DZ Deathrays - Night Slave


DZ Deathrays chose the song Night Salve as some of their best work.

Night Slave was released on their 2014 album Black Rat.

Some Of My Best Work is a podcast hosted by Jane Rocca, music and culture journalist.

Guests nominate one specific work they feel is some of their best.

The text below is a partial transcript from DZ Deathray’s episode of Some of My Best Work. 

It’s been edited for length and clarity.

Shane Parsons: I nominated it because it was something that we felt it exceeded other songs we’d written.

The main thing behind this song was when we went into the studio to record, it was a half baked idea.

There was the chorus and the verse, but that whole middle section didn’t exist until we were in the studio.

We stayed up until one or two in the morning sort of piecing together that middle section.

It was quite a different process to what we were used to, piecing it together almost mathematically in sections and naming each little section to make it feel orchestral in a way.

This song came out in 2014, we would have written it maybe 2013.

It would have been a really dodgy demo.

I thought this song always lent into the dance music world. The whole idea was you being a slave to the night and sort of grimy dance floors and all that.

Writing it, we were like, ‘I think it’s gonna work on this record’.

One thing to remember is this entire record was all written in a nightclub that was closed.

We would go in on Monday or Tuesday morning and we just jam and write songs on the stage. We weren’t at that point doing demos ourselves that much.

When we wrote this song, I was like ‘this is kind of a great maybe outro to the to the record’.

When we went into the studio, Burke Reid, who is working on the record with us, he was like, ‘it’s cool but you need something else, you need a middle section’.

We had a formula and we started writing these arpeggios on the guitar.

We were just trying to piece together this idea and everyone was getting really confused about where bits and pieces should be.

Once we actually arranged it, we got all the parts together, then it was all about nailing the performance.

After a fair few beers and it being two in the morning, I was struggling to get the bits.

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Listen to this story on Some of My Best Work, a free weekly podcast hosted by music journalist Jane Rocca.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

It was the idea of pulling apart a piece of music and putting it together in the most creative way possible.

For me, writing music is really try and focus on having just a solid foundation and then building outwards. Writing a song that essentially sits on one note and then has one change. Or there has four chords the entire way through and I think that’s what that song did.

It was probably the first time we put our minds to constructing a piece of music to flow in a certain way. But also something that feels a bit interesting. I think Burke really pushed us in that sense.

We had a whiteboard and what we did was this section of the console guitar. It’s like a guitar riff with a kick drum behind it.

Once we got to the end then we need to come back and figure out how to get to these parts. Which gets us back into the original melody or sort of like progression that we had that was flowing through the song. We just never done that before.

We did this pre production with Burke, which was probably one of the loosest times of my life. I think Scott Horscroft had just bought The Grove and he was sort of cleaning it up and getting it sorted to become a proper studio again.

Simon Ridley: But definitely work hard play hard, everyone had stuff to get through. But then cause you were very hungover that day, by the end of the day, like, ‘thank God, let’s clock off and have some beers’.

The next day, you’re just hungover again in this barn trying to play songs to this horrible click track, that Burke could be slamming through this PA like, ‘alright, the songs are feeling good. Let’s have some beers to celebrate’. That was the process for about a week or two.

Shane: Maybe like 10 days into the record and we tracked almost everything. I know it was Night Slave and maybe Less Out of Sync, I think we changed that we wrote a new chorus while we’re in the studio.

I remember everyone had their own little opinion on what we should do, but I think we just felt like Night Slave was the right thing to end on.

A lot of the songs weren’t completely fleshed out. That’s why we went to the studio and did that pre production which we’ve never done pre production before either.

Going in there and doing that was really the finishing off a lot of the songs. Even after the pre production, there was songs like Night Slave that weren’t finished, until we were actually putting guitar and drums down. Some good ideas can sometimes rear their head and it ends up becoming one of your favourite parts of the album. The last minute sort of thing.

Simon: It was definitely the most exciting. One of the memories in the studio, coming into that room early in the morning seeing Shane and Burke trying to figure out that riff on the fly. That was awesome.

We toured that record for like two years straight. I think it was the most we’ve ever really toured a record.

Shane: We were in a band before that never [did a gig], it was hard. All of a sudden, we’re getting shows, touring nationally and going overseas.

Simon: Night Slave is super fun playing live because we always just started that middle section or just seeing Shane and Lach go at it.

I remember the first time we played this live and it was at a festival. It was really exciting for me.

This moving piece of music, which is almost like a bit of a dance section as well.

Shane: It’s always really fun because Lachie and I both sort of have pretty high gang guitars.

When that song comes up we let the guitars feed back at the start, then Simon comes in with that big drum roll.

Everything just locks together into this big sort of stomping mechanism.

Anytime you get an award, no one’s obviously going to write music to win an award. But when you get it, it is always a nice feeling.

It was even more wild because Johann from I OH YOU told me we wouldn’t win.

If your label says, ‘I don’t think you’re in for a chance’ because we’re up against really heavy hitter bands.

I didn’t write any speech because I was not expecting it at all.

They said our name and I was like, ‘god, damn it’.

I looked over at Johann and he just nodding and hitting my leg like, ‘get up there’.

Awards can really solidify your career in some ways, at that point in time especially.

I think people sometimes just take you a little more seriously when you have an award.

Listen to this story on Some of My Best Work, a free weekly podcast hosted by music journalist Jane Rocca.

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