This ain’t no disco

Death Before Disco to tear it up at South Park Tavern

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Death Before Disco plays Saturday, Nov. 28 at South Park Tavern; photo: Mindy Tellmann

Death Before Disco is a quartet of enterprising young fellows who play a timeless blend of garage, surf and psychedelic rock one would be hard-pressed to listen to without shaking one’s booty.

To my mind their sound evokes images of greasers with slicked back hair and black leather motorcycle jackets, about to engage in a switchblade battle over a special lady’s honor. All West Side Story aside, this is a sound that transcends the decades and therefore is always en vogue in the popular culture. Death Before Disco could fit on a bill with The Black Keys, The Strokes, The Cramps, The Sonics and any other similar band of past, present or future. Which got me thinking: is Death Before Disco the music of tomorrow? I talked to brothers Joe Tellmann (guitar/vocals) and Jack Tellmann (drums) about just that.

So give me a little back-story on your band. When did you guys get started? 

Joe Tellmann: Well, Death Before Disco was formed… I guess five years ago was when we had our first show. And we’re from Springboro, which is a suburb of Dayton, like 20 minutes south. And my brother was in the band. He plays drums. And his three friends, they were all in 8th grade, and I was in 6th grade, when we had our first show. Then the next time was probably six or seven months later, and then it started picking up. We started playing more often.

What challenges come from being in high school and in a band?

Jack Tellmann: It is actually incredibly difficult. For a while most venues won’t take you seriously, and most venues won’t let you play at all, being 18-and-up clubs. Now that three of us are 18 it’s easier, but now two of us live away from home and so coordinating practice times and shows is much more difficult. We still try to make it work and when we do get together it’s always a party. So it’s tough, but definitely worth it.

Do you guys have any plans to record?

Joe Tellmann: Yeah, Jack is going to UC for electronic media, for recording, so we have a visual 8-track out on Facebook and so we recorded and we’re hoping to come out with an album by the [Nov.] 28 [show] at South Park.

What do you guys like to write about content-wise?

Joe Tellmann: We tend to write more like ’60s kind of music. It’s vague. It’s either about girls, or a fight. That’s just Alex.

Well that’s classic material. What draws you to this type of music? 

Jack Tellmann: Our biggest draw to ’60s sounding songs is probably the psychedelic rock. We like to jam a little bit so it usually ends up resembling a lot of the hard rock psych bands. We love new psychedelic music as well, bands like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and JEFF the Brotherhood so we kinda grab from both ends of the spectrum.

So, how far would you guys like to take this band?

Joe Tellmann: As far as we can go. I mean, it’s fun just to play, and we’ve been playing more often. But, I mean if we’re not, like, successful, I’m also fine with it. I’m fine either way. I’m fine with whatever happens.

How do you think the bands of the ’60s were able to find success, and what can you take from their stories to apply to your own band?

Jack Tellmann: I think one of the biggest reasons those bands were able to be successful was their sex appeal. So we took that into account when forming the band, making sure to handpick only the sexiest of the sexy. Those bands were also innovative; almost no matter what they did it hadn’t really been done. It’s been a long time since then and people have gotten more and more innovative. So it may be a little bit harder now but we try to stay different. They weren’t thinking of what sells albums, they were thinking what was fun, which we like to think we do too.

What do you think makes a really good live show experience as a band?

Joe Tellmann: Knowing songs. We’ve played a lot of these songs for years now so it’s good when we have a set down, and we can transition quickly and sound like we know what we’re doing.

How about as an audience member, what makes a good show?

Joe Tellmann: When bands actually move around or look like they’re having fun. Like they’re happy to be there and actually enjoying it.

Do you guys move around a lot when you play?

Joe Tellmann: Yeah, Alex the singer and Jack the drummer more than Josh and I, but we try to.

Death Before Disco will perform Saturday, Nov. 28 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave, in Dayton. The Tangees are also on the bill. Admission is $5 for patrons 18 and up. Doors at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit the band on Facebook:

Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at

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Josher Lumpkin
Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at

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