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The Eighth Note: Planet of the Dead

We caught up with Planet of the Dead over the lockdown for a chat about their music.

Who are you? Tell us a bit about your music:
I’m Mark, the vocalist with Planet of the Dead, a 4-piece band based in Wellington. I’m joined by Malcolm on guitar, Kees on bass, and our drummer Dion; we formed in 2018. We describe ourselves as cosmic doom metal, which draws influences from various strands of metal styles to create something which we would say is unique and most definitely our own. We love playing live, we put a lot of energy into our shows, and we’re thrilled to be part of such a vibrant and diverse scene that we have here in our fair city. We’re influenced by science-fiction, 70s horror and B-movies. Writers like Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury; directors like John Carpenter, George Romero, Dario Argento – we look to incorporate their themes and the stories they tell into both our sound and our lyrics.

What have you been working on lately? Any new tracks or albums on the way?
We unleashed our debut album on an unsuspecting public in February this year, titled ‘Fear of a Dead Planet’. We worked solidly on recording over December, with mixing and mastering over January. We were very stoked with the end results, and we’ve had some awesome feedback on its release. We’re very much about using social media to get the good word around, but we were all blown away by the response we’ve had from all corners of the world. Initially the album was released on Bandcamp and a couple of YouTube sites, and more recently has been uploaded to the more well-known streaming services, so anyone with a Spotify or Apple Music account can have a listen. But we’re always working on new stuff and we hope to have some new things to play at our forthcoming shows … whenever they may be!

Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
If folk want to contribute to our efforts, please visit our Bandcamp page and make a donation to get hold a digital copy or a tee shirt, but alternatively you can just search by ‘Planet of the Dead’ or Fear of a Dead Planet on YouTube, or any of the streaming sites like Spotify or Apple Music. We’re on social media (Facebook, Instagram), and you can find your way to all of the above at our Website.

What were the 3 most influential albums to you growing up?
This is a tough question for me, and you’ll get very different answers from the rest of the band, but I would always start with Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan’s vocal might not suit everyone, but their aesthetic and sound really worked for me as a teenager – it still does today. My second album would have to be Moving Pictures by Rush. It gets better every time I play it. It’s a fantastic album end-to-end, with so much variety and complexity, yet still managing to be radio-friendly and catchy. The last album I’d probably go with is Times of Grace by Neurosis, which got me into so many other great bands such as Isis, Old Man Gloom and Cult of Luna – these bands were strong influences for me in developing my vocal style.

Which other Wellington musician (s) would you most like to work with?
Planet of the Dead are all extremely proud to be part of the New Zealand metal scene; being in the stoner/doom strand of metal, we would obviously love to support a band like Beastwars who are representing New Zealand admirably on the world metal stage. Personally I would love to play a gig in Wellington with Earth Tongue – they have a fantastic aesthetic which we really relate to, and a wicked, unique live sound which we in the band all really enjoy.

What’s your favourite Wellington venue to play in?
When it comes to live metal in Wellington, 9 times out of 10 you’ll be at Valhalla on Vivian Street, and we’ve played some amazing gigs there with some awesome bands. We have a great relationship with the venue and the promoter Ben, and the highlight of 2019 for us was supporting Eyehategod in November. The local scene there is fantastic, and we’ve seen a lot of local support at gigs where we expected to be largely unknown and play to a few people. Now that we have our debut album out in the wild, we’ve set a band objective of playing some other New Zealand venues this year or next, year in a bid to promote our sound more widely across the country. We’ll still be at Valhalla as long as they’ll keep inviting us back, though!

In your songwriting or composing (or the band’s songwriting) how do the compositions and songs take shape?
The band all contribute to achieving Planet of the Dead’s distinctive sound; both Malc and Kees have an extensive range of effects and pedals at their disposal, and we apply a broad range across all of our songs. Malc generally takes the lead in composing initial arrangements and riffs, which will end up on Google Drive or Soundcloud, and that then evolves further in the practice room over the following weeks. I’ll normally take a recorded rough version and use that to write lyrics and the vocal patterns. We’re all tuned in to a specific sound and aesthetic, and we hope that people hear that when they listen to the album; while the songs don’t all sound the same, there is a common style and set of themes that binds the album together.

Where/when is your next gig?
At this very moment, I’m writing this in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. While we all understand our government’s response to the pandemic, we’re bitterly disappointed that we weren’t able to play our scheduled shows. We were due to play Cuba Dupa in March, we had a support slot with Kadavar the following week and were scheduled to play at the Windburn Festival in April – all those events have been cancelled or postponed. So while everything is on hold right now, we’ll hit the ground running when we can, and we’ll be howling into the void with our own brand of stoner doom before you know it. Watch this space! You’ll hear more from us soon!

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