The Deadmen
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The Deadmen

Washington, Iowa, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Washington, Iowa, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Americana




"The BYT Interview"

“OK, we’re starting off on the wrong foot.”

Thirty seconds have passed in my attempt to interview the Deadmen, and Josh Read is already playing peacekeeper.

The 38-year-old former frontman of Revival is the soft-spoken one of this group, and while he sort of resembled Daryl from “The Walking Dead” at the Deadmen’s 9:30 Club performance this summer, he’s shed that unkempt look for something more high and tight. He still has facial fair, because everyone in the Deadmen has facial hair.

Read’s call for civility, however, does not appear to be resonating.

“Forget this,” Justin Jones interjects incredulously.

But as is often the case with the Virginia singer-songwriter, he’s messing around. Or, at least, you hope that he’s messing around. Jones’ deadpan can be impenetrable. And in the company of his bandmates, packed into a small room backstage at the Black Cat, he’s not passing up many opportunities for a good quip.

There’s a lot of laughter when you’re in close quarters with the Deadmen. There’s a tangible sense of familiarity and shared experience between them. The four core members – Read, Jones, Justin Hoben, and John Scoops – have known each other for years and years, as bartenders and fellow DC musicians and friends and eventually bandmates. Read, Jones, and Hoben have each fronted their own bands – and in some cases, continue to do so – and so they’re comfortable answering questions about their music.

It makes sense, then, that the Deadmen’s rock ‘n’ roll would sound like such a natural combination of their songwriting styles. The project has taken time, though: Four years have passed since BYT first talked with the band, and yet the Deadmen are just now putting the final touches on a proper full-length debut, which they hope to have out in March.

The band gave listeners a good idea of what to expect earlier this year with two releases, The Deadmen EP and the Crystal 7″: A sound that cuts across a large swath of the American landscape, from rollicking bar rock to lonesome folk balladry, with everything in between fair game. And nearly everything builds to a glorious crescendo of electric guitars.

It’s mid-November when we meet. Aside from Jones, no one has yet changed into what’s become the band’s staple ensemble: All white everything.

“That’s how you shed the plaid thing,” Read tells me. “Because if you go all black, then everyone thinks you’re an outlaw or Johnny Cash.”

The Deadmen play DC9 on Tuesday with Carrie Ashley Hill and Brandon Minow. The Deadmen EP and Crystal 7″ are out now on Eight Gang Switch Records.


What’s the experience of working and performing with other songwriters been like?

Justin Jones: Personally, I love it. It takes a lot of the pressure off the whole thing. When you play as a front man of a band, it’s less fun. There’s a lot of stuff that you have coordinate and think about. You’re in charge of almost everything. With this band, nobody’s in charge. Nobody coordinates anything! [Laughs] And if nobody shows up [at a concert], we still have a lot of fun! There’s something very liberating about it.

Justin Hoben: I don’t like taking the lead at all. When I’m on stage, I don’t really know what I’m doing in terms of what things should sound like. It’s nice to have people to defer to.

Jones: We basically tell him how to sound.

Hoben: I just stand with my arms crossed until soundcheck is over. It works great for me.

Are you writing songs specifically for the Deadmen at this point? Is there are a character to the type of songs you bring to this band?

Jones: I think so.

Josh Read: If I’m writing a song, I think that the Deadmen can play it – whatever it is. Part of the whole point [of the Deadmen] is that we bring all of our different styles together.

I’m not doing anything outside of this band, because I don’t really want to. I don’t want to fucking tell people what to do. I don’t want to book shows. It’s more fun to play with these guys. In my opinion, you’re talking about some pretty capable songcrafting ability. It’s pretty hard to beat.

So, anything I write, I figure that if I can’t sing it well, then these two probably can. Plus, I pretty much don’t write songs anymore.

Jones: That’s the other thing. You might be cranking out some songs, but I’m writing a song, like, every two or three months. [Laughs]

Read: I’m working on some shit long term.

Hoben: I wrote one of the songs on the new record eleven years fucking ago.

Jones: Our next record will likely be a greatest hits. [Laughs] The Essential Deadmen.

15850092971_0275fbc021_oWhat exactly is going with the new record?

Read: It’s being mixed right now.

Jones There’s not really a plan on it right now. There’s no timeline that we’re shooting for. I would say we’ll have it out by SXSW, ideally. So maybe there is a timeline.

Hoben: Or a deadline anyway.

Jones: A deadline. It’s part of the timeline. It’s at the end.

Hoben: It’s Terminus.

Read: Ostensibly, the concept was that we were going to finish mixing it [this] Sunday, and master it over Thanksgiving weekend, but we don’t know if that’s a reality or not.

Jones: We’ve been talking about that for a while. It’s long e-mail thread. I can forward it to you. [Laughs]

When were the songs tracked?

Hoben: We had a week set out in late June.

Jones: And then it took longer than we thought. We wrapped up in late September.

