afropunk exclusive: interview with punk pioneer death’s bobby hackney #soundcheck
By Sound Check
May 29, 2015
Even 5 years ago, when punk pioneer trio Death’s legacy began to be unearthed and rediscovered, the possibility of new music from the band seemed unlikely. Based on the strength of decades of word of mouth and a single 7”, Death catapulted from a half-forgotten memory to the subject of the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death. Though original guitarist David Hackney did not survive to see the band achieve the success he dreamed of, the band has reformed with Bobbie Duncan from Bobby and Dannis Hackney’s reggae side project Lambsbread on guitar. The reformed trio recently released their first set of new material in 40 years, fittingly titled N.E.W. We got a chance to speak to lead singer and bassist Bobby Hackney about the future of Death and reggae.
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
What makes N.E.W. new for you guys?
The songs that were written in 1975 were never professionally recorded, and the 4 new songs written by Bobbie Duncan along with us, were nourished during the making of the album.
How did it feel to be in the studio again as Death?
Great—the way we envisioned it from the days of Detroit—real recording of real performances.
Was it a different experience than when you were kids?
Not really, the way we approached the recording session, except for maybe the fact that all studios now have Pro Tools which is a different take then the analog 2 inch 24-track tape that Death prefers.
Do you think David [Hackney, the original guitarist] would be happy to hear new material?
Considering that he composed two of the songs on the album, and knowing that those songs can to fruition, he would be ecstatic.
How is Death different from Lambsbread?
Lambsbread is Reggae music. Death is hard-driving Rock ‘N’ Roll.
What is it about the reggae / punk connection?
Still a mystery to most, but I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the English culture, especially in places like London that gave us those great bands such as Clash, English Beat, Sex Pistols, The Specials, and when it comes to Reggae, aside from homegrown favorites like Aswad, and Mad Professor, all the Reggae greats took up residence in Britain so the two had to “Clash” (no pun intended…well, maybe). We started playing Reggae in 1983, and even though we never mixed the Rock’n’Roll of Death with the Reggae, we were still tuning in to those great records.
Are there any other bands from your early days that you wish could get the same rediscovery as Death?
Every band’s story is different, and I think one would have to live the Death story to get the same discovery.
What else do you have coming up that other people should know about?
Death will be hitting the road soon to make some key appearance dates in Washington DC, Philadelphia PA, New York City, and Boston MA. The new autobiography “Rock ‘N’ Roll Victims: Story Of A Band Called Death” is out as an e-book and there will be limited edition hard cover prints available soon. Keep up to date with Death at: www.deathfromdetroit.com
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