With “post-punk electronic” band Bullet for Dali, it’s the name that makes the first impression.
“Salvador Dali was an artist that we all appreciated and we thought was a good representation, kind of an icon in the modern art world,” explains vocalist/keyboardist Johnnie Deseo. “We also believe that in order to start something new, you have to destroy the old, or take parts of it and recreate it, deconstruct it if you will. Therefore, Bullet for Dali is destroying old art movements and creating new ones out of the pieces.”
He adds, “Also, at the time, we were feeling so taxed by doing all these art shows, we felt like we had taken a bullet for our art.”
And as one might infer from the band’s moniker, Bullet for Dali’s roots reside deep in the underground art scene of Downtown Los Angeles, where Deseo and “visualist” Vivace had formed the Sterile Eden Collective Showcase (S.E.C.S.), a series of happenings that brought together artists, fashion designers, and musicians inside loft and warehouse spaces. S.E.C.S. events were wildly popular, often drawing hundreds of people into neighborhoods that would have otherwise been ghost towns after business hours. But Deseo and Vivace wanted something else. They wanted to start a band. And so Sterile Eden, Bullet for Dali’s predecessor, was born. The band existed for only a few short years and when Sterile Eden split, Deseo, Vivace, and guitarist/vocalist Ray Silva reconvened as Bullet for Dali with drummer David Lopez (who has worked with She Wants Revenge, Courtney Love, and Peter Murphy), bassist Vince Medina and lighting expert Corey Capetillo.
With the band members’ extensive background in visual arts, Bullet for Dali isn’t solely about the music. The band’s sound – a mixture of brooding guitars, pop hooks, and electronic flourishes – is augmented by visual elements produced by Vivace.
“Because we wanted to do a band as opposed to an art collective, we wanted to focus on the music and we all write together, including the visualist sitting in on the sessions,” says Deseo. “Once that’s done, she tells us about her visual ideas and it gets approved by everyone and then she goes ahead and does production work on her end.”
At the release party for the band’s latest EP, Diffical Techniculties, Vivace created a 3-D video collage that screened above the band as it played. The video was disorienting in the same way that a great carnival ride is and pushed the limits of what bands with small budgets playing in closet-sized venues can do to increase the visual aspects of the performance. The group hopes to rework some of the footage into a new piece to debut when Bullet for Dali embarks on its first tour in May.
But before heading up the West Coast, Bullet for Dali will be playing a string of live dates across Los Angeles County. Catch the band when it performs alongside the Monthlies at 14 Below on March 15.