Read: It was a funny recording process, because we set aside a week, and then none of us were available. So, we just started recording. We got the drums in that week, and then we got the drums in following two weeks, and then we started doing guitars and vocals. Then we went out and played more shows than we had before we started recording, so we changed all of the songs. Now we’ve gone back to try to finish the songs and inject those changes into them

Jones: That super cohesive live vibe.

Hoben: There wasn’t a time in the recording process where all of us were in the studio together. It was a situation where someone would go to the studio any time that he could.

Read: We’re still trying to figure it out.

Jones: I actually sent some songs to somebody, and he asked if we tracked them live. So I said, “Yes.” [Laughs] So, we tracked live.


Had any of you ever made a record like that?

Jones: No. [Laughs] This was our first experience like that.

Hoben: Well, the seven-inch was similar. That was done in Justin’s basement, and it was sort of done one at a time.

Read: Interestingly, all of the albums that we will have released by SXSW will all have a different drummer on them.

Jones: And the next one will too. [Laughs] Goddammit!

What do you guys keep doing to kill off your drummers?

Jones: We’re not killing them! Drummers just seem to have a weak moral fiber. [Laughs]

Hoben: No, drummers have a lot going on, and if you don’t get one when he’s in a really vulnerable moment, then you can’t tame him the way you want to, and he has the freedom to go play with all of his other bands.

Read: Drummers are in high demand.

Jones: There are, like, five good ones in a hundred mile radius. And we play one show every six months.

Hoben: It’s hard to make it worth it for a drummer.

Jones: Or… it’s perfect.

Did that sort of disjointed approach have any effect on the songs?

Jones: We weren’t writing the songs in studio. We had already played all of those songs live as a band. We weren’t like, “Well, here we are. What do we do?” We knew what exactly what we were going for.

Read: It’s different from writing a record in the studio.


Do you remember when you first met each other?

Hoben: I remember that I played a show at DC9 – I think opening for a band that Josh was in. We both had the same guitar.

Jones: I don’t think DC9 existed back then.

Read: It was Velvet Lounge.

Hoben: Fine. Whatever it was –

Read: My whole band backed him up.

Hoben: No, we played before that – when you were in Speed Freaks or Getaway Plan or –

Read: The Getaway.

Jones: The Getaway Plan? [Laughs] This was Justin’s pop punk stuff.

Hoben: I met Justin [Jones] when I was working at the 9:30 Club, and he started working there. There weren’t many Justins in the town at that point.

Jones: We were the only two. We looked it up.

Read: I used to play shows with bands that John [Scoops] was in, during the 90s, but we never hung out.

Jones: I met John when he was playing at 9:30 with Typefighter. I started talking to him outside. I think I called him a day later and said, like, “Want to play in another crappy band?” Will [Waikart] is in Typefighter, as well.

Hoben: I met Will last Thursday.

Read: I met Will whenever – the Friday before.

Jones: And they’ve been together ever since. [Laughs]

Read: I went down to see Typefighter play, because I knew that he was going to play with us, and I wanted to see how he plays.

Will Waikart: And then they couldn’t find anyone else to play.

Read: I met Justin [Jones] because he had a hot bartender girlfriend.

Jones: I didn’t know that part of the story. [Laughs] We’re all learning stuff tonight.

Read: He’s going to beat me up now.


What happens when one of you brings a song to the band? Do songs take a different direction than they would if left your own devices?

Jones: Sure.

Read: We don’t have a dialogue in the sense that some bands do – they’re more sophisticated than we are. We just kind of let the songs progress. Or else it’s like, “Here’s a tune. Here’s how it goes.” And everyone plays it. And then over a series of months, it changes. We’ll work something out, and then forget all of it and work something else out.

Jones: Since any of us being capable of directing the aesthetic of a song, it’s cool when someone brings something to the band, because at some point, somebody is going to have a brilliant idea, and it’s either going to be shot down or we’ll say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” It makes the songs better. We’re definitely better as a group than we are on our own.

Read: We play all of my songs differently than I would have absent this group. “Old Stone Bridge” started out as a rhythm track and vocal in my head, from a dream I had about people [standing] at RFK Stadium, and now it’s this pop punk thing.

Jones: Going back to the pop-punk roots! We’re going back to the Getaway Plan!

Hoben: I’ve been listening to Justin’s solo songs and what Josh did with Revival for a long time, so it’s incredible when someone brings a song to the band and I get to actually give input – even little things like, “It would be awesome if we double this section.” We’ll try pretty much every suggestion. Some of them sticks, and some of them don’t.

Read: We try to let each other play whatever someone wants to play.

Hoben: It’s a safe place.

Read: The concept is to be like: Everybody do what you think is right, and if it sucks, somebody will eventually say something – quietly.

Hoben: It still hurts, though.

Jones: Quietly… through the mic on stage: “Don’t do that ever again.”

