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Artist Spotlight: Dead Lakes releases ‘Close 2 Me’, talks new EP and plethora of influences

Fresh from their signing to SharpTone Records, multi-genre Seattle group Dead Lakes has also released the first single from their upcoming EP. Atlas spoke with vocalist Sumner Peterson via email about the band’s new music, the Seattle scene and making music during lockdown.

How did you get started as a band and how did you go about finding your sound?

Max, Cody, and I were all in a band based out of Southwestern Colorado and Northern Arizona. We had toured the west coast quite a few times, and always mentioned moving to Washington or Oregon. We eventually decided to move to Washington. We had the first Dead Lakes tour booked, and the first date was just three days after moving to Washington. Before we even moved we had to find another guitarist and drummer. So we hit up a guitarist we knew from touring through Washington, and he helped us scramble to find a touring drummer from the area. That drummer ended up just becoming our full-time drummer, Chon. So, we get to Washington with no idea how we are going to practice, and we have three days to be show ready with everyone also just getting to know each other. We pull up to our rental house, and we figure out there’s a basement. Granted this basement is like a storage basement, and there are spider webs, insulation everywhere, and it occasionally would flood depending on how much rainfall we would get. We decided to go for it and we practiced, and got to know each other for a few days. That’s basically how it all started.

I would say as a band we didn’t really find “our sound” until very recently. Obviously finding your sound is a life long journey, but we are on course now at least. When we first started as a band we really just wanted to sound like the bands we grew up on. We all collectively love post-hardcore, so we naturally wanted to sound like Saosin, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Underoath, etc. We definitely felt bound to playing that style of music, and until New Language we didn’t really let the music we listened to outside of “the scene” influence our sound. I think on LP1, or whatever is next, you will see more and more influence from the artists we truly listen to, and you will hear more and more authentic Dead Lakes.

What names come to mind when thinking about your influences?

I feel like we are always trying to marry two worlds together. Our influences from the scene, and our influences outside of the scene. Like most bands in 2020 we are heavily influenced by Bring Me The Horizon. We also all collectively enjoy Emarosa, Balance and Composure, ISSUES, and Thousand Below. Outside of the scene, we all collectively enjoy The Neighbourhood, Twenty One Pilots, The 1975, and Pvris. 

Different members of the band all listen to different things on the day to day though. Cody, our bassist, is probably the only one who still heavily listens to bands from our scene. Legacy is influenced by a lot of different things, but mainly R&B and emo stuff. Max’s is mainly influenced by ambient music, as well as surfy indie music (DIIV, Ride, Beach Fossils). Chon mainly listens to emo trap, some heavy bands, and alt-pop. I am mainly influenced by alt-pop, top 40, and R&B. 

What’s the story behind your newest single (as well as the new EP coming out in May)? 

The story behind the song “Paradise” is just about finally starting that open conversation about your mental health. It’s a relieving feeling to be open with the people around you when you aren’t doing well. This song is that conversation explaining what it’s like sometimes to ride the rollercoaster of emotions when you are going through it.

New Language is all about redefining what success and happiness are to you. It’s about feeling self-doubt in today’s society and how I kind of found myself through that and intentionally released the gross standards we are supposed to keep. I didn’t “lower” my standards, I just set new ones that I found to have more truth. Standards that make me my best self.

What’s the scene like where you’re from? Do you find that it’s influenced or impacted the band as you continue to release music and tour to other places?

The Seattle scene is really cool. There’s so many historic bands, studios, and venues it’s insane. This era of the Seattle scene has been sick. We have been lucky enough to come up at the same time as a couple of other Seattle bands (Avoid, The Home Team). I feel like the pacific-northwest culture, and vibe, is something that has definitely influenced Dead Lakes.

Are there any topics that you find yourselves gravitating towards when you’re writing music? Any that you’d like to explore more in the future?

I would say most of my lyrical content up to this point has been about my mental health, and how that has affected my life. I will definitely never stop writing about that stuff because it’s very therapeutic to release those emotions through writing. With that said, I definitely want to use most of my future writing to form an argument against different aspects of societal norms. I don’t agree with a lot of traditional views, and I would love people to just ponder how weird our world is.

What do you hope that fans and new listeners take away from your new music?

We hope they understand that we’re constantly evolving attempting to fine-tune our sound. I want listeners to step away from any of our future releases with a hook stuck in their heads. I hope they want to listen again and again for all of the underlying pieces that they may have missed on the first listen.

What’s coming up for Dead Lakes in 2020? COVID-19 has made planning difficult, but what are you hoping come to fruition later this year?

We aim to make the most out of this time. The current state of the music industry has definitely been shaken. That being said, it’s so cool to see all of the different avenues that artists have used to stay active and keep providing content for listeners. We’re just hoping to tour as much as we possibly can when it is safe to do so again. We’ve been writing a lot and will continue to write to prepare to head into the studio. I think we have like 20 songs already written.

Is there anything else that you’d want people to know about you guys, or is there something you wish you got to talk about more that you may not get asked?

Make sure to follow us on our socials, and check out New Language when it drops May 1st. We like to go live on our Instagram (@deadlakesband) and hang out, so stop by and say “WHAZZZUUUPP!” Like they do in Scary Movie. Also shout-out to you for having us. This was fun.

Preorder Dead Lakes’ New Language EP here!

Story by Olivia Khiel
Photos courtesy of Dead Lakes