Sunday 27 May 2018

Death in Vegas' Richard Fearless on Beyonce, collaborations, and 'tragic coincidence' of band's name in wake of Vegas shootings

Death in Vegas play Metropolis festival in Dublin this weekend

Richard Fearless
Richard Fearless

Gavin Caffrey

He’s worked with some of the biggest recording artists in the world but Richard Fearless, aka Death In Vegas, has his sights set on music royalty — Queen Bey.

“I did write a song for Beyonce,” he said. “I’d just like to add, I wasn’t asked to do it. I’ve tried a couple of different ways [to get it to her] but I think I might have a new inroad from someone who worked on the tour.”

Fearless, along with former band member Tim Holmes, achieved widespread acclaim as Death In Vegas in the 90s with their groundbreaking second album The Contino Sessions, mixing rock with electronica and featuring guest vocalists Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Iggy Pop and The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Jim Reid.

Further collaborations with Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller followed on third album, Scorpio Rising, but it was a formula Fearless was growing tired of.

“I’m definitely not over collaborations but I see any kind of collaborations I do not being in the Death In Vegas format — I see them as a producer or if the right person comes along that’s interesting to work with, but I don’t want to make an album with a bunch of guest vocalists as Death In Vegas ever again… that’s not really for me. I want to make something that feels pure.”

After a seven-year hiatus, Fearless returned re-energised as Death In Vegas in 2011, with Trans-Love Energies and Transmission (2016) hailing a more techno-oriented direction. Gone are the bass and guitars of the early days — Fearless is now armed with a 909 drum machine and mixing desks… and he’s adamant you’ll need your dancing shoes when he takes the stage next Saturday at the Metropolis festival in the RDS, Dublin.

“Coming to Dublin and doing the shows we’re doing, it’s exciting to be able to represent it in a different way, which I think has a sense of relevance and makes sense rather than a 20-year-old band trying to do a bunch of old songs — I’d rather shoot myself in the foot… or head.

“It’s dance music and it doesn’t need to have three guitarists on there. It’s quite euphoric… it definitely keeps you moving.”

Unfortunately the phrase ‘death in Vegas’ now also evokes memories of gunman Stephen Paddock opening fire on concert goers at a country music festival from his Mandalay Bay hotel room in the Nevada gambling mecca, killing 58 and injuring nearly 500.

It’s a link Fearless is obviously uneasy with, but the producer and DJ has no plans to change the band’s name, despite admitting he’s never been a big fan of it himself.

“A friend of mine made a film about the last 15 minutes of Elvis’s life. It was called Death In Vegas — I was called Dead Elvis before but I had to change the name as there was a punk label in Ireland called Dead Elvis. Anyway, we changed the name and it was one of those ones… I’ve never even liked the name. It happened and it started 20 years ago, and at this stage, I can’t change the name because of an absolutely horrific event.

“There’s definitely people who contacted us about it and said how insensitive it is and stuff like that but, yeah, it’s a tragic coincidence really.”

Fearless is no stranger to these shores. His father is from Belfast and has a house in Donegal since the 70s. After growing up in the Middle East, Africa and London, the Tir Chonaill abode has been the one constant family home all his life.

“It’s always been a really nice cool place for myself and my sister. Going to a trad night on a Tuesday in the pub or a Thursday — that would always have been quite a big thing.”

With seven and five-year gaps respectively between the last three Death In Vegas albums, Fearless is planning on not making fans wait quite as long for new music. He’s currently mixing a new single to go with a bunch of remixes — and that’s just for starters.

“I’ve got music coming out over the next few months. Some of it is Richard Fearless and some of it is Death In Vegas. There’s not an album as such but there are other albums. I’m being a cryptic — I’ve got a lot of music to come out, put it that way.

“I’m going to try and get another Death In Vegas record done by the end of next year.”

And Beyonce? Fans will be hoping that inroad leads to something and she falls crazy in love with what she hears.

Fearless: “Yeah (looking at the holes in the bottom of my shoes at the moment), me too.”

Death In Vegas play this Saturday on the Warehouse Stage as part of the Metropolis festival at the RDS in Dublin. Fearless will also play an after-show set at the Wah Wah Club on South William Street on Saturday.

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