Like a steamroller over your body; the brand-new record by METZ will crush you and leave you gasping for more. 10 songs that will bust you in the chops and you will be grateful for it.
Atlas Landing is peak METZ, and this means it is beautifully loud. A shit ton of rage, passion and this urge to devour any and everything in your way. Every single song on the record will deafen you and corrupt you in ways you’ve been longing for. The only downside to this record is that it makes you wish you could go to a METZ show, and given the state of the pissing world right now, we have no idea when that will be. If you’ve ever been to a METZ show, you will know just how incredible it is and how these 3 beautiful human beings leave the venue completely annihilated, just how it should be done. But, this is about the record.
A few listens in, and I can safely call this as the most vital record of the year. The Mirror and Hail Taxi are my favourites at the moment, but that can change mainly because this record is too perfect to single one or two as favourites. It’s a masterpiece. METZ have never made a bad record, I genuinely don’t think they can do anything other than incredible to be honest. They are consistently phenomenal, and they blow my mind every single time. Sub Pop has been their home from the start pretty much, and if you go back and listen to their previous records you will hear a band that have always had a solid sound and vision to stick with. They have their own sound and it towers anything else you’ve ever heard. Atlas Landing is full of songs to just unleash your own hell to. Do whatever you want so you can feel free when you play this record. Every record is a leap into their minds and it is the most personal thing a band can do. METZ do it in an effortlessly slick way.
Draw Us In is THE big song. Everything about this one just screams being able to let everything go around you, and finding some inner peace. Take it where you can. Maybe you need to lose your mind in order to find it, or some shit. I don’t know. Alex has such a distinctive voice, and I love that he makes you feel like you are part of this world he’s lured you into with Chris and Hayden. It’s menacing, it’ll keep you on edge and you will love every single twist and turn. Sugar Pill is a prime example of this, and again, it’s another moment on this record where they all show us how exceptional they are. Trust me, if you’re wanting something to get rid of your blues or to make you feel SOMETHING- get this record when it comes out on the 9th. It is a record that will get you right in the soul. Let it take you over in all ways imaginable.
This is their 4th record, and I love that Atlas Vending makes you feel like you’ve discovered METZ for the first time and you know, for some it might be. If it’s your first time listening to them- welcome. It’s such a great record. The production is yet again sublime and that really comes into focus on Framed by the Comets Tail. My god this is METZ at their absolute best. This record is just a gorgeous piece of noise that you cannot get enough of. Every single song will have you on edge in the best way possible, and if Parasite doesn’t scare you a little bit, then I think you’re listening to the wrong record.
So, there you have it, Canada’s finest METZ have yet again given us something to treasure and find comfort in. I’ll probably use this record as a safety net or something. METZ aren’t a band that you can label, and why on earth would you want to? All you need to know is that they’ve done it again with record number 4 and made another record that is out of this world.
Alex, Chris and Hayden- thank you. You’ve made this year less shitty!
Music is a highly personable thing, and how it can make a person think and feel is solely on them. Music can be that friend at 3am when you cannot sleep- at the moment, that’s what I’ve been leaning towards. Sleep doesn’t hang around anymore, and I don’t blame it. So with that, it means I can write about a record that I have been SO excited to hear. I did want to wait until next Friday to do so, but I’m inpatient at times and gave in to the preview. From first seeing play drums in Grand Ole Party to hearing Catholicked for the first time to being awe of the beauty in Coming Down; Kristin has been nothing short of a musical heroine of mine. Her way with words to how she creates songs is mind blowing, and as Kristin Kontrol, she has gone and done it again.
The record starts with the easy grooves of Show Me. A song that requires a person wanting more from another and wanting to give said person more of you. With its slick Sade tones, this song is the perfect opener to this gorgeous record. It’s a song full of reassurance and beauty. The repeating of “There’s no need to change yourself” is just gorgeous. We all need to hear that from time to time.
Next up is White Street. This would sound perfect on the New Jack City soundtrack. It’s got a real 80s New York feel to it, and where some use the 80s an influence and clearly do it wrong- Kristin does it in a way that makes you feel like you are with her in the song. She makes you feel like you’re with her on White Street. The production on this is so so great and makes you feel like you’re in some 80s NYC cop film. This is one of those songs that fill you with an untouchable attitude, you slip into the song and it becomes you.
(Don’t) Wannabe and X-Communicate follow up. I think my feelings towards X-Communicate are pretty clear. I played it 3 times when I had my gig night the other week, I’m ALWAYS listening to it and the words are so brilliant. You can take whatever you want from it. Give up or don’t. But always ALWAYS stick to your decision. The line, “Do I still posses you? Forever and ever. Amen” is up there with the best I’ve heard this year. Sometimes you just want to drape that thought across someone. In either a curious or power-tripping kind of way. Both are fine, and I guess one will always lead to the other.
