When a band/singer covers a song and it sounds exactly like the original, it’s pretty dull. When they take the song and make it their own, that’s when you know you’ve found something rather special. Cat Power’s covers usually sound better than the original because she seems to put a lot more into it. She’s someone who makes it easy to pick up on every feeling imaginable when you hear her sing, whether it be her own song or a cover.
Dum Dum Girls have covered a number of songs and I probably should just list them all to make it easier (for myself) but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a solid 5. I’ve looked over it a few times and so far, I don’t think I want to change it but there’s still time.
Sorrow (The McCoys)- Aside from being known for their massive hit, Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys sang the gorgeous Sorrow which has been covered by many mod bands in the 60s. Dee Dee’s take on the song is stripped back and her voice adds vulnerability to it which is slightly missing from any other version I’ve heard. All this song does is show you how delicate Dee Dee’s voice is and how she makes you feel she wrote this song for you to really REALLY feel in your gut. With all songs Dum Dum Girls have covered, they manage to make you feel like the song was never created by another, and it is such a hard thing to do. It’s a hard thing to do well,and they truly exceed any expectations someone may have from a cover song.
Sight Of You (Pale Saints)- Their cover of this makes me want to take a long walk through New York City in the bitter cold during a blizzard. They make this shoegaze classic into a psychedelic whirl, you feel as if you’ve dropped acid and are in the late 80s/early 90s at some kind of Mancunian party with The Stone Roses. It is a stunning cover, it’s one of my favourite covers ever because like with The McCoys cover, you really do feel as if Dee Dee sat down one day and poured her heart and soul into this timeless song. Sight Of You is one of those songs (for better and worse) that makes you think of someone your brain shouldn’t. It happens to us all, it doesn’t matter who you are. There’s less pain in their version but more sadness. Sure the two are linked, but pain and sadness can be so different at times which is why I love their version of this song. It’s a euphoric gem, DDG style.
Be My Baby (The Ronettes)- Maybe I shouldn’t mention this one because the quality of the video online isn’t too great, but Be My Baby is easily one of the greatest songs ever written and many who have covered it have really not done it justice at all. What caused me to become a fan and fall freely in love with Dum Dum Girls music was their ability to sound like a 60s girl band, mixing wall of sound with a strong Punk DIY ethic. I adore that so much, and a lot of bands I love manage to capture that feel in their music. Personally, I feel Dee Dee’s vocals are wonderful to listen to because she reminds me so much of singers I love such as Ronnie Spector, Shirley Manson and Patti Smith. When you see DDG live, you can see the attitude and strength of those singers when she performs. If anyone can do this song justice, it is Dum Dum Girls.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)- For me, covering a song by The Smiths or Morrissey is sacrilege. But, I can make exceptions when the cover is equally as great as the original. The Smiths version makes you feel alright with feeling lost, vulnerable and alone. Dum Dum Girls cover is a breath of life. It isn’t as sullen as The Smiths, but there is something equally fragile about it. There is no other band that I can think of that could make this song feel right as a cover. This song is one I hold dear to me, like most fans of The Smiths/Morrissey do. If they were to cover another song by them I would definitely love to hear them take on Please,Please,Please Let Me Get What I Want. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dee Dee could hammer home the vulnerability and sacredness of that song. They could probably cause you to breakdown if they covered I Know It’s Over.
Zombie (The Cranberries)- I found this clip on YouTube by accident, and sometimes accidents are wonderful things. This live clip is bloody brilliant. Dee Dee gets the pain across in this song, Zombie is full of pain and rage. Dee Dee unleashes this so beautiful with Andrew, Sandy, Jules and Malia adding fuel to the fire. This is definitely my favourite cover they’ve done so far. You can tell they’ve played this song over and over, and have paid close attention to every tiny little detail in the song and created their own version which doesn’t shy away too much from the original. I would love them to put this in their live shows as it really shows how strong they are as a band. Dee Dee has a delicate voice, and is so clear. With this cover of Zombie, even a non fan of the band would fall in love. Although it doesn’t take much from the original, they all manage to convey the message of the song and make it still as powerful and relevant more than before.
Of course it is worth mentioning that their version of Oh Those Eyes (The Vagrants) and Baby Don’t Go (Sonny Bono) are nothing short of stunning, and there are so many songs I’d love to hear them take on. In particular I’d love to hear them do a version of I Think I’m Paranoid and/or The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, and probably You Look So Fine by Garbage. That would be perfect. Ask The Angels by Patti Smith, I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses and Who Loves The Sun by Velvet Underground, maybe something by Nick Cave for sure. I could go on and on, but you get my point. They just take songs and make you forget they are covers. Not only does it make them stand out as a band but it just makes me love their music even more.
Are we over the “New year, new me” bullshit yet? Are we all aware that you can change whenever you want, you don’t need to wait for midnight on the 1st January to do so? And the gym is open beyond January… Alright, I’ll go back to the past 12 months.
Everybody likes to inflict their “ALBUMS OF *insert year*” upon anyone towards the end of the year. Some mention records that nobody probably listened to just to seem “cool” or they slag off good ones just because they did well. It’s all a bit daft, and the only person’s view of a record that really does matter is probably the fans who love the band. I could be wrong, I most likely am but I’m not someone who aims to ever be right. I don’t care enough, so with that..I decided to put together my list of lyrics of the past year. Lyrics that I listen to intensely and cause me to play the same song about 20 times in a short amount of time and not wanting to listen to anything else for a while. They could be lyrics that someone else thinks is shit, but what does that matter? It’s obvious who I’m going to write about because it is those who have put out records last year that I will probably still play all the time. I judge a year by the music not what happens in my life, I’ve again, probably got it all wrong but it’s things like that,that sort of stop me from getting on a plane and fucking off without saying a word. Oh and I’ve not got much ££££ to do so anyway. Maybe one day I’ll grow a backbone. Until then….
