When Craig Locicero saw vocalist Kayla Dixon perform in San Francisco, he knew she had a promising future as a frontwoman. He didn’t know their musical paths would interweave not far down the road in Dress the Dead.
Locicero originally formed Dress the Dead with The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving in 2017. When Dolving left the group, the band struggled to find the right vocalist. While going through vocalist tryouts, Locicero received a text from Dixon, nearly a year from the day he saw her perform that night in SF.
“It was 363 days exactly,” Locicero says. “Losing Peter was a complete shock to us because he was into it. Some of the people we tried out were good but didn't have what we were looking for… just not the right fit. All of a sudden, I get a text from Kayla. She’d been checking us out for months and was already a fan of the music.”
A couple of days after that now legendary text message, Dixon sent Locicero a new version of the DtD song “1969” with her vocals. He was floored.
"It was like it was made for her. She seamlessly fit into the music. We haven’t needed to readjust. What having her in the band allows me to do is to not hold back and write anything I feel like writing, knowing that she can do it and sing without any limits.”
Building…. Dress the Dead
Locicero’s pedigree is well established: guitarist for Forbidden, one of the pioneering bands in the Bay Area thrash metal movement, and more recently guitarist for Manmade God & SpiralArms. Locicero longed to do something that wasn’t tied to any genre and that’s when he began to put the pieces of Dress the Dead together. Many of those pieces came from Locicero’s musical past.
The first piece was drums. In recent years, Locicero had rekindled his relationship with one-time Forbidden drummer Mark Hernandez, who played with the band from 2008-2011. The early chemistry was still there, and he had just the right feel for the music. Mark is one of the most well respected and versatile metal drummers to come out of the bay area having sat behind the kit with Testament, Vio-Lence, Social Unrest and Re-Ignition.
Next up was bass. James Walker and Locicero played together in rock act Manmade God, which was signed by Rick Ruben to American Recordings in the early 2000s. The mix of creation between veteran bassist Walker and Locicero is instrumental in the band’s sonic assault and its groove.
Listen to a song that is written by Walker, as he is notorious for writing a song within a song.
A second guitarist was now needed to round it out. Dan Delay of the post-rock band Drawing Heaven had the versatile chops that expanded the band’s accessible but experimental sound.
With Peter Dolving on vocals, this version of Dress the Dead fine-tuned its sound and performed live at the end 2016 introducing everyone to the newest band formed by Locicero and this carefully selected group of veteran musicians. Peter eventually decided to return to his home in Europe and the search for a new vocalist was on.
Enter…… Kayla Dixon
Dixon has a pedigree that, at first, seems more appropriate for a professional theatre career than a frontwoman of a metal band. She was exposed to artists like Marilyn Manson and Tool from her half-sisters when growing up in suburban Maryland. When her sisters moved out of the house, Dixon moved on to other pursuits like musical theatre. Dixon eventually auditioned for and enrolled in the prestigious
Duke Ellington School of The Arts in Washington, D.C.
Dixon started working professionally in her junior year and finished high school via home study.
She then decided to immerse herself in theatre and was soon working professionally. During her freshman year in college, she emerged to front a death metal band. Just as she mulled moving back to the East Coast to pursue more theatre work, she heard the doom band Witch Mountain was looking for a new vocalist.
She nailed the audition and moved to Portland.
Having relocated to the West Coast, Dixon was recommended to Locicero through a mutual friend. She initially worried that she was so different from Dolving she might face backlash from fans who wanted a certain thing.
"In my mind, I thought I was going to be trolled, and I didn't know if I was ready to face that,” she says,
“But surprisingly there has only been positivity from the first song."
"I want to be continually creating," Dixon adds. "When I heard '1969' I thought it was great.
When Craig sent me the other songs like 'Promises & Kisses' I was really in.
I wanted it to be in a band that was heavy emotionally and sonically.”
One of the interesting components of the band is the musical experience gap. Dixon is 23, whereas Locicero and the rest of the band have been in signed recording projects for some time. This dynamic allows the sound of the band to blend generations of auditory power together.
The missing piece …… Mikey
In 2019 Dan Delay had to step away to dedicate more time to family life. Dress the Dead were now on the hunt for a new guitarist. That didn’t last long at all as this presented the almost instant addition of Mikey Rowan.
“Within 5 minutes of our announcing that Dan decided to walk” Craig recalled, "both Mark and I were getting texts from a number of our mutual friends and Mikey himself saying that he was the guy for the band!”
It was indeed a sign from the Gods of Rock n Roll.”
Most metal and rock musicians in the Bay Area had been aware of Rowan for many years. As a 16-year-old kid, he got the gig with metal act Insolence after which they were signed by Maverick Records.
He immediately made a name for himself with his advanced playing and high energy stage presence.
“Mikey brought exactly what we needed at the perfect time with boundless energy and musical vocabulary.
He is fearless! We love that and welcome any challenges.” Locicero continued
Collectively, these pieces allowed the band to upend expectations. “From the first day I started this I wanted something that would be unafraid to mix in any influences I had and not worry at all about chasing something or trying to fit in,” he says. “We just want to play music. We have enough influences from all angles, so we don't need to call it anything. I figure other people will do that for us. We have freedom with this and that is our main objective - write great songs and don't worry what you call them.”
2021…………. is the year of Dress the Dead
On December 5th of 2020, Dress the Dead announced the signing of a worldwide deal with Blood Blast Distribution, a part of the Nuclear Blast Family.
Dress the Dead will be releasing new music all year long as well as performing live in the summer and beyond.