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Interview: Deer Park Avenue

By Swati BhargavaUniversity of Wisconsin – Madison

Deer Park Avenue is a band of two, well-travelled sisters with a penchance for high-energy, power-pop and punk music. Their sophomore album, Stop & Go, was released in October.

BGM: You’ve traveled everywhere from Switzerland and New York to Germany and California, all with an Indian mother. What kind of music did you grow up with? 

DPA: Music was always playing in our home, from Bach, Beethoven, Albinoni, to soundtracks by our favorite composer John Barry. Both our parents were fans of rock and pop, so we heard a lot of classic rock like the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Doors, and the Eagles, to Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen.

We also listened to the music they brought over from when they lived in Europe — German, French, and Italian pop music. And of course from our mum’s side, we had a lot of Bollywood influences from movies she had grown up with like Yaadon Ki Baaraat and Bobby, and other Indian artists like Ravi and Ananda Shankar.

Growing up, we were also into these amazing bands on the radio like Green Day, No Doubt, the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Oasis…the 90’s were a brilliant decade for music.

BGM: How and when did you formally decide to create DPA and pursue a career in music seriously?

DPA: We started Deer Park Avenue a couple years ago. We’d been playing music since we could remember – we were in a cover band in Switzerland called the Bandits with some friends of ours, and were having a great time making music.

After we moved from Switzerland back to the US, we had these songs that we’d written together and our cousin Gregg (Bissonette), who had gotten us into playing music together, told us, “You guys should record at my brother Matt’s place.” So we did! It was our first time in the studio and Matt is an amazing musician and producer, and he’s been our producer ever since.

BGM: Do both of you have different styles/preferences in music? How does this affect your song writing process?

DPA: What’s great about being sisters is that we always know what the other is thinking. Sometimes one of us will have lyrics, and the other will have a melody, and we’ll just put the two together and they fit perfectly. That’s what happened with Over Again, the first track we ever laid down. It seems to be a formula that works well for us!

BGM: Your sophomore release, Stop & Go, came out this past fall. How is it different from your older material?

DPA: Stop & Go is probably a more complex collection of songs than our first EP – it’s darker, grittier, while still maintaining a lot of pop elements, and a bit of punk, a genre we’ve always loved as well. All of the songs in Stop & Go are from experiences we’ve had – relationship stories like Hey Maria or Say Goodbye, or something less tangible like breaking away from something that’s holding you back, like Darkness Hides Me or Millionaire.

BGM: If you could write a dream list of other artists and producers to work with, who would be on it?

DPA: We are incredibly blessed that the top people on our list are people we actually get to work with on a regular basis! Matt Bissonette (who has played bass with people like Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys and Don Henley from the Eagles – he currently tours with Rick Springfield) is an amazing musician and musical genius.

Gregg Bissonette (they’re brothers) played double drums (with Stephanie) on our song Millionaire, which was another huge honour for us. He’s played drums with Ringo Starr, David Lee Roth back in the 80s, Santana, and he’s also been a mentor to us.

BGM: I’ve seen that you’ve performed quite a bit in California. Any upcoming tours or shows in 2012 our readers should know about?

DPA: We were one of the winning bands in a competition to play at the Hard Rock Café in San Francisco. The show is Friday, March 9, at 7:00 p.m. Our next ‘home’ show in Sacramento is at the Boardwalk on Saturday, March 24, at 8:00 p.m., which is presented by Myki Angeline of Backstage Pass and sponsored by local rock radio v103, who will also be streaming the show live! So no matter where you are in the world, you can be a part of that one.

There are also some tour plans in the works for 2012, either a west-coast tour or cross-country trip. The best way to keep up to date on our tour plans is on our Facebook, or our website.