Punk rock is alive and well in Vienna, Austria. All over the world, in fact. DeeCRACKS have proven it.
Over 15 years, 800 shows, and 10 bass players, they’ve toured Japan, China, Russia, Canada, and Mexico. Now, with their new album, Sonic Delusions, they’re back in the USA.
It’s a long story.
The record, released on Feb. 23 via Pirates Press Records—whose roster boasts bands like Rancid, Cock Sparrer, and The Bouncing Souls—is the trio’s first on their new home label and a chance at getting back into a country that once turned them away at the border over their visas.
“We can’t promote our record in the U.S. ourselves. We can’t go there and play,” vocalist and guitarist Matt DeeCRACK says of being on Pirates Press. “They’re really trying to promote the band. Who knows how it’s gonna turn out? Maybe someday, who knows? Maybe we can come there and play.”
They’ll return with Sonic Delusions, their latest barrage of downstroke attack, hook-filled anthems, and singalong choruses—most clocking in at under two minutes long for those with attention span issues.
The band again took their plug-in-and-go attitude in to record their fourth full-length—and the follow-up to 2014’s Beyond Medication—with founding member and lifelong friend Marco Perdacher at Noob Recording Studio in Klagenfurt, Austria.
“We come in, and he knows exactly what we want,” DeeCRACK says. “We’ve known Marco since we were ,like, 14 or 15 years old. He’s been a friend of ours our entire lives. […] With Marco, going to record with him is a little bit like coming home to your mom. Your mom knows your favorite dinner, and she knows how to prepare it, and so does Marco.”
Getting out of Austria was tough, at first—having to change their name from The Cretins due to a lawsuit in 2007 set the band back—but once they got out into the world, DeeCRACKS learned punk fans, whatever country they’re in, are more similar than different.
“Luckily, we got some love from outside of Austria—like, internationally, from everywhere else in the world,” drummer Mike Dee Crackus recalls the birth of DeeCRACKS. “We were like, ‘Fuck it! Let’s just try to go to all these places and play in front of these couple of people who really love this and try to get some more going!’”
“I think what kept the band going back then as DeeCRACKS was, initially, the time in 2009 when we got invited to tour the U.S. for the first time, you know?” DeeCRACK admits. “We were thinking, ‘Well, the band means something to someone, apparently.’”
“You get to meet all these people everywhere, and they all have the same problems and they all share the same passion for the music, and that’s a cool thing, I guess,” he adds. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Mexico City or New York City or Tokyo or Beijing or Moscow whatsoever.”
“The best thing about touring—and the best thing about making music—is making friends all over the world. That’s the one thing I cherish the most,” Dee Crackus chimes in, the two sitting side by side, each with no shortage of stories to tell.
The guys—DeeCRACK, Dee Crackus, and bassist Paul Coyote—have slept on their fair share of floors. “We’ve slept in the worst places with a smile on our faces,” DeeCRACK says proudly.
Getting out of Austria and seeing the world while playing music makes for many memories—some fond and some nightmarish. Being turned away from the U.S. border, coming in from Canada, for not having work visas while on tour with Direct Hit! in June 2013 still smarts.
“It sucked,” DeeCRACK asserts flatly. “The night before, we had a show in Montréal, and there was this super huge party. […] I remember I was sleeping on a kitchen floor for, like, an hour or something.”
“Yeah! Yeah!” Dee Crackus recalls with laughter.
“We were super confident about going back into the U.S.,” DeeCRACK continues. “We were all super hungover, and, by the time we approached the border, they told us to get aside, and there was this orange ribbon around our passports. We already knew we were fucked. So, we were standing there for eight hours, hoping we were not going to jail for playing some fucking music. To me, it was like I’m in a bad movie. It was all very surreal. It was unreal. All of a sudden, it was like, ‘OK, here’s your papers, this is your visa,’—just tore it apart, like, ‘Have a nice day!’”
“The first thing we did when we got home was try to get on the next plane and get back over there,” Dee Crackus remembers of the month-long string of shows.
“We were just sitting at home following this thinking, ‘I’m not supposed to be here!’” DeeCRACK says, still frustrated.
“We didn’t wanna leave our fans behind out there—and the bands too,” Dee Crackus adds. “We didn’t want to miss out on this trip—this fun! You know?”
“What’s also so weird, the U.S. is really one of the countries that makes it the most difficult for artists to go there and play,” DeeCRACK says. “Mexico? You don’t need a visa. You just go through. Lots of other countries are like that. Japan? You just need to smile at the border. Just smile and say, ‘Here we go! Rock ‘n’ roll! I love the Ramones!’”
“No! Really! The U.S. charges you or kicks you out of the country if you play shows for 15 people and a couple of bucks, you know? Sometimes, we didn’t get paid! It doesn’t matter if you get paid or not. They think everybody is like Bon Jovi or something. Is Bon Jovi still a thing in the U.S.?”
Dee Crackus says the hard times on the road are worth it. “I feel very fortunate and very grateful for everything that this band has been able to do and for the life we’ve gotten to live. Nobody’s making any money here,” he says laughing, “but we get to pursue our dream.”
The connection the fans have to DeeCRACKS’ lyrics is not lost on their singer. “It’s all very personal, and it’s not that I’m so special,” he warns, “but, certainly, I’m happy when we can reach people or somebody tells me that this song touched them. I think that’s a real accomplishment as a songwriter.”
Through their undying love for and devotion to punk rock, DeeCRACKS—who started as nothing more than a Ramones cover band for Dee Crackus’ 18th birthday party—prove you can’t kill a spirit.
“For us, as a band, we’ve always looked at it like, ‘Don’t let it become a job,’ you know?” DeeCRACK says. “Don’t let it become a nine-to-five thing, like, ‘OK, I gotta get up and do the same showcase I did yesterday.’”
“On tour, it’s hard sometimes. Everybody has their lows,” Dee Crackus admits, the friends of over 20 years finishing each other’s thoughts.
“At least we’re all there for the same purpose,” DeeCRACK adds.
“The 45 minutes of heaven that is playing the show,” Dee Crackus says, summing it all up, “it’s all worth it in the end.”
Purchase Sonic Delusions here!
Photo Credit Marc Gärtner