After spending most of its career as an independent band on its own Pocket Kids Records imprint, Dead Sara is entering the major label ranks with the June 8 release of its Temporary Things Taking Up Space EP. And Friday (May 4), we’re premiering two tastes of the EP, “Heaven’s Got a Back Door” and the video for “UnAmerican,” below.
“We’ve done it on our own for a long time. We were always scared of major labels,” frontwoman Emily Armstrong tells Billboard. “But Atlantic has been really very supportive of what we’re doing and very easy to work with. They push us, and that’s what we needed more than anything. We couldn’t be more blessed.”
Dead Sara has spent the time since 2015’s Pleasure To Meet You writing, creating a stockpile of more than 60 songs according to Armstrong and working on Temporary Things with producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Fitz and the Tantrums, the Fratellis). There’s enough material for several albums, but the EP has become Dead Sara’s preferred format.
“We’ve been writing a lot, so it makes more sense to do an EP and get it out there. It’s just easier and quicker,” Armstrong says. “We’ll see how it plays out — we may even do just another single next. I don’t think in this day and age it really matters that much, it’s just getting things out there just to keep people interested and not waiting four years for something new to come out.”
“Heaven’s Got A Back Door” and “UnAmerican” certainly hint at the range of Dead Sara’s EP. The former nods to the group’s blues roots. “I just thought ‘Heaven’s Got a Back Door’ sounded really cool, like what an old blues singer would say,” Armstrong explains. “I took little moments of my life and tied it in with the lyric and wrote a song around it. It was much slower at first, but when I took it to the band and the producer it became a little more rock.”
“UnAmerican,” meanwhile, is intended as sarcasm, though Armstrong acknowledges that with lines like “F*** you Donald Trump” it will likely be taken as social commentary. “It’s not a political song, really,” she contends. “I know it says ‘F*** you Donald Trump, but it also says ‘f*** you, f*** everyone’ — it’s kind of me feeling the energy of what was going on at the time with the election and ISIS and everything. It felt like everybody was like, ‘What is happening in this world?!’ It was that type of energy, and once I got that riff I started going and it just wrote itself. We actually used the demo version and put it on the record, ’cause there was so much character in it from that moment we started working on it.”
A tour supporting the EP, most likely during the summer and fall, is “still in the works,” according to Armstrong. The group is looking forward to returning to the stage with new songs to play, she says, and start a “new chapter” that includes new management, booking agent and more. “Things definitely fell into place for us after much change,” Armstrong reports. “We knew there were some drastic changes that needed to happen and needed to come from us in order to get to where we wanted in the future. It’s fun being an indie band and doing it on our own, but you can only go so far — at least that’s what our experience was. We’re still doing our best, and now we’re in a position to do even better.”