Down and Outlaws photo by Harland Spinks

Since banding together in 2012, the four guys of Down and Outlaws have been crafting a dirty blues rock sound that does not mess around — unadulterated rock and roll made with absolutely no traces of “indie” or lo-fi. They leave the fluff and filler at home in favor of gritty, grimy, whiskey-soaked tunes, bridging western blues vibes with classic rock and sounding exactly how an outfit called Down and Outlaws should sound. Apart from coming up with one of the best band names in recent memory, lead vocalist Peter Danzig, bassist Chris Danzig, drummer Jason Jones and lead guitarist Kyle Luck have been spreading their music like a plague around the Bay Area and are ready to release their debut EP, Backwards From the Dead.

“There’s at least one song about the devil and one or two about getting your heart broke,” describes Chris.

“Let’s just say it’s loud, it’s soft, it’s mad, it’s sad, it’s rock and roll,” adds Peter, who lends primitive textures to the band’s tight compositions with his raspy, growling voice.

The band is hosting a record release show on March 8th at Elbo Room, but before you get to hear the EP in its entirety, we’re proud to premiere Down and Outlaws’ first single, “Backwards From the Dead.” Painted with steady rhythms, the title track chugs like a speeding train until it’s interrupted about halfway through by a drum section fit for an execution scene. The ominous beat ushers in a raw, unsuspecting harmonica interlude that brings warmth to the heart of the song. Peter’s vocal stylings become particularly animalistic towards the end of the track — just listen to his repetitions of “backwards from the dead” — before a much anticipated guitar solo from Kyle acts as a quick reminder of why guitar rock is the best kind of rock music.

“The lyrics of ‘Backwards From the Dead’ are essentially poking fun at people’s addiction to popularity and fame and how it can more or less kill your soul,” explains Peter. “It’s an account of obsession and getting away from it.”

Kyle adds, “The song is about obsessing over fame, but the EP title has to do with the idea of rebirth. For us, ‘Backwards for the Dead’ means breathing again with a new sense of purpose and a goal. When we wrote the song, it was an important concept for all four of us individually and as a group.”

While the core of Down and Outlaws’ sound is loud blues rock, and we can definitely expect to be assaulted by onslaughts of drums and sharp guitar riffs on the new EP, Backwards From the Dead is not a one-note record.

Chris describes a particularly moving session when his brother was recording vocals: “When Peter was tracking vocals to ‘Truth Be Told,’ a more ballady song, the rest of us were basically weeping in the booth. We kinda left our hearts and an empty bottle of whiskey in the booth that day.”

Armed with an intuition for when to turn it up and when to slow it down, the band is ready to fill a void within San Francisco’s burgeoning rock and roll community with a confident mid-fi sound. Down and Outlaws are scheduled to play Wednesday night’s Noise Pop Happy Hour, presented by San Franpsycho, along with the Los Angeles-based group Great White Buffalo and San Francisco’s alternative rock/pop outfit Nova Albion. So come out to Benders on February 27th to enjoy some cheap drinks and new tunes before the official release of Backwards From the Dead on March 8th.

San Franpsycho presents Noise Pop Happy Hour with Great White Buffalo, Nova Albion, Down and Outlaws
February 27, 2013
5pm, free, 21+

Zodiac Death Valley, Down and Outlaws, Disappearing People, Black Cobra Vipers
Elbo Room
March 8, 2013
9pm, $10, 21+