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The Deadly Syndrome 

“We stand around and smash stuff”

Wednesday, Apr 18 2007
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What’s the cure for the Deadly Syndrome? Doin’ the Antler Dance.
(Photo by Alan Gastelum)

WHEN: Opening for U.K. dance-punk darlings the Klaxons on Sat., April 21, in the newly reopened Ex-Plex

WHAT: “It started as a joke,” says guitarist William Etling, explaining the dangerous name for this benign Silver Lake indie band. “[It’s] a funny name for a folk band!” Kind of like calling a baby hamster Mister Vicious. But more ironic. And nothing to do with hamsters.

WHO: The foursome of affable lads comprises Etling, drummer Jesse Hoy, keyboardist Mike Hughes and singer-bassist Chris Richard. This hodgepodge of old and new friends began messing around, making noise in the guesthouse of a little ranch, and soon played their first “show” on the porch for some pals. Within months, they were appearing on bills with Silver Lake’s biggest bands (including Cold War Kids and Monsters Are Waiting) and had earned a reputation for explosively energetic live shows.

SIGNS/SYMPTOMS: The Deadly Syndrome presents with convulsive rhythm, feral drum bashing, modest guitar hooks and folky piano stitched between frank verse. The track “I Hope I Become a Ghost” is carried by a simple but ridiculously catchy piano line written by drummer Hoy, who hops up and switches instruments with keyboardist Hughes during the live rendition. Richard’s strained falsetto brings to mind the glory of Sting in his pre-tantra days, as he delivers with just enough wry sincerity the lyric “I hope I become a ghost/And watch all my grandkids growing old . . .” The output is a hybrid of pop and folk likened to Wolf Parade and Built to Spill, and landed them a deal with L.A.-based Dim Mak records.

SICK, DUDE: Exposure to the Deadly Syndrome can result in symptoms such as uncontrollable head bobbing, giddy smiling and possible booty-wagging. They’ve been known to whip up a vortex of onstage energy while gathered around the drum kit, each member wielding a mallet or two. Asked if this is a group catharsis, Etling humbly replies, “Yep, we all get to stand around and smash stuff, and some people actually enjoy watching that.”

PROGNOSIS: They’ll be releasing their debut, Ortolan, in August, and a tour to spread their syndrome is in the works.


Click here for an MP3 of The Deadly Syndrome song, "I Hope I Become a Ghost."

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