15826256866_5e73f43428_oThe Deadmen’s music can get a little bleak. But in person, hanging out, you’re are all funny, genial guys. What draws you towards the darker side in your songwriting?

Hoben: I try to write funny things! I have lots of funny lines!

Jones: You need to dig into our lyric book, man. [Laughs]

Hoben: Yeah, dig into our b-sides and the back catalog, man.

Jones: We were actually just talking about this.

Hoben: I feel this way about Brandon Butler, who was one of our drummers. He is one of the funniest motherfuckers in the world, and his songs are so fucking dark. I don’t know why it happens.

Jones: Maybe we’re funny because we get to let go of that stuff.

Hoben: Maybe that’s true.

Jones: That’s what I tell my wife. She asks me the same thing. She’s like, “Why doesn’t your personality ever show in your music?” And I’m like, “Well, it is. It’s just part of my personality that I don’t want to show other people.”

Read: I was thinking about this the other day. I was listening to country music radio, and this guy comes on who I know is married to a very successful country music singer – Miranda Lambert – and he’s singing a song about heartbreak. And I’m like, “You got married last year. We all know that. You’re not unhappy.” So, he’s a fucking liar. We might sing about some of the darker aspects of our personality, but it’s pretty cheerful a lot of the time too. It’s just that we like rock ‘n’ roll.

Jones: Some of it might sound darker than it is. We might write a sad song about cheeseburgers.

Read: “55 Days” sounds like a really angry song, and it is about the more dangerous side of life, but it’s also in many ways a cheerful song.

Jones: Let’s go party, bro – I got two grand in my pocket!

John Scoops: I never thought about it like that.

Read: The singer keeps getting rid of a mean guy.

Scoops: The good guy wins in the end.

Jones: That’s a story of good and evil where good wins.

Hoben: Well, evil and slightly less evil.

Jones: We’re splitting hairs at this point.


One of you posted the Steve Albini keynote address and suggested that while you weren’t fond of him as a person, that what he said rang true. What everyone’s reaction to it?

Hoben: I posted that. It was long read.

Jones: It was a long read!

Hoben: I still think Albini is kind of an asshole. That was during the week where Taylor Swift had pulled her songs [from Spotify], and Dave Grohl was like, “Just fucking play music!” And for those two people, it doesn’t really matter. I’m assuming that they both have mansions.

Jones: That’s why I was so frustrated with the Dave Grohl stuff. Of course he can say, “Look, just give your music away!”

Hoben: At the same time, Nirvana was a working band at one point. It’s got a legacy, and he’s able to do his thing. From our perspective, though, it’s not that we’re not trying to “make it” – it would be awesome if a song got picked up for some sitcom that gave us an amazing paycheck. That would be great.

Jones: It would be really odd if it was a sitcom. [Laughs]

Hoben: Well, you know what I mean, like with the Refreshments and “King of the Hill” – I’m sure those guys are fucking living large!

Read: I think that we’re trying to be realistic in today’s culture. Tonight, there are six bands playing the Black Cat, and I saw Dante [Ferrando] walk by and he was like, “Man, I hope we make some money tonight!” And it’s like, “How the fuck could you not make money?” It’s because you don’t make money. It’s expensive to run shit. We’ve tried to shy away from goals set by the industry. We set goals based on our artistry.

When we bitch and moan about the industry in interviews, it’s not that we don’t love being on the road, paying $5000 a week for a bus because you can, and all of that type of shit. But we do have families, and that is important. It’s not worth your whole life disappearing into a van if the industry doesn’t give a shit anyway. So, we try to concentrate on the music, as opposed to having a goal, like, “We’re gonna get famous!” Realistically, I’m 38 years old – I don’t think I want to be famous. It would be a drag to have people bugging me all the time. But I would like to be successful. That’s our goal: To be successful in our industry.

Jones: To create a massive socioeconomic shift.

Hoben: That’s what I was thinking in the shower this morning: “We should create a massive socioeconomic shift.”

Jones: It’s not a big deal! It could be done!

Hoben: I made breakfast for three kids this morning. I could create a massive socioeconomic shift, right?15664714480_633d4de729_oYou guys all have families and responsibilities. When the record comes out, what’s the plan?

Hoben: The goal was to make a great record. It’s not that anything is out of the question, although a lot of things are.

Jones: So…

Hoben: [Laughs] I mean, who knows? I think the finished product is going to be awesome. And someone is going to be like, “Hey, that’s awesome!” And we’re going to be like, “Yeah… so what should we do with it?” And they’ll be like, “You can do this.” And we’ll say, “That’s not going to work. What else do you got?”

Jones: “How about this bajillion dollars?” “Perfect! That’ll work!”

Hoben: I assume some guy will show up with a cigar, lighting it with a hundred dollar bill, and be like, “Hey, boys. I gotta deal for you.”

Read: We’d like to put it out and play shows.

Jones: The goal was to make a record.