D’Angelo- The Charade. Towards the end of the year, the King of Soul FINALLY, after 14 years, put a record out. Black Messiah was not just one of the best records of the year but it was the most important. The whole message behind it stood for something bigger than those who were patiently waiting for a new D’Angelo record could imagine. Everywhere went nuts when it came out, and it is was beautiful. There are so many wonderful lyrics on Black Messiah, but this one from The Charade is one that really hit me. It sums up the brutality that was happening (and still is) in America. “Degradation so loud that you can’t hear the sound of our cries.” If anything can sum up the events and injustice, it is probably that one. You can tell from any D’Angelo song that he’s someone who watches and takes note of human behavior in all its ways. Black Messiah was full of hope and pain. It brought a sense of unity and a bit of peace that was much needed. Again proving that Music is one of the most powerful tools there is.
Morrissey- Earth Is The Loneliest Place. I probably would have gone for Kick The Bride Down The Aisle or Staircase At The University, but there is something about Earth Is The Loneliest Place that I couldn’t ignore. For those that hate Morrissey, there’s a load more of us that love him. Love conquers all, right? Morrissey’s lyrics are a huge part of my life and a load of others. The way he writes is something else, he gets to the very core of you and you feel as if he’s writing the songs about you. Is he saving your life or is he just able to put it all across better than you could? Personally, I think it is both. For me it is the line, “And humans are not really very humane. And earth is the loneliest planet of all.” Some lyrics just speak for themselves really. We have all seen how cruel humans can be, and we have all felt lonely. You can feel lonely anywhere, and our planet earth is a prime example of that. But if you are feeling lonely, go to a record store. Just like Penny Lane says in Almost Famous.
Band Practice-Magic! Last year one of the finest duos around and New York’s finest, Band Practice released their debut record. Make Nice is full of songs that make you feel like you’re part Tina Belcher/part Patti Smith. All music should aspire to that, the world would be a better place for sure. My favourite song off the record is Band Practice Theme Song, but this lyric from Magic! is my favourite : “When I walk inside my door , the world seems safe and it offers more.” We all know daily life can be a drag, a real pain in the behind and sometimes as soon as you step outside, you wish you hadn’t. If you’ve never experienced that, then you’ve never taken three tubes to work and had several items and body parts shoved in your face. It’s not even 8am and you’ve had enough. Songs like this a real comfort and stop you from punching yourself in the face out of sheer despair, or you know..punching someone else because all they are doing is glaring at their phone gormlessley and not watching where they are going.
BANKS- Fuck ‘Em Only We Know. Goddess was one of the best debut records to come out last year, and Banks I feel, is the only R&B singer that comes close to Aaliyah. When Aaliyah died, she left a huge void and she’s irreplaceable. Most are, and we dispose of singers so easily, but Aaliyah was so rare. Bans has that gentle feel to her music that Aaliyah created. Fuck ’em reminds me of a song that would have sounded amazing on Aaliyah’s last record, there’s something about this song. Something really special. Banks, like all great songwriters is someone you can tell watches others. Whether it be strangers or people she knows, she takes their story and turns it into a work of art. I adore this lyric: “Even addicted to your grumpy face. I know exactly just how many kisses fit between your eyes.” It’s such an observant and adoring lyric. If you’ve felt like that, then you’ve experienced real love.
Julian Casablancas & The Voidz- Human Sadness. I love the way Julian sings in that tired, fed-up and frustrated way. He makes you really feel what he is saying. Sure on the Tyranny record it’s hard to make out what he’s singing, but when you read the lyrics, you see another person who is massively observant and is paying close attention to how people behave. Human Sadness is an intense song, and many would say that this is one of the best songs Julian has ever done, and they’re not wrong and is evident in the lyric: “Understanding is more important than love. If not money will always trump justice.” If you’ve seen how corrupt the world can be, you’ll have seen that those with money will always outweigh most things, Julian’s picks up on how unfair it is yet it is something that may possibly never change.
Warpaint-Disco//Very. Warpaint are an easy band to write about. I don’t know what it is about them, but they are one of the few bands that when I listen to them, I just want to write down every thought and feeling that they bring to life. When music is this magical, you really cannot let it go. Disco//Very is unlike most of their songs. You know that drop during Undertow? Well, all of Disco//Very is that moment for about 3 minutes. It’s bloody euphoric, and I adore this lyric : “Only in the sound of the voices I scream.” That line is a kick to the soul, it smacks you and you just feel..as sickeningly clichéd as it sounds, it just makes you feel alive. If you’ve seen them perform this live, you will see that nobody stands still. It’s got that wonderful mystical Warpaint feel surrounding it, and you can’t help but play it over and over. It’s delightfully infectious.
Nadine Shah-Stealing Cars. If her voice doesn’t move you, then go see someone about that. Her voice is bold and gloriously powerful. I remember hearing Runaway and just being in awe of this stunning voice, Nadine is something else. What I love about Nadine is the strength in her voice, the only other singer who is as strong as her has to be Anna Calvi. Both singers can break your heart and terrify you in the next breath. That’s what makes them powerful and bloody brilliant. “Check your pulse when I speak.” Take that line how you want, but when you listen and I mean really listen to Nadine sing it, you feel as if she’s talking right to you. Nadine is such a brilliant songwriter and I firmly believe her new record is going to be one of the best ones to come out this year.
