INTERVIEW: Dead American on the upcoming debut full length, touring again with Hands Like Houses and the roots of the band
The last time I spoke to Cove Reber, he found himself in a very different situation as did I. Interviewing Saosin at the end of 2009, Reber was about to break away from the unit after carrying the band vocally for the first five years of them being a band. After his time with the band, we didn’t hear too much from him until Dead American came to light. A band that is a perfect fit for Reber and one that is apparently his absolute baby. The band is only three tours in, two with Hands Like Houses that included supporting Beartooth the first time around and even found themselves opening for Eve 6, which may seem like a wildcard but considering the lengthy careers that Reber and Eve 6 have put in, it truly adds up.
Dead American found themselves at the time of this interview about to finish up their debut full length record but unfortunately with the Covid-19 pandemic, they may have to wait a minute to really push the album fully with touring and such but hopefully this interview will hold you over to then! The band has announced a handful of dates opening up for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus in June and Reber has announced another tour with Scary Kids Scaring Kids that is planned to hit Worcester July 12th with support coming from The Classic Crime, Picturesque, and Eidola!
It’s only the second day of this run, but obviously Dead American has toured before now. Maybe how did last night’s show go and hopes and expectations for this run? I know it’s around Shipwrecked, so there aren’t too too many dates around that.
Last night’s show was really cool. It was the same thing, like we haven’t played NYC and we got to play The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. And I’d never played at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. That’s a pretty legendary venue, so it was really cool for me. Don Veda and I, we both just did the Scary Kids Scaring Kids tour and that last night was the first night of this tour but we ended the Scary Kids Scaring Kids tour on Friday. And then we flew yesterday morning from Houston to New York. And then played that show two hours after landing. So it was a little rough, but rough meaning to me personally. It was rough. I was tired, just rundown into the ground from doing a lot of Scary Kids songs. It was still a fun show, a lot of people whose names I recognized from Instagram and stuff came out. And we all got to kind of meet for the first time and hang out. So it’s been a lot of fun coming back and doing all this stuff and playing shows again with Hands Like Houses. I was really looking forward to this tour because I already know them. When you already know a band and you go on tour with them, you’re just right back into being brothers the same way you left when you were all bummed out. So you’re all just stoked to see each other again, and go right back into all the old shenanigans.
But the expectations that I have for this tour have already been met, just even last night. Not knowing what to expect but getting a good response is a really good thing. And the crowd was just awesome, tons of people there, that makes it a lot easier to have a fun show. So you’re not just focusing on five to fifteen people, but no it was a really good turnout. I’m kind of expecting all these shows to be pretty next level.
It’s been a minute for Hands Like Houses since they’ve been here too.
I mean, when we came back with them, well we were kind of close to here, I mean you’re right it has been a minute. I was going to say, like nine months ago! But we did the Beartooth tour with them and it’s good to see them back over here in America. And to be on their bill. It’s been a lot of fun.
I actually work for this venue group, City Winery as my side hustle, and the owner Michael Dorf, and he opened The Knitting Factory. He sold all of his shares so he could open City Winery but he started The Knitting Factory, that was his baby.
That’s so awesome. The Knitting Factory, that’s such a beautiful place. I’ve seen so many videos from that place, and for me to actually stand on stage was pretty cool. It’s cool to play legendary places like that. It’s cool to play anywhere, period. But being in a band, being in a touring band, everybody could be in a band, but to be in a touring band, a band that gets to go on tour, you’re in a very small percentage of bands period. And it’s a huge honor to be able to do this. And to be able to come and play a bunch of new towns. A whole new set of music that nobody’s ever heard from me. If you remember Saosin, but you don’t know that I’m here, it’s kind of cool. There were a couple of people last night that were like, “Dude you look so familiar” and I kind of had to explain it to them. They were like, “No way”, and I just went, “No dude it’s like real life”. That’s really me, I’m really that guy. It’s actually really cool for me to be able to come back out and do this. Those eight years that I wasn’t doing anything, I never thought I’d be doing this or sitting here with you. I thought I’d still be making pizzas and making burritos and tacos which is what I do now. So it’s pretty cool, it’s really cool.
Burritos and tacos!
Yeah, I make good ass food.
Sounds like it! Then how has it been. I know from looking at the history of Saosin, you came maybe eight months into that band being a band and you made that band be able to happen and for several years. And now coming off the Scary Kids Scaring Kids tour, which was huge when they came back. Maybe that tour, how it was to perform with them, and then doing Dead American, having this return. You’re still doing the side gig.
