Interview with Ded vocalist Joe Cotela | By Nicholas Senior | Photo by Andrew Stuart
It sounds antithetical, but Mis•an•thrope is an uplifting listen. The punchy, aggressively hooky debut from Arizona-based band, Ded—released July 21 via Suretone Records—is a wonderful introduction to the group’s brand of musical escapism. Vocalist Joe Cotela tapped into his own personal existential darkness—with a nice assist from the only good season of “True Detective”—to add some gravity to Ded’s hardcore-meets-hard-rock style. With influences including Slipknot, Every Time I Die, Bring Me The Horizon, and Korn, Mis•an•thrope sounds like the last 20 years of hard rock distilled into one cross-generational record.
Ded have a great ability to blend their large range of disparate influences into a cohesive sound, even if no two tracks sound the same on their debut. Cotela says this was intentional, sharing, “We like so many styles of music. Just hearing one song might not be representative of the whole record. As people hear the rest of the songs, they’ll hear the really heavy hardcore influences, like Every Time I Die, early Bring Me The Horizon, Lamb Of God, and shit like that. That’s what we tried to do—we call [Mis•an•thrope] a meal, like a dish. We just wanted to put the best parts of what we like [into it] and make one thing out of it.”
Ded mine horror both lyrically and visually, but wisely take a more unnerving, psychological approach. Most strikingly, the band members wear contacts that white out their eyes. “We wanted to do something a little different,” Cotela explains. “We don’t try to act like we’re these crazy, interesting artists or anything like that. We liked the idea of wearing masks, but we know people are going to associate us with nu-metal, so we don’t want to be anything too close to that. For us, we can’t wear masks, because Slipknot did it best, and no one’s ever going to do it fucking better than them—there’s no reason for us to try, in our opinion. So, we thought about sunglasses—because we liked wearing them, and for outdoor shows—because you can tell so much from someone’s eyes and we wanted to take that away. Even Slipknot left their eyes [uncovered by] their masks, and so, we thought we would do the opposite: take away the eyes and leave everything else open.”
“It’s subtle and small, but it makes a big difference, and it creeps people the fuck out when we’re next to them, which we like a lot,” he laughs. “You can’t tell where we’re looking. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re in person next to us or onstage near the front, people tell us that it really is much more impactful. By taking away our eyes, it gives us a leg up, which is cool.”
Lyrically, Ded explore how to conquer one’s inner and outer demons, and—despite Mis•an•thrope’s negative title—the overall feeling is one of empowerment. On “Remember the Enemy,” Cotela states that he is “done with this suffering.” He explains, “I really harnessed a lot of the dark stuff from the past four, five years. I went through a huge, pivotal time in my life where my anxiety and panic attacks had reached a high point and my depression was way up. I had started doing some research on the human mind and how unconscious we are and how much we live on autopilot, on our ego, and the reasons we do negative things. That was what I was going through at the time. It made me take a step back and include myself in all the negativity, because I need to be better than I am, and I want everybody else to stop and take a look at themselves.”
In the end, Cotela feels fortunate. “I think through suffering comes great clarity,” he acknowledges. “I feel like I’m lucky to have the physical manifestation of anxiety and depression, because it made me stop and think about the way I was living my life and how I wasn’t living consciously.”
Their lead single, “FMFY,” references Rust Cohle’s misanthropic musings on season one of “True Detective.” For Cotela, it was a fun song to write. “That show is just so good,” he enthuses. “Rust—whether you like it or not, whether you are religious or not—is just an interesting character. McConaughey killed that role; I think it’s the best thing he’s ever done. I thought it was an interesting idea to write from that perspective. For me, it’s hard to argue that he’s completely wrong. Maybe the earth would be better off without the human race. It’s an interesting thing to write about.”