Dum Dum Girls- Too True To Be Good. Dee Dee is an underrated songwriter. She’s as powerful as Patti, and she sings in such a clear way and with such purpose. Much like Patti. Too True was in my Top 3 records of 2014, and again is one I’ve not grown tired of. You never grow tired of your favourite bands do you. Too True To Be Good is lyrically my favourite off the record, and I love Dee Dee’s voice throughout the song. When I first heard it, I became hooked on the lyric: “It’s hard to outrun a devil from behind.” Dee Dee’s lyrics are outbursts of truths and sources of comfort, you can hear it in all its glory in songs like Coming Down. She just knows how to phrase something in a way that hits you in the gut. There’s nobody else like her.
2:54- South. When 2:54 FINALLY released The Other I, it felt like my birthday and Christmas had come at once. The Other I was released 2 days before my birthday so I wasn’t far off. I immediately fell in love with the record and I was so proud of the sound they had created on the record. It was still eerie like their debut, but it had something else. Something I’m still trying to find the words to describe, but I’m yet to get there. My favourite song off The Other I changes by the day. I seem to flirt between South and Pyro. Pyro’s got this brilliant attitude to it, but South has this lyric : “Got nowhere to, nowhere to put misshapen love.” It’s obvious how much I adore this band (I’m using my work holiday to go see them on tour) and this lyric just made me adore them even more. You know how sometimes a band you really love, and you don’t think they can amaze you anymore? Turns out they always can….
2:54-Blindfold. The drumming on this just proves why Alex Robins is one of the best around, and the video to this is beautifully shot. It captures London in all its beauty. I saw them play this at Union Chapel and they made a powerful anthem sound like a haunting chant. It was just beautiful. None of this has really been written in order, but my favourite lyric of 2014 has to be “Everybody says I’ve got to say what’s on my mind. But how do I say, that am I really losing my way. Every day.” If you pick apart 2:54’s lyrics, they read like chilling poetry that would cause Poe to freak out slightly. Colette is a brilliant songwriter absolutely brilliant and the way in which Hannah writes the music just goes so well with Colette’s words. It’s got to be a sister thing because nobody else comes close. There are so many reasons as to why I regard 2:54 so highly. Partly because they are genuine and lovely people, partly because their music takes you some place else and partly because they’re unlike anyone else. Their music is spooky but euphoric. It’s not too late to get a ticket for their tour next month….
With Brandon’s seductive glare and Dee Dee’s lustful gaze, Haunted Hearts have put out one of the most alluring videos of the year. Their record, Initiation is out at the end of the month on their Zoo Music label, and if you care about good music then you should probably invest in their releases.
Initiation is a beautifully mellow and spacey record that is made up of moments that make you realise why you love music. I didn’t expect the record to sound like it did at all, meaning it sounds nothing like Dum Dum Girls or Crocodiles. I’m just glad it is only a matter of weeks before it comes out.
The video to Up Is Up features the stunning New York drag collective, Chez Deep. The video will make you want to dance under a disco ball wearing a smile and some heart-shaped sunglasses. It’s a wonderfully shot video that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped out of a Hubert Selby Jr novel (of course I mean Last Exit To Brooklyn.)
Watch the video and allow yourself to be sucked into a glorious world consisting of Haunted Hearts and Chez Deep.
In the first part of my interview with Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls we talked about her husband, Brandon chasing Patti Smith down a street, being misquoted as saying Guns N Roses were an influence and their performance at this year’s Coachella festival.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see Dum Dum Girls live, you will more thank likely leave the show a bigger fan than you were beforehand. It isn’t just Dee Dee that has a gorgeous stage presence; each band member during the live shows seems to be lost in their own world. They jolt their bodies at the same time during certain parts of songs, they all leave you wishing you could play an instrument and more importantly they leave you wanting a more. A good band can put on a solid show, but a great band will leave you thinking of ways to get money to catch the next date on their show. There are a few bands I could happily watch perform live for the rest of time; Dum Dum Girls are in that list for sure. I’m just going by their London shows I’ve seen them at, but their fans are really part of what makes a show. If you can ignore the perverse men in the front row taking equally perverse photos, then you’ll have a good time. Personally I feel if we see someone doing this at a show, we should be allowed to stamp on their camera. Anyway, before I get all mad or whatever let’s just carry on with the interview.
Staying with the live shows, I asked Dee Dee what she would want fans to take from their shows; whether it be the first or tenth time they have seen them live. A live performance can make you gain or lose fans, and sometimes people are less forgiving for a poor live performance. Of course if you have seen the band live you will know what to expect and that’s why you keep going back.
“It depends on the depth of the fan, I think. People who have seen us before and enjoy us, and I think get what we do there’s a different exchange going on than maybe say someone who heard a song somewhere and come to see us. It’s always heartbreaking for me, when someone of course tweets at me, ‘What a boring show. They never move!’ There are so many kinds of performance, we’re not that kind of crazy or out there. We’re not The Who or something! I guess I just hope that there’s an understanding of sincerity. I think we try to perform, we try to entertain in our way.”
I did say to Dee Dee if someone wants to see someone dance around or whatever then they should probably go see Beyoncé or someone. I told her it is obvious you can tell that they love what they do, and if you feel the need to really jump about for no reason on stage then maybe you’re over compensating for something. Take Morrissey for example; he can just stand in the centre of the stage and sing for about 70 minutes, and the fans will leave feeling as if they have witnessed something truly life changing. It’s not all about pointless dance routines and stage talk. It is about how you perform the songs, and you really cannot fake that. Coming Down is back in their set, and you can just really feel the meaning of the song come through when Dee Dee performs it. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried, the song means everything to me. I was standing close to the smoke machine too so….But you can really pick up on the sincerity of the performance from them.
