Newly signed to Rise Records, Minnesota newcomers Social Animals make emotive, scenic indie rock. Fresh from touring with label mates Angels & Airwaves, frontman Dedric Clark introduces his band.
Hey Dedric, how’s it going? How were your shows with Angels & Airwaves?
Aside from Tom [DeLonge] being way taller than me, the shows have been amazing. We’re really looking forward to a few more with them in Canada this month. Also, watching Ilan rip those drums to pieces every night is truly flooring.
Tell us about your band – where are you from, and how did you get together?
We are all from northern Minnesota here in the US. Tony (guitar) and I were drawn together out of pure desperation in a musical ghost town. We started playing for whoever would give us the best drink specials. Boyd (drums) tried out for a show, and we tried to fire him right after. He refused to leave and just kept showing up to shows and setting up. It was really awkward. But it was a testament to his relentlessness, and he eventually got really good and we are of course best friends now. I met Roger one morning at his job at the Shanty Bottle Shop in Duluth, MN where he was playing bass behind the counter. I had an insane hangover, and I asked him to play the show that night so I could have less responsibility. He never left.
Did you grow up in a musical household? What drew you to becoming a musician?
No, I didn’t. I wrote poetry my entire life and it eventually started to make more sense in song form. I played a half-assed “show” at a restaurant when I was 18, and they were naive enough to pay me for it. Once I realised I could make money from it, I never turned back and never got another job.
Is being in a band living up to the hype so far?
If you mean living in a van, sleeping in Walmart parking lots every night, peeing into empty windshield wiper fluid bottles, all while surviving off a steady diet of alcohol and stolen gas station saltine crackers for about five years with your best friends before eventually signing to Rise Records; I’d say yeah it lived up to the hype.
Can you recall the first song you wrote together? What was it about?
It was about the insane winters in Duluth, MN. I wrote it in the car on the way to a recording session in college. Eventually, we all moved to Portland, OR to take the band full time around 2014, and re-recorded there in Modest Mouse’s Ice Cream Party Studios. We ended up scrapping that whole album. It was for the best, trust me.
Has your songwriting style evolved much since then?
I hope it is much, much better.
How does being from the Midwest inform the kind of music you make?
I think it makes it more straightforward, cold, and dark.
How did you come to sign with Rise Records?
We just never gave up. It would have been easy too many times. I think our best quality is our ability to relentlessly lose, because we became amazing at it. But once the sting of losing wears off and you’re able to just plough through it, you get better. And once you get better, people notice.
What are you currently working on?
We finished our debut album, so I am piecing together words for album two. Constantly writing.
Are there any bands or musicians who you feel are doing particularly exciting things with music at the moment?
IDLES. Phoebe Bridgers. The National. Sam Fender. PUP.
Taken from the March issue of Upset, out now.