Whilst the Brits were developing the formative sound of Gothic Rock via the all-purpose interim of Post Punk, the Americans, or more specifically a bunch of Los Angeles Punk rockers, started doing it ‘their way’. Deathrock has much in common with the first wave of Gothic Rock in the UK, both featuring melodramatic vocals, scratchy, effected guitars and hypnotic drum rhythms, but drew more influence from horror movies and the resultant ‘horror rock’ bands of the 50s and 60s, film noir as well as some more ‘philosophical’ subject matters. As thus came the original wave of LA Deathrock, artists like – "45 Grave", "Kommunity FK", and "Flesh Eaters".
The phrase "Deathrock" was moribund for most of the 80s and 90s, once everyone realised that all such bands could be classed as Gothic Rock regardless of where they came from, but it was pulled out of storage sometime around the turn of the millennium, and a little background is required to explain why;-
The various Gothic and Industrial genres had lived more or less in harmony for most of the 90s, regularly cross-pollinating or at least appearing in the same line-ups and DJ setlists, but then Futurepop and Aggrotech began to take over, drew huge audiences and pushed all the ‘old-school goth’ out of sight. The plaintive scribbling of ‘Play Some Goth’ was occasionally seen on club request lists, but they were fighting a losing battle.
The fightback was in the making, and "Deathrock" was revived as the polar opposite style. Where Futurepop was achingly well-produced, "Deathrock" was lo-fi. Where Futurepop had Access Virus and Nord Lead synths, "Deathrock" had cheap drum machines and guitars. Where Futurepop was associated with the quasi-futuristic cybergoth fashion style, deathrockers looked like they’d stepped out of some low-budget horror movie. The Electronic Body Music (EBM) army were faced off against the deathrock mafia.
This revival saw the rise of popularity bands such as "Frank The Baptist", "Bloody Dead" and "Sexy and Cinema Strage". Some had been around for years but still enjoyed their rise to underground success. The presence of the style continued for the remainder of the 2000s, continuing it’s backlash against setlists dominated by endless bleeps and predictable Gothic standards. The "Deathrock" movement did find some kinship with ‘sibling styles’ Psychobilly and Dark Cabaret, all of ‘em theatrical Punk offshots without the slightest sign of throbbing arp or a 130bpm distorted kick drum.
Original LA Deathrock
- All Gone Dead
- Bloody Dead and Sexy
- Cinema Strange
- Frank The Baptist
- New Days Delay
- Scarlet’s Remains
- Tragic Black.