Hoben: We’re getting there.


Justin, I once helped put on a charity show with Justin Jones and Driving Rain, and in our e-mail we described your music as “alt-country,” and that drew a pretty strong rebuke from you. I was always curious: Why the knee jerk reaction to that descriptor?

Hoben: I think he prefers the term “yallternative.”[Laughs] We’ve spent many a night debating which term we prefer: “alt country” or “yallternative.”

Jones: I may have gotten upset about it because it had been a long time since I had put out a country-sounding recording. I did one album that sounded like that, and all of a sudden I was an alt-country dude.

Read: We call it the alt-country ghetto. Once you get in there, it’s very hard to get out. There’s only one band that ever made it as alternative country, and that’s Wilco. That’s it. Everyone else, it’s Americana or Rock ‘n’ Roll. If you’re in the alt-country, you get booked at certain clubs with certain bands. They don’t cross over.

Jones: I got so annoyed with it that I would refuse to wear, like, western snap shirts. I was trying desperately to distance myself from it, because it didn’t represent me. I would never call this band alt-country.

Read: But other people might.

Jones: There are other people that probably will.

Read: If we got up on stage and all played acoustic guitars and wore western shirts, then it would be alt-country.

Jones: That said, I’m always pushing us towards the country side. [Laughs]

Read: He’s always trying to sell us on country.

Jones: Now I’d like to go back there.

Hoben: Well, too late. They don’t want you anymore.

Jones: Now they won’t have me. - Brightest Young Things

"The Fuzzy Logic Interview"

It's safe (and pretty obvious by now) to say that The Deadmen is by far one of my favorite local bands. They've got a little bit of everything good - a little bit of rustic Americana, a little bit of country, a little bit of shimmy...y'all know what I'm talking about. It's good stuff, and if you haven't given them a listen yet I'm pretty disappointed in you.

I made some queries to Deadmen HQ, and Justin Hoben (one of the band's two guitar-playing and singing Justins) had the following replies. Obviously, Justin knows the correct answer to question 5. Make sure you take a gander, and if you're local, make sure you're at DC9 on the 16th of this very month when the band does their thing.

Fuzzy Logic: How the hell are you?
Justin Hoben: Hangin' in there.

FL: What was the last song you listened to?
JH: GnR - "Sweet Child o' Mine" (not by choice but I'm not complaining).

FL: Playing music is:
JH: Hit or miss.

FL: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
JH: Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard in My Backyard.

FL: Beatles or Stones?
JH: Stones, again and again.

FL: Top 5 albums (of now, of this week, of ever):
JH: Bob Dylan - Bringing it All Back Home; Violent Femmes - self titled; The Replacements - Let it Be; Canyon - Empty Rooms; Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.

FL: Favorite music-related movie?
JH: I'm still hoping for an adaptation of Our Band Could Be Your Life. So i suppose The Decline of Western Civilization, by default. Or Don't Look Back. Or Losers Take All. Is there a Shaggs documentary?

FL: Half-full or half-empty?

FL: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
JH: Fellow Deadmen excluded, I've got my money on Brandon Butler, as usual.

FL: What's the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
JH: "Five more minutes."

FL: Little-known Deadmen fact?
JH: We put Bill Murray on the guest list of every show we play.

FL: The greatest record store in the world is:
JH: Joe's Record Paradise.

FL: Your boots were made for:
JH: Making me feel inferior when I see Josh Read's boots.

FL: Shaken or stirred?
JH: Shaken.

FL: Favorite venue (either to play or to visit)?
JH: 9:30 Club.

FL: Best piece of advice you've ever been given?
JH: "Deal with it."

FL: If you weren't in a band you'd be?
JH: Complaining a lot more.

FL: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
JH: Rick Springfield. My first two concerts were his Working Class Dog and Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet tours. Hartford Civic Center. '81 and '82 respectively.

FL: Best song ever written?
JH: The Drones - "Sixteen Straws." - Fuzzy Logic

"The Deadmen - 'The Deadmen' EP"

What happens when three successful singer/songwriters from Washington DC affirm their long time friendship and come together to form a band? The Deadmen that's what happens. Josh Read, Justin Jones and Justin Hoben may well come from different backgrounds, hailing from Virginia, New England and South Africa, but the three friends bring their varying writing styles together whether it be folk, soul or rock 'n' roll and with the addition of the rhythm section of John Hutchins and Miles Nasta they make up The Deadmen and this is their first EP, a taster for the upcoming debut album.

Ringing, jangly chords open the EP in the form of 'Let Your Fingers Rule', sweet, countrified harmony vocals follow as does my smile and by the chorus I am happy with the knowledge that this EP is going to be something good. Heartfelt, countrified Americana, I can just feel the sunshine beating down across the open road on which this song was surely written. Upbeat and with a definite sense of purpose it flows like all great songs should, the spot on 3-piece harmony vocals are joyous and uplifting to hear, making this song a perfect opener.

