Every so often a band come out, and they have the most striking lead singer EVER. You find it hard to actually decipher what it is about this person that has lured you in with great speed, but the thing is- trying to explain it would ruin the mystery. This person holds more than most. You’re unsure of if you want to BE the person or if you just want to be in their company. Who knows. But, you are sure of one thing- you admire them. Sure they may not have been around as long as some others, but they’ve impacted your life in a way that is close to the likes of Kim Gordon and Patti Smith. They have everything you want in a lead singer, they are just the pinnacle of all you admire. Call it a band crush, if you want. Call it just straight up admiration. Whatever the word is, you’ve never managed to understand it.
I’ve loved Dum Dum Girls since I first heard them in 2009. I heard a song called Catholicked. It was just my mind that was blown, it was my heart that was stolen too. The absolutely incredible girl group and garage rock band fusion probably left me curled up in a corner from being overcome with so much joy and happiness over the fact I was hearing something so new, but with such an instantly historical feel to it. I am not ashamed to say that their music has reduced me to tears many times. Last year, I heard Coming Down and froze. My body froze and all the tears my eyes could produce streamed from my eyes. You know when you just connect with a song, and think “This is my life. This is how I feel, this is what is going on.” I was feeling pretty low, for reasons which are obvious (my mum got ill…people’s general shitness..you know the deal) and I heard this song, and I just felt like, every fucking frustration in my bones and every bout of despair was just falling out. I’m sure Coming Down stopped me from going insanely insane at the time. I listen to it now, and I just get this euphoric feeling coming over me. Anyone who has heard this song and connected to it, knows exactly what I mean.
What is it about Dee Dee Penny aka Kristin Gundred that I just adore? Well in short, EVERYTHING. In person, I’m not someone who has many words. However, with this I need to be extremely vocal. You see, I firmly believe that Dee Dee should go down as one of the best females in music. Her style, her musicianship, her song-writing, her shy demeanour it is all something any fan of the band treasures. There’s one thing that I always seem to fall for in a singer- if they seem shy in interviews and at home on stage, I will probably adore them. For some reasons being confronted by one person is more daunting than spilling your heart out on stage to thousands. I don’t understand it, but I think I get it. I guess you can be someone else on stage, or maybe you can be yourself. It’s the one on one thing that is too much.
Of course I love the way Dee Dee and the rest of Dum Dum Girls dress, anyone with eyes can appreciate just how heavenly stylish and flawless they all are. I’ve always said that, you should wear your clothes and not let your clothes wear you. I think I once blurted that out in a drunken emotional outburst once. Don’t give me Rum because THAT happens. I turn into Yoda or something..or when I’m extremely tired, it just all comes out. I can sort your life out. But my own? The less said about that, the better. I’ve read many interviews with Dee Dee and I’ve watched some too and you can see how shy she is but the thing is, you can also see how important making music is to her. That’s another thing that draws me into a band. I don’t care what genre of music you make, if you are making it with all you have and every ounce of passion you have is filtered into your art- I will admire that. For instance, I’m not a fan of say..Jessie J but I can see how important making music is to her, and how much she adores her fans. And for that, she gets my respect. You don’t have to be a fan to acknowledge the heart someone puts into something. To dismiss it and brush it off just makes you ignorant.
I was reading a few interviews before I began typing this, and I found a quote from Dee Dee that just hit me right in the heart. I just felt this immediate understanding of it, and thought “Fuck this is the quote I need right now.” Anyway, here’s the quote :
“You can work so hard and put everything you have into it, and there’s an overwhelming chance that nothing will come of it. I don’t know: I’ve always had something inside of me that has helped me to keep going, despite basically failing at what I was trying to do for years.”
As someone who has been writing for the past 6 years and getting nowhere, and is increasingly amounting to nothing by the day- this quote is the damn TRUTH. For this alone, my love for Dee Dee can be 100% and more, justified.
When I listen to Dum Dum Girls I try to think of all the reasons as to why I love them, and to grab strangers and just yell “YOU NEED THIS BAND IN YOUR LIFE. YOU NEED TO ADMIRE THEM. LOOK AT THEM.” But I have learnt that I need to keep it inside, however if you were to discuss music with me, Dum Dum Girls would be one of the bands I’d talk about and would find it hard to stop.
Dee Dee’s voice is so crisp and pure. She sings every word so wonderfully clear. The pronunciation in the words just makes you feel it so much. On the song Just A Creep, you can sense how pissed she is at this person but she has such a beautiful voice that your attraction goes to her voice rather than the words. The vast majority of Only In Dreams is heartbreaking. I don’t want to go into detail, mainly because I don’t want to delve into Dee Dee’s personal life. But knowing she was going through quite possibly the worst thing ever, you really feel every song. But, you do have certain songs that just make you so bloody happy. Bedroom Eyes is such a fantastic song. Do you want to call it pop music? Okay, well if that’s the case- it was the best pop song of 2011. The repetition for some may be annoying but to them I say SHUSH. I listen to it, and I just want to sing it at people. Maybe a person in particular. I have no idea, it just makes me so happy. Dum Dum Girls just make me so happy. Even the sad songs make me feel alright. That’s what music is about- making you feel alright when you’re not so sure.
The first record, I Will Be. Oh my god. Jail La La, Bhang Bhang, Yours Alone..the whole record is just a bloody brilliant first record. I remember hearing Jail La La when it first came out, and just thinking “Is this from the 60s?!” I was in total awe of what I was hearing. The distorted sound mixed with a girl group feel and garage rock. I was in Heaven. Nothing else could compare.
I’m close to wrapping this up, just a few more things to touch on.
Their cover of There Is A Light..see, I knew Dum Dum Girls were forever owners of a part of my heart when they did a song by The Smiths justice. I stand fully by them being the ONLY band to cover this song and do it well. Any song by The Smiths really. I don’t need to rage about the one who RUINED Please Please Please…over the Christmas period. I will always be angry at that.
There’s so much that I admire about Dee Dee Penny, and to be honest I’ve only briefly touched on it here. She (and the rest of the band) just has this amazing talent. If you’ve never listened- please go listen. Your soul will be lifted, you’ll feel enlightened. If you feel a bit shit, they will improve your mood. Dum Dum Girls just caused my 60s girl groups obsession to go mental. It was always a bit too much, but since listening to them it has gotten way out of hand. However, I’ll never wish for it to be tamed.
I’m going to end this piece with my favourite line from my favourite track by them. It’s a verse that just means so much to me. You already know my feelings on Coming Down, and I believe that song shows Dee Dee at her finest. She hits a note..you know the one, and it just makes you gasp and be enthralled in the talent and range. It is just so haunting. First listen, that note made me cry. I’ll own up to this, it doesn’t bother me.
I’ve yet to meet someone who understands my love of this band. I keep it sacred, much like when I listen to Warpaint, Ramones and Captain Beefheart. Dee Dee isn’t your typical front-woman, and that is why I have a lot of love and respect for her.
“You abuse the ones who love you,
You abuse the ones who won’t.
If you ever had a real heart,
I don’t think you’d know where to start.”