The experience working for them. So I knew Tyson back in the day, and when he died, it was a very, very heartbreaking thing. Nobody should ever go out the way that he went out. So for me to be able to step in, it’s weird. Everybody was like, “You’re doing a good job filling in shoes.” I’m well prepared to fill shoes, I’ve got big feet. You’ve got one, I’ll cram my foot in there. It was a good experience. There are certain feelings that you feel onstage when you play a show. Especially headlining. You’re almost guaranteed to have a good crowd response when you headline. Because everybody’s there to see you. It was really nerve wracking going into it, because the last thing I wanted to do was not do Tyson justice. I wanted to make sure that everybody, in the band when I first met them, and who played this tour with us, I wanted to make sure those three guys sounded the best that they had ever sounded. And that’s not to take away from Tyson, but it’s just to say, it’s almost like that guitar hero guy where you start messing up notes and everyone starts booing. I don’t want to be that guy.
So my whole perception and mindset going into that was just, ‘Remember the words and sing the songs’. Sing them how they were, do your best to sing them as close to the way as he sang them on record. We have similar ranges, we have similar tones to some of the vowels we hit. The way he projected them is similar to how I project them. So it worked really well and it was a blast. There were a lot of feelings on stage that I had never felt while performing so that was a really cool learning experience for me and it was a good bonding experience for the three dudes and I, who I know, who were in Scaring Kids back in the day. To kind of pick up where they left off and to pay our respects to not only the people who came out but to Tyson himself. That was a really cool tour. I’m kind of used to criticism and filling shoes so it wasn’t like I was nervous about that. It was more, I just want to make sure, if his spirit’s in the room, that he’s not trying to dip out because I’m blowing it. So that was just the type of tour that that was. It was a really good one to come back and get in singing shape for. I haven’t sung in a long time in the way that I did on that tour so it was nerve-wracking beforehand but as soon as ‘The empire will fall like they planned on’ (from the song “The City Sleeps in Flames”), as soon as that first line hit live that first day, it was like oh, ‘I’ve got this’. This is going to be everything that everybody here wants it to be. And everybody on stage wants it to be.
So it was really cool to get into that tour and be able to see everybody who’s like 28 to 35, 36 just mosh and jump and stage-dive and crowd-surf. It was a really cool and fun experience. I didn’t think that they had that energy still. I even said it on that tour, I was just like, “Man, I wish we could just bust into a whole high school senior class just to stand and watch. Like you’re not allowed to participate but you could stand and watch”. Because what these late 20’s/early 30’s grown ass people were doing, I haven’t seen a young crowd do in a long time. But it was just a lot of fun, lot of chaos, lot of madness. I said in an interview, I wanted these shows to be the powderkeg. The guys who wrote those songs are the fuse, I just wanted to be the guy to sit there and light it every night. I don’t want to say I exceeded my expectations but the crowd exceeded my expectations which raised the level of excitement for me personally.
Then coming back to Dead American, I know you released the EP in 2018 but you just released the single, “Wandering” in 2019. You did the tour with Beartooth, you’re doing this tour. When it came to writing “Wandering”, was it something where you wrote it during the EP period or is it something where you’ve been writing recently?
No, so when we wrote the EP, we wrote the EP back in 2016 and we sat on it for like two years. We did four songs back in 2016, then in 2017, we did four more songs. “Wandering” happened to be one of those songs that we recorded with the same guy who recorded the EP. But it never got released. And so we wanted to release it, but we wanted to release it with the band. Unfortunately we lost our guitar player, he’s got a family he’s got to take care of, just life. Still in really good contact with him, I still love that dude to pieces, I’ll always respect and love everything he’s ever done musically because he’s super talented. So, we did “Wandering” with the same guy who’s produced and recorded our newest record, that I have to go back and finish recording vocals for, but yeah we did that song a while ago. We had it written, we just didn’t record it because it didn’t fit the five songs that were released. We held onto that, we moved to California together from Utah. I was living in Utah for about four months, our guitar player Chad was living up there too. Bunch of weird things happened. It all just panned out for our bass player Josh, me and Chad, it just worked out for us to all move to California. It took us a little bit to settle in and really go after it hard. But yeah, “Wandering” was a song that we back-pocketed and we put it out. We have six songs that we’re sitting on. Those songs will come out in July or August sometime. We haven’t really set a date yet because we want to make sure the record’s done before we set the date.
It’s that first record too, that first full length is so important.
Yeah it’s really important, which is why I want to do sixteen songs. “Wandering” will probably end up on it so it will probably be 17 songs. Maybe a little dual disc. But I wanted it to be something where everybody who is a fan of me, who’s seen me do anything, whether that’s filling in for a band or singing with Saosin, I want everybody who’s seen me to get the vibes that they got when they did see me. As well as, I want them to hear this new Cove. So there’s a lot of songs on this record, it’s all over the place, that’s the best way I can put it. It spans a huge spectrum of the post hardcore screamo emo genre, the whole Warped Tour scene. We kind of cover it all. It’s very exciting, I’m actually really excited to do this tour. We end this tour in February, on the 11th or the 12th. Then on the 18th, we go in and I start recording and finishing the record.
Then you’ve obviously been doing music for so long, you’ve been involved with music for so long, you see so many artists go back to bands or they start new bands. When you approached the idea of Dead American, or maybe when someone else approached you with the idea of Dead American, what was it like for you? Did you go in sort of holding back certain things because of that?