It's obvious from the off that The Deadmen are a band with something to say and stories to tell and they tell them oh so well. 'Robin' slows things down to a melancholy pace, and oh what a beautiful heart-wrenching melody it surely is. Girls will cry along to this song and guys will wish they had written it and were singing it to them.

'Old Stone Bridge' literally makes me jump after the previous song, kicking in with a nice punchy riff. Perfect harmonies from the guys make this song the anthem it surely is, if I mention the names Springsteen, The Replacements and The Gaslight Anthem then you get an idea of where they're coming from, right? The chorus builds and builds and you'll be singing it too by the second play.

'Money' has a gospel feel to it, accapella vocals lead us down the well worn dusty track with an extended, trippy breakdown that goes off on some proggy tangent before returning to the goodness as distorted guitars let rip in the background.

Final song 'Sons and Dogs' has hints of Tom Petty, again the beautiful harmonies shine through, man this is so good, it also manages to re-ignite my love of guitar solos as this song leads out with a damn fine one.

This is real music people, free of any genre labelling, timeless songs from the heart, the soul and stories from the road. I love it when music this instant grabs me and bands like this need to be embraced. This EP is one of the best new things I've heard so far this year and the album can't come soon enough. If this forthcoming album keeps up the same quality, as I imagine it will, then you really should be investing in it. Keep your eye out for The Deadmen, they are ones to watch out for this year. - Uber Rock UK

"MOKB Premiere : The Deadmen : “Let Your Fingers Rule”"

Washington D.C.’s The Deadmen is a collective lead by songwriters Josh Read, Justin Jones, Justin Hoben and rounded out by Miles Nasta and John Hutchins. All members come from different backgrounds bringing not just one singular perspective to crafting songs whether it be integrating folk, rock, or soul into the mix.

Recently, they completed their debut EP together that will be seeing the light of day in the very near future. The first single is the folk-rock track “Let Your Fingers Rule.” It is a refreshing change of pace in a world where songwriting and substance has become second fiddle to flash and aesthetics. According to singer and lyricist Joshua Read, the song is “a reflection on self discipline and friendship, love and circumstance, life and death and the profound depth of value.” Which is exactly what songwriting should be. Telling stories that everyone can relate to. Have a listen below. - My Old Kentucky Blog

"Review: The Deadmen debut EP"

Occasionally here at the Flag it’s nice to take the tempo down a notch or two, long days and nights clinging to life at the mercy of cheap tequila and cheaper women have to make way for a evening of sober reflection over a large scotch and a cigar. For just such an occasion we have The Deadmen’s debut EP.

The Deadmen are “emerging Washington DC Americana-Punks” and although not the heavy blend of death and melancholy we normally feature here they do possess an endearing charm that sets them apart from other bands emerging from these areas in the states. The Deadmen float scarily close to that all too disturbing genre of regurgitated ‘rock’ shit known as ‘Indie’ but thankfully never actually cross the line and that can only be a great thing, because any self respecting metal head knows that Indie is to rock what Tesco Value Chicken Roll is to Meat. Not even fucking remotely similar!!

In The Deadmen we find a group of guys who can actually play their instruments and have sat and written a collection of intelligent, thought-provoking pros that blend effortlessly with the cleverly understated backing track. In essence they become more of a modern day Creedence or dare I say it Lynyrd toward the end of the EP. OK so opening track, and single, ‘Let Your Fingers Rule’ is upbeat and extroverted, it jumps along merrily with the kind of draining positivity we’ve come to expect from pop-rock mincers like Kings of Leon and other assorted long-haired, hemp wearing tarts. It isn’t that though, when I listen to this I don’t feel a sudden need to stop washing and go to rehab, I just sit and listen, enjoy the music and that really is what this is all about, enjoyment, having fun, doing what we love to do. Stand out track for me has to be ‘Old Stone Bridge’ with ‘Sons and Dogs’ bringing up a close second place.

I applaude The Deadmen for being able to make an EP that will appeal to a massive range of audiences without losing the real essence of what they’ve set out to achieve, they’ve made music, for the sake of making music and that is all we can ask. Many of you hardened metallers won’t like it because it won’t make your ears bleed but for me, when I’m sitting smoking a fresh cigar and savouring the flavour of a nice single malt, this is what I’ll be listening to. - The Black Flag

"The Deadmen- The Deadmen EP: 4.5 / 5"

It’s hard to believe that this is the first ever release by The Deadmen. This eponymous EP has all the potential of any rock album, with a sound that’s polished, yet fresh at the same time! It sounds like this trio has been playing together for years and mastered their music, when in reality, this is their highly impressive debut.