Alright so this month, Dee Dee and Brandon are putting out their record as Haunted Hearts. It’s called Initiation and it’s out on Zoo Music (their label.) It is a bloody good record that is entirely different from what they do in their respected bands. Yet they manage to still bring to the record that familiar sound that lured you into Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls. Their voices together are beautiful. If you’ve listened to the likes of Blank Girl and Merry Christmas Baby (Please Don’t Die) then you will have heard how well their voices sound together. Initiation has a delicate yet debauched sound and will sit nicely amongst any music fan’s collection.
“We wrote the first two songs that came out as singles last year were written much more collaboratively. It was new territory for both of us. I’m really protective when I’m writing songs, and he is a little bit less because him and Charlie work together but it was still the sort of thing like, ‘Can you leave? Can you go somewhere while I figure out if this is good or not.’ And vice versa. And so it took a lot longer with the remainder of the songs. It’s fun to sit and write together, and for me it was a really new thing so it was cool and I think 4 of the songs were written so collaboratively that I can’t remember who did what, so that’s cool. 1 of them was a weird song that I had written as I suppose, for Dum Dum Girls but never really figured out how to translate and so, made so much more sense and felt like it was waiting for this band really, which was Johnny Jupiter. Then the last song, Bring Me Down which I would say, feels more like a Brandon song than a me song. The interesting thing about that song is that, he and I had written almost identical songs, like the instrumentation was the same and so what we ended up doing was his verses stayed, and I think I wrote lyrically an additional verse using his melody and we then adapted the chorus I had written for my version of the song. And for the bridge we sang over each other because both parts worked.”
It meant a lot to have Dee Dee talk about Bring Me Down as it is my favourite off the Haunted Hearts record, I’m a fan of songs that go over 4 minutes and take you into a different world. Their vocals really work well on this song. You’ve got Brandon’s delicate voice (listen to All My Hate And Hexes to get my point) and you’ve got fragility coming through in Dee Dee’s voice. It’s the perfect song to end the record on, and if they tour this record I hope they put this in their set because it is just a joy to listen to, and to have on repeat.
Initiation has a constant spacey feel to it. You feel as if you’re on a Spiritualized kick when you listen to it. As someone who has never touched drugs, this record does feel like a lucid trip that you don’t want to come down from. Music always gives you that pure high that you can’t find in anything else. Your favourite record will always give you that life affirming buzz that you can’t get elsewhere, and I wanted to know what influenced this record as it is unlike Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles and what feel they were going for when making the record.
“With the first two singles we put out, it was what you would expect. But when we remixed them after we recorded the rest of the album, when we started recording we knew what we wanted to do something different. We knew our references were not going to be guitar music, for the most part. I didn’t play guitar at all; I played synth and he plays guitar, and it’s all drum machine. We wanted to reference, like a lot of the reasons why we love Spacemen 3. And like with Spiritualized, just really lush synth stuff and very groovy bass-lines. You know like, a nod to Motown. Just groovy. I don’t know if it’s trippy weed music or what but, that stuff that really sparkles I think is what we were looking for. We were looking to make dance music that was beautiful, I think. Although I wouldn’t necessary quote me- you can ask him!”
Initiation is a record that you can let your limbs go wild and loose to; it’s got a really freeing feel to it that will make the shyest of dancers jolt and jig in the privacy of their own home.
Zoo Music isn’t just home to their record and Dirty Beaches last release; a few weeks back they put out a record by Denmark’s Gäy. They are teenagers who play like they have just been thrown out of CBGBs for being too young and too wasted. They’ve got a real Television sound going on, and knowing how young they are and how well they play is pretty damn awesome. I wanted to know how they got hold of the band and why (although by listening to them it is fairly obvious) they wanted to work with them.
“They played a show with Crocodiles that no one went to in Copenhagen, and that’s how Brandon knew them. He was obsessed with them, he was like, ‘They’re crazy, they look like murderers!’ The bass player was filming the set on stage. They’ve got Television personalities. They’re great, but I haven’t met them yet. I think they’re really cute and little and Brandon was like, ‘They’re really intense!’ “
Something I’m really interested in is how a band/singer write their songs and how they want their music to be found or heard. When you start off writing something in your cramped room and it then becomes the soundtrack to many people’s lives, is there really a better feeling than that? Dee Dee’s way with words reminds me of how Patti and Shirley Manson write. Careful, simple but extremely effective. You can put Morrissey amongst them also. The best songs are to the point and don’t sugarcoat the ugly feelings we try to hide.
“Usually I have the theme or the chorus; not a catchphrase but the thing that sort of enforces the rest of the song. I usually have that in mind beforehand, and I sit down and I kind of just make something up as I’m writing a verse and once I’ve written the other parts musically, I’ll go back and be more aware of what I’m writing. But it generally just starts kind of free association and I go back to try to refine it. But I do spend a lot of time making sure it is worth being said, at least that’s my intention.”
“If somebody could have a ‘headphone moment’ with a Dum Dum Girls song that would be cool because that’s the kind of fan that I am. You know, having mini life-defining moments while listening to Spiritualized or Brian Eno or something and be like ‘Oh my God! It’s all coming together right now!’ It’s a lofty goal but I hope that sonically it’s enjoyable and I hope that there’s substance that’s observable.”
Towards the end of the interview we talked about having a family feel on tour with regards to the bands they have on tour with them. This tour they have Crocodiles and Vorhees who is also their sound engineer (and was getting changed in the toilets whilst I was interviewing Dee Dee; her shoes are as amazing as her music.) Having that kind of environment on tour, regardless of even how different the support act are makes everything easier. When you see people in the crowd booing a support act or standing looking bored, it’s rude really. We discussed that, that attitude needs to go.
