Stories stripped bare
DZ Deathrays. Picture: Supplied

Brisbane alt-rock duo DZ Deathrays' recent single Gina Works at Hearts is a pulsating paean to a fictional stripper working at a made-up club.

Nursing beers at a scungy bar on the outskirts of Austin, Texas during South by Southwest, singer/guitarist Shane Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley confessed that the song was partly based on their experiences touring the US but the names had been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

"We have ended up in some seedy strip clubs after 2am - the only place that was serving beer," Parsons says.

"You do make up some stories in your head about those places. Essentially it's a pretty tongue-in-cheek snapshot of that seedy scene.

"I don't do too much apart from touring and drinking," the singer laughs, "then I come up with little stories."

Gina Works at Hearts and 10 other "little stories" make up Black Rat, DZ Deathrays' rifftastic sequel to the excellent 2012 debut, Bloodstreams.

While Parsons says they "wanted it to be Bloodstreams II", the new album was transformed by producer Burke Reid (the Mess Hall, the Drones, Oh Mercy) and their Aussie label, I Oh You.

Songs were chopped and changed. Entire choruses were rewritten, or even jettisoned.

"The thing with Bloodstreams," the singer continues, "we'd had those songs for three years. It was too hard to let go of parts.

"But these ones we wrote in about six months, essentially, and we were not attached to any part of the songs. We could throw it away if we needed."

The only track that survived the producer's scorched-earth approach was the excellent brooding first single, Northern Lights, which was recorded in London with producer Andy Savours.

"He brought in this huge, really wide sound, loads of layering and stuff, to really get this big atmospheric sound, which was really cool," Parsons says. "Burke was totally down with that mix."

The evolved sound saw them enlist Jungle Giants guitarist Cesira Aitken as a third member at SXSW. Dion "Danger" Ford from Sydney indie-rockers Palms will assume the role for DZ Deathray's national tour kicking off next week.

DZ Deathrays play Prince of Wales on May 22, Indi Bar on May 23, Amplifier on May 24 and Newport on May 25. Tickets from Oztix.

The West Australian

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