Dead Rider is a highly experimental 21st century rock and funk band from Chicago, Illinois. Their rhythm-driven sound, with shards of instrumental noise bouncing around within the often unpredictable twists and turns of the beats, reveals the influence of everyone from Captain Beefheart to Big Black to the Butthole Surfers to random experimental improvisers, with an occasional detour into the early sounds of Wax Trax Records.
Unique enough to attract a devoted cult following while challenging the conventions of mainstream alternative music, Dead Rider's initial fusion of steady pulse, angular "melodies," and purposefully eccentric vocals was documented on their 2011 album The Raw Dents, but gave way to a more organic but no less chaotic approach, with a greater emphasis on live percussion, on 2017's Crew Licks.
Dead Rider was founded in 2009 as D. Rider by guitarist and vocalist Todd Rittman, formerly of indie experimentalists U.S. Maple. The initial lineup included Noah Tabakin on saxophone, Andrea Faught on keyboard and trumpet, and Theo Katsaounis on drums. Their debut album, Mother of Curses, appeared on the Tizona label in 2009 and was well-received critically, as was their exciting live show. In the midst of recording their follow-up for the label, Katsaounis left the band and was replaced by Matt Espy in 2010; both drummers are credited on 2011's Raw Dents. By the time Raw Dents appeared, the band changed its name to Dead Rider, supposedly because Rittman was tired of being asked what the "D." stood for.
In 2013, the group signed to the adventurous indie label Drag City. Their third full-length offering, Chills on Glass, was released in March of 2014, and included keyboards from Thymme Jones. 2017 saw the release of Dead Rider's fourth album, Crew Licks, which introduced a new group member who went by the name White Christmas and handled bass and keyboards, while Jones had left the lineup. In 2018, Dead Rider stripped themselves down to a three piece featuring Rittman, Espy, and Christmas. This version of the group played several dates opening for the Jesus Lizard on their reunion tour, but for the recording of their fifth album, The Dead Rider Trio Featuring Mr. Paul Williams, they collaborated with spoken word artist Williams (no relation to the successful songwriter of the '70s), who supplied Dada-esque vocal accompaniment to the band's sonic landscapes. ~ Thom Jurek & Mark Deming, Rovi