Seattle-based five-piece Dead Lakes have mastered the art of lacing their deeply intimate and honest lyrics with neon vibrancy. Dead Lakes have teamed up with AltPress to exclusively premiere their latest video for “SMS Happiness.”
Frontman Sumner Peterson incorporates his personal struggles with anxiety attacks and suppressed emotions into Dead Lakes’ pop-infused rock arrangements. “SMS Happiness” appears on the group’s debut EP, New Language, out via SharpTone Records May 1.
You can watch the full video for “SMS Happiness” below as well as read an exclusive interview with the band.
What was the inspiration behind the title of your debut EP, New Language?
MAX STATHAM: New Language has a couple [of] different meanings to us. This batch of songs carries so much growth and transition. Instrumentally, it has some resemblance to our past work, but it carries many undertones of change. We really felt New Language was a perfect way to describe what we want to do with music. We will always attempt to push new boundaries and try different avenues with what we create.
SUMNER PETERSON: For me, it felt like the lyrics from the title track, “New language in my bones,” encapsulated the meaning and mood of the record. New Language is about self-discovery. Discovering what makes you happy and redefining what a positive impact looks like. I feel like our society broadcasts a certain lifestyle as being the right way to live. The typical “go to church, go to college, start a family, get a career, purchase that house that’s the envy of everyone else” in this rat-race vibe. It just seems like the message is misguided. Life isn’t a “one size fits all” thing. I encourage everyone to find their individual happiness and their own “new language.”
Your music combines structural, lyrical and instrumental elements from various genres. Who are Dead Lakes’ biggest musical inspirations?
STATHAM: Diving in a bit deeper, Sumner loves R&B, alt-pop and most things top 40. Legacy [Bonner] mostly listens to emo and pop music. Cody [Hurd] probably listens to the most rock out of any of us. Chon [Adam] is into emo trap, post-hardcore and pop rock. I’m into a lot of indie pop, indie rock and old cringe rock bands.
Dead Lakes’ lyrical honesty stems from the personal experiences of Sumner Peterson. What’s the most difficult part of putting out something so personal?
PETERSON: I like to write in a way that is, sometimes considered, maybe too straightforward. I used to write lyrics in more metaphorical ways, whereas now I just say exactly what I mean. For me, there’s a different level of vulnerability writing this way. It’s a little nerve-wracking to have thousands of people know where I’m at mentally when I still haven’t really opened up with the people close to me. Release days double as “I finally get to figure out what’s going on in Sumner’s head” days for a lot of people close to me. I think it’s important to be honest and open with lyric writing because that’s what gives the listener something to really relate to in a genuine and raw way.
Lyrically, “SMS Happiness” is pretty dark and carries a lot of emotion, yet the video is vibrant and neon. Why did you decide to go with this kind of juxtaposition? What does the vibrancy of the video represent for the song?
PETERSON: You know when you aren’t doing all right but you act like you are on the outside? That’s really the headspace I was in when writing the lyrics for this song. We just wanted to showcase that bright, fun vibe with the lyrical contrast. Also, we are all super fun and upbeat people. We don’t want to be remembered for the lyrical heartache. We want to be remembered for the good-vibes feeling you get when you make it through the different challenges of life. We thought it was important to find a way to convey that throughout all the visuals for the record.
What was the inspiration behind the video for “SMS Happiness”?
PETERSON: Dana Willax and Orie McGinness really brought this video to life for us. We knew originally that we wanted something bright, but we weren’t sure how to really present it in a unique way. Dana sent over a spot he found, and we were all blown away by how much the room matched the vibe we were going for. We just wanted the video to represent the inner turmoil of the lyrics contrasted by the calm, cool and collected front we sometimes put on to keep the people close to us from worrying.
Despite the uncertainty of the world right now, what can fans look forward to from you in 2020?
STATHAM: We’re just hoping to tour as much as we possibly can when it is safe to do so again. It seems, as of now, that there isn’t a certainty as to when that will be possible. With that being said, you can definitely catch us going live on our Instagram at least once a week.