Download: The Death Set’s Charlie-Sheen-Conjuring “Can You Seen Straight”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

Brooklyn loft-show firestarters the Death Set are a post-modern pizza party: the tireless punk-o grind of an ABC No Rio bubblecrust band, the whizzing ghosts of New York electro (and electropunk), and the pounding 808 boom of classic hip-hop and modern crunk. Basically, they’ve found the hyperkinetic missing link between the Beastie Boys’ hardcore salad days and the “Cooky Puss” 12-inch. Their third album, Michel Poiccard (due March 15 via Counter/Ninja Tune), comes in the wake of the 2009 death of Beau Velasco, who founded the band with frontman Johnny Siera in Australia back in 2005. Rising above tragedy, the album is even more celebratory than their spazzy previous work, nailing the “we’re in this together” life-punk vibe of kindred spirits Japanther and the endless-party vibe of Baltimore club (Spank Rock’s XXXChange handles most of the production). The “Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap” single is a good taste of the album’s Loko-soaked energy and general “going ham” vibe. But the album’s most perfect track is “Can You Seen Straight,” a divine piece of fractured Buzzcocks sugar filtered through summertime slush. Or, as Siera puts it, “It was about trying to marry melody with as much energy as possible. A tune you would want to whistle after you heard it, but go crazy when you see it live.”

The Death Set frontman Johnny Siera on “Can You See Straight”

What is “Can You Seen Straight” about?
“Seen Straight” was written about this show we did with Matt and Kim in Chicago on this sponsored Vice tour. We were essentially told we had to play on these stages and were, at the time, just used to playing on the floor. There was definitely a sense of irreverence to this corporate thing. So we kind of went about causing a whole lot of chaos and destroying gear — which was mostly done by the crowd who we enticed. Made for some amazing shows, but lots of people were pissed off at us. We had two drummers at the time, and one left cause it just got too crazy.

What inspired it lyrically?
I think the whole song is about about “You know we are a fucking punk band.” And in the famous words of Charlie Sheen, “You should have read the directions before showing up to the party.” But overall, it’s about sticking together and just keeping on going. Though all the madness. I can’t begin to explain how hard and hungry we toured on such little funds for so long — not sure how we did it.

The beaming hook in a song like this, what emotions is it supposed to conjure?
First of all, it’s meant to mean something. Be real, not bullshit and from personal experience. Not some plastic thing. I guess anthems like “Ever Fallen in Love” by the Buzzcocks spring to mind.

When was the last time you hurt yourself onstage?
I sliced my arm and stomach with a broken champagne glass in Paris three weeks ago.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
I try and hunt out all different things. But theres a great Venezuelan restaurant just opened up in my neighborhood, Arepera Guacaco, just round the corner. Awesome empanadas.


The Death Set play the Music Hall of Williamsburg on March 26 with Spank Rock and Ninjasonik.