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During the Great Depression of the 30’s, American blues hero Son House wrote and recorded his signature song “Death Letter”. Somewhat 76 years later in 2006, singer/guitarist Jordi “Duende” Ariza Lora (19 yrs old) and drummer Victor Brandt (17 yrs old) from Dordrecht, Netherlands borrowed the name for their band, inspired by the song’s characteristic raw emotion and urgent rhythm. Also influenced by groups like The Thermals, Oceansize, Death Cab for Cutie, Cult of Luna and At The Drive-In, Death Letters aren’t even close to their twenties yet, but are already bursting with talent and growing experience.
Hitting it off immediately in their first rehearsal, Jordi and Victor became a tight musical pair and recorded their debut EP “Play it like you mean it” shortly afterwards. The EP was a success receiving excellent reviews.
Things really kicked off when the guys, then aged 15 and 16, entered a band competition and made their first TV appearance. They went for gold and got it; a backstage gig at Holland’s finest summerfestival ‘Pinkpop’. With the media all over them it was time to get serious; that same year they recorded their first full-length album.
Amsterdam based label Cool Buzz soon honed in on the Death Letters powerful sound and dynamic live performances, signed them in a heartbeat and released their debut self titled album in February 2009 throughout The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The album delivers thirteen solid tracks drenched with rock, blues and a steep dose of punk boiled down to true grittiness written with blood, sweat and the occasional tear.
Gaining more attention with the release of the album, Death Letters began to tour a whole range of venues and festivals including Paradiso, Zwarte Cross and Paaspop, as well as several German stages. The Germans couldn’t get enough of the pair and so Death Letters teamed up with the Stagg-O-Lee Label (partner of the infamous Glitterhouse Records) to release the album in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
The stage provides Death Letters with a free license to exalt untamed madness through their energetic live sets. Frontman Jordi literally jumps, flies, kicks and dives across the stage never compromising the integral performance of any song. His voice remains sturdy and sharp, his howls perfectly co-ordinating with his skills as a guitarist in spectacular licks. Now add Victor’s loud and incredibly taut drumming and you have a stage performance that impresses contemporaries and creates even more devoted followers.
But you will have to have just a little patience before the band will hit up the stages again. Right now Death Letters are working on writing and producing new material for their second album due out in January 2011. As the band develops, this second album will have a substantially different vibe, drawing more on a complex psychedelic punkrock sound than the bluesrock they started out with.
Watch out for Death Letters – things are only going to get more intense from here.
Victor Brandt (drums)
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