Formed in 1976 in Manchester, Joy Division was a genre-defining band that made a brief, yet legendary burst in the post-punk music world. Placing dark, gothic-esque themes of sadness, death and despair into an eerie and spacious sonic landscape marked by minimal guitar riffing, tight and sparse drumming, melody-driving basslines and the deep, droning voice of Ian Curtis, Joy Division positioned itself as one of the most inventive and influential bands to come out of the ‘70s.
Sadly, Curtis’ lyrical themes, full of references to loneliness, pressure and confusion, were reflections of his own internal state; an ongoing struggle with depression and worsening epileptic bouts drove Curtis to suicide. The band, irreparably altered, changed their name to New Order, and Joy Division was no more.
Yet the spirit of Joy Division lives on. Capitalizing on the abundance of true and die-hard fans, many Joy Division tribute bands have sprung up over the years to pay their respects to the beloved band. Among them, the San Franciso-based Dead Souls are spookily good at bringing local audiences as close as they’ll get to seeing Joy Division play live. As one fan said, “They don’t try to put their own spin on the music, they play it as close to the original as possible, and [Dave Tibbs] seems to channel Ian Curtis; not in a mocky way, but in a reverential way.”
The members of Dead Souls – Sonya “Stephen Morris” Trejo, Paul “Peter Hook” Skibitzke, Grant “Bernard Sumner” Skibitzke and Tibbs – are all solid musicians who obviously love Joy Division. Their on-stage performance whips audiences into a frenzy of appreciation with the rare opportunity to hear the Joy Division catalog live.
Dead Souls play the Blank Club on Friday, Jan. 7 at 9pm with Devo tribute band the Devolutionaries.