Five and Five: Dead Fish Handshake

After listening to The Sixes by up and coming Jersey band Dead Fish Handshake, I had a talk with lead singer Matthew Paul who’s band has played shows with Collective Soul and Hurt and will be playing two CD release shows in Rhode Island and New Jersey to commemorate the release of the new EP.

Part I:

CFW: 1. How did you come up with the band name?

DFH: ‘Dead Fish Handshake’ is actually a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic jab at the insincerity of todays music industry. There’s a lot of cool things on the business side, but as most bands know there’s also a lot of ‘dead fish handshakes’ out there from people who will tell you anything to get a piece of your money.

CFW: 2. What artists/bands/songs/albums influenced you?

DFH: Our influences are all over the place. We all grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, so in the 70s Led Zeppelin and Rush were those ‘classic’ bands that definitely had an impact as far as picking up a guitar and pounding some drums. In the 80s, believe it or not, we pulled from new wave (The Cure, Depeche Mode) and even some thrash metal (Metallica, Anthrax). U2, however, was definitely a huge influence, too. Then the 90s came in and the grunge scene definitely had an impact on us. Bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and STP definitely inspired us like most bands in our genre. But honestly, we are inspired by any genre. Not just rock. We are music fans in general.

CFW: 3. What are you listening to right now?

DFH: During the album process, we were constantly listening to the new Jane’s Addiction album (The Great Escape Artist). City and Colour was a big one, too. The new Hurt album (The Crux) was on repeat as well.

CFW: 4. What’s your favorite show/performance been as a band?

DFH: Our favorite show is a tie. As a full band, the UC musicfest was a really great experience. Being alongside Collective Soul was great and the fans we picked up at that show were incredible. Speaking of that, our acoustic set with Hurt in our hometown was unforgettable. Acoustic music is a big part of DFH and sharing that intimacy with that crowd in that environment was something we will remember forever.

CFW: 5. If I want people to remember one song from our band, it would be…

DFH: If we had to pick one song, I’d have to go with something off the new album because it’s truly our best work as a band. Right now, the single is called “Turning a Blind Eye” and, in my opinion, has a really strong message about overcoming the things in life that may hold you back. sometimes you have to turn your head and take control of your own life and learn to let go of what keeps you down and I think this song is a good gauge for that. But we really feel all the songs are strong on this EP and hopefully you remember whatever song connects with you.

Part II:
CFW: 1. You guys also released an EP called Across State Lines. How different was the approach of making that EP to this one? What were the expectations going into this one?

DFH: Across State Lines was a self-produced EP that really laid the foundation for DFH. It had that post-grunge kind of sound as a whole I guess you could say, but truth be told it was a collection of a lot of different musical styles all rolled into a six song EP. It was definitely us trying to establish an identity. On the new album, we really found our identity. The expectation was to raise the bar for ourselves and challenge each other to make the album we always wanted to make and make a statement to ourselves as well as our peers that DFH was a band that could have some lasting power in today’s rock scene. The Sixes was a very natural ‘next step’ for the band. We really feel this EP conveys all the elements of what a modern rock record should in today’s scene. It’s a very personal and powerful record in our opinion.

CFW: 2. You guys got to work with Clint Lowery, an artist that many of us consider here at EMURG as a legend in the industry. When you guys recorded together, was there any advice that you guys were given that you feel you’ve taken away from working with him?

DFH: Our decision to work with Clint was definitely a positive experience. It’s great to have him as a part of the DFH family. His mark on the record is undeniable. He really pushed us to be the best songwriters we can be and having the opportunity to write with him as well as Morgan Rose really encouraged us to put out our best effort. Also, as a new band, it’s a huge help to have a guy like him act as a mentor as you go into the business side of things.

CFW: 3. Matthew, you recently went to Las Vegas and actually attended the Billboard Music Awards. How different was that experience for you having watched award shows on television?

DFH: The Billboard Music Awards was really cool. Mostly because I’m not the biggest fan of whats considered ‘popular’ today and I really left with a newfound appreciation for what those pop artists do. I still think ‘rock’ needs to be represented way more on the charts but for what it is I dont think it was a bad thing to just enjoy the performances of a lot of talented singers and dancers. The rock scene in my opinion will always say so much more and has a much deeper connection with its fan base, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to let go for 3 hours and dance around if that’s your thing. Although, I can’t say I’ll be writing any pop songs anytime soon. Ha!

CFW: 4. You guys have played many shows up and down the Eastern Seaboard, but in reference to the states where your band resides (New Jersey and Rhode Island), which state do you feel has the liveliest music scene (We promise you can still play shows in both without penalty!)?

DFH: Both areas have their strengths. NJ is great because you have a lot of legendary footsteps so to speak to walk in. I’ll admit the closing of a lot of important venues hurts but the history there is very important to rock. Plus the NJ fans really know their rock. When they like you, you have a fan for life. RI and the rest of New England is a really overlooked scene. It gets dominated by metal and a lot of underground genres, but Providence and Boston are such great rock cities in general. I may be partial because it’s my hometown but I may have to side with RI/MA just because there is more of a rock radio presence out here. But like I said, we are extremely fortunate to have two regions that treat us incredibly.

CFW: 5. We here at EMURG are proud to put a band like yours on the national stage. What do you have to say to EMURGers that are just listening to your music for the first time?

DFH: Well, first and foremost, continue to support EMURG because it’s clear they are doing everything possible to expose you to great national and unsigned artists. As for listening to DFH for the first time, I just want this band to be a voice for all of those that connect with it. The music and lyrics we write come from a very personal place and if we have the opportunity to share that with you and give you something to connect with, then we feel like we accomplished what we set out to do. We do what we do because we love it and in some respects we even need music, but without the fans we aren’t anything. So thank you for listening and hopefully we see you singing along at a live show in the future.

I’d like to thank Matthew for his time and I’m totally impressed by their new EP. If you want to hear more, you can get Across State Lines and The Sixes, you can get them at most digital retailers or pick it up at their website.