When asked whether his band will conquer America, Stephen Purcell only musters a halfhearted “Yeah, we’re gonna take it over,” before breaking into nervous laughter.
But the We Should Be Dead drummer’s modesty belies the success his band enjoys stateside. Last summer, the group—based in Limerick, Ireland—scored a slot at the iPo festival in Los Angeles. The power-pop four-piece made the cross-continental trip; then Purcell and his bandmates booked as many gigs as they could before heading home. In 12 days, We Should Be Dead played six shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco before jetting back to Ireland.
Through MySpace networking, the band scored a manager in L.A., and last September, We Should Be Dead began making preparations to move to America. “It was scary,” Purcell admits. “It was a bit daunting to say, Right, I’m just going to change my whole life.”
But, one way or another, Purcell says the band had to leave the motherland. After establishing a formidable fan base, receiving radio and video play, and touring Ireland like mad, the country could no longer contain the group. “You can travel from the bottom of Ireland to the top of Ireland in five to six hours,” Purcell says. “You play these 10 or 12 venues and then a month or two later, you do it again. People get sick of seeing you.”
We Should Be Dead’s sunshiny, ’60s-beat influenced rock syrup fits L.A.’s glorious weather like a tube sock.
We Should Be Dead’s sunshiny, ’60s-beat influenced rock syrup fits L.A.’s glorious weather like a tube sock. Lead singer Tara Nix and backing vocalist Anna Murphy coo over the top of a four-chord comfort zone. It’s a crisp, sparkling slice of summer from a band whose country of origin is known for overcast skies and drizzle. “I just like upbeat, feel-good stuff that makes people feel happy and want to dance,” Purcell says. “I prefer that to making people sit down and feel miserable.”
In Ireland, Purcell says there’s a glut of weepy men with guitars that clog the music scene. “You have these singer-songwriters just crying their hearts out about their girlfriends leaving them,” Purcell says. “People are just like, Jesus! Give me something new!”
But Purcell isn’t quite ready to fall head-over-heels for his new home base. Los Angeles festers with some unsavory elements, Purcell says. And he’s not talking about crime. “We’re not huge fans of that whole Downtown Los Angeles, Sunset Strip area,” Purcell asserts. “It’s like parts of Dublin that we despise back home.”
The band prefers to reside in the L.A. suburb of Burbank, free from the trend-hopping bravado of the city proper. “I’d rather have a nice quiet day and get on with rehearsal than get swallowed up by all that bullshit that’s just over the hills,” Purcell says.
So far, We Should Be Dead has only seen the Golden State, but that changes when the band packs up for a tour of the Southwest. “In Ireland, you can tour the country in 12 days,” Purcell says. “This will be our first eye-opener to see what kind of size we’re dealing with here in the States. It’s going to be a serious adventure.”