It’s ironic that The Deadmen are from Washington, D.C., as they have a classic, all-American sound. They could fit right into the 80s heartland rock with the likes of Petty, Springsteen, or Mellencamp. This sentiment is evident in the lyrics, which focus on the “working-man”. It doesn’t get much more American than singing “Hold onto faith and family”, or “I’ve been working all night to tell you everything is alright”. Get your apple pie and fireworks ready, because The Deadmen are meant to be played on the 4th of July. “Old Stone Bridge” is a rapid-fire cut brimming with small-town angst. The final track, “Sons and Dogs”, starts off with a slower, country groove and crescendos into a wailing guitar solo, a perfect finale for the EP. With precise, clear cut vocals, lively marching drums, and acoustic guitar strumming with clean, crisp layering, they provide a straightforward and genuine Americana-rock sound.

The Deadmen do a striking job of producing a classic-sounding, loveable set of rock songs perfect for smalltown America. With a very limited use of electronic instruments and emphasis on pure rock, I hope this is what the next generation of rock bands sounds like, cause The Deadmen EP sets the stage for amazing music!

Key Tracks: Let Your Fingers Rule, Money, Old Stone Bridge, Sons and Dogs

RIYL: The Gaslight Anthem, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen - Plug Into Awesome

"The Deadmen EP , The Deadmen"

The Deadmen’s self-titled EP can be summed up in the first few lines of its closing song “Sons & Dogs”: “Sitting on a porch / Thinkin’ bout you / And I can hear the cool, rusted click of history / and I’m thinking ‘bout Neil Young too.” The tracks on the group’s new EP are all like this, dripping with images and sounds of classic Americana. Throughout the record, they channel the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and the Allman Brothers—though that is only part of their musical pedigree.

The DC-based roots rock band demonstrates several personalities across the five track EP from the feel good, romantically-tinged “Let Your Fingers Run” to the philosophical and biting “Money.” Like other Heartland performers, The Deadmen draw attention to the flaws in the American way of life while simultaneously celebrating certain aspects of it. In “Money,” singers Josh Read, Justin Jones, and Justin Hoben embody this mentality by declaring “I traveled the desert for weeks / Just to get to the land of the free / But that freedom don’t satisfy me / It’s just money.” While their singing unfortunately lacks the same level of conviction as their words, they still posit interesting philosophical nuggets for the average citizen to ponder. What are the values that America actually displays to the rest of the world?

In addition to their lyrical talents, The Deadmen display serious musical chops throughout their EP. On the CSN-influenced song “Robin,” Jones lays a tasteful, bluesy solo over the stunning Beach-Boys style harmonies that the three singers conjure ethereally behind him. On “Old Stone Bridge” the band shows its knack for riffs by bolstering its soulful lyrics with supremely catchy guitar riffs. The fiery, Jimmy Page-style blues solo on the track serves to turn up the heat even further.

Collaborating as The Deadmen, Read, Jones, and Hoben prove they make a potent musical force. The trio of songwriter/performers fuse their distinct voices and musical perspectives together to create a blend of classic, American, and Rock and Roll tracks. The Deadmen is an ironic title for a band that promises to have great longevity. - WGTB - Georgetown Radio

"Local musicians bring rock to life in The Deadmen"

WASHINGTON -- In a dimly-lit bar directly behind the 9:30 Club, I'm introduced to four men in their mid-to-late 30s. They blend in seamlessly with the regulars that file into the bar.

However, their experience playing in, and shaping, D.C.'s music scene differentiates them from the others.

This is the tale of one "new" band's history in local music and the musicians' approach to making more.

Justin Jones, Josh Read, Justin Hoben and John Hutchins are not new to D.C's music scene. In fact, all four have been playing music in and around the District for at least a decade, and for some, more than 20 years.

But the four local artists are relatively fresh to one project: The Deadmen, a newish rock band that balances the sounds and processes of three songwriters and a number of influences.

Jones, Read, Hoben and Hutchins all had several band experiences under their belts before joining together to form The Deadmen -- but how they formed is a process they describe as "complicated."

Read, of Revival, and Jones, who toured as Justin Jones, formed The Deadmen with two other musicians about three years ago. Shortly after, the group fell apart.

"[That] was a real bummer for those of us that weren't in the band because The Deadmen was one of my favorite bands when they were around," says Hoben, who formerly recorded and toured as John Bustine.

However, last spring, Read and Jones revived the band and Hoben and Hutchins joined -- Hoben, 39, on vocals and guitar and Hutchins, also 39 and a former member of Army of Me, on the bass.

The guys connected after knowing each other or playing with each other for years in the District's tight-knit music community.

Jones had played guitar in at least one show with Hoben's old band, Hoben and Read both played in each other's old bands at one point, and Read and Hutchins played a show together in 1997.

Now, after being together for just under a year, the band is set to release its first EP this March, followed by a 7-inch record for Record Store Day and a full-length this summer.

Roots, Rock, Reggae?

For some, describing the band's sound is even trickier than describing its formation.

The Deadmen's Facebook page references "gospel and sledge." The guys tell me they think their sound channels "reggae," somewhat jokingly -- somewhat.

