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Dead Poet Society

Dead Poet Society

 

A perfect symbol for Dead Poet Society is the “shitty old seven-string” that guitarist Jack Collins bought at a mall back in high school.

 

“Our former bass player actually took a soldering iron and soldered the frets off,” he recalls. “You couldn’t play it normally at all. I thought it was going to be a great idea. Years later it was sitting in my closet, and I decided to pick it up again because I got really bored. It became the new way for us to write music — it opened up a door into this whole new world we discovered.”

 

“It was like, ‘This is the guitar,’ he adds. “It’s like taking something broken and creating art out of it.”

 

With its wonky intonation, the instrument can’t produce traditional chords or scales — an unlikely choice for a rock band with such strong commercial potential. Collins and frontman Jack Underkofler are a factory of hooky riffs, even at their most detuned and menacing; and the latter barks and coos with a crystalline purity that recalls Jeff Buckley and Muse’s Matt Bellamy.

 

That contrast is crucial to the band’s debut LP, -!- out March 12, 2021 via Spinefarm Records. Take the bruising belter “Been Here Before,” which pairs a stadium-sized chorus with angular guitars and Dylan Brenner’s blown-out fuzz bass; “I Never Loved Myself Like I Loved You” opens with the fidelity of an iPhone demo before blooming into a cinematic dream-pop singalong anchored by Will Goodroad’s rim-click drum groove. Brenner is a new addition to the lineup, but his experience as the band’s touring stand-in for the duration of their career has made him a natural fit.