If you’ve been living under a mattress for the better part of the decade, here’s what you need to know about Duell: They’re a five-piece rock band with origins in Tarrant County, whose signature sound is relentless, monolithic party-rock veined with hooky choruses and the burn marks of a sizzling, triple-guitar attack.
On February 15 in Dallas and the following night here in Fort Worth, they’ll be unleashing Futureless, the full-length follow-up to their 2014 debut album Back to Drunk. Tracked by Jim King at Kessler Sound in Dallas and mixed by Jordan Richardson at Electric Barryland in Justin, Futureless’ 10 songs expand on its predecessor’s beer-fueled, desert drag race vibe, sharpening it with crisper sonics and a Trump-era-appropriate paint job – a matte-black coat of lyrical nihilism filigreed with white-hot, guitar-god lightning.
Belvedere, the band’s burly, bearded, be-sunglassed frontman, doesn’t dismiss the notion that one might interpret Futureless as a statement on life in post-Obama America, but he thinks the track “Eat, Shit, Die,” pretty much sums it all up.
“The album isn’t necessarily political, but it does fit into what’s going on in the world if you want to read into like that,” he said. “There’s really just a lot of nihilism. Just sad boi shit.”
Guitarist Mike “Doty” Doty, who shreds Duell’s leads (usually stage left of Belvedere) in tandem with James Van Damme (usually on stage right), agreed that the album is darker, but the times haven’t changed the core of the band’s ethos.
“Duell’s still about having a good time,” he said.
That’s not to say that their new music is a downer. “Eat, Shit, Die” might not be an altogether uplifting statement on humanity, but it still a fist-pumping banger, so even if the world is going to hell, Duell is still having a hellavua party. I interviewed them in their lair, a rehearsal room in a musician complex off the Stemmons Freeway in Dallas – a room dominated by a veritable mountain range of amps and glittering piles of empty Silver Bullet cans, the milieu presided over by an acrylic painting of a dirty, beat-up, baby doll head.
Like Futureless’ lyrical bent, you can read into the greater meaning of that creepy baby doll head painting if you want, or you can just kind of laugh. I asked them what their ideal gig situation would be. Bassist Scott White suggested playing on a cruise ship, but drummer Nick Russo figured that their spot in last year’s Homegrown Fest in Dallas was pretty close to perfect, thanks to the unlimited free food and drinks.
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Doty said. “They had tubs of beer backstage, but across the street at the Statler Hotel, there was open bar and a buffet. So all day long, we were just eating and drinking.
“We knew there was a pool up on the roof or something, but the only way to get up there is from an elevator on the first floor, and they don’t let you go up there if you’re a dirtbag, sweaty, drunk fuck,” he added. “But I saw a janitor we’d made friends with and I said ‘if I wanted to get up to the pool, how would I go about doing that?’ And he pointed me to this elevator right around the corner and said to go up to floor nine. We get up there, and it’s people who looked like they’d planned a date night around hanging out up there, and we pretty much ruined their evening.”
In other words, White added, “being assholes to a bunch of uppity fucks and their kids at a nice hotel is probably the ideal Duell gig,”
Or, if you want to ascribe a deeper meaning to it, the world may not seem like much of a good time, but at least Duell is partying whenever and wherever they can.
Duell’s Album Release Show
8pm Sat, Feb 15 w/Sealion, Mountain of Smoke, and All Clean at Lola’s Saloon, 2736 6th St, FW. $10. 817-759-9100.