Many treat “Pop” as a dirty word, as if it isn’t “cool” to make Pop music. That kind of attitude causes minds to be small and record collections to be even smaller. I honestly have no idea what category to put X-Communicate in nor do I want to, it’s one of those records that takes pieces from all over and the end result is a body of sheer joy and genius. Prior to listening to Kristin’s record, I spent a few days listening to nothing but Dum Dum Girls to really understand what she was doing any why she had to do it. It’s pretty obvious why. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you feel trapped- as if your mind is restricted. I absolutely adore the bones of what she did with Dum Dum Girls, and when I need certain songs they will be there. But on X-Communicate you see/hear another side. This side sounds braver and bigger. X-Communicate is such a powerful record from start to finish, and if you’re going to take anything from it- let it be the fact that you don’t have to keep at something in order to be heard. Change. Change as much as you can, be scared, be a mess but whatever happens- take it.
There are songs on the record that will break your heart such as (Don’t) Wannabe and What Is Love. What Is Love will break you. Or maybe that’s just me being overly sensitive. If it doesn’t cut through you in anyway, then you’re tougher than me. And let’s be honest, it really doesn’t take much. The words are so beautiful, so honest and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to listen to this without bawling like a baby anytime soon. We slide gently into Face 2 Face which is such a prolific track, and easily one of the many stand out points on the record. Something I’ve always loved about Kristin’s voice is that is sounds nothing like anything else I’ve ever heard, but you always know it is her. She’s got this ability to take you to crazy places with her vocal range. The way she sings the hook on X-Communicate to the gentle tones on What Is Love just leave you in awe. I think because her voice is so gentle and so soothing, you truly connect with the lyrics more compared to if she had a gruff voice. The gentleness and the openness is what lures you in, and keeps you there.
Going Thru The Motions is probably one of my favourites, lyrically. I do try my best to distance myself from music when I write about it compared to when I listen to it. It’s pretty tough, especially being a fan so I just stopped trying and stayed being a fan. Going Thru The Motions is one of those songs that just resonate with you, regardless of how you feel. You can be completely tough but there are songs on this record that will break you down more than any person could.
The record comes to an end with the euphoric Smoke Rings which reminds me a little of Tamaryn.Every song on this record fits perfectly into each other. The order of songs is just gorgeous and Smoke Rings is the perfect song to end this record on. It leaves you pressing repeat on Smoke Rings one more time, then you go right back to the start. There are moments on this record where you will have a cry but there are moments where you’ll want to flail your limbs about in time to the music. Maybe you’ll do it all at once. This is a record to fall out and in love to. It’ll heal you, even if you thought you didn’t need it.
What I love about X-Communicate is how much heart, soul and passion is in it. You can easily sense how much work and devotion has gone into this record, but at the same time Kristin just makes it seem so easy. Her words are pure poetry for the soul, and people with this kind of talent aren’t everywhere. I do still stand by she’s my generation’s Patti Smith. Her way with words is careful but not precious. Honest but not brutal.
If you’re looking for a record that’s going to take you somewhere sacred and make you feel things you didn’t know you could, then you know what you need to do this Friday (27th May.) Even in my non-biased opinion, this is truly one of the best records of the year. It’s in my top 2. My number 1? Wait for September/October and I’ll tell you.
Everyone needs that one song they play when they just need a few minutes to themselves, to just shut everything off for a little while. I’ve got a bunch of songs that I do this to, and it’s never ending. Does that say something about me? Probably. Who cares. Anyway. In a few weeks Kristin is releasing her debut record as Kristin Kontrol. You’ve heard X-Communicate and Show Me, right? If you haven’t, go listen to them. Again. And again. Even if you have, just listen to them. X-Communicate has this insane feel to it that would make ANYBODY move. You can unleash some serious dance moves to it, don’t hold back. Same with Show Me.
(Don’t) Wannabe has this perfect moment of bliss almost immediately in the song, which carries on throughout. It just feels like a huge euphoric moment and I think that’s what makes it’s one of best songs I’ve heard all year. I’ve not heard the record yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best and I’m not being biased (I could be, but it’s alright.) X-Communicate is easily my favourite song of the year, but there is something about (Don’t) Wannabe that shows exactly why I love Kristin as a songwriter, not just as singer/musician. I fully stand by my statement from years ago when I said she’s the Patti Smith of my generation. What do I mean by that? Well, if you read her lyrics, they fall as gentle poetry that just soothes the soul and makes everything alright- exactly like Patti. Her newest single is a body of vulnerability that anyone can relate to. It is so easy to relate to her music irrespective of how she makes it, she’s just got this rare way with words. It doesn’t come around too often but when it does, you really connect with it. Kristin Kontrol sounds like the name of a superhero, and with songs like this- it’s fair to assume she probably is.
