Stripping Down Their Sound & Finding Success with Non-Conformity

GENRE: Rock/Punk
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Stripped-down rock with a rowdy front.

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About a decade ago, Deadkill guitarist Mike Stubz had a Gibson SG, a Les Paul and an original Dan Armstrong stolen off his hands. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Rather than sulk about the lost classics, Stubz focused on drumming and stuck to acoustic guitar as he worked to find suitable replacements, eventually having a custom Gibson hybrid built: simple, with one pickup and a volume knob.

“We don’t down tune. I plug straight into my amp, and there are no pedals. It’s just straight ahead.”

Whether the two are connected, getting stripped of his gear was followed by Stubz stripping his sound down to non-distorted, standard tuned punk rock. It’s this idea of uncomplicated composition that underlies the music of Deadkill, which Stubz formed with a few friends back in 2010, and whose weighted rock riffs and throat-straining vocals make an impact that voids the necessity of distortion effects. “We don’t down tune,” says Stubz. “I plug straight into my amp, and there are no pedals. It’s just straight ahead.”

Deadkill’s lineup, completed by Bryan Krieger (vocals), Kirby C. Johnson (guitar), Michael Loftus (Bass) and Shawn Trudeau (drums), doesn’t need the extras to stare straight into a crowd, veins pulsing out of their necks and sweat dripping on stage. But as a city where grunge was born, Seattle hasn’t always offered Deadkill the comfort of fitting in, according to Stubz. “I come from a punk background, but sometimes it seems like our band doesn’t really even fit in with the punk community,” he says. “In Seattle there’s this thing going on with metal and heavy music. There’s a rock influence to us that makes it a little hard to fit in.”

But their semi-outcast status is overruled by the unconditional support of their label Good To Die Records and its owner Nik Christofferson, who just released the band’s first 7” in May. “Nik is working his ass off for us,” says Stubz. “He’s not in the band, but he’s part of it. He’s somebody right there in the trenches with you.”

Photo by Matt Koroulis

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