“When you go see a show and it’s cohesive, not necessarily 3 bands that sound the same but there’s a wave to the evening that’s enjoyable and there’s different things highlighted, that to me is how you have a successful show. Not like, ‘Oh my God I’m waiting for the headliner.’ Can we just stop and enjoy the evening. So when I’m trying to find bands to take on tour, there’s always this issue. I just ask bands that I love , and we then figure out if it can work. We just took Blouse on tour in the State, I’ve asked them for years but it never worked out. We just had the best time, and Jules fell in love with their drummer, and they’re still together. It’s everything that could go right on tour went right. It was so lovely. I don’t follow a lot of press, but a lot of the stuff that I did read made note of it being an enjoyable pairing. That we were different but complimentary. The fact that Charlie is such a stunning front-woman, and has this amazing voice and we’re both different in the way we perform but worked. If we take a band on tour, you’ll always see Jules and I out there watching, but on this last tour I saw so many funny photos of us in the wings. Somebody filmed us trying to make Blouse laugh from the side of the stage!”
I ended the conversation telling Dee Dee about a video I saw of Crocodiles online where someone has just filmed her dancing to the band rather than filming the band. Put the camera/phone down, and just enjoy the show!
It was an absolute pleasure to spend a half hour with Dee Dee and just talking about music. She’s got a beautiful spirit that you really pick up on when you talk to her. She makes music that you can truly believe in, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Interviewing bands is always going to be a strange thing for me, I can’t really explain why. However I doubt anything is going to top me interviewing Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls in the toilets at the Scala in London last Thursday. I am greeted with an “I know you” and a smile as I am introduced to her, from others those three words could echo trouble. As in, “Oh shit, what have I done now.” I’m a shy mess at the best of times, but when I am in the presence of musicians I admire, I seem to be alright. I suppose it should be the other way, but it isn’t and I’m totally okay with it.
When I finished my interview I was left with a bunch of questions in my head that I wished I had asked her, but maybe some other time. For now, we’ll stick to our talk in the toilets sharing a little bit of Jameson I bought her.
Like a few bands I listen to and love, Dum Dum Girls are ideal to listen to when it is dark outside. They are a night-time band; a band that after you’ve wasted a sunny day indoors, you just stick on some Dum Dum Girls for the remainder of the evening and fall into the night-time. They recently played Coachella, and I think a few years ago at SXSW Alison Mosshart (The Kills) said playing in the daytime doesn’t really feel right, that their music is made for nighttime. I wanted to know what Dee Dee thought towards playing in uncomfortable and blistering heat and does it change anything about the music.
“It used to be much harder for us to translate to daytime, even to just outside. I think we now we have enough insulation that what we just try to bring it regardless of the setting, but it was difficult. The first weekend was a disaster for a few reasons. Superficially, the weather was a lot hotter so we had full sun on us on the stage and on our gear, so that creates visual problems. Jules’ pedal board, I don’t know if it overheated but it shorted so she lost her guitar in the first song, and it took half the set to figure out what it wasn’t. But I gave her my guitar, and our tech was running back and forth; and it wasn’t at all how I wanted it to go down. But, it was one of those weird things where I wasn’t initially that stoked it was a two weekend thing but we had another chance to redeem ourselves. But the second was much better, the weather was mild and we had no technical difficulties.”
A few weeks ago one of the greatest records ever made (The Stone Roses debut) turned 25; they only made 2 full length records but they have influenced many of the bands that I listen to (including Dum Dum Girls) and are easily one of the best bands from Manchester, and England in general. The laid-back and dreamy sound on their debut record is felt in many records that I own and is in the music I listen to. 25 years is a long time and in that time many bands have emerged that stated that The Stone Roses’ record made them start a band. With this in mind, I asked Dee Dee how she would like Dum Dum Girls to be remembered in 25 years time. However, we just ended up talking about how much we love the band instead.
“I don’t know, I hope it survives. That Stone Roses is in my Top 10 for sure. That record reminds me of the first time we came to England, I was doing a ton of promo, and this isn’t a cool story! But I was doing the promo and somebody asked me what my favourite record was, and at the time I was on a massive Stone Roses kick, which is probably my second kick that I had with them because I’m kind of cyclical like that. And I said the first Stone Roses record, and I guess because I have a super Californian accent, when I read the interview later it said (and she does a hilariously exaggerated Californian accent at this point!) ‘The first Guns N Roses record!’ And that’s 100% opposite direction, but I wear a leather jacket so nobody noticed, but it was funny.”
From an influential band to a woman who kick-started a love for music in so many. Last year, Dee Dee and her husband Brandon (Crocodiles) met Patti Smith in New York. If you’ve seen the photo, you’ll have seen the sheer joy in their faces. Patti has a beautiful child-like glow about her that just transpires into those who meet her. Pretty cool that Brandon is wearing a Patti shirt too. Meeting your heroes always stays with you, and afterwards everything just seems like a daze for days on end. I’ve read a few times where Dee Dee has named Patti as one of her main influences, and is possibly one of the main reasons she makes music. I wanted to know what it was like for her to meet Patti. I’m fairly sure she was a lot cooler than I was and didn’t cry at the sight of her.
