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Published: 2012/10/12
by Glenn H Roth

The Dead Exs Start a Relovolution

Photo by Kristin Viens

David Pattillo wanted to get back to playing straight up slide guitar. Pattillo grew tired of producing and yearned to get back to rocking out. So two years ago, he reconnected with drummer Wylie Wirth to form The Dead Exs and the pair have just released their second studio album, Relovolution.

Pattillo, whose musical influences range from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Bob Dylan, also freelances as the audio producer and mixer for the PBS show Live from the Artists Den and has worked with the Black Crowes, Hold Steady, Rufus Wainwright, and Regina Spektor. spoke with Pattillo at his flow ny studio located on the Lower East Side.

What’s the signature sound of the Dead Exs?

It’s sort of a raw, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve always been inspired by the Delta Blues. That always spoke to me. I always think of us as a garage blues, Delta-inspired thing. I don’t know. I would love to hear someone else’s opinion of it.

How would you describe the dynamic between yourself and your drummer?

I tend to say what’s on my mind and Wylie’s very laid back. He tends to pull the tempos back and I’m always wanting to push it. When we play live, I’m kind of crazy and he’s “Mr. Cool,” on the drums. The funny thing is that he’s equally complex in what he’s pulling off, but he doesn’t show it as much on his face or his body, but it’s all in his wrists and feet. He’s a primal drummer but also an intellectual drummer.

He’s a sweet guy. He’s more of a chilled dude. I’m fairly chill but I’m more of a workaholic. He’s a craftsman. He’s also a really good carpenter and makes all this custom furniture, so that’s part of his drumming. He’s crafty and that’s what I need because I’m so focused on writing the tunes and what I lack in the craft in my playing, I make up with a really good song or a good vocal. We have a good magical thing. Every time I played with a drummer, I felt like I need a bass player but with Wylie I don’t.

What is it about Wylie’s playing that makes you feel that you don’t need a bassist?

He’s got a heavy foot and he kind of plays the bass line with his foot.

What are the positives about being in a two-piece band and what are the negatives?

The benefit is that we fit in our truck. Wylie’s got a pick-up truck and we can fit our gear in the back and we can sit in the front. If we had a bass player, I don’t think he would fit, so it makes for a nice mobile situation. The expense for travel is better. The other benefit is that if I want to flip the set in the middle, Wylie just follows along. It gives us an opportunity to go off the grid and let the wheels spin out of control and do a couple of donuts in the parking lot. I think the negatives is the lack of bottom (no bass guitar).

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