But really, their music all whittles down to one genre: rock ‘n' roll.

"I think there's a solid boot-in-the-grave of singer/songwriter folk that's been amplified, turned up, psychedelicized a little bit, maybe taken to Trenchtown, you know, and [we] made it as rough as we can pretend to make it, and then try to put it out there as rock ‘n' roll," says Read, who is 39 and has been playing live music in D.C. since he was 15.

"People say rock ‘n' roll and they either think Elvis or they think like AC/DC or they think … Well, not even Coldplay, but like … Bush. But we're not like that kind of rock ‘n' roll. I think it's Americana rock," Read says.

Jones says the band's "interesting" sound comes from all of the members' different styles of writing.

"Somebody has this song and then we just all throw our noise on it until it changes in some way, this way or that way," says Jones, who is 34 and lives in Arlington, Va.

"It's not the kind of interesting where you feel like someone is trying hard to be interesting. It's just the kind of interesting that makes you want to spend time with it and listen to it."

And that is exactly what they are hoping people will do.

Making Time to Make Music: Working Smarter

A lot of bands operate under somewhat of a routine: Make music, record it, go on tour. But that is not necessarily a routine that works for The Deadmen.

Music is a priority for all of the band members. It's evident in their history, their conversations and their product. But a majority of the guys have other responsibilities, as well. And finding time to write, record and tour is a realistic struggle.

Not to mention, the band's drummer, Miles Nasta, who was "still six hours hours away" for the interview, lives in New York.

But Read says the key to the band's success so far is that they all "make time for it," as do other members of their families.

"I think it just gets harder and harder as you get older to do what you love," Jones says. "As your responsibilities grow and what you need to feel comfortable in your life, financially, grows, it gets so much harder to do what you love if you don't make money doing what you love."

So when it comes to touring -- an adventure all of the band members describe as appealing, yet expensive and not always yielding in results -- the band takes a cautious approach.

"The schedules are so tight, we're obviously not going to pile in a van and drive around the country and build up a following for the next eight or 12 months," says Hoben, of Silver Spring, Md. "We're trying to find that way of working smarter and not harder, and trying to figure it out … And it's not easy."

One solution? Don't just play a gig for the sake of playing a gig, however fun it may be. They've all been there, they've all done that, and so have their friends and acquaintances in the music industry.

"I think basically what we're trying to do is create a demand for us to play a show. Instead of going out and playing shows and trying to create a demand for our record, what we're hoping is to create a demand for the show by releasing music and hopefully people liking it enough to want us to come play in their city," says Jones, who adds that a tour lending a "new experience," such as one in Europe or Scandinavia would be well worth the effort and time.

"This is the lifestyle. This is the reality," he says.

That's not to say The Deadmen never plays live shows. The band has played a couple of recent shows in the DMV, as well as a few in Southern Virginia and other nearby areas.

If that demand for The Deadmen is not generated, the band won't be too disappointed.

"To me, that's the only way that I think we can do this (play more live shows) is if there's a demand for us to do it. And if there's not then we'll just make some kick-ass recordings and it will be really great. To me, the worst case scenario is if we have great records that we really like," Jones says.

While the band's name may be dark to some, Read says it describes their dedication to music. He says it portrays the members as survivalists.

"Whether or not anyone knows my name, I've been playing music since I was 3, and I've been playing shows since I was 15 … I've played a hell of a lot of shows and had a grand ‘ol time. And now I've got children and responsibilities and, you know, we're survivalists. We're still here, doing it," Read says. - WTOP


The Deadmen are a new and exciting all-star American band who I’m hoping might attract the attention of festival and venue bookers in Ireland. Here we review their new EP (link below) and chat with one of the 3 singer songwriter guitarists about the record and some fairly specific Irish influences, sort of..

The Deadmen from Washington DC have a bright new expansive sound that would appeal to the increasingly growing young audience who are into folk rock. Think of the Kings of Mumford with extra guitar and cojones (apologies to the band)

What differentiates this band from many others dabbling in some of the genres above, is that the core writing team of Josh Read (guitar, vocals), Justin Jones (guitar, vocals) and Justin Hoben (guitar, vocals) are as indicated in brackets, individually accomplished singer songwriters and guitarists, each with an established and regarded career in the rock, rock/folk..

They’re a kind of super group along the lines of the Raconteurs, and indeed Brendan Benson is name checked by the band themselves. However, they are unusual in that it appears there is no one member has an undue influence in the whole band sound or writing (unlike Jack White various super groups). Each member takes turns and contributes whole songs or parts, and this can be heard in the variety of vocals and styles in each of the 5 tracks on the EP “The Deadmen”

Obviously mates rather than mercenary collaborators, it’s this quality of shared song writing, harmonized vocals and surround sound guitar that sets them apart. All 3 are extremely capable guitarists who trade solo, rhythm and fill parts, sometimes throughout one song, and for me this hints that live, they must be both a very exciting, and constantly engaging for an audience to keep up with them.

