A Band Called Death documentary arrives in Saskatoon

Documentary details the origins and revival of Detroit proto punks

A Band Called Death, a documentary on the origins and subsequent revival of Death, a Detroit proto-punk trio that formed in the early ‘70s, opens this Friday, August 23 at Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre.


The film follows Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney, three African-American brothers, who form a punk band that rips unlike anything else at the time. Pre-dating bands like the Bad Brains and the Ramones, Death signed to a major label and were quickly dropped, and then faded into near obscurity.

It’s one of the most tragic rockumentaries you will ever see.

The band breaks up. Bobby and Dannis continue to play in various groups but never quite make it as professional musicians. And David Hackney eventually dies of lung cancer in 2000.

It has a lot to do with our brother David. Some say he has passed on but we feel like he has come back to us and is with us right now today.

Amazingly, the family stays together and decades later Death is reintroduced to the world.

In addition to their retrospective LPs on Drag City, the band has recently released a single for the song “Relief” along with “Story Of The World”, which was written by David and Bobby Hackney in 1975.

Ominocity caught up with the band Death for an interview on their new album, touring and the amazing spirit of rock and roll.

Ominocity: You recently played two shows in Alberta. Are there any plans to return to Canada?

Bobby Hackney: We’re exploring right now for the first official Death tour that’s going to take place in 2014. Right now we are doing a lot of appearances, some in conjuncture with the movie and some just because people want to see the band. We will be in New York and L.A. and Connecticut and all of this will happen before the end of this month.

The live show has gotten a lot tighter and we are a lot more comfortable playing.

OM: Obviously there is a momentum with the documentary and the albums out on Drag City. What’s happening next for Death?

BH: We got a lot of things in the works. We’ve put out a single from a new album that we completed. We are bringing rock and roll back straight from Detroit. We left behind a lot of songs that were written for Death that weren’t recorded, so we have a really deep well to drink from. Bobby Duncan is also a great songwriter and he has collaborated with us on the new single.

The single, titled “Relief”, was pressed by the original Tryangle Records Label from Detroit – the same label that released the original “Politicians In My Eyes” 7” in 1976. We are pretty excited about that.

OM: What has kept you together and playing then after all of these years?

Dannis Hackney: We are pulling from that same spirit of hard driving rock and roll. It’s the spirit we have, or the spirit from above. When we are on stage it puts us on. It has a lot to do with our brother David. Some say he has passed on but we feel like he has come back to us and is with us right now today. That’s the spirit we draw from right now.

death band live 1

-Live photo from Flickr user “j-No” – Creative Commons.