By Tracy Dietlin
This past Sunday night, Death in Pretty Wrapping performed at The Hood. I love watching people’s faces the first time they see this band perform. The band consists of Arthur Seay (lead guitar, also of HOBP, UNIDA, Apesh!t); Mike Cancino (drums, also of HOBP, Soul Sign, UNIDA) Derek Wade Timmons (bass, also of Sleazy Cortez, Half Astro, Robotic Humans, The Monopoly) and Michael Keeth (Frontman/vocals, also of Michael Keeth acoustic solo & Michael Keeth & Martin Barrera duo and formerly of Phallus).
Fans are used to watching Seay, a seasoned axe man and charismatic performer shredding, along with HOBP band mate Mike Cancino slay it pounding the skins, and they’re used to watching Timmons on bass with the many bands he’s performed with, but most people are used to watching Keeth perform his acoustic songs, delivering each one with his soulful, velvety vocals that has earned him 3 “Best Male Vocalist” CV Music Awards. Unless you were around back in the Phallus days, Keeth’s band from the early 2000s, you are unprepared for the treat that is Keeth rocking hard as the frontman for Death in Pretty Wrapping!
All four members of this band collectively make it somewhat of a super group. HOBP has also won several CVMA’s including Best Metal Band, Best Drummer (Cancino) last year 2016, and are nominated in several categories again this year, not to mention that DIPW was nominated for Best New Band.
On July 23, the rescheduled date for the CV Music Awards, you will be able to witness Death in Pretty Wrapping perform as well as Seay and Cancino perform a set (Joe Mora frontman for HOBP can’t make the date)and also do a collaboration with rap/hip-hop nominated The Bermuda. Keeth will also be performing a solo acoustic tribute to Chris Cornell.
All four band members of DIPW took the time to answer a few questions about how the band started and where they are going.
CVW: How long has Death in Pretty Wrapping been together? Whose idea was it to put this band together?
Arthur Seay: “There is some interesting back story to all of this lol, actually DIPW was actually the first incarnation of HOBP, I had all these riffs that weren’t really UNIDA riffs, little heavier with some shred… lol, but still very musical and melodic and that’s when I hit up Michael Keeth to come out and jam. I always liked his vocals and thought he could put some tasty soulful vocals on the songs. So a full record came out of all that and that was the original line up of HOBP: Arthur Seay, Mike Cancino, Eddie Plascencia and Mike Keeth (MK). Then MK left to focus on his acoustic material and HOBP formed into a 3 piece.
So flash forward I met Derek somewhere in the desert at some show and we had a good talk about music and playing so we kept in contact and started jamming and he wins for best attitude lol.
He moved from Indiana to the desert to be a part of our music scene and that takes balls…and he is a great bass player. So then I started talking with Mike Cancino about jamming out with Keeth again and having Derek shred the bass. I ran into MK and we talked about jamming and doing something together again and revisiting those songs and writing new ones too and POW!! Death in Pretty Wrapping was born.”
Michael Keeth: “Almost a year, but Arty, Mike, and I started playing together like 15 years ago. Life took us in different directions for a while, but a couple of years ago we met up again and we agreed that we’d had something special that deserved a new start. I’m truly excited to be in a band with these guys again; and to be playing with Derek, who is a great dude and a badass bassist.”
CVW: Where did the band’s name come from?
Keeth: “A lyric from our song “THIS ONE”: she is the reason for sad songs, she’s Death in Pretty Wrapping.”
CVW: Arthur & Mike, what makes this band different for you from HOBP?
Seay: “DIPW is just another extension musically for me, like I’ve said before I am a ‘Lifer’ musically, this is what I do, and I love doing it whether it brings me intense joy or pain for that matter. I love music and art and creating it keeps me sane and drives me bat shit crazy also. Plus, I like to keep busy!”
Mike Cancino: “Death is just different because there are two other people with a different vibe.”
CVW: Michael how does it feel to be fronting a band again?
Keeth: “AMAZING! It’s a part of me that I haven’t been able to express for a while, and this band is a group of great performers, and we all feed off of each other’s energy on stage.
CVW: Michael can you share the difference of the feeling you get performing with DIPW compared to when you play solo or with Martin Barrera as a duo?
Keeth: “I love the acoustic shows. Martin is a great guitarist and friend. The main difference is that with the acoustic shows, it’s very atmospheric and melodic; and I’m responsible for the shape of a song as a whole. With DIPW, I’m able to really let loose; get crazy and scream my ass off; and constantly be surprised by the talent of the 3 other parts of the band.”
CVW: Derek, you also play in Sleazy Cortez. What’s different about playing with the guys in DIPW?
Derek Wade Timmons: “Sleazy Cortez is a three-piece with unconventional bass/guitar roles and a lot of jamming. Plus, I have to sing all the songs while playing over there!
With Death in Pretty Wrapping, I can focus more on a solid rolling low end with Mike (Cancino) and let Keeth and Arthur run wild on the other end of the spectrum. The good thing though is it’s still a very dynamic band where there’s no room for slack; everyone has an important role and everyone has to do their part the whole time and do it well. Also, the other guys in this band have loads of experience with both heavier and softer styles than I usually play, so it keeps me on my toes.”
CVW: Derek, what other bands have you played in?
Timmons: “I played with The Monopoly when I first moved out here in 2008 (with Matt Claborn on vocals, and Alex Maestas from Blackwater Gospel). I spent a few great years in Robotic Humans with Joey Zendejas leading the way (in fact, everyone who’s ever been in Sleazy Cortez has been in Robotic Humans). And I briefly played in the heavy, heavy band Menzrea, with my good buddy Ruben from Perishment on vocals. I spent quite a while playing bass in Half Astro with Herb Lienau of Herbert! Been doing the Sleazy thing as a side project since 2010, but now it’s a full-on operation. Started jamming with Arthur and Mike on and off as far back as 2011, and finally everyone found the time and the right project to get together on stage!”