“It probably happens to her all the time, poor woman. But we were at a vegan restaurant called Souen which is, I believe in the neighborhood she lives in. And we were meeting Sandy and her boyfriend, and they were really late because they had accidentally gone to the other location of the restaurant so, Brandon and I were killing time and we see her (Patti) walk by and we were like ‘Oh my God!’ so we run outside, or we start to! We get up from our table, and we realise she is about to come into the restaurant so we quickly abandon that and sit back down like children. And the hostess saw what we did and assumed she was who we were waiting for and so tried to seat her with us! And we were like ‘Oh no no! We’re just fans! We just wanted to say hi!’ She was really complimentary and really sweet. And Brandon happened to be wearing a Patti Smith t-shirt, and she said something like, ‘Oh I wish I was wearing a shirt with your face on!’ And so she went to sit down. We then all sat down and said, ‘We HAVE to get a picture.’ And she gets up to leave whilst Brandon is in the restroom, and Sandy gets up and runs out, kind of on Brandon’s behalf to see where she goes and runs back in. And by that time Brandon has come out, and we’re like ‘She left! What do we do?!’ And without stopping Brandon jets out of the restaurant and sprints down the walk, so then I’m chasing him and Sandy is chasing me, and then Brandon says ‘Wait I should stop, this is creepy!’ So we slowly mosey up and totally interrupt whatever normal day she is trying to have, and Sandy selflessly takes a photo of us with her. I recently saw her perform for the first time, although it wasn’t a standard Patti Smith show. It was poetry tribute night that she did. I was still blown away by that. And I think we may be playing a festival with her in New York, not necessarily on the same day but I’ll be there for sure.”
As someone who is fixated on lyrics and the thought process behind them, and I guess this all comes from my love for the likes of Lou Reed, Patti and Morrissey- I had to ask Dee Dee what lyric or song of hers she is the most proud of. She has written some of the most beautiful and haunting lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. The words to Coming Down will always break yet comfort me. Rest Of Our Lives is one of the most gorgeous love songs I’ve ever heard, and more recently- Trouble Is My Name is a song that really gets to you. Her way with words is gentle and the way she sings them really does reinforce the importance of them.
“I don’t know. I guess I have hard time with being that objective about things. I never feel like I write as good as I should. Especially when you have a bar you know, I’m an open Patti Smith worshipper. I go back and I read lyrics or poems of writers that I love, just to keep me in that no filler. There’s a time and a place for your Ramones and your Beatles-esque. When you can articulate something in a simple yet beautiful, compelling way – it is so moving, and she’s (Patti) a classic example. Rowland S Howard, he’s another person who I became obsessed with, his Teenage Snuff Film album. I started listening to it closely and just being massively blown away with how well written it was. End Of Daze I felt there were a few moments I was proud of. I’m in a rare spot where I don’t hate the record that I’m promoting. Not that I hate my records, but sometimes you get too close but I really enjoy playing the new record, and on the last tour it was really fun. I’m pretty proud of it.”
Her somewhat shyness towards just how talented she is, is what makes you love the music she makes and more importantly makes you believe in it. Before Dee Dee started Dum Dum Girls, she was in Grand Ole Party where she sang and played the drums. I’m always in awe of those who can sing and drum at the same time. I’m fairly sure I’d never be able to do it. I’d probably think the drumstick was the mic and use the mic as a drumstick. I guess there’s a frustrated drummer brewing inside of me, with the urge to always tap away at a surface with anything that looks like it can make any noise. So I took this opportunity to ask Dee Dee which is more difficult out of singing and drumming, and also singing and playing the guitar.
“It’s awkward but it is easy. It’s just mechanical. It was physically harder (playing the drums) but I was probably in better shape from it. But when I played the first Dum Dum Girls show, I was too nervous to play guitar so I just sang. So for me, playing the guitar was a lot harder because I was much more a novice at it. Now I’m pretty comfortable with it. But now I put the guitar down more and sing, so I get to do that again!”
Anyone who goes to their live shows now will see Dee Dee move around more on stage without a guitar in her hands; and the way she moves on stage is like a wild cat on the prowl. Offstage, she is nothing like that- but the passion for music is still there. She, and the rest of Dum Dum Girls are a delight to see perform live, and to see the songs really come to life. I was going to type up the whole interview in one go, but I’m doing it in a couple of parts.
The next part of my interview will include things about Zoo Music, how they signed the brilliant Gäy to the label, what she wants fans to take from their live shows/records, how Haunted Hearts record Initiation was written, what influenced it and how Dee Dee goes about writing songs.
Live music is a powerful thing; seeing your two favourite bands live on the same night is truly something else. You don’t always think it will happen, but when it does you immediately feel part of something. And as an unsure and uncomfortable 27-year-old, I can safely say that music makes me feel part of something. I’m not sure what, but it’s just me and some music. I guess it’s not really anything at all, but we cling onto what we have because we’ve been without for so long.
Before the show I interviewed Dee Dee in the toilets backstage and we shared some whiskey. I’ll write it up over the weekend, when I feel like I am able to do so. It’s one thing to have a quick photo with a band you admire but it goes beyond words when you get to talk to them for half an hour about their music, Patti Smith amongst other things. I’ve spent part of today wishing I had asked Dee Dee some other things, but maybe next time. Who knows.
Both bands are very dear to me, and to finally see them live together was a beautiful experience. Crocodiles set was just Charlie and Brandon, just like how they first started. I never got to see them live as a duo, so this was really special. What did it for me was Jet Boy Jet Girl, a cover song originally done by Elton Motello. The song oozes sexual decadence and sinister wit, themes which sometimes flow through songs by Crocodiles. A brilliant cover and sounds even better live. They even played one of my favourites from Sleep Forever; Hollow Hollow Eyes. Their shows as a duo is equally as passionate and as bold as it is with a full band, and for me it was a pleasure to witness live as I fell in love with their sound back in 2009 when they were still performing as a duo. It was honestly like falling in love with your favourite band all over again. I’m fairly sure I could have worded it better, but if you were there and you love them as much as I do- then you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Watching Charles play the guitar is totally mesmerising, he just makes you wish you could hold a guitar and play it in the most brutal way possible. Throw Brandon’s haunting voice in there, and you’ve got a solid duo that have a sound that towers over the mundane shit you are exposed to. Crocodiles music really comes to life when you see them live. They are quite simply, a band you’ve got to see live. Brandon and Charlie make you want to find a like-minded individual and make your own noise; it’s never too late. Remember that. It’s so good to see both of them lose themselves in the music; Charles throws his guitar about and Brandon gloriously flails his limbs on stage. I just love their sound.
