POSTED ON MARCH 6, 2013:
Doing Something Right
Dead Sara connects with fans
Then Muse finally arrives in Tulsa to perform at BOK Center this Sunday night, March 10, most fans of the band have a good idea what to expect. Over the past few years, the British rock act has developed a reputation as one of the best live rock bands in the world, delivering mesmerizing performances with an equally over the top production element.
Many fans, however, probably aren't familiar with opening act Dead Sara. As a relative newcomer to the rock scene, the group has been winning over fans one show at a time with an electrifying stage performance and an urgency in their songs that has been missing in many of the more commercial rock band of the past decade.
With the band headed to Tulsa as part of the Muse tour this weekend, I was able to catch up with lead singer Emily Armstrong last week to discuss the band's evolution. After releasing its self-titled debut album in April, the band hit the road in a flurry of activity, touring with Chevelle and The Used in the spring before going out as part of the Vans Warped Tour in the summer and as part of the Offspring tour in the fall.
When reflecting on the band's heavy touring schedule over the past year, Armstrong said "It's been all over the place: we did a lot of opening and supporting act shows and even did a few headlining shows is cities we'd been to before, so that was both a shock and exciting. We also did a lot of radio shows. Some of them were huge and others were in theaters, so we really go the full spectrum last year."
After a fairly quick rise, however, the band landing an opening act slot for Muse is a huge break. When asked how that came about, Armstrong related that they heard Muse's Matt Bellamy being interviewed on a radio station in Los Angeles last year.
"We get a lot of spins on the station, mostly because we live there, and they asked him what he listened to. I remember he said he thought it was great that Rage (Against the Machine) was still being played on the radio and mentioned 'I heard this new band, Dead Sara. They've got a girl singer that's just screaming her head off -- it's very Brit.'"
"When we heard that, we thought it might be our foot in the door, so we called out management and told them to get on it," she continued. "We figured if there was any chance we could get on the tour, this might be our light at the end of the tunnel, our big break."
When reflecting on getting word that the band had landed the Muse tour, Armstrong said, "We were on tour with The Offspring at the time and knew we were on the short list, but we're trying to not get our hopes up. When we got the call that said we got it, we all just looked at each other and kind of said 'Well, fuck -- we must be doing something right!'"
Although the band has been playing a mix of venues, from club dates to theaters and a few arenas, the Muse tour takes them to the next level. Musically, it seems like a natural fit for the band, whose debut album is packed with songs built around explosive dynamics that should work as well in arenas as small theaters and nightclubs. Making the jump to a huge stage can be a daunting task, but Armstrong shared that the band has tackled the challenge without fear.
"Now that we're on the tour, the first night was quite the adjustment," she admitted. "We had all the lights and stuff and quite a bit of stage and were playing in front of 10,000 people. It was kind of like 'What the hell? Is this even us?' The second night was amazing, though. I was proud because we adjusted so fast -- and we were playing to 15,000 people that night. Walking out on stage at night is the best part -- with it dark and all the people cheering."
When asked if the band found connecting with the audience harder in the arena setting, Armstrong said "Absolutely. We're used to playing clubs where you can grab people and jump into the crowd. Now, we're basically twenty feet from the crowd. We're about ten feet up and there's Muse's lower stage in front of us, then the photo pit. The first night was bizarre: we felt like we couldn't connect, but the crowd was very receptive and very quiet and attentive."
With another three weeks on the Muse tour, Dead Sara is enjoying an opportunity to connect with a larger audience and win new fans. The big question in the back of my mind, however, is what comes next? With nearly a year of touring behind the debut album, recording a new CD might be in order.
When asked what the band's next step would be, Armstrong said, "Right now, we're beginning to discuss that. Our album was just released worldwide, basically, so we've got to figure out what comes first: go out and make another record or continue touring."
With an expanded release for the debut disc and the exposure created from the Muse tour, additional touring appears to be the best option for the band. Asked about new material, however, Armstrong said, "We write all the time, so it doesn't matter. We'll be ready when it comes time to record another album. If someone comes up with a riff, we'll jam on it in rehearsal for however long it takes. It might be ten or eleven minutes or a half hour, depending on the energy. We just figure it out way."
As for now, the band is capitalizing on the opportunity to win over new fans with its explosive energy and live show while on the current arena tour. Muse is already known as one of the best live touring acts on the road and the group doesn't like to let down its fans, so if you're looking for the latest rising rock act, make sure to arrive early to check out Dead Sara.
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