Ahwatukee native and DED vocalist Joe Cotela contends he’s a workaholic – just like his bandmates guitarist David Ludlow, bassist Kyle Koelsch and drummer Matt Reinhard.
It’s the Valley hard rock band’s drive that kept it in the forefront of fans’ minds while it relentlessly worked on the follow up to its debut album “Mis-An-Thrope.”
On March 12, DED launched its new single “A Mannequin Idol (Lullaby),” packaged with a second song, “Eyes Sewn Shut.”
They’re paving a path to a new album later this year, the first release under Sure-tone Records’ renewed, multiple-year deal with ADA Worldwide for exclusive distribution.
“We were going back and forth from Vegas to work on this album,” Cotela says. “We’d go out on tour. We toured with In This Moment, went to Europe with Wage War. We played Shiprock and all kinds of things like that.
“It was a great, busy time, but there was no stopping for us. We didn’t want to go away just because we were working on the album. We wanted to stay relevant and stay in people’s faces. It was exhausting but worthwhile.”
DED has something to say, and the new music, helmed by rock producer Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed) is the vehicle for that.
“I hope the lyrics connect even more so than the last album,” Cotela said.
“That was the big thing with the last record – the people connected with the lyrics. We hope we fulfilled what people want but, not to be selfish, it fulfills what we want. If it connects with fans, too, that’s a win in my opinion.
“I’m proud to be making music that hopefully makes people think, pulls them out of ruts or makes them feel empowered, makes them better themselves, or want to start their own band or use their own voice or express themselves in their own way.
“It’s a circle, and I know because I got caught in that circle because of the people who were doing it before.”
Cotela says “Mis-An-Thrope” came from a place of anger and disappointment with life. This time, he felt compelled to choose his words correctly.
“The new music is about clarity through suffering, positivity through negativity, and the frustration that comes with knowing that everyone can be better than they are, that I can be better than I am, because change starts with yourself,” he explained, adding:
“We want people to strive and try and be conscious of the things they consume, the way they act, the things they share and celebrate, and the way they live their life – to understand how that all affects their soul and what their legacy is going to be. And that goes for myself as well.”
Churko had a lot to do with that.
“Sonically, he’s untouchable,” Cotela said of Churko. “I think he makes enormous-sounding albums. There’s a lot of melody to the album. He’s very good with piano. We fall on the side of unconventional creativity more than music theory.
“We don’t know a lot of that stuff. We just know how to make the sounds that follow the sound. He pushed us to embrace ourselves and our influences and where we’re at right now. He’s just a great person. We had a great time together.”
The EP kicks off with Churko’s haunting piano sounds leading to the fury of “A Mannequin Idol.”
“It’s not something we would have necessarily done by ourselves,” Cotela contends. “He’s a shredder drummer and pianist and songwriter. We loved how it sounded. It’s so haunting and different for us. We wanted to embrace new ideas.”
Those new ideas are shared by DED, who had been on tour with In This Moment, Black Veil Brides and Raven Black.
The package is scheduled and comes to Arizona Federal Theatre on April 27, although the virus has clouded any concert dates right now.
Now living in New York, Cotela is in a relationship with In This Moment singer Maria Brink.
“Hometown shows are special,” said Cotela, calling Arizona Federal Theatre “special” because “that’s a place I’ve gone to see so many shows – the Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Crosby Stills and Nash. I’ve played most of the venues in Arizona.
“Our families and our friends are in (local) bands and it’s a cool camaraderie when we all come home. We’re proud of each other. We’re glowing with that upward trajectory. When I see another band from home at a sold-out show, it’s a win for me, even though it wasn’t me.
“I want to see other bands succeed. I’m imagining the sentiment is the same with others.”