Canadian rockers Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler are back with a new single as Death From Above. Entitled “Freeze Me”, the track premiered on BBC Radio 1 Tuesday afternoon ahead of its proper release on Friday. Listen above.
The single marks the beginning of a new era for the band, as it’s being released under a rebranded moniker. Per a representative, they’ve dropped “1979” from their name and are now simply, Death From Above. Somewhat confusingly, the band’s socials will remain unchanged, but all future music and touring will be billed sans “1979.”
Death From Above was actually the band’s original name, but they were forced to adopt the “1979” following a dispute with James Murphy’s Death From Above (DFA) Records. After receiving a cease and desist from DFA Records, the band declared “jihad” on Murphy. “James Murphy is a selfish piece of fuck that will burn in the flames of a specially dedicated rock and roll jihad. if I had the resources I would fly a plane into his skull,” the band said in a blistering statement issued at the time.
However, as Murphy explained in a 2005 interview with Pitchfork, the conflicting names only became an issue once the band signed with a major label. “That’s how this all came about. We knew about them for years. They were a Canadian punk rock band on a small label. Totally fine. But they had a crash course on being on a major label. I mean they’re on Vice, but Vice is Atlantic. Atlantic’s not gonna release a record by a band with the same name as another entity in music.”
“We were trying to figure out a good way to deal with it, but copyright law is outside of the knowledge of our regular record company lawyers, so we had to hire a copyright attorney. Really expensive. To tell us, “What happens if this happens? What happens if that happens?” Murphy told Pitchfork. “Honestly, I always wanted to tell [DFA1979], you know we spent a lot of money. And that was the one thing, when they were all “Jihad! Fuck James Murphy!”– we spent a lot of money because we didn’t just wanna be total fucking assholes and just say no. We were trying to find a way for it to actually work.”
Grainger and Keeler later acknowledged Murphy wasn’t to blame, telling the Guardian in 2014, “That was our attitude then and we now know that James Murphy wasn’t involved in the cease-and-desist. He was on honeymoon. Their lawyer dumped it on us.”
A representative for Death From Above (the band) declined to explain the impetus for the latest name change. Murphy/DFA Records did not return our requests for comment as of publication.
Death From Above released their debut album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, in 2004. After reuniting in 2011, they finally released a follow-up record, The Physical World, in 2014. In a corresponding interview with BBC, the duo promised “it will not be 10 years” before their next record.
This summer, Death From Above will make appearances at select festivals in Canada, as well as at Riot Fest in Chicago.
Death From Above 2017 Tour Dates:
07/06 – Ottawa, ON @ Ottawa Bluesfest
07/09 – Quebec City, QC @ Festival d’été de Québec
07/29 – Oro-Medonte, ON @ WayHome Music Festival
08/06 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Music Festival
09/15-17 – Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest