When Rolling Stone visited with Dead Sara frontwoman Emily Armstrong at her home in March, the L.A. band was getting set for their first national tour. Eight months later they've been part of the Warped tour, shared stages with Bush and the Offspring and now get ready for their biggest appearance yet – opening for Muse on the band's arena tour.
It's a gig any young band would kill for. So how did Dead Sara land one of the prime spots? As Armstrong tells it, Muse drummer Dominic Howard was talking to a radio station about moving to L.A. "He was saying it's really cool that Rage Against the Machine still plays on modern radio all the time, and there's also this band called Dead Sara," Armstrong says. "He said, 'There's this huge riff and this girl is screaming her bloody head off – it's quite good.' So after we heard that it was like, 'Hey, this is our in.'"
For the band, being mentioned in the same interview as Rage Against the Machine provides a nice bit of symmetry. It was when Muse played with Rage at the L.A. Coliseum as part of L.A. Rising in 2011 that Dead Sara developed dreams of one day opening for the Brits.
Watching that show was when "I fell in love with Muse," says Armstrong. "I can't even describe it – their live show was fucking unreal. I remember I said, 'If we were to ever go on tour with [Muse], we would learn so much.' Their musicianship is so good. That in itself, I'd be like a kid in a candy store."
While Dead Sara doesn't meet up with Muse until February, Armstrong is aware what kind of attention that kind of affiliation can bring. "Muse has done a lot for us," she says.
First her band plan to release "We Are What You Say" as a follow-up single to "Weatherman," which earned them plenty of airplay in selected markets. This time around, they want a track Armstrong feels is more representative of the whole album. "'Weatherman' is a real hard rock song, and that's less than half the record, the hard rock," she says. "I think ['We Are What You Say'] is a good middle ground for a taste of the record."
The band hopes to use the tour as a springboard for their own headlining dates in small clubs. "That'd be huge for us," says Armstrong. "Having been around almost four times, we think we've worked hard enough to now go through on our own right after Muse."
Touring as an opening act has led to a lot of memorable moments in 2012 for Armstrong, including performing with Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger of the Doors at the kickoff party for the Sunset Strip Music Festival and dueting with the Offspring.
"I got up and sang with the Offspring every night," she says. "It went over really well, and those are just moments where you're like, 'Wow, when I was a teenager this is a dream fucking come true.' With Bush, with Offspring, I'm reliving my childhood, my tween years the best way I could."