Posted March 4, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

Brendan Canty of Deathfix: Letting it happen and having a blast


Icons in the hardcore world, Fugazi never officially broke up. Rather, the Washington D.C. group just stopped playing. In the wake of the apparent dissolution, drummer Brendan Canty began touring and recording with Husker Du’s Bob Mould. That’s when he met keyboardist Rich Morel and the two decided to form Deathfix with Canty on guitar and vocals and Morel playing keyboards and sharing vocal duties. That was three years ago. The group just issued its debut and is embarking on its first real tour. Canty spoke via phone from his D.C. rehearsal space about the self-titled disc. Deathfix is an atmospheric and melodic effort (and whimsical, as “Dali’s House” suggests). We love it.

The band came together in 2009 while you were touring in Bob Mould’s band. Talk about what led you and Rich Morel to want to form the group?
It was sort of after that. Rich and I got to know each other on those tours. We struck up a friendship and it was really loose. When we got back to our respective abodes, we started making plans to try it out. It was super organic. We threw ideas at each other. It had been awhile since Fugazi was playing. I ended up with pieces of music and songs. As did Rich. We both showed up with lots of ideas and we both had our producer’s hats on. If I came in with a piece of music, Rich had a million ideas for it and vice versa. We just started throwing musical ideas at each other until we had a bunch of songs. It felt like the right thing to do was start playing them out. We went out and tried to find the best two musicians we could and I’m a huge fan of the Medications, the band that the two guys we’re playing with belong to. We jumped right into it. It’s been a blast and it feels prolific. Every band at some point gets to the point where it’s pulling teeth to make a record. This was much more of cutting away stuff.

I read that you shared an affinity for the sounds of 1972. What’s that all about?
I think it’s just that we’re dipping into our record collections. We just realized after a period of time what sticks around. There are plenty of things that are super interesting that I still love. And there are things I continually go back to that are bedrocks and represent the ideals that I’m shooting for; something like Here Come the Warm Jets by Eno or any Bowie record.

Talk about the warehouse studio space you have and how that plays a role in shaping the band’s sound.
I just moved studios today.  We’re building it out right now. We’re set up in the last great warehouse district in D.C. This kind of space doesn’t exist here anymore. It’s been eaten up by the real estate nuttiness. We found this space and I’ve been here for eight years. It’s this cavern basically and we can set up and play whenever we want. All our gear is set up. We love the digital audio. It enables us to record for hours and hours and hours.

The press release for the album says the songs “cover themes like sickness, breakups, corruption, drugs, fame, and losing one’s mind” but “shouldn’t be read as straight biography.” What inspired the dark themes if it wasn’t your own life?
I think it’s mostly from sticking around home. But hell, even if we were on the road, we’d sing about the same things. There are more births. There are more deaths. There are more suicides. I’m 46 now and I feel a little bit like I’ve been through it a little bit, having lost a lot of people and given birth to a lot of people. That informs a lot of the writing. It comes from feeling like I’m on the other side of ten years of doing something and I want to share some of that.

I’ve never started bands that go in search of finding an audience . . . A lot of bands think that so-and-so has this crowd and they can dovetail into it. That’s not at all what happens.

Will Fugazi fans like the album?
I don’t know. There are a lot of Fugazi fans. It would be presumptuous of me to try to figure out what somebody likes or not. I don’t think that’s the way bands work. I’ve never started bands that go in search of finding an audience. There’s a natural growth. A lot of bands think that so-and-so has this crowd and they can dovetail into it. That’s not at all what happens. It’s not demographics. I’m sure people smarter than me can figure that matrix out. As far as I’m concerned, you go out there and play shows and if you’re lucky, you communicate with others and they communicate with you and that’s the only way you can form that band. You do that a thousand times and then you can have a crowd. I don’t believe that other way exists. That’s just my personal feeling. You’re trying to catch lightening in a bottle if that’s what you’re shooting for.

I don’t think the band ever had a proper send off. Any chance that’s in the works?
No. We didn’t have a proper send off. There was a lot of heavy stuff and I couldn’t be on the road anymore. I had a third kid on the road. I needed to be home. The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t talk the other guys in the band into having babies when I was having babies. Now they’re having babies and our rhythm is off. Our cycles are off. The desire is there and we see each other all the time and email stupid shit to each other all the time. There’s a lot of love. It would be wonderful to see them more and more. The reality is very different. It’s a logistical thing. I’m so happy to have a group of people to work with that I love as much as I do right now. We’re going to be on the road in a van touring around and that makes me so happy.

Tour Dates


















Pittsburgh, PA, The Mr. Roboto Project

Cleveland, OH, Now That’s Class

Chicago, IL, Schubas Tavern

Detroit, MI, Magic Stick Lounge

Toronto, ON, Wrong Bar

Montreal, QB, Il Motore

Cambridge, MA, TT the Bear’s

Philadelphia, PA, Johnny Brenda’s

New York, NY, Knitting Factory

Washington, DC, Blackcat Backstage

Olympia, WA, Northern

Vancouver, BC, Media Club

Seattle, WA, The Vera Project

Portland, OR, Backspace Café

Boise, ID, Treeport Music Festival

Indio, CA, Coachella Music Festival

Indio, CA, Coachella Music Festival


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].