10 x 4 – Death Rattle

Words by Andras G. Varga

The London-based duo Death Rattle has a name with a gothic appeal which could also grace a hardcore metal band. But don’t be fooled—their dark’n’heavy gloom (or is it doom?) pop is rooted in the darker sonic experimentation of Fever Ray and industrial shadows of Nine Inch Nails. After their debut ep He&I on Frontal Noize and a massive tour schedule set to conquer continental Europe in the last couple of months, Helen and Chris Hamilton are currently working on their new album in an abandoned Normandian house, and it’s set to be released this year. We asked them to answer our famous questionnaire to find out more about them.

1. Most memorable show?
Chris: For me it was last night! It was really good in Cluj, Romania. And we played in a prison for our first show which was in Leeuwardenken in Holland. It was really good to feeling to travel to Europe and have our first show in a proper prison with the cells.

2. The album that changed the way you thought?
Helen: Mine is Fever Ray’s only album. It’s really cinematic and not so much about songs but about sound… It was massively influential for me.
Chris: It’s the El Diablo by American band Will Haven, a really slow heavy band. I was 13 and my brother took me to one of their shows and it was the first time I paid attention to anything that had no interest in being a really successful big band. It was purely about making the noise they wanted to make. That changed everything for me, I wanted to do this all my life, just make music.

3. Name three essential artists.
Helen: Depeche Mode.
Chris: Nine Inch Nails.
Helen: Björk.

4. One thing you can’t live without?
Helen: Sleep.
Chris: Chocolate.

5. What defines your creative process?
Chris: A big house in Normandy, France.
Helen: We rent a 17th century house built on the ruins of an abbey; historic and old, massive and empty. We record there. For us to be able to get away and create, to write the album, this is the place.

6. Together or alone?
Chris: Together wins.
Helen: Together. We mix our ideas.

7. Should music be free?
Helen: Not if we want to survive as a band. We have to try to make money somewhere. We can do T-shirts and live shows and we’re happy to play every night of the year doing live shows because that’s what we enjoy over selling CDs or vinyl… But we have to get something back from the stuff going away in order to keep it rolling. I don’t want to be rich or famous, I just want to have enough money to do it, moving forward.
Chris: The best way to try to live from this is sell your CDs as cheap as you can, maybe online or through giving stuff away for free. You make your music accessible so people come to your shows, then you live from selling T-shirts and the money you get for the concert just covers the petrol.

8. What goes in your coffee?
Helen: Sweetener, no sugar.
Chris: Nothing goes in mine.

9. Is any aspect of fame important?
Helen: If having a voice becoming known presents the power to talk about issues then trying to raise awareness is important. I’d like to try influence people to look at the way the world works and do something about it. If there is any way I want to be famous I’d want to use my fame like that.
Chris: But you make music, what right do you have to tell someone to change their life?
Helen: I wouldn’t be telling them… Okay, you’re right, I’m not going to tell anyone what to do, but I can show what I believe in. And you have a voice and people are watching.
Chris: And there is another side of it. People are paying attention, do you have that responsibility? It’s just a part of it: people are listening and if you feel strong about something you have that responsibility to try showing something different.