When you think about Dead Poetic's new album, Vices, think classic rock n' roll or the '90s alt-rock nation. Think about saints and sinners, or about the involvement of producer Aaron Sprinkle (Pedro The Lion, Anberlin) or the Deftones Chino Moreno.
Above all think about honesty. Just be sure of one thing: never, ever, think about Dead Poetic and the "S" word again. Vices is anything but screamo. "When we're talking about the best records of all time, I'm definitely a dude that's going to talk about Led Zeppelin before I'm talking about Refused," proclaims Dead Poetic singer Brandon Rike.
Vices owes more to Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam than whichever "scene" bands have skipped the VFW Halls and gone straight to the mainstream this week. Sure, Dead Poetic's breakout album New Medicines evidenced touches of the now over-played sound. But Dead Poetic has always evolved. Vices reflects their strongest evolution yet.
"If I could change anything about New Medicines I would take out some of the elements that pigeonholed it to the 'screamo' genre because that was never our intention," Rike clarifies. "On the other hand, those sensibilities added to the record's success. I'll always be able to listen to it and be excited about it. But we're not hardcore kids. We had our choice bands that we dug but hardcore was never our cup of tea. We were always more into grunge. We never set out to be a 'cool' band -- just a good band."
Truth be told, Rike's earliest loves were his older brother's favorites like Skid Row, Warrant and Motley Crue. Later it was records by Green Day's Dookie and Weezer's that inspired he and guitarist Zach Miles to form a band with two pals. Four Wall Blackmail introduced the world to Dead Poetic in 2002. New Medicines emerged two years later. Sometime after that, the group completely disintegrated, only to be reborn anew.
"We have been extremely blessed to have the lineup changes that we've had," Rike insists. "Shortly after the band dissolved, Jesse Sprinkle called us up. That was a no brainer for us. He's a phenomenal drummer. After Beloved had broken up, Dusty [Redmon] sent me a text asking, 'You guys still need a guitarist?' We had gotten along with him great on all of the tours we did together. Dusty told us about Beloved's original bass player, John [Brehm], and he fit in perfectly. It was completely effortless."
Unencumbered by expectations Dead Poetic set out to write the record they had always wanted to make. The end result is something more honest in every sense of the word, musically and lyrically. Songs like "Crashing Down" and "Paralytic," co-written with Deftones Chino Moreno (who also guests) are the tip of a rich iceberg full of new sounds.
"This is the kind of music we signed up to play when we first fell in love with rock n' roll," Rike says. "And lyrically, I'm not going out of my way to strike a nerve but I'm by no means scared to. I want to get under people's skin with this record. And I want to be extremely honest about the type of people we really are and our shortcomings. You've got to give people the whole entire truth. We're very spiritual people but we're also sinners and heathens like anybody else. And we're not scared to show that side of ourselves.
So forget the "S" word. When you think about Dead Poetic, it's all about the "H" word. Says Rike: "In the end, honesty will be the biggest testament to our lives."