I had the privilege to interview Mary Byker, whose trying to get his latest musical venture, Am I Dead Yet?, out there for all to enjoy. For those who have no idea who this musician is, Mary has been around the block a few times. His first successful band was the Gaye Bykers on Acid. The group found success in the eighties punk rock scene. I didn’t know any of this before my interview. I found this out reading the biography for Am I Dead? on their Facebook page. It was very enlightening and shocking to learn that I had interview someone of this caliber.
Am I Dead Yet? is has a unique, electronic sound that fuses numerous genres beneath Mary Byker’s soothing voice. They have a poppy sound, though it is firmly rooted in rock, after all, Mary is a “old punk”, to borrow his words.
- What are your biggest musical influences?
Mary: My musical influences are many and varied from Captain Beefheart to William Onyeabor, but for this project it’s more like the school of Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker and David Bowie.
- Do you listen to any band or genre that would surprise your fans if they found out?
Maybe 70’s African Funk
- What’s next for the band?
We’d like to get the live experience up and running, as performing in front of people is what its really all about for both of us at the end of the day. Also we are about to start writing and recording the next album, it’s all about keeping things moving, and not standing still.
- How do you think streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have changed how bands release music? Has it made it easier or more difficult?
I’m pretty old school so it’s all changed immeasurably since I started making music, but as an old punk I think the fact that anybody can write, record and release their own stuff and get it out into the world is great, so in that respect things are probably easier. However, the difficult thing seems to be making yourself heard and finding a way of getting people to listen to your music as there is so much choice out there, hopefully quality will always rise to the top.
- Do you have any non-musical influences that show up in your music?
The influence of movies is pretty strong in our music I guess the influence that social media is having on us emotionally and politically also shows up to some degree in what we’re writing about.
- Can you describe your sound?
Dark Symphonic Pop
- What are you listening to lately? Anything you would recommend?
I like Billie Eilish, the latest Specials album, Sun O))) and the Idles I’ve also recently been listening to Daydream nation era Sonic Youth
- What made you decide to “get into” music and start a band?
Boredom and getting out of having a proper job. I wanted to do something I loved. So luckily somehow I managed to make a living out of making and performing music with my first real band (Gaye Bykers on Acid) and have been hanging on in there ever since!
- How does your writing process work, do you all collaborate on the lyrics or is that job reserved for just one person?
Our process is pretty simple we both bring ideas to the table. It’s fair to say in general that I’m the main lyric writer and Noko is the musical magician however Noko has come up with complete songs with both lyrics and music, I’m more than happy to sing Noks words if they are good and I can’t improve on them in any way! All the lyrics have to go through our joint filter system. Others times there may be a chord progression a groove and a couple of lines of words which we’ll both add to until we have something special, in some case’s Noko will take my basic programming and turn it into something more beautiful. Sometimes we sit down with lyrics already written and Noko gets the guitar out and we work that way. There’s really no set way of working as long as the end result is good!
- If you had to pick just one, which album would be your favorite?
Jesus that’s a hard question…Not very punk rock but for the sound it’s hard to beat, Dark side of the Moon by Pink Floyd or Dummy by Portishead
- Are there any bands you would desperately love to tour with someday?
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- What are your thoughts about bands releasing more singles, rather than following a traditional route and just releasing albums?
Singles are great as are albums. The main thing is to keep writing and releasing our songs in whatever form and getting the opportunity to keep doing what we love doing.