Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms
Close

Sign up for our mailing list

Press

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Dead Man's Bones Bio (2009)

When Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields met in Toronto in 2005 they wanted to hate each other. The two were dating sisters and resented the forced time they were expected to spend with one another, until a conversation stumbled upon their mutual obsession with the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. Zach was so preoccupied with ghosts as a kid that he was put into therapy, and Ryan parents moved out of his childhood home because they believed it was haunted. Neither of them had really outgrown their fascination with ghosts, monsters, graveyards, zombies or anything deathly. Once they realized their shared affinity for the eerie, they started trying to write a theatrical monster ghost love story for the stage. They decided that this story should have music so they began learning how to play various instruments. By the time they had written their first few songs they realized how difficult it would be and how much money it would cost to create the show. They decided to continue with the music and put the play aside. Some of their sounds reflected the music they listened to--a little bit of doo-wop and artists such as The Shangri-Las,The Shags, The Cure, Company Flow, Sam Cooke, The Misfits, James Brown, Bobby Vinton, Joy Division, The Andrew Sisters and Daniel Johnston, to name a few.

Zach and Ryan were also individually inspired by two musical programs of the past. Ghetto Reality is a 60's musical masterpiece conceptualized by Nancy Dupree (an inner-city school music teacher in Zach's hometown of Rochester, New York). She made a name for herself and her students when she stepped away from a traditional curriculum to let her students make their own music about things that were relevant to them and their world. In Canada, where Ryan was raised, Hans Fenger brought together 60 untrained children in 1976 and created The Langley Schools Music Project, Innocence and Despair, that featured flawed young voices singing the tunes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys and songs by many other famous artists. It was decided early on that their newly formed band, Dead Man's Bones, wanted to work kids into what was shaping up to be their first album, Monster Music. There was something about the earnest recordings of those kids that hit a nerve with Zach and Ryan that seemed to resonate with their own musical evolution.

They gave themselves rules for the recording process (akin to Dogma 95) to make sure that their mistakes were captured and integrated into the music making process. Examples of rules ranged from trying not to do more than three takes no matter how bad the outcome, not using any steel string or electric guitars, no click tracks, playing all the instruments themselves even if they had never touched them before, etc. Of course, rules fracture here and there but the intent was to keep focus on not trying to appear more sophisticated than they were or trying to hide where they might be amateur and instead finding a way to feature their faults by framing them with their strengths.

Also incorporated into the project was foley such as tin foil for rain, creaking doors, paper ripping for thunder, foot steps, screaming, crying, waves, werewolf howling, boat noises, crickets, etc.

Two years later Dead Man's Bones finished their record with the L.A.'s Silverlake Conservatory Childrens Choir, produced by Tim Anderson (of Imarobot). Tim was fated to job from the moment Ryan heard him slip Disney's Haunted Mansion record into a mix while spinning at a party. He became the producer of the group and of Werewolf Heart Records, the label that the trio formed to stay true to the idea of doing everything themselves. Dead Man's Bones first full length debut comes out October 6th after signing to Anti Records this summer.

Press: Biz 3 Publicity dana@biz3.net
Management: Kathryn Frazier Kathryn@biz3.net
Booking: Windish Agency tom@windishagency.com

Dead Man's Bones' artist page

Browse by Artist

1398All Artists 56Dr. Dog 51Sean Rowe 45The Milk Carton Kids 43Lost In The Trees 42Tinariwen 41Neko Case 37Mavis Staples
33Michael Franti and Spe... 33Galactic 31Jolie Holland 29Son Little 28William Elliott Whitmo... 27Man Man 25Bettye LaVette 25Saintseneca 23Jason Lytle 22Booker T. Jones 22Sage Francis 21Islands 20Daniel Lanois 20DeVotchKa 18Tom Waits 18Joe Henry 18Wilco 17Glen Hansard 17Tim Fite 17Grinderman 17Christopher Paul Stell... 17Delicate Steve 16Calexico 16Porter Wagoner 16Doe Paoro 16Peter Silberman 16So Much Light 15Yann Tiersen 15Xenia Rubinos 15Andy Shauf 14John K. Samson 14The Antlers 13The Coup 13Busdriver 13Rain Machine 12The Melodic 11Kelly Hogan 11Beth Orton 11Keaton Henson 11Prism Tats 10Roky Erickson 10Os Mutantes 10Xavier Rudd 10Bob Mould 10Dead Man's Bones 10Beat Connection 10Japandroids 9The Locust 9Mose Allison 9Marketa Irglova 9Kate Bush 9Jade Jackson 8The Frames 8A Girl Called Eddy 8Greg Graffin 8Cameron Avery 7Solillaquists of Sound 7The Field 7Alec Ounsworth 6Ramblin Jack Elliott 6Broken Twin 6Kronos Quartet with Br... 6N.A.S.A. 6Pops Staples 6Deafheaven 6Cass McCombs 6The Drums 5The Weakerthans 5Tweedy 5Elliott Smith 5Cadence Weapon 5The Swell Season 5Girlpool 4Eddie Izzard 4Antibalas 4One Day As A Lion 4Muggs 4Petra Haden 4Arc Iris 4case/lang/veirs 4The Dream Syndicate 3Danny Cohen 3Marianne Faithfull 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3The Book Of Knots 3Curtis Harding 3Simian Mobile Disco 3Los Angeles Police Dep... 2Chuck E. Weiss 2Blackalicious 2Savath & Savalas 2Spoon (Europe only) 2Billy Bragg 2Lyrics Born 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Screaming Lights (Euro... 2Title Fight 1Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1Rogue's Gallery 1Jeff Tweedy
See Full List+