Carly DuHain, the lead singer for local soulful, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll band Drop Dead Red, has a tattoo on her right arm of a pinup girl that says Drop Dead Red. It does not refer to her band of the same name, but rather it has in it an obscure "X-Files" reference.
“I’m a nerd,” she says. “Most, if not all, people see it and have no idea what I’m talking about.”
In fact, some of the members of her band didn’t even know it was derived from two X-files scenes, and just assumed that “Drop Dead Red” had something to do with the ’90s comedy “Drop Dead Fred”.
The tattoo came well before she dubbed her band Drop Dead Red in 2015. She’d been playing as Carly DuHain for a while as a passionate heart-on-the-sleeve solo acoustic singer-songwriter and even released her first album “Rainstation”in 2009 as Carly DuHain. After some solo touring, she joined local indie-folk ensemble Be Brave Bold Robot and was struck with the power lead singer Dean Haakenson’s song had by being backed by a full band.
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“I thought I could be doing so much more, and so much louder and be having such a bigger stage presence if I only had a band,” DuHain says. “It brought this whole other energy, a fabulous new dynamic.”
The band was an evolving process, and from became known as the Carly DuHain Band. When it was time to release her second album, “InsideFires” in 2015, she thought it better to come up with an official band name that would encompass everyone and not just her and her backing musicians. There was much discussion about names, but the answer was right there on her arm the whole time: Drop Dead Red.
The band has since gotten quite well known around town, and they are ready for their followup album, “AirRaid” which will be released on July 13. They hope it will take them to the next level. Vinyl copies of the album will get released later in the year.
This record is a huge step forward for the band. Some members have come and gone since “InsideFires” and now a lineup has solidified. But more so, they got to really spend a lot of time on this album.
Their label, Post and Beam Records had a year-long residency at a local studio, so Drop Dead Red were able to slow down the entire recording process. “InsideFires” was done the way most local/underground albums are done: Really fast and with little time for reflection as its being recorded. Not the case with “AirRaid”.
“It’s uncharacteristic of a local band with the kind of bank account that we have to be able to really dig in the way that seasoned veterans will for two or three months at a time to work on tracking and step away and go back in for a few months,” said drummer Coday Anthony. “We upped the ante for sure.”
The record has 11 tracks: 5 new songs, 4 redone songs from “InsideFires” and two goofy, fun tracks. Anthony and his wife Laura (also Drop Dead Red’s manager) own the record label Post & Beam Records. Before managing the band, Laura had been really taken with Drop Dead Red’s “InsideFires” record and was convinced that there were some covers of ’90s alt-rock hits she’d never heard before on there. When she learned that no, in fact DuHain wrote them, she really felt like they deserved to be recorded properly.
“I realized that they hadn’t been recorded in this current incarnation at the level I believe they deserved,” Laura says. “I was like these songs belong on the radio, they belong everywhere, people are going to eat them up.”
The songs are really in touch with the struggles and issues of the times. There’s a song about the atrocities happening at the border and with ICE, there’s a song about addiction, and another about sexual assault. All of them are also very personal to DuHain.
“The point of the songs is not to bring you down. It is to empower. It’s meant to be like medicine, something you could lock yourself in the room with for hours and cry like I used to do with Elliott Smith,” DuHain says. “It’s very beautiful and aggressive in a sense that I believe that this album is going to grab people. I believe it will help so many people going through different personal struggles. Maybe help relieve some of the struggles others are going through. Just feel that they’re not alone.”
If You Go
Where: Harlow’s, 2708 J St., Sacramento
When: July 13, 10:30 p.m.
Info: (916) 441-4693, harlows.com