Exclusive Interview: Dead Sara Frontwoman Emily Armstrong
Currently positioned at the pivotal tipping point of stardom, The Sunset Strip’s own Dead Sara is giddy over the recent whirlwind of success brought on by their surprise hit single “Weatherman,” which helped the band’s self-titled debut reach No. 16 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart.
Constant radio rotation, combined with a direct support slot on a national tour with Bush (SSMF 2011 veterans), has catapulted Dead Sara up through the SSMF ranks, from an inside the venues support act, to snagging a prized slot on the outdoor street fest main stage, accompanying headliners Marilyn Manson and future tourmates The Offspring. Before catching this buzz band on the brink, get to know frontwoman, and daughter of The Sunset Strip, Emily Armstrong as she surveys her new found view from the top.
Dead Sara is an L.A. band, a band that really came up on The Sunset Strip. How does it feel getting a chance to play on one of the main stages with all these major acts?
It was shocking to be honest! I mean, ‘cause we’ve actually played in the clubs the past couple years of the festival, and to be told that we’re not only playing the actual day of the street fest, but we’re playing on the main stage—it was like, “Are you kidding me?” We had no idea! We weren’t even thinking that far… It’s just so awesome that we have that kind of fanbase here in our hometown. It’s very exciting!
With the sort of whirlwind of success the band has been having, do you remember one particular show, or one pivotal moment where you really felt like, “Wow this is it! We’re really going to make it?”
There are definitely moments… Just sort of these times where for a few seconds you realize, “Oh my God, this is really happening!” Then it sort of goes away, and you’re back down to reality…
But I remember having one of these moments at The Viper Room—we’ve played there for many years—where we kind of just realized, “Holy f*ck all these people are here for us?!” It was packed, and Grace Slick [Jefferson Airplane] was in the house! It was really crazy!
Do you remember the first time you heard “Weatherman” on the radio?
Yes, definitely! I remember it was Halloween night, and we were waiting to go into this bar, Harvard & Stone. [We were] sitting in the car… all just thinking, “Wow we sound a lot better on the radio!” I was wearing one of those Kermit The Frog hats. That’s about as dressed up as I got last year [laughter]. That was what I had on hand; that and some Jack Daniel’s.
When I spoke with Noodles from The Offspring about which other bands he was excited to see this year, he mention Dead Sara. And I know you guys are about to go on tour with them, and you’ve toured with Bush, who played the festival last year. It must be kind of surreal getting the opportunity to play with these bands that you sort of grew up listening to?
It’s totally surreal getting a chance to play with all these ’90s bands that we used to listen to, that are still around, and still doing it. It’s just crazy to think that when I first got into music, these people were on the radio; and they’re still on the radio. This was what was happening at the time, and 10 years later, 12 years later, we’re on tour with them! Just to think about things that way…it’s like, did time stop? How did this happen?’
I read that you actually met and recorded with Courtney Love. What was that like?
Psychotic… psychotic and cool all at the same time [laughter]! She had called me to do some vocals on her last record. And it was definitely hard to sleep until I actually met her…
She is just so good at making you feel like you are psychotic. So I really sort of had to keep my wits together. It’s all meant in a good way, ya’ know… She’s just her own person. You just really have to be able to handle yourself and not go astray. Once I figured that out, she was really nice, and really respectful to me. She just is who she is…
She gave me some advice: if you have that skin hanging under your chin…if you turn your head one way, and that part goes the other way, you’re too old! Too old for rockin’ [laughter]!
What people and/or events in your life do you really credit for getting you to where you are today? The sort of driving forces?
I really have to say friends and family and of course our fans for getting us on our feet and supporting us. That really, at the end of the day, is the main reason that we f*cking love to do this. Having that support makes us wake up happy… And it really has saved us a lot.
Ya’ know, we’ve been doing this for about eight years now. We’ve been through a lot, and at the end of the day, that’s what it is: the fans.
See Dead Sara perform live ON The Sunset Strip Saturday, August 18 during the Sunset Strip Music Festival street fest. Tickets are available at TicketWeb.
–Brent X Mendoza