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DEAFBRICK: Deafkids And Petbrick Interviewed
Patrick Clarke , June 30th, 2020 12:58

Brazil's searingly good noise trio Deafkids have teamed up with Wayne Adams and Iggor Cavalera's pummelling Petbrick for an extraordinary new album 'Deafbrick'. Along with a premiere of the track 'Força Bruta', they speak to Patrick Clarke about the links between New Weird Britain and Brazil

Photo: Felipe Pagani

Deafbrick is a new LP by Deafkids, Brazil’s finest caterwauling acid-psych-noise power trio, in collaboration Petbrick, the crushing project of Wayne Adams and Iggor Cavalera - producer, Big Lad/Death Pedals musician and New Weird Britain stalwart, and founding drummer of Brazilian metal titans Sepultura respectively.The album the five made together is frighteningly good, a pounding and cyclonic and searing kind of music that feels, above everything else, immediate. Even to the musicians themselves, it appears to have emerged out of nowhere. “The recording could have been last week, it could have been a year ago, I can’t tell anymore,” jokes Adams, on a zoom call with Cavalera and Deafkids’ Marian, to knowing laughter. The record in fact came together in just two and a half days at Adams’ Bear Bites Horse studio in Haggerston. “It was perfect,” he recalls. “Sessions like that don’t come along very often. Everything flowed and we just had to capture everything.”

The two groups first performed together at Roadburn Festival earlier that year, playing two of each band’s songs with a “weird jam-out segue” in the middle, followed by a blasting gig at The Lexington in King’s Cross, where it really became apparent that their mutual respect for each other’s music could combine into something seriously potent. They knew when to stop and start, how to give their music the room to breathe as well as the power to hit home. “The moment you give space to each other in any creative realm, that’s when things flow,” says Cavalera, who has set his Zoom background to show the bathroom scene from Gummo. “When you have a bunch of freaks just doing drum solo, guitar solo, it becomes just masturbation. This was the opposite, everyone knew how to step back and think ‘we don’t need anything else.’”

When Deafkids formed, one of the things that Marian and his bandmates Dvglas and Marcelo bonded over was the influence of Sepultura. “Generationally speaking I couldn’t witness them live with Iggor, but they were definitely a huge influence,” he says. “When you’re growing up in the punk-metal scene and there’s a certain amount of orthodoxy to it, they were one of the first driving forces [against that]. Even before Chaos A.D. and Roots [Sepultura’s pivotal mid-90s LPs], there was an idea of aggressiveness and harshness to it which matches the way I feel about music.”

Cavalera meanwhile, who has been based in London for six years and who spends at least an hour or two a day voraciously researching new music, discovered the music of Deafkids around the same time Adams was picking up on serious buzz surrounding them in the London DIY scene. The prolific trio had first gathered traction outside of their homeland after Neurosis’ Neurot Recordings re-released their superb album Configuração do Lamento worldwide after a limited 2016 cassette run in Brazil. “I remember listening and being really surprised in a very positive way. I always had this thing where I wanted to see more Brazilian bands doing what we did, exploring the elements of sounds and pushing the barriers,” says Cavalera. “I was really happy to see that they were having some success outside of Brazil.”

After Cavalera contacted him via email, eventually Marian found his way to Petbrick. “We said ‘fuck… this is awesome!’” Conversation soon turned to Deafkids’ upcoming Roadburn gig, and from there to the recording of an album, sandwiched between tour dates.

There was something distinctly Brazilian to Deafkids’ tornado of influences – their music incorporates traditional South American and African music, psychedelia, noise and hardcore punk – that really drew Cavalera in. “All those elements are put in a cooking pan and they come with a sauce,” he says. “That’s what I like about the Brazilian style of doing things. A lot of Brazilian bands in the 60s especially the psychedelic bands they were doing that, but then in the 80s it became a bit too formulated, they were trying a bit too hard to be like the English and American bands. Now I think in metal and hardcore we’ve switched the ‘I don’t give a shit’ button again. That’s what I like about it. For us, a metal band in 1984 from a really fucked up area in Brazil called Belo Horizonte, only if you had that switch on could you do things. You couldn’t do it if you’re trying to impress someone and trying to be like Venom or something, you had to be on your own world to be doing this kind of shit, and I think Deafkids do that.”

The only non-Brazilian in the collaboration – though an honorary one, his bandmates insist – Adams nevertheless found common ground in Deafkids’ approach too. “I record most of the weird psychedelic underground noise stuff that’s coming out of London,” he says. “And Deafkids seemed to fit into that scene. It’s obviously got a Brazilian take on it, but you could lift it and place it into the London scene at the moment. [Production] also gives you an ear to tune into what’s good and what’s not very quickly, to cut through the shit and think ‘there’s something here that I love’”

It’s easy to draw those sonic parallels between Deafkids and the kind of music Adams’ studio is producing - bold, genre-defying and forward thinking - but there’s more than just a sonic kinship between New Weird Britain and New Weird Brazil. Marian says that his contemporaries in his homeland are not necessarily those that sound similar to them, but those who share a certain ethos. “I tend to lean away from punk or metal,” he says. “There’s a techno thing going on in Brazil right now that’s associated with the LGBTQ movement which is a really positive thing. These are what I associate with us in a way, not that we’re close to them [musically], but we’re working with the same ethos.”

