About four years ago, a friend had asked me if I had heard Death before… Psssshh....duh! At that time "Leprosy" was a brutal mainstay on my turntable, of course. However, as awesome as that always was for me, I quickly gathered that he wasn't referring to the Tampa based death metal pioneers, but rather an African American punk band from Detroit, pre-1977(!). This led me to a New York Times article about the band that had recently ignited the record-buying community. The bold headline read "This Band Was Punk Before Punk" and featured the most authentic photograph I had ever seen. I could not believe what I was reading. A better-than-fiction story about a band who remained defiant and integral when told by head-shaking, pinched-face industry types they had to change their name. The mid-70s wasn't ready for a band called Death.
I purchased their debut album "…For The Whole World To See," which took 33 years to be released, in an eager panic and devoured its seven stunning tracks and soon began listening to the record on a brain-decaying loop. There is an overwhelming sense of discovery when you personally connect with a jaw-dropping relic from the past that existed outside of its own time. There's barely anything better when a great piece of art arrives to you rarely seen, or rarely heard in all its era authenticity. It almost feels like you were there!
Flash forward to mid-last year, the Los Angeles Film Festival revealed its lineup which contained a documentary about this band. As a fan I was already melting with anticipation, as a distributior I already knew we were going to acquire it. Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino put together the definitive story about this band, and beyond just the groundbreaking music, the film is loaded with heart and is an insanely moving portrait of family bonds. Even if you think you know all there is to know about Death, you have never experienced it like this.
As you may be able to tell, we are thrilled to be releasing A Band Called Death and it will hit theaters and VOD/digital platforms this summer. For those of you attending SXSW, the film will screen as part of the "24 Beats Per Second" film category, details are here.
As Henry Rollins states in the documentary, "its one of those great stories that keeps you going back to the record store. And you can download a free, never-before-released vintage demo track of Death's groundbreaking song "Policitians in My Eyes" below...