the Dead C interview

The Dead C are longtime musical heroes of mine. The trio formed in Dunedin, New Zealand way back in 1986. Next to Harry Pussy, no band was as important to me when I was developing a taste for noise. Not just the Dead C as an entity, but the other bands/solo projects Michael Morley, Bruce Russell, and Robbie Yeats spawned — Gate, Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos, A Handful of Dust, etc. As I rambled about around the time of the release of Vain, Erudite, and Stupid: Selected Works 1987-2005, the band’s ramshackle, half-speed, and scary racket externalized what was teeming inside my teenage head, that since then “I’ve probably mentioned the band in more reviews than any other band, excepting the Sun City Girls.” 

So all said, it’s good to have Michael Morley and Bruce Russell over for Quit Your Day Job this week: Russell works as a usability consultant and information architect and is Programme Leader in Information Design Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of technology. Morley, who works steadily as a practicing painter, is an Academic Leader in drawing at Otago Polytech. It’s also good to have a new Dead C album, Secret Earth. Additionally, Ba Da Bing teamed with Jagjaguwar to reissue two essential (and I mean that) ’80s Flying Nun albums Eusa Kills and DR503, both with additional material. For now, take a listen to Secret Earth’s “Mansions” after our discussion.

Michael Morley: vocals, guitar, laptop, etc.

STEREOGUM: How long have you been employed at Otago Polytech? And how long at your current position as Senior Lecturer/Academic Head of Drawing Dept.?

MICHAEL MORLEY: I have been here since 2000. I’ve been in my current position for one year.

STEREOGUM: Your research expertise is listed as “Contemporary Art. Drawing, painting, video, sound.” Do your students know about Dead C? The band’s included on your staff page under “performance,” so maybe?

MICHAEL MORLEY: Most of the students here have no idea what I do. They don’t read staff profiles, generally, and I am sure they are not impressed by any of it if they hear about it. There would be a small number of students who do know what I do — they understand the culture that we work and exist within and they want to contribute to that.

STEREOGUM: Curious: Do you view the band as an art project or a rock ‘n’ roll/noise band?

MICHAEL MORLEY: I’m not sure if we are a rock ‘n’ roll/noise band. I think we might be an art project that refers to rock ‘n’ roll and noise and sound. I think it is difficult for us to position ourselves within this whole genre game, though. It seems we are forever doomed to be in some intermediary space: We are not Americans, we aren’t part of that continuum. We are not Europeans, we are not part of that continuum. We are situated at the furthest point from anywhere else if you look at us from there. Excluded from both discussions by distance and time.

STEREOGUM: What’s your current course load? Or, what are some of the courses you teach? How many students on average?

MICHAEL MORLEY: The course load fluctuates over the year — 2-3 days of teaching, a day of research and a day of administration! I mostly teach drawing, helping senior students initiate drawing projects that might/hopefully may support and inform their studio papers. I also teach in Painting (I have been exhibiting drawing, prints, paintings for more than 20 years) and Electronic Arts (video, gaming, sound, and culture) from 60-10 people in the classes