Deafkids

“It’s interesting hearing Marian talk about that, because it makes me think of that ‘New Weird Britain’ thing,” says Adams. “I think it’s kind of all over the world, one of those things that just happens because the technology’s there, because people are bored of watching people on the stage, they want to break down those boundaries, they want to have that full interaction, and that weird techno party scene seemed to be the first one that really started to tear those boundaries down, and now it’s seeping into the psychedelic noise thing.”

For Cavalera, the eldest of the three, being able to immerse himself in New Weird Britain has been vital. “It means I can see a light, because the whole metal thing, it’s fucking boring man. One thing we always fought against was this macho racist metal way, and it seems like it just doesn’t change. If you look at an album like Chaos A.D., we talked about police brutality 30-something years ago, and you can put that album on now and it’s still accurate. Metal is doomed, but for me this New Weird Britain thing represents exactly what Wayne was saying, people trying to break down this whole stiffness, this whole segregation of things. For me, at my age, to be doing that shit, it’s awesome. I still have the energy and the mindset to do those things, I love it, but I feel fortunate. An album like Deafbrick represents that.”

The reason Deafbrick is such a truly thrilling record, is the way the five members’ mindsets have so much in common theoretically, as well as musically. It might not be an overtly rabble-rousing LP lyrically, but their politics run deeper than hot takes; they're woven into the very fabric of the music itself. “The message is embedded in the fact that it’s highly percussive,” Marian explains. “I think we like the idea of doing music which communicates to post-rational levels of connection. It’s a certain primordial stance or feeling in terms of free-flowing rhythm, I think that this is something we take as political. What Iggor was saying about metal, for example, I don’t think metal is a reference for Deafkids, we see ourselves as more of a distorted band than a heavy one, but I think metal, whatever metal-core [it is], has a tendency to lean to the conservative part of it. If you lean to the conservative part of it in aesthetic terms, generally you tend to lean to the more conservative part of the ethics too.

Petbrick

“I think coming up with new ways of saying this kind of thing is actually political,” he continues. “This message can’t be contained in a ‘verse-chorus’ performative song where I give you all of my hot takes. We might have just a phrase for the chorus that says more because of the feeling it gives you. The type of imagery we try to invoke is far more effective.” The lightspeed rhythm to Deafkids’ music, and by extension Deafbrick, is not just powerful in terms of its brute force, but the way in which it is centred on the African and indigenous South American music that makes up many of its members’ heritage, and finds a sonic manifestation in the sense of fracturedness that Marian, in particular, associates with his identity as a Brazilian.

“Being a mixed-race person, because of colourism if I didn’t have this hair” he gestures to his afro, “and I didn’t have a tan, people could read me differently. In a way we experience being everything and not being everything at the same time. Even when we’re being patriotic there’s this sense of longing, as if we’re watching Brazil from the outside, this idea that it’s a land that didn’t fulfil its purpose. Especially rich, white people here, they tend to erase their history in a way that’s like ‘my father’s Portuguese and my mother’s Spanish’, while black and non-white people have their history erased. I don’t know who the last slave was in my family. There are many layers of non-belonging to the land. It creates this fractured identity, which is something we wind up playing with for aesthetical purposes.”

For Adams, too, there is more to what constitutes ‘political’ music than its lyrical content. When he was a part of vital Brighton rave collective Wrong Music in the early 2000s, “the idea was to take the Rotterdam Gabber scene, which was hugely right wing, and just twisting it so it became punk, twisting the message so far that it wound those Rotterdam people up so much,” he recalls. “That was kind of my schooling and language within sonics, how you can re-appropriate something, and I think the Deafbrick record has that too. For me that’s a little bit more powerful than someone just shouting anti-right wing stuff. It’s built into the fabric of the music, it becomes a subconscious thing, that can become a really powerful tool. And again, that feeds into the New Weird Britain thing. All that music is politically driven but its not necessarily political in content. It’s in the fabric of what everyone’s doing, without it the music wouldn’t exist.”

It was always heartening to see Deafkids be so embraced by Britain’s underground experimental scene when word of Configuração do Lamento’s brilliance first spread, and after those first collisions at Roadburn and The Lexington Deafbrick is the culmination of a collaboration that feels special on a number of levels. When they cover Discharge’s ‘Free Speech For The Dumb’, with the help of Matt Ridout from Casual Nun and Gordon Watson from Terminal Cheescake, even though Cavalera wasn’t even aware of the Metallica version, there’s significance to the way in which they overturn the blandness and conservatism they find in mainstream metal. Deafbrick finds the common ground in the powerful sonic expressionism that defines both the musicians of New Weird Britain and their counterparts in South America, and finds room amid a maelstrom of noise to express the power of both, and by extension the joy, rage and vitality that defines experimental music all over the world.

Deafbrick is released via Rocket Recordings in the UK and Neurot in the Americas on September 4. You can pre-order it from Friday July 3 via Rocket here and via Neurot here.

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