So Dead American, I never thought Dead American was going to be Dead American. I didn’t think that we were actually going to put it out. I thought we were just going to do it for fun. Just record music and put stuff out. Just kind of sit on it and keep working my job at home. The whole time I was gone, I would go to shows and the shows that I would go to were shows that my friends were playing. And a lot of the turnouts and the crowds at these shows, they weren’t what they once were when I was touring. And I was watching these guys play, whether they were in the band that they were in then, or a new band, and I was kind of turned off by it. Everybody started taking Molly and Ecstasy and just going and watching light shows. Some dude hitting play on his computer and just watching the lights go pretty. The whole music industry has just changed but when we put it out, we had interest from a booking agent. I randomly got this dude’s email because he booked our first show and I was like, ‘Yo man, I need a booking agent’. He was all, ‘Yo man I live in your town now.’ Nothing was really even solidified in my head because I didn’t really believe it was going to be a touring thing until I met with him. Then once I met with him, we talked. It was like, alright, let’s do this. You’re the dude who knows me, you’re the dude who knows my genre, you know exactly what we should be doing. So I’m going to put my life in your hands and just say go. Anything you send my way, I’m just going to say yes to. And I’ll show up on that day, I’ll do my job, and I’ll make sure that the best version of me comes out in every moment of every show. It’s a blessing to be back out on the road just because I never thought it would happen again. But yeah, Dead American was just supposed to be a thing in my head where I’m just going to say whatever I want, do whatever I want and if somebody hears it and they end up liking it, cool. I’ll still be here making burritos at my restaurant.
I’m sure you make some really good burritos.
Oh, I make the best burritos. San Diego’s got the best Mexican food. Everybody is always across the country like, ‘We got good Mexican food’ and I’m like you don’t have Mexican food. You got some European style Mexican food. Yeah, it’s just a trip. It’s honestly a big trip for me. To be out here doing this and not doing that.
I’m sure you’re grateful, you’ve put in so much time.
I enjoy all the moments. I don’t even think about the time that I put in in the past. I know how lucky I am.
You see all the time how people have been trampled down by staying in it long term. Maybe it helps that you had some time to be human.
Well, I feel like that was the whole point of me getting into Saosin, or at least staying in Saosin rather. I had a choice to make when I joined Saosin. It was either, join Saosin and do this or I go on my mission, being raised LDS. So I chose Saosin because I felt like the music I listened to, that led me to want to do Saosin, was really dark. It was kind of depressing, there was no sense of hope, there was no sense of positivity that came out of that music at the time. A lot of it was just angry and angsty and all of that stuff. Since I wasn’t going to go on my mission, I wanted to bring something that was me. I’m a pretty hopeful person. I’ve been up and down since that, I lost a lot of hope. Unfortunately my music doesn’t help me, but I wrote those songs to bring some hope to that genre. To bring some positive vibes to it, that wasn’t your typical hardcore positive straightedge vibes. I wanted to be me.
So with this, with Dead American, my intention as soon as I heard the music, was all the thoughts I’ve been having and all the shit that I’ve been going through, I’ve never really talked about it in Saosin. At the time when I was going through stuff, I would always just kind of keep it in and not write about it. I mean I wrote about it kind of on the second record, but not to the most blatant of extent. I wasn’t 100%, this is it and here’s that line that I’ve reached with this train of thought. That’s the conclusion I came to. So with Dead American, I just started saying all this shit that pissed me off and I just realized that this was kind of cool. I didn’t think it would be this cool then when people started gravitating towards it, I was like oh, I guess everyone else is just as pissed off as I am.
A little bit more open about it with Dead American.
Well, we’re all older now. We all grew up. My age group, at least here in the US of males, we’re going through one of the toughest times for any age group prior. When my parents were my age, they didn’t have it as difficult. When that fucking recession hit, it set all of us back. And we didn’t even know it was setting us back but it set us back. And it held us down, and so a lot of us are really pissed off and frustrated with how the world’s gone. How our lives are gone so I took all those frustrations that I had had with my bosses, with the music industry, with seeing bands change their sounds and stuff, I’m just going to say it all. Like in hip hop, shots fired. That’s the whole theme throughout hip hop. I’m not here to call anybody out but I just wanted to say what was on my fucking mind. Let people into this side of me and pull out the guns. Come back swinging.
So that’s just kind of the mentality. The new record that we’re working on falls right in line with that. We’re still a ‘Fuck you’ band, as Chad says but it’s really nice to just come back and say what’s on my mind. Instead of trying to keep things hidden. We’re all emotional people but I tried to hide certain things back in the day and now I’m just going to wear everything on my sleeve and let it just ride. If my mouth gets me in trouble, it gets me in trouble but I’ve got a mouth still and I know how to talk. If you’ve got beef, we can talk. If I said something that offended you, fucking talk to me. I don’t mean to offend you but I’m not going to not say what’s on my mind.