WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN: We veteran New Yorkers know better than to put too much stock in the fantasies of eager new-arrivals. You know the type: They come to us from small towns, accustomed to finding a monthly room to rent for little more than the sum of our daily coffees and MetroCard.
Tricked into living in our worst neighborhoods, they find themselves sliding into debt, awaking to slashed tires and stolen vans, all the while chasing a naïve dream that somebody somewhere might actually give a damn about their arty noise-rock band.
Or, at least, that’s how the Death by Audio success story begins. It ends with critically acclaimed records and a swift-selling line of innovative stompbox effects.
Although Fredericksburg Virginia’s low cost of living and and limited nightlife gave Oliver Ackermann the freedom and inspiration to start tinkering with pedals, he says that despite a trying start in the city, the company has “grown beyond anything I could have ever done by myself. And it took a place like New York to make that happen.”
Word-of-mouth has turned some of Death By Audio’s creations into instant classics: brutal boxes found at the feet of guitarists from U2, Wilco, Lightning Bolt, and Nine Inch Nails. But Ackermann, who specializes in savage tones as guitarist for A Place To Bury Strangers, is quick to admit that his pedals aren’t for everybody:
“We’re not trying to recreate pedals that other people have already done so well. We like to do stuff that’s really f*ed up, that feels like we’re glitching the system. It’s about pushing the limits almost past the point where it would be considered ‘good’. That’s the quality that people really like about some of the best old gear…