It turned out Sam E Danger wasn't lying – two month after this interview, the band was done
Stuart Stubbs: This will probably be one of the oldest interviews we’ll dig out of the archive, from issue 09 of the magazine, which came out in January 2006 – our one-year anniversary issue. I have to warn you, it’s appallingly written by a young fan who was still working out how to write about bands, who was excited to be talking to his favourite at the time, who couldn’t work out why they hated it all so much. My blushes aside, I thought it was worth sharing this as it remains a rare and unusual moment – a young band who started as a joke but found and audience and then found themselves having to fulfil certain commitments against their wishes. Even when it was clear there was a future it in, they still torched it.
Two month’s after Sam Mehran gave me this interview, truer than his word, Test-Icicles were over. Mehran sadly died by suicide in 2018. Dev Hynes went on to become Lightspeed Champion and then Blood Orange. Rory Attwell has formed numerous bands since, including Warm Brains, and is also an acclaimed producer. I still love Test-Icicles, though, as ridiculous as they were – something they were fully aware of from beginning to end.
Sam E Danger (aka Sam E Slaughter) fills awkward silences with a drunken, slurring, “Er… I dunno”, quickly followed by a short snigger. Not that we’re implying he’s under the influence at present, although his approaching confession of “constantly drinking” to get through playing ‘Boa Vs Python’ at live shows (a song that Danger describes as “gross” and “terrible”) does have us in doubt for a second or two. “I just want to forget the whole thing as soon as possible,” he surmises.
Between the umming and arring, one thing is clear: Test-Icicles (or Danger, at least) hate everything. Forget the fact that their debut album, ‘For Screening Purposes Only’, has whipped up a shitstorm of excitement for all its metal/punk/emo/hip-hop/dance sensibilities, travelling the world is considered a chore, being London’s hottest new band is a burden, having a fanbase of over 33,000 on Myspace alone doesn’t even manage to raise a smile. Danger just isn’t impressed by any of it. If he had it his way, things would be very different. “We never intended to last for more than two weeks, so it’s kind of annoying and frustrating that it’s going on so long,” hints the man behind Test-Icicles’s harsh tasty beats at killing off the band sooner rather than later. But surely that can’t happen – everyone loves Test-Icicles, and for good reason.
Drummerless, Danger, Devmetal and Rory have produced a unique sounding record. You can try high kicking it into a pigeonhole or pattering it with a mallet but the band describe their sound best with a single word – “fun”. And whether as “meaningless on the whole” as Danger puts it or not, “fun” is pretty damn accurate.
Their skate punk meets dancefloor head banging translates best on a live stage, all three members crashing into each other and severely straining their vocal chords with wild primal screams of rage. It sounds like fun and looks like fun. But guess what? Apparently it’s not fun at all.
Perhaps it’s because the band are simply fed up of playing their record night after night? Danger in particular is known for soon tiring of his own material. “Yeah, I’m sick of the record,” he says. “Its started to kind of thaw out for us about six months before it was released.” So why not write a new record, then? “Never,” replies danger, frankly. “Never?” “Ever!”
If he’s being honest, Test-Icicles would be sorely missed from the live circuit and undoubtedly Myspacers would have a national mourning for the passing of their favourite band. But it’s hard to figure out if Danger is telling the truth or playing the whole it-cool-not-to-give-a-fuck card.
Ultimately, it’s irrelevant because from his slurred speech to his nonchalant attitude, via his kicked up Vans and back again, Sam E Danger is cool. As are his bandmates – the lively, approachable Devmetal and the mature Rory Brattwell.
It’s all part of the Test-Icicles appeal: art school dropout graffiti whiz kids covered in doodles. Creating everything from their artwork (Rory designs the band’s record sleeves and t-shirts) to the music, of course, the band seem to ooze a creativity that suggests they’re too productive to give it all up now, even if they want to. But we’re still struggling to find anything that Danger savours from life in the band.
Fresh from a show in Japan, we turn our attention to that jolly on Domino Records’ expense account. “I really hated it,” dismisses Danger once more. “I was ill and I still haven’t recovered from the jetlag. I wish I didn’t have to go but it’s a job I guess. I was really shit for me but the other guys probably liked it.”
Now back in the UK and about to embark on their biggest headline tour, Test-Icicles plan to end up with a show as SXSW, the biggest industry showcase in the music calendar and more often than not the place where US careers or made or broken. To the band, it’s just another show; another day at the office, presuming they’re still making it into the office by then.
It’s a miracle that all three members found each other in the first place. Rory hales from from High Wycombe, but both Devmetal and Danger moved to London from America (the former from Texas via Edinburgh, the latter from Miami via Australia and New York). Danger started rapping when he was just 7 and Devmetal spent his early years covering Smashing Pumkin songs in a band called Gel. That was before the sound of Slipknot changed his life forever.
Dev now has a side project he’s working on called ‘Devonte’ while Rory has formed a band called Dodger and also joined a fifteen-strong male choir.
Still, it’s hard to believe that members of other projects will contain three individuals as complementary to one another as Test-Icicles are – a trio brought together through their joint love of American underground noise and their joint hatred of countless other records.
“I kinda like ‘Catch It’,” says Danger when I ask him if there is a track he likes to play live. Sure, it’s voiced in his customary blasé drawl, and we’re still far from any gushing sentiment of enthusiasm, but it’ll have to do for now.
And so we’re left with one final question, as question that I think I know the answer to already, but I’ll ask it anyway. What’s next for Test-Icicles? “We’re going to do a tour here in February and then we’re going to America in March and then we’re going to finish off that tour with a show as SXSW and then that’s it. Hopefully nothing after that.”
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