Death from Above 1979 were a Toronto based Canadian dance-punk duo. The members were Jesse F. Keeler on bass, synths, backing vocals and Sebastien Grainger on vocals, drums. Without the help of a lead guitarist they played loud synth-infused dance-punk on the drum and bass combination. They were signed to Last Gang Records in Canada, Vice Records in the U.S. and 679 Recordings in the UK.
Although they reportedly met at a Sonic Youth concert, Keeler and Grainger sometimes jokingly claimed to have met in prison, on a pirate ship, or in a gay bar, leading some journalists and fans to believe these hoaxes. They also claimed to have lived in a funeral home at one time. In 2005, the video for "Blood On Our Hands" won a VideoFACT award at the MuchMusic Video Awards. They played "Romantic Rights" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, with Grainger standing on his chair singing and drumming for the first half of the performance and Conan's Max Weinberg on drums for the second.
On 4 August 2006 Keeler, via the band's official website, announced the duo's split.
Name change controversy
The band was originally named "Death from Above", a name which appears on their first released recording, a self titled EP release. The duo changed their name after a legal dispute with New York City
dance music label DFA Records
, with the members of Death from Above 1979 denouncing LCD Soundsystem
's James Murphy
in messages on their website. Death from Above had been a working name of Murphy's prior to the 11 September 2001
The reason for the seemingly arbitrary date of 1979 comes from Sebastien Grainger's birth date. From Sebastien's perspective, this is what it stood for:
1979 is the year of my birth,
1979 is the year of Off the Wall,
1979 is the year of Pleasure Principle,
1979 is the last year of the last cool decade,
1979 is scratched into my arm,
1979 is scratched into my arm,
1979 is scratched into my fucking arm.
He also stated in an interview given to MTV: "I was born that year, and it's never going to be wrong.
Despite the controversy, the band were credited as Death from Above on Tony Hawk's American Wasteland; however, this could be due to the fact that the Tony Hawk games shorten song titles and artists on their soundtracks.
It should also be noted however that in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, there are helicopters entitled "Death From Above".
Before adding the 1979 to the end of their name, the announced new name of the band was First to Fight.
As of August 3, 2006 the band officially disbanded. Jesse F. Keeler posted the following message on the official Death from Above 1979 forum:
I know its been forever since I wrote anything on here. I'm sure by now most of you assume the band isn't happening anymore since there are no shows, no work on a new album, etc. well. I wanted to let you know that your assumptions are correct. We decided to stop doing the band... Actually we decided that almost a year ago. We finished off our scheduled tour dates because there were good people working for us who relied on us to make a living and buy Christmas presents and pay rent etc. We couldn't just cancel everything and leave them out to dry... Plus I think we wanted to see if we would reconsider after being out on the road. Our label was really hoping that we would change our minds, so they asked us to keep quiet about the decision for at first. Well, it's been quite a while now and we are still very sure the band won't happen again, so I guess it's time to say something.(...)|4=Jesse F. Keeler|5=
On MuchMusic's television program The New Music, Keeler further explained why the band split. He claimed it was due to disagreements with bandmate Grainger on many levels, including creative differences, music style, etc.
- "Romantic Rights"
- "Blood on Our Hands"
- "Black History Month"
- "Pull Out"
- "Sexy Results" (MSTRKRFT Edition)
Related bands and projects
is Jesse F. Keeler's electronic band along with producer Al-P
. MSTRKRFT is currently signed to Last Gang Records, and works out of Toronto. Their debut album was released on July 18, 2006. Two of their remixes can be found on Death from Above's 2005 release Romance Bloody Romance
was a band that featured Jesse F. Keeler before Death from Above 1979. It is considered to have a more hardcore sound than Death from Above. Sebastien Grainger played drums for Femme Fatale in live shows, as well. Jesse F. Keeler is planning on releasing a new album in the future, but MSTRKRFT is his top priority.
Black Cat #13
Black Cat #13
was a band that also featured Jesse F. Keeler, and was started in 1998, lasting until 2000, when the band split due to musical differences. The band released all vinyl releases which are very hard to find and are considered collector's items by DFA1979 fans. Unlike Femme Fatale, Sebastien had no role in Black Cat #13, though Al-P produced many of their releases.
Sebastien Grainger and The Mountains
is currently making a solo album with his band, The Mountains, and has since released an EP titled American Names
. He was planning on releasing a split 7" with Jewish Legend
, but this project has since been placed on hold.
Both Jesse F. Keeler
and Sebastien Grainger
performed the song "Luno (Bloc Party
vs. Death from Above 1979)" on Bloc Party's Silent Alarm Remixed
- Brazilian electro-rock band Cansei de Ser Sexy released a single called "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above".
- Both Sebastien and Jesse are featured in the video for Masia One's single "The Hazing", playing drums and bass and dressed as a werewolf and vampire respectively. Despite this it is probably not them performing either instrument on the track and is merely meant as a cameo. However Masia's mention of JFK (Jesse's initials) in her opening dictum suggests he may have produced the track.
- "Romantic Rights" was used in the opening credits for the CBC show The Hour, the MTV show Human Giant and the video game SSX on Tour.
- "Black History Month" is featured in the video game Project Gotham Racing 3.
- "Little Girl" is featured in the video game Major League Baseball 2K7 and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.
- "Sexy Results" (MSTRKRFT Edition) appears in a commercial for the Motorola Q.
- "Dead Womb" is sampled in the song "Untrust Us" by Crystal Castles.
- A Death From Above 1979 poster appears along the bulletin board in the film, The Covenant, in the scene where Sarah has the vision of the spiders.
- A remix of "Romantic Rights" is heard in a club on an episode of .