I love (Don’t) Wannabe because it’s got the strength of a power ballad mixed with the sadness of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell. It is just a gorgeous song and the courage and honesty in the lyrics and in Kristin’s voice just makes it nothing short of powerful yet heartbreaking. Let it break your heart, gently. It’s alright. The truthfulness in this song will seep into you, and once it gets there nothing else will feel, or sound the same.
This week a band I love and a singer I love unleashed some new music. The Kills and Kate Jackson. If bad things come in threes, then maybe good things do too. The third is Kristin Kontrol. I’ll get it out the way-Kristin is Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls. Still the same person, don’t let rip pointless comparisons or longing for something new from Dum Dum Girls. Go with this, it’s brilliant. Trust me.
There have been times where bands or singers have gone in a different direction from what we know, and sometimes it ends up being terrible. Of course this is all down to person taste. When I read that Kristin was doing this, no part of me doubted how great it was going to be. I felt like all DDG records told something important at the time they were released, and although a new DDG record would be great- why not go some place different? I don’t like it when a band makes the same record over and over. I don’t like rigid routines or order. It’s bullshit. This is why Kristin has totally blown our minds with lead single, X-Communicate. I’ve already read the poorly researched reviews on it. It seems like it has come from “music journalists” who can’t get their heads around something different. Free your mind, chump!
X-Communicate makes me feel like I am in several places at once. I could be in a dodgy Berlin nightclub. I could be in some basement bar in New York. I could be in 2016. I could be in 1986 (the year I was born.) I could be anywhere. This is part futuristic, part something from years ago that wasn’t exposed as much as it could be. I feel like if Depeche Mode had a female vocalist circa Enjoy The Silence era- this is what they may have sounded like. As you listen to X-Communicate you become instantly familiar with Kristin’s delicate voice and something I’ve always adored about her voice is the way her pronunciation is so clear. The clarity is what makes you pay close attention to the lyrics. I’ve been vocal about my love for her way with words, and X-Communicate has a gorgeous depth to the lyrics. What I love about 90s dance music was how upbeat the music was yet the lyrics were heartbreaking. I’m getting that same kind of feel from this song, and it’s just so so good. If I was a DJ I’d be playing this at the start and end of the night. And about 50 times in between.
Going by this song, I think it is evident that the record will not sound like this song constantly. There are so many standout moments in this song- from the production to the end solo of the song. All these elements and more just make it into such a wonderful song. The lyrics are so so good. Some of them take me back a few times and certain people cross over in my mind. These fleeting moments are just fine, but the line “I am so tired of this life” gets me right in the gut. I don’t care who you are, you’ve been able to relate to that line more times than you wish. The sadness of that line mixed with the sound of the song goes back to my nod to 90s dance above.
I have no idea how the record is going to sound but what I do know is that it will be great. There’s no denying just how talented Kristin is. I wish I had the words to fully describe this song and how brilliant it is, but I’ve had it on repeat since I got home from work over and hour and a half ago. As someone with a shit attention span- I think that sums up how bloody great this song is. I remember the day I first heard Dum Dum Girls and that feeling has hit me again as I listen to X-Communicate. When you know, you truly know.
Beach House are one of those bands that can reduce anyone to floods of tears, regardless of how tough they are. They’re the kind of band you play when you feel out of sorts. I’ve managed to no longer associate them with personal situations as no good can ever come from it, if I did that I probably would never listen to them again. Aside from the chorus to Walk In The Park, I’ve learnt to let go of any personal connection. However they still can make me cry just because I bloody love them.
As I watched them on Friday I came to the realisation that when I die, I reckon my journey to wherever I’m headed will have Beach House playing. Their songs can curb hints of anxiety (as I refuse to go to the doctor about the panic attacks I have, I use music and it helps especially Beach House) and their songs can feel like a massive hug. There is something so special about Victoria’s voice. I remember when they first came out, and some were adamant that they singer was a guy. I guess they weren’t listening properly.
Their live shows for me isn’t just about the music. The visuals hook you in immediately. You make out the shadows of the band, and the darkness and stillness of it all really makes the show spectacular. Each song played is greeted with this loving glow, and it is so obvious just how treasured the band are. Beach House allowed fans to choose the songs played on the tour via their website. I religiously did this as soon as they announced this until late on Friday. I knew the songs I wanted, I kept one as a solid and the others I switched. Most of them were played, and regarding the new songs, I was all about hearing PPP. They played it and I felt like my heart had burst out of my chest and I was being transported elsewhere. I saw them 2 years ago in exactly the same venue, and I don’t think anywhere else would be suited for them.
Walk In The Park was played and I was fully expecting to sob like a child. Fortunately I kept it to a minimum. Probably because I was getting annoyed at the drunk idiots around us who felt the need to talk through it all. Just because it was a Friday and you’ve had a bit of wine doesn’t mean you have to be a massive twat does it? Actually for them, it probably does!
