“I think it would have been a shitty thing to stop the band,” Siera claims. “I’m okay about the whole thing now, but for quite a while I wasn’t. Right now the band is at a stage where overall it’s back on track despite us having that initial dealing period where we didn’t know where our heads were at. But there was never really any real question of whether the band was going to continue or not. It always felt like it would be a sad thing to make the band stop because of what happened. In essence, I don’t think Beau would have wanted us to stop making music anyway, I think he would have wanted us to keep going and keep doing rad things!”
Which is precisely what The Death Set went on to do not long after Velasco’s sudden passing. Despite naming the album after the lead character from French new wave film ‘Breathless’, Siera explains how Michel Poiccard was an album very much inspired by the memory of his late friend Velasco.
“When Dan [Walker, guitar] and I were writing the songs, it was a very intense time for us – obviously a lot of crazy shit had just gone down!” recalls Siera. “If we hadn’t written the songs about our friend it would have just sounded contrived. The album is very much a document of that period and what we were going through. At the same time, we realised there were a lot of analogies between the film techniques used in Michel Poiccard and what we thought the spirit of the band was. Also, for us as a live band, the way that we record and how we’re always jumping from style to style, it made sense for us to call it Michel Poiccard because that reflects a lot of the filming techniques too.”
As Siera describes it, The Death Set is a punk-rock band that gets the treatment of an electronic project in terms of the collaborations it usually involves and the remixes that often result. In the case of Michel Poiccard, long-time friend and producer XXXChange, as well as Spank Rock and Diplo, make guest appearances on the band’s second full-length, further showcasing The Death Set’s flexibility and impossible-to-pinpoint style. What does Siera call it? Whatever he feels like on the day, really.
“It’s a bit of everything, right? It started out as just a regular punk band but the sound of the new record definitely proves it’s progressed into something totally different. Just working with XXXChange on this record meant that we were going to delve into something totally new, and that’s really the nature of our band anyway. We developed out of taking a risk in the first place. We’d been friends with XXXChange for a long time, even when we first came to America, we stayed on his sofa for a while. Working with someone who knew the band from the start was almost comforting in a way, especially after we lost Beau. It brought the memories back but it also inspired us to look to the future.”
And while the future is definitely still very bright for The Death Set despite Velasco’s passing, Siera claims that looking back to the past is not always such a bad thing.
“Man, it was a fucking struggle moving to America but it was worth it,” he laughs. “I remember me and Beau finding this picture of New York and just putting it up on our wall…The next thing we knew, we were in the ‘States but we were pretty much living the life of the homeless! We didn’t know where to stay at first, we’d be sleeping on subway cars. I think it turned out to be one of those things where if you really believe in something and put a hundred percent of your positivity and energy towards it – a million hands will extend to you and help you out. It’s true – you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you out when they see how hard you’re working towards your dream. It was a super massive struggle but I’m glad we did it the hard way because it was also the fun way! It made it all the more sweet when we finally did have some success, we appreciated it a lot more.”