By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – The Dead South may be a mix between folk and bluegrass, but their ambition is more comparable to a punk band trying to make a name for themselves. Their aptitude for delivering a traditional roots sound with the energy and enthusiasm of a group of young upstarts has gained The Death South a massive worldwide audience in a very short amount of time.
Since releasing their debut album Good Company in 2015, the Regina, SK quartet has already hit Europe multiple times. They’ll be back there in November before hitting Western Canada in late November and early December.
“We’ve been there about 7 times. This will be our eighth time,” explains vocalist/guitarist Nate Hilts regarding the band’s upcoming overseas trek.
“Germans like us,” Hilts continues. “It’s a bit of a niche market.”
Along with recently hitting the Billboard Top 50 chart, Good Company has also proven to be extremely popular in the digital realm, hitting the top 20 on the US iTunes overall chart.
Much of the band’s continued success is due to the viral video for the song “In Hell, I’ll Be In Good Company”, which has already garnered a staggering 30 million views and continues to gain new views every week.
It’s easy to see why the video is a hit. Not only does it feature some catchy whistling and an anthemic chorus but the visuals are stunning. The idea was to catch the band performing in the exact same position while the background changes to different Canadian landscapes every few seconds.
“We had to measure it out every time,” says Hilts. “12 feet.”
“It’s like, holy shit, we have to somehow either top that one or not care that we don’t top that one. It’s one or the other,” he comments.
In November 2015, The Dead South was awarded the Canadian Independent Music Association’s Road Gold certification for tickets sales. Unsurprisingly, the accolades only fuel the band’s passion for the road.
They’re still working hard promoting 2016’s Illusion & Doubt, which hit number 2 on the US Bluegrass Billboard chart and entered the top 30 on the US Country iTunes chart, with tour stops in Western Canada in late November and December. Fans can expect to hear a couple of new tunes as the band work out ideas for their next album.
“The more and more we go, the more and more collaborative we get,” Hilts notes about their writing process.
“We want to write a bunch of new songs and we like to play them live just to get used to them. Then we understand what we need to change about them. And that way you’re not rushing into them.”
George Jones, Colter Wall, and Sturgill Simpson are some of the artists on Hilts’ playlist right now but he likes the old timers too. “I’m also listening to Meat Loaf and Neil Diamond, stuff like that,” he chuckles.
For a rowdy, foot stompin’ good time, check out The Dead South in Alberta this fall. Their shows are almost sure to sell out, so you’ll be in good company.
The Dead South will be playing at the Vic Juba Theatre November 29 (Lloydminster), Bo’s Bar and Grill November 30 (Red Deer), St. Basil’s Cultural Centre December 1 (Edmonton), and The Gateway December 2 (Calgary).Bo’s Bar and Grill, St. Basil’s Cultural Centre, The Dead South, The Gateway, Vic Juba Theatre