Meet The Band: Sudden Deaf

Austin, Texas’ Sudden Deaf are in this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. They just released their debut album Havoc. Vocalist/bassist Drew Potter introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Sudden Deaf.
Drew Potter: We formed here in good ol’ Austin, Texas back shortly before the pandemic which obviously affected us getting going, but as soon as things opened back up we starting coming in hot playing live shows around the Austin area and have been going strong since then. All of us in the band have known each other for a long time. Myself and Alex, one our guitar player, have know each other since we were about 7 and the rest of the guys grew up just down the block. So we have all been jamming with each other for a while. After high school, Dylan, Alex, and I had been been jamming with another drummer but when he left and Max’s band split everything fell into place and the rest is now for the books.

Describe the songwriting process for Havoc.
We tend to let the music tell us what the song will be about. Lyrics usually come after all the music has been written a mostly fleshed out. Someone may come with an idea or a riff, maybe most of a song, then as a group we’ll jam and fill in ideas. Eventually I’ll start working out a vocal melody once my bass parts are mostly there and then lyrics typically seem to fall into place because there’s an atmosphere and mood told through the music that the lyrics seem to be birthed from.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
For me just the general euphoria of being in the thick of the creative process with my three band mates who are like brothers and such a talented and genuine engineer/producer, shout out to Charles Godfrey of Scary American Studios. There’s something about the studio that breathes creativity and allowing yourself to step back from a song that you’ve been working on to get just right and you start to hear things and ideas that you’ve never thought of before. For example deciding to create a whole interlude “Dusk” out of the former intro to “City in the Sea,” or adding ambient noises to “Raging Storm” by plucking the guitar strings above the nut.

How would you characterize its style/sound/genre?
This is always a hard question because what I hear or what my bands mates hear may differ and that may differ from what you hear or the next person. We like to keep it simple and call it heavy rock and that comes from out of our favorite bands being classic rock and metal bands. We’re all fans of bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy is a big one, Motörhead, but we’re also into other music that may inspire us in some way; we’re into heavier music like Lamb of God.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
We definitely write a lot about death, not sure why. (laughs) Maybe because death is such a large part of life and what do we know about it? In the album we write a bit about the devil. For instance, “Goin’ Down” definitely alludes to the devil. “Headhunter” is loosely about a Viking, but going back to our songwriting process we tend to have an idea of what we want to write about; a prompt. But we always bring into the fold part of our experiences and our struggles or hopes or aspirations. Lust, disdain, greed, love, happiness, anger, hope, and fear are all intertwined into the lyrics and music—because I’ll finish with a lot is said through our music not just the lyrics.

What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
I’d like to say it was an intentional choice, and don’t get me wrong it definitely partly was. But I think we didn’t really know how to do it any other way. As for me, I’m fairly versed in the process of releasing an album, having worked in the music industry for a while, but have never actually released an album. And I will say that it’s a lot of work, there’s plenty of moving pieces, time and not to mention money; so yeah having support from a label would have been great but we’re extremely proud of doing this ourselves and ultimately wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I will shout out all the friends, fellow musicians, our engineer/producer Charles Godfrey, and Curtis and his team over at Csquared that gave invaluable advice and guidance along the way.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
The goal with the album is to hopefully reach someone, anyone out there, in some way that moves them, makes them feel something in some way; something that maybe we didn’t even intend. Once the music is out there it’s out of our hands and people are free to interpret in any which way they choose. I will say that I would love for someone to feel about one of our songs the way I felt about Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” or Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath.”

What has been your most memorable Sudden Deaf live show?
Id say one of our most memorable shows for me was playing Swan Dive here in town, it’s on Red River which is a prominent street for to see local rock, punk, some blues and jazz bands. And we performed with fellow Austin locals Duel, super nice guys and badass musicians that have been doing this a lot longer than us. And Peth as well who we’ve since become good pals with. Good turnout and a lot of energy so definitely one of my favorite shows to date.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Right now we don’t have a lot of things on the books, we’ve done our album release cycle with a couple of release shows. We are looking to get a small run east through Texas and into Louisiana, nothing too major. We largely have our sights set on next year getting some big things in place including festivals and a decent regional tour through the southwest. I can’t divulge any details just yet but we’ve got our eyes on bigger and badder for 2023.

How did you get started in music?
I got started in music because our guitar player Alex, got a guitar when we were 10 years old or so and he had been taking lessons for a couple of months and we had a friend who played drums. I wanted to learn guitar, but as the age old story goes the world needed a bass player, so I started taking lessons with Alex from our good old teacher Charley Bickley; Charley if you’re out there, look at me now, I’d say you did a good job. My dad is also a big influence on me playing music, he never really pushed me in that direction but he was a country western musician from southern Illinois which had a pretty prominent scene back in the ’70’/’80s. Once I started getting an interest in playing music, learning about his history made it all that much more interesting to me.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
When I was very little I listened to whatever was popular, or whatever my older brother was listening to. But once I started developing my own musical tastes and discovered The Beatles that was definitely the beginning for me. I know some people seem to think they are over rated these days but you cannot deny their musical ingenuity. I loved Rubber Soul and The White Album, songs like “Say The Word, “Rocky Raccoon” and “Taxman” were just things that I hadn’t heard before. The Beatles ultimately led me to discovering The Who and that’s when I thought, “Damn, this is rock and roll,” nothing like the Beatles. I thought these guys truly represented the spirit of rock and roll. Eventually I discovered Iron Maiden, which has been a life long love of mine, but I was also very into the grunge scene, bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, and of course The Melvins. All those bands are still very close to my heart.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
This is a great one, and obviously growing up in Austin I had been to plenty of shows or concerts from a young age, mostly blues, country or songwriter type stuff. But the first metal concert I went to I will absolutely never forget. If you guessed Iron Maiden then you would be right. My awesome supportive father took me and my two closest friends, one of them being our very own Alex Turner, when we’re were 11 years old and witnessing those guys even from far back in the nosebleeds forever cemented in my brain the cultural community that is Iron Maiden.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I’m a nerd and I’m really into collecting old video games. I don’t really get time to play them but I have a sizable collection of games ranging from NES, Super Nintendo, N64 to more modern stuff, but I love the nostalgia of old cartridge games playing on my ancient fat back CRTV. There’s something of a collector’s mindset when it comes to this kind of stuff because, do I need it? No. I could just emulate all it on a computer. But do I want it? Yes. And it comes to authenticity, I want the real experience, the real feeling, and that mindset I feel is brought through a lot of my interests in life. I’m also into things like camping, fishing, rugby, outdoors in general, I just don’t get the time for a lot of that these days either. Music is largely my everyday focus being in a band and working at a recording studio and in the music industry as a sound engineer.

How’s the metal scene in Austin these days?
I’d say the metal scene is alive and well here in Austin and there’s and array of sounds too. But you have to look for them; you have to go out to clubs on say Red River or East Sixth. A lot of these hard working badass rock, and punk and all these other types of bands out here don’t always get the credit and dues over a city that Austin claims to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here and there’s certainly a lot to love and respect, Austin is home man.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
We have CD’s of the album and a few of other merch items available to purchase on our website. In works on a new merch line for the album. And lastly we’re working on getting a tour for next year, Southwest/east US, we’ll be out there hopefully, if all things go well in the world, who knows maybe we’ll come by your city. Give a shout out in the comments what cities we should come through. Thanks y’all for reading, for listening to the new album and for all the support.

(interview published September 8, 2022)

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