*My photo but not my hand.
I don’t know where to begin when writing about Dum Dum Girls, but they take to the stage and open with the gripping Mine Tonight. End Of Daze was (and of course still is) a truly beautiful EP. An EP that makes you want more and more from the band, but is also the perfect way to follow-up on previous releases. The setlist from their Scala show was nothing short of perfect; from the enthusiasm that echoes throughout Bedroom Eyes to the sheer romanticism flowing through Rest Of Our Lives. What I adore about Dum Dums is that when you see them live, you really do witness a band that love what they do, and of course, they love each other. The thing Dee Dee wanted the crowd to take from this show (and the rest of the tour) is love. Love for each other, for their fans and for what they do. As you watch them on stage each of them fall into the music in their own way. Malia moves freely on the stage with the bass, Sandy beats the shit out of the drums and leaves you in awe of how someone can play like that, Andrew sways at the back in an angelic fashion (and has beautiful hair), Jules smiles at the crowd as she sees those who are really feeling the songs and Dee Dee prowls the stage like a wild cat. Each of them lure you in with their sheer passion for what they do. If you don’t love what you do, then don’t do it.
Like Crocodiles, Dum Dums are a band I would (and won’t) ever grow tired of seeing live. The way the songs come to life on stage is enough to make you have a little cry. I’m not ashamed to admit I got teary eyed during Are You Okay (it’s the “I’m reckless at night, I’m sorry for days”line that really hits me in the heart) and of course, the last song of the night Coming Down does something to me that not many songs do. Anyone who has heard this song knows which part exactly that does something to them. As soon as Dee Dee hits that high note, you feel weak but also a wave of strength hits you. Coming Down is a song I turn to when everything just seems askew, and to finally witness it live and to sing it back to the band is a gorgeous experience. If you’re going to do a review of a show, you might as well put your all into it. I really don’t get why you wouldn’t. I wish I had the money to have gone to more than one show, because they really are one of the strongest bands I have seen live. To see them lose themselves in the music and to bring it all to life is nothing short of inspirational.
*Again, not my hands!
One thing I have noticed (okay so I’ve only seen them twice) is that those who attend a Dum Dums show make for a lovely crowd. There is no dickish or loutish behaviour. People are there for the most important thing; the music and the love for it.
Next week Dum Dum Girls are coming back to the UK along with Crocodiles for let’s face it, the best tour of the year. Nothing else really matters because these two bands are quite simply, the best at what they do. In my biased opinion, Too True is the best record of the year. Dee Dee has a gorgeous way with words (just listen to Trouble Is My Name and you’ll see how she truly gets to the core of nagging emotions.)
Their next release is the ethereal Rimbaud Eyes which is another creative collaboration with Tamaryn who directs the video. Personally, I think Tamaryn should just work with DDG on every music video because their relationship really does bring the music to life. It is just a beautiful collaboration.
Rimbaud Eyes video has a similar psychedelic feel to it that is found in Bedroom Eyes (taken from Only In Dreams) and what I really adore about Dum Dum Girls music is their way to always make you feel as if you’re in a dream. The video is part cartoon and part wishing you could swish your hair about like them. Especially Andrew’s heavenly locks.
I don’t need to write anymore about how stunning the video is, just watch it:
Go get yourself a ticket to their shows next week!
How I’m supposed to not be biased when writing this review is beyond me. I’m unsure how to detach myself from the love I have for Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls in order to write something that make sense. But, I’m not proper music publication so I guess I can say what I want and be as biased as I like.
Firstly, this record sounds NOTHING like I was expecting. It’s really really odd and it feels like David Bowie and Jason Pierce got it on, and made something truly mind-blowing. I mean, of course this record is going to be perfect you know? That’s because both front two of the best bands around (and most hardworking.) If you look at DDG and Crocs tour schedule, you’ll probably be left wondering when they have time to think let alone sleep. But you don’t get to be the greatest band around by sitting on your tush.
Initiation makes you feel like you’re in space and on acid. I’ve never been to space nor have I have ever dropped acid (or any other drug, but I don’t hold militant views.) Being sent the promo is pretty much the highlight of my week, and no doubt I will be playing this all the way to Brussels this weekend. It’s got a spacey European feel to it. It’s just an excellent record from start to finish.
It opens with the seductive Initiate Me; and I’m sure if the likes of Alfred de Musset, Baudelaire and the rascal that was, Marquis De Sade were still alive they’d probably be listening to this record and fully enjoying the seductive nature of this record. What is brilliant about the record is that, it sounds nothing like their own bands. Go into it blind and pretend you’ve never heard of either band to really get this record.
The record was made in the winter of 2012. All they had for company was themselves, books, Motown and Krautrock. Personally, I see nothing wrong with this. If anything it would be quite heavenly. There’s a lot of love, lust and desire on this record. It’s beautifully perverse at times, and if you can’t be decadent in your art then what is the point?
I really love Dee Dee’s voice on Love Incognito; her voice has a bit more bite to it than on a DDG record, but her distinctive sound remains throughout. She’s got the kind of voice you wish you had, she truly shines on this song. You can’t help but wish you witnessed some of the recordings of this record. Love Incognito is probably going to be the song that I’ll play to death before moving onto the final song, Bring Me Down.
