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ap exclusive: death frontman bobby hackney talks new single and the immortality of punk rock #soundcheck

April 19, 2017

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor

If you don’t already know Death, now’s a pretty good time to watch A Band Called Death. It’s on Netflix. I’ll wait. The proto-punk band wrote the book on punk rock in the early 70’s, cutting a series of tracks for Columbia records, before the deal fell apart and the band released a few tracks on their own label. The legend of Death spent the better part of 30 years growing, while the Hackney brothers logged time in various other projects, most notably the reggae band Lambsbread. Though band leader David Hackney passed away in 2000, the trio regrouped with Lambsbread guitarist Bobbie Duncan in 2009, finally releasing their classic recordings, and an album of all new material in 2015. In short, Death is rad. We recently got a chance to talk to bassist and lead singer Bobby Hackney about their new single “Cease Fire” and why Death will never die.

The last time we spoke was about 2 years ago right before you put out your last album. This new song has a really different sound. What’s changed for you?

It may feel a different sound to you because this song was written by our guitarist Bobbie Duncan. Dannis and I heard this song and loved it for the message it conveys and got behind it. It may be a little different than the Death sound from the catalog of the 70s, but it’s still Rock and Roll.

Your last record had a lot of contributions from your brother, and founding member David—riffs he wrote before he died—how do you make an effort to keep him in the rehearsal room with you?

David will always be the main influence in the sound of Death. We have a lot of David’s music and projects he experimented with, and some of this we will be releasing to the public in the near future.

The song calls for a “Cease Fire;” a cease fire between whom?

All those in every culture around the world who sees pointing a weapon at someone and taking or attempting to take their lives rather than resolving issues of conflict and inner or outer dissatisfaction through peaceful means. The bottom-line message of the song is stated in the lyric: “We got to cease fire, we got reach higher.” When you would rather resolve matters peacefully than shoot someone-wouldn’t you say that’s reaching higher?

What power do you think music and art have right now to shape conversations around violence and struggles for justice?

Much power; the main reason we produced “Cease Fire.” Back in the 70s when world leaders would call for a “cease fire” it would bring about a little sense of small hope. If the leaders of the world won’t say it today, who else but artists and those who have a voice in music ,arts, and media?

Why do you think heavy music is such a strong vehicle for that kind of messaging?

With Rock and Roll it’s always been that way, thanks to people like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Richie Havens, George Harrison, Sly and The Family Stone, and of course Bob Dylan.

Why do you think your sound has endured for so many years?

Rock and Roll never dies man, so DEATH will always live!

Do you have any advice for your artists, kids as old as you guys were when you were recording back in 75?

Stay true to your music, your resolve, and try to be faithful as people, and last, but not least: HOLD ON TO YOUR MASTER RECORDINGS AND SEEK TO CONTROL THEM FOR LIFE, or as Jay Z so eloquently put it, “Slaves control your Masters.”



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