birds, even a dog at one point. It felt like some kind of fucked up omen, like someone was leaving the animals for me to find. It proper freaked me out, so I decided to take that fear and use it to my advantage. Naming my project after that was sort of a way to conquer the fear.
“The project started as an experimentation in electronic dance genres like house and garage, but as I got more confident with my voice I started singing more, using my guitars… I definitely didn’t think I’d end up releasing heavy rock!”
3. S13: And how did the Taxi Driver EP come about?
NR: “I knew I wanted to start writing more punk and rock orientated music because I’ve always wanted to scream really loudly with a live band. I also wanted to tackle politics alongside my own ego and mental health, so I thought ‘what better way than to method act as an absolute psycho?’ I re-watched the film, making notes on Travis’s character, taking down quotes to use in the lyrics… and the more I watched the film, the more it felt disturbingly modern.
“Travis feels isolated and detached from a world that he hates, and I feel like we can all somewhat relate to that. It did kind of fuck me up having to embody that character, as you’d probably guess if you’ve seen the film, but I had a great time with it.”
4. S13: While Taxi Driver was released at the end of October, generally, have you found yourself feeling more creative in lockdown or has it been the other way around?
NR: “Actually yeah, the first lockdown was great for my music, I released a lot of new tunes and I got a lot of love in that time. I’m weirdly looking forward to this lockdown ‘cos a lot of my music comes from looking within, so this period of enforced reflection should produce a lot of interesting music.
“Although hopefully I’ll be doing it all in a much healthier approach – last lockdown I was getting stuck in bad habits and pretty much just abusing my body and mind, which can produce interesting music but eventually you start depending on having your mind being altered in some way in order to write. That creates a cycle I’m keen to break.”
5. S13: Social media seems so vital for young bands these days. What’s your take on it. Yay, or nay?
NR: “I think whether or not you like social media, it’s here to stay and it’s a complete necessity for any artist. Or anything really, you need to use social media to advertise your brand, and for me it’s been a great tool for connecting with other musicians. It’s not all about disconnect, there’s a lot of power in apps like Instagram, and I’ve got to thank that platform for connecting me to my ‘fans’ and a lot of the people I’ve collaborated with.”
6. S13: Favourite band growing up?
NR: “Nine Inch Nails. Since the age of about 12 I’ve been in love with them, they were my first “holy fuck what is this music” experience, and I’d never heard anything so dark or frightening. It amazed me that one guy could be responsible for all this noise and chaos, and that’s obviously been a huge influence on Dead Animals.
“I think I’d cry or shit myself if I ever met Trent Reznor.”
7. S13: Can you remember your first gig?
NR: “Death Cab For Cutie at the Brixton 02 Academy when I was 14. Even though it’s definitely not a hardcore band, the energy from the crowd was kind of intimidating. I remember watching Ben Gibbard totally drenched with sweat and being mesmerised. I’ve been hooked on that feeling of reciprocated energy between the artist and audience ever since.
“Shout out to my wanker of an ex for taking me! You still inspire a lot of the rage and self doubt that fuels my music.”
8. S13: The Wire of The Sopranos?
NR: “Well I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of each so I can’t really say either… although I fucking love the theme for The Sopranos! ‘Woooooke up this moooooorningggggg’. Classic. but if I was going to name a favourite TV show in that vein, I’d have to say Breaking Bad ‘cos I guess it’s kind of a child of that era. I haven’t seen a TV show that’s topped it, and it’s probably one of my favourite pieces of visual art of all time. It gets better with every re-watch, too.”
9. S13: What was the last great book you read?
NR: “I’m currently reading a Jimi Hendrix biography, which is written in this weird psychedelic novel format that’s unlike any biography I’ve read. Super sick to read about the man behind the music, he was just as wild as the tunes.
“I also read Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd recently which was spine chilling, I love my gothic horror novels and this one was a headlock, super trippy. Stole a lot of lines from that for my music (laughs), which I do a lot. There’s a whole load of literary, movie, philosophy, religious references in my lyrics if you dig deep enough.”
10. S13: Favourite album released this year?
NR: “The new IDLES! Holy shit, that was heavy. They executed it with beautiful simplicity. A lot of people hated on the simple lyrics, but I reckon that was the whole point, they wanted to use clichés to present an all encompassing expression of love. and I loved Kenny Beats’ additional production. He gave it this super modern feel, made the snares feel like they were from a hip hop tune, and you could definitely hear the influence of Mike Skinner in Talbot’s vocals. Made me miss gigs even more, IDLES were one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.”
11. S13: Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
NR: “Vinyl, for sure. It may sound pretentious, but vinyl sounds better. I’ve been listening to my dad’s vinyl since I was little, and the whole sound quality really makes the music a much more visceral experience.
“It feels more physical with the liner notes, holding that sleeve in your hand. I guess streaming comes in handy though, ebbing able to listen anything anywhere anytime, but maybe that’s killing our appreciation of music a bit. It’s definitely killing the album experience, most people my age don’t listen to albums anymore, they make playlists. I think music should be listened to as a whole cohesive piece of work though, which is why I love vinyl. No skipping!”
12. S13: What’s next for Dead Animals. Do you plan on releasing new music in 2021?
NR: “2021 you can expect to hear some music on all streaming platforms! Other than that, I don’t really plan ahead too much. I let the music take it where it takes me, and I make the music that I want to make, when I want to make it. I’d love to start gigging as well, if the whole live music scene hasn’t collapsed by then…”
13. S13: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
NR: “Three words: Fuck. The. Tories!
“Oh, and thanks so much for the great questions, this was a lot of fun!”