Bring Me Down is a gentle love song that is just 5 and a half minutes of Brandon’s voice really getting to you. What I truly love about this record is the way their voices work together. If you go back to DDG’s debut, I Will Be you will hear just how divine their voices are together on Blank Girl (I hope they play this at their London show.) When Dee Dee’s voice comes in on Bring Me Down it adds a more angelic feel to it. Bring Me Down feels like a hymn for lovers, it is truly a gorgeous song and a perfect one to end this remarkable record on.
Up Is Up (But So Is Down) has got to be that Summertime song we all seek out. It’s got that sunset feel to it, as you head into the dusk with the sun blinding you less and less, and you become less stuck to your (fake) leather jacket. It’s just a stunning hazy track to dream to, you’ll have no problems with shutting the world off to this one. I love the way they sing, “She’s gonna love you until she’s dead.”A simple statement of romanticism.
Something That Feels Bad sounds totally different. It’s a fixed up version of what we heard last year, but still as gorgeous. I love the line, “You can tie me up if I can tie you down.” It’s the ultimate decadent love song. Why settle for typical and conventional when you can have something like this?
Initiation isn’t a record that’s going to just please fans of Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles, it’ll move those that really really love music and are bored of the mundane drivel that some outlets project to us. Everything about this record is just really strange and magical. It’s a love filled record which exploits all the things that I want a record to sound like. Initiation is a flawless work of art that you can tell was made with love and care.
I’ve failed at not being biased or putting aside my admiration for them both, but what’s the point in not writing like a fan? I can’t pull a record apart and tell you why it sucks. I can only tell you why I love it so. The alternative however, is if you buy the record for yourself on 27th May. You’ll probably get what I’m trying to say, maybe I’ll work out what I’m trying to say.
But here’s to Brandon and Dee Dee; a beautiful couple who have put out one of the year’s finest record.
FINALLY Dee Dee and Brandon have released the video to Johnny Jupiter. It will leave you wanting a silver leather jacket (fake one though, harming animals is disgusting) and it will also make you feel as if you’ve taken something. The video is directed by the super talented Scott Kiernan.
The video to Johnny Jupiter makes you feel as if you’re on some wonderful lucid trip. Music is that powerful, and please shun anyone who doesn’t agree with that. Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love music. Johnny Jupiter is taken from their record, Initiation which is out on cassette via Dream Recordings and via their own label Zoo Music on 27th May. Zoo Music is responsible for some amazing releases, so after you’ve pre-ordered it via iTunes (you also get Johnny Jupiter immediately when you do this), you should probably head over to the Zoo Music website and pick up some other records. Treat yourself.
Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles are doing a few shows together in the UK at the start of May, and Crocodiles are doing their own tour mid-May. I’ll be seeing them 3 times in the space of 2 or 3 weeks. If I had the funds, I’d probably do the whole tour but the universe hates me at the moment.
Last year they put out Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Bad, I got myself a copy. I’ve only played it two or three times. I don’t want to ruin it. Fortunately that is going to appear on the record, and the track-listing for Initiation is as follows:
01 Initiate Me
02 Up Is Up (But So Is Down)
03 Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good
04 Johnny Jupiter
05 House of Lords
06 Love Incognito
07 Strange Intentions
08 Bring Me Down
I think they’ve already put out Initiate Me and House Of Lords for streaming; I’m sure I’ve heard them?! Either way, I’m going to put this record right next to Too True by Dum Dum Girls as records of the year. Morrissey can go as my number 3 when it comes out. No other records are going to matter this year really.
Watch the video to Johnny Jupiter, and allow yourself to be sucked into this decadent and mysterious psychedelic underworld courtesy of Brandon and Dee Dee.
“Sometimes my heart is pure Sometimes I know it’s not Sometimes it disappears Returns unlocked.”
Before I go into how breathtakingly beautiful the video to Are You Okay is, let’s start with something insanely good:
DUM DUM GIRLS AND CROCODILES ARE TOURING THE UK TOGETHER.
The dates are:
May 1 – London, UK – Scala
May 4 – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
May 5 – Norwich, UK – Arts Centre
May 7 – Glasgow, UK – SWG3
May 8 – Belfast, UK – Black Box
May 9 – Galway, IE – Roisin Dubh
May 10 – Dublin, IE – Button Factory
This probably going to be the best tour that hits the UK this year. Well, for me it will be anyway. Of course it is a dream line-up for me. Two of the most exciting bands playing the UK is a pretty big deal you know. Maybe they’ll play some Haunted Hearts songs. A party for all. Get yourself a ticket. I’ll see you at the front on 1st May.
Let’s talk about the Are You Okay video now.
Are You Okay is a short film written by the great Bret Easton Ellis (read his books and let yourself be freaked out) The video was directed by Brewer, and if it doesn’t move you to tears slightly by how haunting it is- then you’ve probably been watching something else. Again the creative direction is taken care of by the equally stunning, Tamaryn. I think what we can take from this project is that Dee Dee and Tamaryn should just keep making videos together. The original score to the film is also by Tamaryn and Drew MacDowall.
I personally love this song because of the lines: “But what if it doesn’t go away, what if this feeling always plagues. I’m reckless at night, I’m sorry for days. I’m looking for you through lavender haze.”Dee Dee’s lyrics are truly heartfelt, and think anyone can relate to her gorgeous and vulnerable words.
The video is like a dream you once had. Possibly even a reoccurring dream. It feels like a nightmare; even in dreams you are being taunted- but there is something about this video that eases the tension within it. Everyone part of this short film is responsible for making something truly moving. A beautiful piece of art. It’s over 10 minutes long, so shut the world off and give it all your attention.