As they say themselves,

“I think we all have quite different writing styles, different ways of chewing the bone. No matter how close circumstance seems, we’re all going through different things. I feel we’re all aware that what someone else knows, benefits the group”.

For me I definitely hear The Wallflowers in some of the tracks, elsewhere snatches of The Eagles (a similar line up of multiple songwriters and guitarists), the aforementioned Raconteurs, Gaslight Anthem, Munford, Kings of Lyon, all punctuate the, at times surprisingly heavy themes of falling out with Mates, the evils of Money, making difficult choices in life and other heart wrenching observations. But don’t think this is all plaintive stuff, far from it, its brilliant, catchy, substantive and full of fantastic guitar snippets, riffs and as we hear in the last song, “ Sons and Dogs” a wonderfully inventive guitar solo that has a Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy flavor.

Their 3 part harmonies are another key aspect of their sound, and it’s not the weedy twee harmonies to be heard on many records these days. Check out the bouncy but touching “Let your fingers rule” and the heartfelt “Robin” for the 3 voices belting it out, which is what you want from a proper Americana band, from eh, America, and these guys paint their homelands strengths and challenges into every verse.

On their debut EP they are joined by John Hutchins (Army of Me) on bass and Miles Nasta on drums, with a follow on a full‐length record possibly due this summer.

I’d a short chat with Justin Hoben about the EP and the Irish connections.

Q1. Tough entry requirements for the band, you must have a successful solo career already, be a guitarist, harmonizer, your name must begin with the letter J and have a beard. Can you explain these excessive standards?

A: We are of the belief that if you want to do something, you should do it properly, alliteratively, and with a beard.

Q2. Your EP demonstrates the different influences each of the 3 writers across the 5 tracks, and it’s great to hear your individual guitar styles in there. Was there any discussion up front on the sound, feeling or type of writing styles you wanted the band to be, band rules etc?

A: There was no talk of going for a certain sound or vibe. In my experience, the songs are usually shaped by where you’re at in life when you write them; as such, the EP turned out to be a pretty hopeful affair on the whole. The only band rule –as near as I can tell- is that whoever is the main songwriter of any given tune has final say if creative differences arise.

Q4. Track 5 Sons and dogs. I hear some Wallflowers influences in there but the solos at the end are great. Who contributed to that track?

A: Maybe there are some Wildflowers influences? I will say that I hear some Pink Floyd in the vocal harmonies. Justin Jones plays the solo in Sons and Dogs; Josh joins him at the end.

Q5. I hear Lizzys’ signature twin lead guitar sound in couple of the tracks ?

A: Little known fact: The twin lead at the end of Sons and Dogs is actually the twin lead from “Whiskey in the Jar” slowed down and played backwards.

Q6. Any Irish connections or influences in the band?

A: Luka Bloom. The Pogues, of course. John Banville. Colm Tóibín. Redheads. Whiskey.

Q7. Any plans to tour Europe and pop over to play here?

A: If all goes as planned, we will be playing a fistful of shows in England this summer. We’d love a sortie to Erin’s Isle, but the schedule is looking pretty tight.

Q8. Any other recording plans, an album maybe?

We have a 7” coming out in April and we are currently recording tracks for an LP we’ll be putting out later this year.

Q9.Ok last question, slightly daft but if ye were able to pick members for a super group of your own choice, what’s the band line up going to be?

A: I can’t imagine trying to answer this question as a band. Based on my experiences with the rest of the boys I would say Paul Westerberg (guitar/vocals); one of the Beatles (guitar/vocals); Joe Strummer (guitar/vocals); Tony Butler (bass); and…I don’t know…I guess Dave Grohl (drums). Sorry guys. - Festival and Gig Guide


The Deadmen EP (release date: March 17, 2014)

Crystal b/w Sunday Afternoons (June 4, 2014)



2015 marks the start of an exciting period for emerging Washington, DC folk-rock collective The Deadmen.  Riding high on a swell of attention in their nation's capital, the band released their debut EP in March of 2014 to enthusiastic reviews and followed it only months later with their alternately rumbling and sweeping 7” record Crystal/Sunday Afternoons.

 The Deadmen's surging appeal stems from the deft songwriting and shared vocals of Josh Read, Justin Jones and Justin Hoben.  “I think we all have quite different writing styles, different ways of chewing the bone,” says Read.  “No matter how close circumstance seems, were all going through different things.” And yet, the three compliment each other to stunning affect; painting an American landscape of clattering thunder, gentle rains and shards of light.

The Deadmen's debut full-length is waiting in the wings for an early 2015 release. Complimented by John Scoops on bass, The Deadmen will perform select dates in the U.S. and tour the U.K. this summer.  “We have more than enough material,” says Hoben.  “We’ll be bringing the music to the people, one way or another.” 

Band Members