Death Goals are a two-piece band that can never keep still. Taking influence from the likes of The Chariot, Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge, The Hertfordshire math-core two piece made up of guitarist Harry Bailey and drummer George Milner were set for greatness last year. For obvious reasons this hasn’t happened (yet) but their debut The Horrible And The Miserable gives us plenty of time to practice coming out of mosh retirement for when the time is ready. We sat down and dove deeper into what Death Goals are all about.
How did you guys start?
H: Oh, god, so I (Harry) started Death Goals when I was at university. My old math rock band was dying. I was bored of not playing shows so I decided that I’m going to form a two piece. Because then there’s only one person I have to argue with to do shows, and that’s easier. So I spoke to the other drummer in my course, who I knew was into, Deafheaven and Converge. So we wrote a load of songs for the show. It’s been bullshit since day one. I used to be really spontaneous seeing, like oh ‘The Black Heart’ needs a support act two hours before the show.
So I’d message our old drummer like; “Will, we’re playing this show”. Then he’d go, “What do you mean, we’re playing?” So it got quite frustrating. I don’t do that anymore. Because I can’t. That was the joy of being in London, I could literally be like, “I’ve got all my gear here. I’ll see you outside of New Cross in an hour”. Then we did our little split with Pupil Slicer, and that was sick, then we did an EP. We kept going through different drummers, George at that point was sort of a quasi manager. He sort of expressed to me “I want to work with Death Goals but I don’t want to be in Death Goals”. And then as his old band Pet Lib was kind of on its last legs he said “I’d quite like to be in Death Goals please”. So we wrote an album and now we’re stuck together!
What influences did you grow up with and how did it influence what you write now?
H: I would see George at math rock shows like TTNG, but the first time it really clicked for both of us was realising that we loved Every Time I Die. There’s loads of things that we have in common but its also varied, I don’t fuck with black metal at all for example!
G: I love black metal so much
H: You like the post rock stuff more than I do but I really like the weird experimental hip hop sound and hyper-pop.
G: If you listen to this album and think it sounds similar to a band, chances are we’ve gotten drunk together and been like “Oh my god isn’t this the best band of all time?”. I think we’ve been like that with every single one of our influences. What we like to do is show each other music as much as possible even if we know that we might not like it. I’ll always be sending Harry slam or deathcore, you know, the greebiest shit possible and he’ll fucking hate it.
H: You made me a playlist of exclusively Myspace bands from the 00’s era and there’s some cool shit on there even if its not something I’d usually go out of my way to listen to. My partner recently got me into Phoebe Bridgers and it’s like “Why have I not been listening to this before?”.
How did you decide which songs would make it onto The Horrible and The Miserable?
H: Call it what it is, I was an absolute diva about it!
G: So because we worked on the record predominantly through lockdown, even when I wasn’t officially in the band Harry would always send me stuff and I’d make sure to give feedback. It paid off because it felt like there weren’t any disagreements or arguments, if something didn’t work we very quickly moved on. However when it came to actually deciding what songs we would take into the studio, yes Harry was a complete diva about it!
H: Okay but, was I wrong?
H: For the most part the basics of the songs had been written in my room, George added bits in but I’d done everything to start it going. In the end it felt like having to decide which kids were going to Uni and which ones weren’t, with Uni being the album. I think there was one song we had a disagreement with.
G: I’m stubborn, I didn’t want to admit that you were right…
H: No and that’s a good thing that we can be democratic about these discussions without it being an argument. You used to send me paragraphs, almost books worth of lyrics and I’d have to cut it down into eight lines because come on…
G: I just love me some words, love me a big old Thesaurus hahaha. I sit there with like 14 tabs open on my computer and thinking “What words will I be using today”?
H: It’s why we don’t play scrabble anymore. But yeah it’s all about refining it into something easier to digest.
Are you saying that you intentionally cut lines down so they can fit as four words onto your merch?
H: Yes, absolutely, I am always thinking about that NEXT 👏 MERCH 👏 PIECE 👏
What’s the story behind the track “Gender Traitor”?
H: Basically I was walking home from work one day and the idea of the line “I’ve been swapping saliva with gender traitors all my life” popped into my head. And then when lockdown happened you saw the rise of some horrific anti-LGBTQ stuff. That was the moment where I felt like I needed to speak out against this more. This is a time where I’m obviously quite annoyed that people want people like us dead. So I just wrote a song saying they can fuck off ennit.
Going back to influences, what would you say is your favourite breakdown?
H: I’m gonna say all of “Orchestra Of Wolves” by Gallows, the entire thing is hard.
G: That final breakdown in “I Used To Hate Cell Phones but Now I Hate Car Accidents” by Norma Jean.
Before the world ended, what was your favourite show?
