New music on the way from proto-punks Death

Death band members and brothers, David Hackney, Bobby Hackney Sr and Dannis Hackney from A Band Called Death. Courtesy of Drafthouse Films

Death band members and brothers, David Hackney, Bobby Hackney Sr and Dannis Hackney from A Band Called Death. Courtesy of Drafthouse Films.


This week has been occupied with putting together an amazing interview I was fortunate enough to conduct with the Hackney brothers from Death, along with the directors of the film about them, A Band Called Death. The initial interviews came to nearly 4000 words, meaning some stuff had to get cut.

However, the Hackneys had some information regarding their upcoming releases that seems rather pertinent to you, my vinyl-loving friends. Lots of new, amazing stuff will be released by Death this year. In addition to pre-Death Hackney brothers band, the RockFire Funk Explosion, seeing release on Third Man Records, Death will be releasing the first new recordings from the band since their reunion.

In addition to your lost album, …For the Whole World to See, getting released, you’ve had the demos and the b-sides come out, and now the RockFire Funk Express. How did it come about that you went back that far – pre-Death, even?

Bobby Hackney: Well, you know, that was just a part of the story and we happened to have that master tape.
Dannis Hackney: That was the first part of the story, really, because that was the first recording we did at United Sound, before the Death tapes were recorded. In our search for a name, that was the first name we came up with, but that segment of the band lasted, what? Oh, eight or nine months – something like that. From that eight or nine months of being RockFire Funk Express came that particular recording.

I’ve read that the band has been working on new material. Is that the case?

Dannis:
That is the case.
Bobby: That is the case, yeah.
Dannis: The album that we want to come out in the next year has some new music on it. As I call it, the new writing team – Bobby Duncan, Bobby Hackney – and I threw my two cents in, and we came up with some new tunes, and Bob put some of the old tunes that were never heard or recorded back in the ’70s, and we kind of culminated a new album with all that material. It’s got some of the best of the new Death, and some of the best of the old Death kind of combined into one album.

So, it bridges the past and the present?

Bobby: Exactly. It has six songs on it that David and I wrote in the ’70s and it has three songs that Bobby Duncan wrote, along with our assistance, and it has one song that we all three put together. So, yeah: it’s definitely a bridge.

a-band-called-death-ABCD_finalb_27x40_rgbNow that the movie is coming out officially, what is the plan for Death over the next year?

Bobby: The great thing about it is, some wonderful things have happened, that we’ve just said, “Well, this comes along. We’ll work with it.” First of all, we’ve got this new album we completed. We’re very excited about it. Drafthouse Films put out a limited edition replica of the original 45 we put out in Detroit, with the Tryangle Records label, and that inspired us. We’re going to put out a limited edition of two of the new songs from the new album on that Tryangle Records label.

‘Course, there may be some other things goin’ on. We have a good relationship with Drag City. There’ll be some more historic Death. That’ll be on the horizon. Musically, we love it. I mean, it’s what we love to do – put out records. We’ve always loved that. We’ve got a lot of that coming up. A lot of surprises, coming up this coming year.