CVW: You moved here from Indiana to be part of the music scene here. Tell me a little about that?
Timmons: “I had gone to college for music in Vincennes, Indiana, playing classical and jazz and blues on upright bass, but the scene there was nowhere near as satisfying or stimulating, and the winters were killing me. So I’ve always wanted to go to the desert and here’s this desert with a killer scene that I have over 100 CD’s from these bands… and so, what the hell…I worked three jobs, saved up some cash, got on roommmates.com, and in August 2008 I loaded up my pickup with amps and records (and my cat) and took a 2000 mile road trip. Within a week I had joined The Monopoly and was going out of town for a week to play a string of shows through Ventura and back. Worked out alright I guess!”
CVW: Are you planning to record a CD?
Seay: “We actually have 7 tracks recorded and will release the first 4 as an EP soon.”
Keeth: “Absolutely. We’re already writing new material. Arthur has a great recording space, and we’re all dedicated to taking this band to its potential.”
CVW: Any plans for shows outside the valley?
Seay: “My ultimate goal is to release the 2 EP’s and take it to Europe.”
CVW: What other shows do you have scheduled here in the valley?
Seay: “July 28th at The Hood, more in the works!”
Keeth: “There’s an amazing publication called the CV Weekly who is holding their Music Awards show on July 23- which we’re playing at (smiling) and more shows are on the way.”
CVW: Arthur, tell me a little bit more about the Michael Jackson show you mentioned to me the other night at the show?
Seay: “I’m putting on a series of themed nights at The Hood, something fun for people to come out and have a blast and forget about the everyday B.S. and cut loose! The first one will be a Michael Jackson Themed night. All Michael Jackson music! Everything from his catalog and the Jackson 5 to anybody that has covered his songs! Smashups you name it!
I’m setting up a screen to play his videos and at midnight I will play the video for “Thriller” and we will dance along to the Thriller Zombie Dance scene! Dressing up like MJ is definitely encouraged! Gonna be a blast!!
MJ is one of my all-time favorite artist’s; such a huge inspiration for me since I was a kid. I listened to “Thriller” nonstop and still do!
DIPW now covers “Beat It” lol. The solo Eddie Van Halen did on “Beat It” is one of my favorites of his ever so I’ve always wanted to cover it and shred that solo!”
CVW: What other projects are you currently working on?
Seay: “House of Broken Promises, Death in Pretty Wrapping, ApeSh!t (with Tye Zamora of Alien Ant Farm)”
CVW: Mike, you also perform with other Cancino family members at The World Famous Palm Canyon Roadhouse. Is there a different dynamic performing with family?
Cancino: “Performing with my brothers is totally cool fun. I have no slack for mistakes-older brothers kick my butt…and the Palm Canyon Road House rules.”
CVW: Of all the bands you’ve worked with/toured with who is your favorite?
I had a blast with Limp Bizkit also, with that camp we always made it a point to go see the sights where ever we were and we saw some amazing things from the Swiss Alps to underground Nazi mines where they built the first Jet plane and swimming in shark infested waters in Australia! I’ve been lucky to work for some pretty legendary bands and it all has been a blast.”
CVW: What band would you most like to tour with that you haven’t?
Seay: “The Cult, opening for them, NOT working for them… lol.”
Keeth: “I personally love Sevendust, but there are so many great rock bands out there…we’d play with any and all of them.”
Timmons: “Major band on tour??? Hmm…Clutch, absolutely! The Sword or Baroness or Red Fang could work just as well. We could definitely appeal to some folks in those crowds.”
Cancino: “I would love to tour with IRON MAIDEN.”
CVW: How do you think the music scene here in the desert has changed over the last 20 years?
Seay: “I’ve watched it grow and crumble several times over. I think we are at a good time to build it back up again in a positive way.
TK and 93.7 KCLB are really doing amazing things and supporting the local scene. I’ve been brainstorming with TK on doing some really cool events and ways to build our scene, but remember people, YOU are the scene so you have to come out and support these shows and not sit at home and watch it on facebook live!! I would love to open up my own venue but I’ll worry about that later.”
Keeth: “Honestly, there have been a few different eras of the valley music scene since the early 90’s. All of them have been great, but I feel like the community of local musicians, fans, venues, and publications are more supportive of each other than ever before.”
Cancino: “Desert scene has not changed much… everybody is just older and oh yea, we have the Hood now, an original venue for non-cover bands and CV WEEKLY RULES.”
CVW: What up and coming band here locally are you the most impressed with and why?
Seay: “I was impressed by The Bermuda when I saw them when I was judging the CV Weekly Showcase Battle of the Bands. They had their show down pretty well. Songs were good, kind of old school hip hop which I dig, they had a look with matching Jersey’s and some moves down and they had MERCH! lol
I had good talk with them that night and it turned into us working together; I’m producing their new record and its coming out SICK! It’s been a blast tracking the songs, they come in and kill it and lay down their vocals and nail it. I’m excited for people to hear it and trip.”
Keeth: “Too many. If they give themselves to their art, and support their peers- I have nothing but respect for them.”
CVW: What advice would you give to new bands just starting out?
Seay: “Pay attention to the ‘business’ it’s called the ‘MUSIC BUSINESS’ for a reason. It is retail and you are the product. We all love music and love to perform, but if you don’t learn the business side you will get fucked!”
Keeth: “Keep going. The only way you fail, is if you give up. And never stop striving to improve.”
CVW: Anything else you would like to share?
Seay: “Support the scene because YOU are the SCENE!!”
Photos By Chris Miller