It's all for the love of horror. The latest metal outfi t on the scene, She's Still Dead, takes cues from the fi lms that are meant to creep you out. The guys excitedly begin listing scary fi lms that have inspired them. Drummer Mark Antee says, "I like Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Bassist Sean Mooney says, "I'm a big fan of Pet Sematary. When it came out I wasn't supposed to go see it, but I did and it scared the shit out of me as a little kid." Vocalist Cosimo Solo says, smiling, "I love the '50s and '60s classic Hammer fi lms, when actors actually acted. Horror movies actually had stories, and it wasn't just about effects." Guitarist Taylor Suarez says, "I think it's Swedish or Finnish, it's called Let the Right One In."
However, the members of She's Still Dead don't spend all of their time watching movies; they are hell-bent on making it to the top. That's evident from their amazing body of work after forming less than two years ago, which includes two albums, mentions in national magazines, and lots of concerts. Guitarist Kevin Dredge explains their drive: "We work really hard. This isn't some sort of hobby. We live and breathe She's Still Dead. We wake up and it's like, 'What can we do today to further our career and the band?'" She's Still Dead has also received the attention and friendship of Jay Yuenger, former White Zombie guitarist and prolifi c record producer for many fantastic rock bands. He mastered their latest album, Keeper of the Witch, which was recorded in analog format, something rarely done these days. Kevin explains, "Yeah, we recorded everything live in the studio. We didn't do multi-tracking, individual tracking; we did everything as a band right there." Jay says to Kevin, "You need to tell people about that. You played that live as a band. Most bands can't or don't do that." Sean adds, "Recorded it all in one day."
As testament to She's Still Dead's hard work, they toured Cuba and became the fi rst American rock band to do so. Being able to perform on the embargoed island nation was no easy task. Kevin explains the process: "I petitioned the U.S. government through the course of a year. I went to Cuba in 2011 with Jay to visit my family. We went to an underground rock show, and found out that there was this metal scene there that was actually huge. When I got back to New Orleans, I looked up Brutalfest, in which they bring in bands from all over the world [to Cuba], but they've never brought in an American band. So I contacted the producers and they said that
they would love to have us. I had to petition the U.S. State Department, Department of Treasury, and Offi ce of Foreign Assets Control, and they denied us. Basically, they gave me a big middle fi nger and said, 'Fuck you.' We had two weeks before the fi rst show, and I fi nally gave them one last call. And they gave me a call back and said, 'You guys are licensed to go.' They sent us an offi cial license in the mail and we were left with two weeks scrambling to try to fi gure out a way to get guitars, cymbals…us there. It was a lot of hard work but it meant a lot to be able to do it."
Their experience there was eye-opening: massive poverty left the citizens of Cuba unable to have even the simplest necessities, relying on contraband and living in constant fear of undercover police. Jay describes Cuban life, saying, "People are incredibly poor," and Cosimo emphasizes, "Far poorer than anything people in America can even fathom. They truly have nothing."
Kevin adds a silver lining: "[But they're] resilient and strong people. A good example is [how they] keep those vintage 1950s Chevys driving around. People there make do with what they have, even though they have very little." On the tour, She's Still Dead encountered issues that might not happen in other places. Jay recalls, "People really have to do a lot of planning to even get a guitar sent or smuggled into the country somehow. The bands kept on asking us for picks and strings because they don't have that." Some band members barely escaped what could have been an international incident. Kevin explains, "Mark and Cosimo got detained by the police on suspicion of stealing a cell phone at one of the hotels that we stayed at; we were stuck in our room for three hours. They took the report on a typewriter that pre-dated the revolution."
Everyone in She's Still Dead made it back to America safely, and they have a new perspective on how people can take even the freedom to listen to music for granted. "It felt good playing to them because they were very passionate about metal. They all really love American metal bands. They all had Metallica and Slayer t-shirts. It felt good to fi nally be able to bring American metal to them, because they're never going to be able to see bands like Metallica, Slayer, and all the bands that we can go see. We take a lot of shit for granted," explains Kevin.
Back home in NOLA, She's Still Dead is just getting started, with big plans for 2013 and beyond. Kevin states, "We're going to be hitting hard." Mark elaborates, "We'll get into SXSW, hopefully. We've got a documentary [about the Cuban tour] that will be shown there." Kevin continues, "So we're trying to play there and do American shows. We made a lot of friends with the other bands that played [Brutalfest]. And they said, 'You're more than welcome to play in Europe.' So hopefully we can make that happen as well." At their breakneck pace, the band will make many things happen.
Keep up with the band on their site: Still-Dead.com
She's Still Dead's debut album is chock-full of frightful imagery and ripping thrash metal. Eleven songs take the listener through a gauntlet of blood, zombies, and screams while the beat marches on at a breakneck pace. "Midnight in Massachusetts" could be the theme song to a 1980s horror fl ick, one in which a group of townspeople are running from horrifi c monsters bent on eating the whole city. "Evil Needs Candy, Too" asserts that even these scary creatures need a little love. You can stream the album online at the band's Band Camp page at shesstilldead. bandcamp.com. On that page, you can also buy the album for whatever price you choose; you can pay what you feel and there is no minimum. However, once you hear what She's Still Dead can do, you'll want to give them lots of support. Download at: ShesStillDead.bandcamp.com