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Dead Rock West

Sound description

Punk Americana.

RIYL

Inch, Hot Snakes, X, Loam, Everly Brothers

Inception

San Diego , 2002

Influences

Wirepony, Acetone, Inch, Merle Haggard, the Feelies, X, Gram Parsons, the Byrds, Hot Snakes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Pentax Spotmatic F, Johnny Cash, Kodak E100vs, Charlie Mcree, Gregory Page, Jack Reynolds, Steve Poltz, Old 97's, Westerberg, Patrick Dennis, Christopher Hoffee, Stewboss, Bruce Cockburn, Skydiggers, LA's, the Who, Emmylou Harris, the Alarm, the Beat Farmers, Howlin' Wolf, Lone Justice, Ben Moore, the Brothers Figaro, Razorlight, Lefty Frizzell, the Plimsouls, Louvin Brothers, Vena Cava, the Wipers, Sugar, Rob Wasserman, Waterboys, Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams, Sonny Terry, 16 HP, R.E.M., Sammy Lambert, Lou the Dog, Folk Uke, Loam, Lou Reed, Bonnie Prince Billy, Joan Osborne, Sonny Terry, Razorlight, Bartenders Bible, Stone Ponys, Tacey Nelson, Willie Nelson, Songo Bongo, the Carter Family, Dead Meadow, Joe Henry, Patty Griffin, Patti Smith, Stooges, Uncle Tupelo, PJ Harvey, Bug Guts, Scud Mountain Boys, Loretta Lynn

Discography

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"I was born August 19 at 6:20 a.m.," says Frank Lee Drennen on his website. "My dad was in the Marine Corps. He was in the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal); he blew things up for a living. My mama lives in a silver-mining camp town esablished in the early 1860s called Chloride in Arizona. Her family is from Arkansas. Her dad, Homer Gunn, was a travelling preacher. Grampa Gunn's mother was named Roxy Gunn. Dad's parents are from West Virginia. Grandma Drennen's maiden name was Littlepage and she was born in a lumber camp. Lee Andrew Drennen, my Grandpa, was a factory worker and played the piano."

"I play a cream Fender Telecaster through a late 1960s all point-to-point tube driven Ampeg with one 12 inch Jensen speaker called a Rocket."

Drennen's band Dead Rock West formed in 1992, while the singer/songwriter/guitarist was still in Gregory Page's band the Hatchet Brothers and his own group Loam. Keyboardist Phil Parlapiano has played with Social Distortion, while drummer Bryan Head tours with Dick Dale. Co-singer Cindy Wasserman's brother is famed bass player Rob Wasserman.

The band recorded their album Honey and Salt in 2008, recorded (on analog tape) in Echo Park, and mixed in Nashville by Richard Dodd (Wilco, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Steve Earle, Roy Orbison, etc.). The record was released on local Populuxe Records label. An outtakes collection Orphans and Strays was released in 2009.

Drennen also plays with Songo Bongo and Stewboss. In early 2009, he announced that Peter Case (the Plimsouls) would produce the new Dead Rock West album, with special guests Exene Cervenka, John Doe and Mark Olson. The resulting album Bright Morning Stars, was released in April 2011.

A 2011 UK tour included keyboardist Phil Parlapiano, who helped Social Distortion sharpen its edge, San Diego Music Awards’ “best hard rock” designee Charlie McRee of Lord Howler, with his buddy Jack Reynolds and the Truckee Brothers’ Chris Hoffee.

“I was drumming and singing backing vocals," says McRee. “The road is usually amazingly great in England, in no small part due to the cask-conditioned ales. The difference between these suds and their American craft beer counterparts is their low alcohol content and lack of pasteurization. The beers taste of fresh ingredients and live yeast. The result is surprisingly intoxicating and delicious.”

Singer Cindy Wasserman appeared on the David Letterman show on September 8, 2011, singing with John Doe of X.

Their 2011 album Bright Morning Stars was re-released on 180 gram vinyl in January 2015. They spent that summer touring with X, and then Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones, in support of their album It's Everly Time, a 13 song tribute produced by Grammy-winning producer Mark Linett (Brian Wilson, Los Lobos, Randy Newman). The album's lead single “I Used To Love You” was also produced as a video, as was the single “The Price of Love.”

Videos were released in late 2015 for “I Used To Love You” and “The Price of Love,” both from It's Everly Time.

Their late 2017 album More Love was produced by John Doe (X) and featured contributions from Elliot Easton (the Cars), Greg Leisz (Watkins Family Hour), and DJ Bonebrake. It was preceded by a single for “Boundless Fearless Love.”

A new album debuted in 2020, Glitter & Gold. A single and video for “Revolution In The Garden” was produced by band bassist David J Carpenter. Guests include Matt Lynott of The White Buffalo on lead drums, indie artist Patrick Dennis (lead percussion) and The Section Quartet (strings). The politically charged song (“The voice in our head/The voice on the tube/The voice tellin’ us/We’re all gonna lose”) was written 30 years ago by Drennen and indie rocker Patrick Dennis when they played in a Leucadia duo called The Homer Gunns.

"A simple direct to DAT recording was produced by Dave Sharp from the Alarm but never released," says Drennen. "It was written in response to the Bob Dylan song 'When the Ship Comes In,' except ours was a rolling 6/8 folk punk reaction to what the future looked like through our 20-something eyes...we wanted something that sounds epic. Big as life. A sound that reflects the urgency of the lyrics. We wanted a big rock ‘n’ roll sound. We wanted to destroy the idea that Dead Rock West is merely a neat little Americana group from the West Coast."

According to Wasserman, "I knew that we had to record it, but we had to figure out how to do it remotely because it was deep Covid. No one was meeting up, and none of us had seen each other since March. Geoff’s [Pearlman’s] riff really set us off on our path, and then Matt Lynott of White Buffalo stepped in to guest on drums. Phil [Parlapiano] brought these crazy keys in that took it somewhere else. And then we called Dave Way who is the mix master. We’d worked together on our album More Love so all we said to him was 'Pretend that you don’t know us when you mix it. The rest is up to you.'”

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