All burnouts, dropouts, degenerates and lost souls lend your ears. Never again will any outcast find themselves alone, as Downhill Dead has arrived with a brand new soundtrack for your day-to-day misadventures.
Founded by Zurich, Switzerland singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andreas “Jackk” Hess, Downhill Dead embodies the carefree alternative rock style of a bygone musical era. Hints of street punk and heavy metal find their way into the mix as well, giving the band’s debut, the 2017 Rebel Love EP, an unexpected balance between catchy melody and gritty character.
Considering where Hess came from, this comes as no surprise. Having grown up in the Wädenswil municipality, he spent much of his pre-teen years hanging out by the docks of Lake Zurich, mingling with the unsavory types that society had discarded and left behind.
Interestingly enough, these bonds worked in his favor. When it came time for Hess to promote his first gig at 16 with Outline, he had droves of rambunctious vagrants handing out flyers on the band’s behalf. They kept on running out – partly because they used the paper for joint filters, but mainly because they continually harassed the general public about the show – and as a result, revelers nearly tore apart the sold-out Ziegelei in Einsiedeln.
Over a decade later, Hess has played in numerous bands ranging from street punk to black metal in addition to helping others record songs as a session musician. While playing solo gigs in and around Zurich as Jackk, Hess has been building the Downhill Dead project from the ground up in anticipation of its 2017 launch. The Rebel Love EP sees his dastardly creation come to life at long last. Each of the seven songs comprising the effort tell a different story and represent a different point on the rock and roll spectrum.
Fans of punk rock legends like The Clash and The Dead Kennedys will instantly fall in love with the EP’s title track, for instance. In this fast-paced number, a father tells his son how he met his mother while robbing banks against the backdrop of raucous three-chord guitar riffs.
Ballads like “Copy and Paste,” on the other hand, exhibit more radio-friendly alternative rock musings. This single makes particularly pointed social commentary. It speaks out against the facile fame of modern social media celebrities, warning that the stars they consider themselves to be will fade away sooner than they realize.
As heavy as the topic matter of his music may be at times, though, Hess approaches Downhill Dead with a lighthearted attitude. He writes each song on acoustic guitar, and if it takes him longer than ten minutes to tab out, he scraps the idea. As a result, his dedication to the spontaneous energy of the scene at his roots is evident in every howling vocal or grimy guitar lick.
A Downhill Dead show promises to be a veritable theater of freaks, but with a deranged sort of warmth that can be felt throughout. Hess learned firsthand as a teenager that society’s rejects will be more honest with you than anybody else, so he intends for his music to create spaces where such types will freely convene.
Now that the Rebel Love EP is out, the stage is set for a Downhill Dead takeover in 2017 and beyond. If you’d rather go down in flames than conform with the rest of the masses, then you owe it to yourself to check out this band’s defiant sound.