Supposedly, Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants is Shiflett's project band. More known as the Foo Fighters' and the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' lead guitarist (and as the frontman for Jackson United), CSDP was borne out of a 2008 appearance at the Hootenanny, and Shiflett's love for classic country, rockabilly and roots rock. It's a different product; instead of alt-rock guitars or punk chords, there's a lot of pedal steel guitar and twangy guitars in this self-titled debut.
OC Weekly (Lilledeshan Bose): How did the Hootenanny form your band?
Chris Shiflett: A friend of mine since high school, Phil Hardy, books shows for the Hootenanny, and one day we were hanging out at a Foo Fighters show and he just asked if I wanted to put something together for the Hootenanny. That was the catalyst. The first one, in 2008, I had a few covers--George Jones, Willie Nelson. Then I took some of my own songs and countried them up a little bit. I play everything on acoustic guitar..the first wave was just reworking my Jackson United songs. After playing a few shows and thinking [in a country mindframe], I started writing like that. So after a year I had written a whole new set of songs. I've been off the road for a while and I got itchy [to make a new record].
Where does the name come from?
Originally I was going to call it Chris Shiflett and the Cheaters. But everytime I said that to somebody, they kind of winced. It didn't go over well. I changed it to Chris Shiflett and the Campesinos, then I found out another band was called that. I didn't want a bunch of Los Campesinos! fans coming to my shows. So then I saw Michael Moore's Sicko, and there was a section in there where he talked about life insurance policies that companies take out on their employees without their employees knowing about it. They call those policies the "dead peasants policies," and immedietely when I heard that phrase, it just stuck. It's great because nobody gets the reference.
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You have a lot of bands. Which one's a side project and which one's a real band?
Obviously the Foo Fighters is my main band, no doubt about it. But I should stop referring to the Dead Peasants as a side project. Because it's sort of demeaning to it. And Foo Fighters has been on hiatus for a couple of years. When I made this record, it was the sum total of my creative endeavors, I wasn't juggling a bunch of things. It's really been the only thing I've been focusing on the past year. I've been lucky to play in different bands with great musicians throughout the years, but that creates the illusion that I'm juggling different things. But when I'm doing one thing, that's usually all I'm doing.
Any surprises at your live show?
No lasers or anything like that, but we're so new that every time we play is kind of surprising. It's just now settling down, where you're just playing music and not thinking about it. It takes a little time to get to that place. This is the exciting part for me--getting to that comfortable place.
Is your other band, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, doing anything new soon?
We know we're way overdue, but we keep getting close to a plan, then it falls apart. We'll get it together soon. [Laughs] We kind of have a theme for the next one...but I don't want to give away our secrets.
Watch the band perform tomorrow, July 10, 8 p.m., at Saint Rocke, 142 Pacific Coast Hwy Hermosa Beach. Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants' debut is out Tuesday, July 13 on Le Coq Napoleon/RCA.