I THINK TEXAS IS A UNIQUE PLACE AMONGST OTHER CITIES IN AMERICA: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE DWARVES
Punk icons the Dwarves recently played Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX to play their iconic record in its entirety for the twenty fifth year anniversary of its release. Here is a recent interview with vocalist Blag Dahlia.The Dwarves, Photo: Provided by band
Leon casino, Punk icons the Dwarves recently played Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX to play their iconic record in its entirety for the twenty fifth year anniversary of its release. Here is a recent interview with vocalist Blag Dahlia.
Why did you choose the name the Dwarves?
We wanted a name that one of the old psych bands would’ve had like the Troggs or a punk band like the Stooges. The name just sounded good to us, the Dwarves.
You guys are from Chicago, how did the city first take you guys when the band formed?
Our first show in Chicago was at the Cubby Bear Lounge back in 1983. We were kind of like a sixties garage band, and that wasn’t a very popular scene in Chicago. People didn’t really know what to make of us. Once we started playing with other punk bands we would get into altercations with them, and people would be weird. We came from a nice suburb, had hot chicks with us in little sixties outfits and shit like that, so punks didn’t like us, they didn’t know what to do with us. We always started stuff with others, and that’s when I realized we were a punk band no matter what we did.
Were the shocking lyrics a measure to separate the band even further with the punks around town?
You know, I never thought of [the lyrics] as shocking lyrics, I thought of them as what I was thinking. I think most musicians censor themselves a lot, they’re already thinking about what’s going to upset people, what they’re supposed to say, what might be commercial, or what might work. We just skipped right through that, you know? People say it’s shocking, but I just think they’re boring.
Were all your pre-Dwarves banks like that?
Well, the Suburban Nightmare was my band and it sort of became the Dwarves, so I’ve always been in the same band [laughs].
Could you pull off any other genres, besides punk or garage?
That was part of the beauty of the last few Dwarves records, we did a lot of various genres like noise, experimental, hardcore and industrial. I like to touch on all genres. Then, as a solo artist, I actually made a bluegrass record called Earl Lee Grace- Blackgrass and a couple of country songs in a band called Candy Now. I love country music, it’s not necessarily my forte, but there’s some okay-ish country stuff. I like to think of myself as someone who can dabble in any genre.
What Inspires you to make music?
I think I used to be more inspired. [Inspiration] used to come naturally to me. Now I’m more inspired to write articles or fiction pieces. I haven’t written that much music in a while. The things I write about are fucking, getting high, hatred and violence, so I think that’s the stuff that inspires me.
Do you think your departure from Sub Pop had any inspiration for the band?
Sub Pop didn’t really have any affect on my musical trajectory. We didn’t sound like any of their other bands. They don’t really know anything about music, like they don’t hook you up with this or that, there was no real direction. They were in that tradition of labels where “you do all the work and we’ll keep all the money.”
How was that different from Sympathy for the Record Industry?
There was a night and day difference between those labels. There has never been a label like Sympathy, Sympathy lets you own your master tapes. That’s why [Long Gone John] is a cool, artist-friendly guy, whereas the other labels are posing as that. You know, an indie label operates just like a major label. They just pretend to be poor so they don’t have to give you anything. Sympathy said we’re not going to promote you, we’re not going to spend money on you or give you tour support, but here’s your record. A lot of people who don’t really know how record labels work had problems with him, for one reason or another.They we’re just spoiled little garage bands that didn’t realize John was giving them their record, so when they got their fifteen minutes of fame and some major label offered them money they compared the two.
Do you think there will be another uprising of bands like there were when labels like Sympathy and AmRep were in full swing?
I don’t think it will be a rock and roll uprising. I mean, there has been an uprising, but it came from a couple in their apartments on their computers making a certain kind of music. I think the time for rock and roll has come and gone. I think hip hop’s time has come and gone, too, but the music is made with a hip hop theme in terms with the dance music style. Eventually, the rock bands will just die off. I don’t see it coming back in any sense, but you never know. I think rock still influences things to this day and there are thing that rock can do that rap and hip hop can’t, but I think it’s too difficult to make rock and roll.
Does that mean genres like nu metal have a chance of coming back to the mainstream?
Eh, they definitely tried that [laughs]. Yeah, that was a commercially viable scene, but in terms of terms of taking over people’s brains, I don’t see it happening. All that nu metal was was metal with a little harder drumming, there wasn’t anything too special, it was like “alright, we sequenced the drums, now what?” Also, the bands that did it were just so terrible, those bands like Staind and Limp Bizkit. If those bands were better, maybe it would be a different situation.
The Dwarves invented rock and roll, what else have you invented or what else will you
We invented the blues, actually. A lot of people don’t know that i’m actually black, from the waist down. In terms of my life, the Dwarves are responsible for all things. The Dwarves made it all possible. I love those guys.
Is there a different vibe while playing in Texas, especially Austin?
We had the famous Taz Bentley with us today. Bentley has played with Tenderloin, Loaded and the Reverend Horton Heat, a bunch of cool artists like that. He’s a Texas guy, so it’s fun to play with a regional hero. I’ve always loved it here, the state has always treated us well. We played here with Henry Rollins in 1989, maybe 1990. There used to be a scene in Houston, believe it or not. I think Texas is a unique place amongst other cities in America.
Do you believe that there is a misconception about music coming from Texas?
I think that there is a misconception about the south in general. Personally, I’ve always found southern people to be friendlier, just much kinder than people from elsewhere. I think they get a bad reputation because people’s obsession now is all about race and hating. I think we should get fouced in coming together rather than separating and pointing fingers, you know?
Do you think the Dwarves could take on the Super Collider, the skate ramp here at Fun Fun Fun Fest?
Of course, we can take on anything. We are the Higgs boson of rock and roll.