Dead Child – David Pajo, Guitars

David Pajo is better know for his work with indie rock darlings, Slint than anything remotely close to heavy metal. So to say I was surprised by his new band, Dead Child, would be a great understatement!  The band has more in common with classic metal greats like MetalChurch, Sweet Savage, and Overkill than they do with any of the bands Pitchfork Media would go crazy for. Pajo has also worked with Billy Corgan in the band Zwan and has worked with everyone from Will Oldham to Tortoise but Dead Child is definitely his most aggressive work by far. Carlos Ramirez got a chance to speak with the guitarist about their debut album, Attack exclusively for SMN News.


First off, I have to admit, from the very start of Attack, I was shocked by how ?metal? the record actually is! The love for it really comes through. Everything about it feels authentic. Were you expecting the metal world to be resistant to this project?

Man, I?m glad you feel that way. Because we play an ?old-fashioned? style of metal, I have to admit I was expecting some seasoned metalheads to be turned off. We don?t strive for brutality, we?re more interested in songs?that?s all. I turn 40 this year and my metal education kind of ended in the late ?80s. It?s like the ?90s never happened for me! On the plus side, I?m finally getting a chance to listen to all the great bands from that time.

However I think this is part of the appeal of the band?people want something different and here we come in our wheel chairs waving the old school metal flag.

Some people might judge us because of our past but you have to understand that their only frame of reference is our recorded history. We?ve all played in heavy bands, some of us since the early eighties. So playing metal has nothing to do with trends or fashion, it?s just unfinished business.


How long have you been into metal? What record/band really made an impact?

Heavy metal meant something different when I was younger. Blast-beats weren?t invented yet nor death metal grunting. Some guitarists would tune down a half step or drop D but nothing drastic (Sabbath being the exception). Judas Priest was heavy metal. I even considered Scorpions, Van Halen, early Def Leppard and Ratt were metal. This is like pop music compared to Origin or Pestilence.

I used to steal vinyl records as a kid. All the weird, satanic stuff that looked cool was in the import section for some reason. I would always go there and put every record I wanted in one place, far from the cash register. Once I had a bountiful stack I would buy one. Then, methodically, I would walk around the store and drop one record at a time into the bag. When it got too big I would go outside and hide the stolen records in the bushes. Then I would go back inside and repeat until I got all the vinyl I?d put aside for myself. It was tedious but I only had money for one record. I also didn?t have any sense of ownership! Today it is much easier to steal music!

My favorite metal bands at the time were Metallica, Venom, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Hellanbach, Alcatraz, Motorhead, Raven, Thin Lizzy, Savatage, Krokus, Slayer, AC/DC, Mercyful Fate, Mötley Crüe, various metal compilations, Sabbath, Ozzy, Dio, Y&T, etc. I didn?t see a divide between different genres of music and I was also getting into hardcore thrash as well. In retrospect, I didn?t know anyone else who was into both punk and metal.


Playing guitar in this kind of band seems more rigid than most of the stuff you?ve done in the past. Have you ever applied any heavy metal styled guitar aesthetics to any of the material you did with Slint, Papa M or any of your other projects?

I?m used to playing very rigid?that?s the sound I prefer. All the Slint stuff, early Aerial M, and unrecorded music I?ve done is fairly precise and inflexible. Playing accurately is important to me and I try to sharpen that as much as possible. It wasn?t until playing with Will Oldham that the concept of playing loose meant anything to me.

I think metal put me on the road to making music that was rooted in darkness.


On the promo copy of the new album, it mentions that there are ?no Cookie Monster vocals? on the recording. Is it safe to say that you guys aren?t big on death metal?


On the contrary, I?m a huge death metal fan and I love ?Cookie Monster vocals?. To be honest I don?t even like that term very much. It?s an easy way to describe something but it seems derisive. But I can?t even name the Sesame Street characters so what do I know!

I like that the ?unmusical? and repellent nature of death / black metal vocals alienates listeners immediately. Even self-proclaimed, open-minded music lovers are put off. This seems deliberate.

However I think it?s safe to say that I am the only one in the band that loves that kind of singing?the other guys aren?t opposed to it but don?t really want it in Dead Child. For better or worse, this is a democratic band!


Dahm is a huge presence on Attack. How did you guys hook up with him?

Dahm and Michael, our guitar player, are childhood friends that have been in various bands together over the years. When we were thinking of different singers he was the most proactive. He was very confident in his abilities which are very important for a frontman. His voice has a classic NWOBHM quality without sounding too power metal. That was lucky for us because band members were assembled more on camaraderie than technical ability.


Brad Wood was an interesting choice as producer for the album. Why didn?t you guys go with a more traditional producer?

To be honest, we weren?t interested in a traditional metal production with triggered drums locked to a grid. We also didn?t want a recording that had ?home studio? written all over it. Brad has a really good ear for discrepancies that slip past the rest of us. He understands the role of producer very well and knows when to step in and when to lay back and let us be ourselves. Just his presence alone was enough to keep us on our toes and play our best.


Is Dead Child going to be a touring band and can we expect more material from you in a couple of years?

That?s the idea. If one of us leaves it?s no longer Dead Child. I?d like to start recording again?I really like the unfinished songs from the ?Attack? writing sessions. The new ideas we started were heading into some unexplored geography.


What are your top 5 METAL desert island discs?

If I were stuck on a desert island I would want my iPod, a good pair of headphones and a solar energy charger!

Off the top of my head:

  • Diamond Head ?Am I Evil?? comp
  • Meshuggah ?I?
  • Mercyful Fate ?Nuns Have No Fun?
  • Blotted Science ?The Machinations of Dementia?
  • Whiplash ?Ticket to Mayhem?
  • Amon Amarth ?Fate of Norns?

Oops that?s six!

By Carlos Ramirez


  1. CarlosRamirez says:

    He drops Hellanbach AND Alcatraz in the same sentence people! Wake the fuck up and get this!

  2. DamianThorn says:

    Dead Child are true metal warriors.I have the EP and was totally blown away.I can’t wait for the full album, it’s gonna kick ass. ATTACK !!!!