G: I wasn’t even in the band at this point but there was a show in Hitchin where everything got moved down the road due to noise complaints. Your Death Goals set at the time brought me out of mosh retirement kicking and screaming. I was already super stressed with trying to make this show work and thought “You know what, I need to kick someone in the head”. I’m excited to play a Death Goals show because I’ll still do the exact same thing from the drum kit.
H: Our mate Rob from Chinned was putting on these shows at DSI Studios in London which was basically a practice space. Basically a sweaty box of greebs fighting each other. At the first one I split my guitar head and decapitated my tuning pedal by just yeeting it into my pedal board.
Where do you see yourselves in the future?
H: You know what, I went through so many drummers it felt like no one gave a shit and when lockdown happened I was tempted to just start some one person metal project from my bedroom, but luckily our friend Joe Booley (BSR Records) took interest and we got things moving again. But yeah I don’t know, playing something like Arctangent or Reading & Leeds would be really cool.
G: In 10 years time we will headline Reading, we will have sold out and released a hyper-pop album, then go on tour with 100 Gecs and become super rich and famous. Okay but for real, there’s obviously bucket stuff list we fantasise about but I think last year taught us to take everything out one step at a time, because then when it actually does come around to us doing these bigger things, like I think we will appreciate it a lot more. That being said, Oh my god, it took us five years to get here.
H: It’s patience, patience is a virtue. I really do appreciate sitting on stuff, like making sure that the songs that you’re actually good, and like, the videos are good and like having these plans like being able to have a team, that was really nice. Its exhausting doing all of that shit yourself.
What changes would you like to see in the music industry moving forward?
G: Everybody gay now please. We gay. Every discord chat gay.
H: I’d like to see more queer and fem representation on lineups. But like, actual representation, not just “Oh look we’ve put three queer bands on there”. It’s like, no, there are so many incredible queer artists that can and should be put on lineups. And it’s just like, “Oh, well, okay. Well, one member of this band who have like eight members who are all, you know, cis men, one of them is queer. So we’re inclusive”.
G: Yeah like, no, you’re not. I think as well in the background of the industry, it’s an uncomfortable thing. You go to have a meeting with someone who as soon as you start talking about the fact that you’re a queer hardcore band, they have that look in their eyes. It’s like, “That’s not very marketable at all, is it?”.
Which songs on The Horrible and The Miserable mean the most to you?
H: For me “Shrike’ is a big one”. I’ve had that lyric “Goddamn my insecurities they always get the best of me”, for a very long time, almost four years now I think. So purely just seeing how people really enjoy that. So like, the song in itself isn’t very deep. It’s just a complete rant about being just mad, anxious and paranoid. “Hellen Keller Is Teaching Me How To Talk To Boys” was the first time me and George really collaborated with one another, and I was like “Oh hell yeah”. When you came up with that bridge part I was completely blown away.
G: “Hellen Keller” was also a big one for me because it was the sort of music that I had wanted to play in my head for years but could never find the right people to do it with. That song encapsulates the fast-nest of what I wanted to play with the fucking heavy discordant breakdowns. And then when I wrote the “This is an anthem” line I remember being so gassed on it and was like “Harry fucking listen to this right now!”. When we were trying to assign who would scream which lines on which track I was just like “I have to do it”. I’ve not been outwardly queer for a while but I always felt sheltered by it because it was a weird conversation to have with people that I grew up with. I didn’t really meet a lot of other queer people until I started to get a lot older. And so I didn’t have it in my head that talking about it was like a normal thing to do. So for me, this album has been very much like, I’m showing my face. Every time I listen to it there’s a real passion inside myself telling anyone who said I wasn’t queer enough to fuck off really. My favourite track overall is “Exit Wounds”. It’s about the time I spent in rehab and periods of drug abuse which I’ve spoken about to friends but not outwardly. It’s a conversation I always hated having, like if someone offered me anything at parties and I would have to turn them down saying “I’m actually in recovery thank you”. It was always really uncomfortable even if I was doing it for the right reasons. And when Harry sent me the demo for it, I’d like i’d sat on this, like really heavily metaphorical lyrics that I’d written about, and I had never used these. And it just worked so perfectly.
H: I had no idea the song was even about that until we started recording.
G: It’s nice to have that. I’ve always been blunt about these topics in the past, I’ve always been very, like, “This is my mental health”. This is this, that and the other. And I think now with this album with how open, Harry and I have both been open about things of mental health and things with queerness. When I listen to “Exit Wounds”, it feels like a big step towards something within myself, but also just knowing that as we continue on as a band, where it’s going to be more, I guess, therapeutic to actually talk about things that we’ve we’ve both held back on for so long. It’s honesty.
H: It’s quite honest, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to keep going. This album is the first step in being able to be more open about all those sorts of things. Hopefully, we can just keep building on that.
The Horrible And The Miserable is out now, purchase here.