On record Beach House have this soothing quality, and of course they have that during their live shows. However the drums really heighten the importance of the sound. Where Alex and Victoria are delicate, the drums allow them to let go slightly and expose each song in a different way. Although I love rowdy bands such as Dead Boys and Fugazi, bands like Beach House are there to balance it all out. Different parts of us want different things.
Opening with Levitation felt so right, I doubt any other song should have been the opener. It was like an introduction for the journey they were about to take us all on. Five albums into their career and I think it is fair to state that they really are one of the best bands around, although I was probably declaring that when their debut came out. Their music feels like a walk on the beach late at night, on your own. I find them to be a band that I listen to with no one around. I guess it’s because they are so peaceful and for me being around loads of people is anything but peaceful (although I’m fine at gigs!)
Back to what I said at the start where I felt like the band would probably be playing at the end of this life. Beach House are a band that you can face all your fuck ups to and start over. Of course the second you start seeking approval from others you forget who you are, but sometimes you need to see what you’ve done and do what is necessary. Victoria’s words are like a hug for the soul and Alex’s guitar makes you feel as if you’re floating above the clouds- up and away from all you’ve ever known. Their music is a safety net, a form of protection. For them to convey this in their live shows takes guts, and as delicate as their sound is they do it so perfectly well.
I feel this “review” is pretty wanky because I’ve not really talked about the show, but it is one of those things that you need to experience for yourself in order to get what I’m on about. There is just something to special and heavenly about their sound and shows, and I know it is so boring and an utterly clichéd thing to say but it’s the truth. Everything they make you feel on record is grander when you witness it live. Their presence is subtle but powerful. Although they are quite reserved, they allow themselves to get lost in the music in their own way and I think some of the fans react in the same way. I could quite happily go to a Beach House show every night. The words and music just hit you in gut, and once they’ve got to you that’s it. Nothing else really matters. I felt like it was just me and them when I was watching them. My surroundings didn’t matter to me and more than usual I was oblivious to all around me (apart from the drunk idiots.)
I still stand by wanting Victoria to sing me to sleep every night, but until then I’ll cling onto the memories of Friday night. I appreciate the new records even more after hearing them live, and with all their songs I saw them all in a different light after hearing them live. Music means more to you when you see a band you love play the songs you love right before you. You can’t put a price on that experience at all.
“They take the simple things inside you And put nightmares in your hands.”
Beach House make the kind of music that make you feel like you’ve returned home after months and months of being away. They are like your favourite pair of boots, your favourite jacket, you’re comfort blanket. They are a safety net and a great source of security. Victoria’s voice is gentle, calming and reassuring. They are a band that can drag you through all kinds of hell and at no point will they make you feel like giving up. They can reduce you to tears because of how beautiful their sound is and this unknown feeling they drag out of you. You can’t really find the words to describe the feeling, but it is undoubtedly like nothing else you have felt.
I remember seeing Beach House two years ago and it felt like a religious experience. I’m not religious, so maybe that statement is a bit daft but you get my point. Their live shows just reinforce how phenomenal they are. They are a band that give you this delicate ability to see the world in a different way. With all the pain and suffering around us, Beach House ooze compassion, love and devotion- the qualities we all need more of.
As they are on one of the best record labels (Bella Union) it is no surprise that Beach House put out music that fits everything the label is about. As an avid listener of the band (you can say obsessive, that’s okay) I’ve noticed that with Depression Cherry there is less drums on the record. Bloom had songs with grand drums and made your heart skip a crazy amount of beats because you were just in awe of all that was going on, with their fifth record you can tell they are still playing around with sounds and are quite possibly revisiting their earlier work. Foolishly I had ignored their first record, but of course I know just how stunning it is. There’s a tranquil atmosphere in their sound that remains the same in each record. What makes Depression Cherry stand out from the rest of their records? Honestly, I cannot tell you. It just feels like an addition to a family, you instantly love it as much as the others. It just feels like home. Home doesn’t have to be what is common for most. It can be a place or with a person. Depression Cherry sounds like the ideal record right after Bloom. It wouldn’t have fitted anywhere else.
Beach House are a band that I never have to worry about winning me over. I always know that I’m going to hear something truly special and magical when I listen to them. I’ve gone back and listened to their records so many times, and as someone who is constantly fixated by lyrics Beach House are one of the few bands that move me musically. I pay close attention to the patterns, the repetition and movement in the music. The heightened emotions they create in the music is on par with the genius in the lyrics of Patti, Lou and Morrissey. They give you this piece of heaven and hope in their own way. With Beach House, you get this hope in all ways imaginable, It is in the lyrics and music. The music guides you on this trip and the lyrics reassure you that everything is going to be just fine. If you’re feeling low, then Beach House are the band to guide and comfort you. They are also the band who can give you such joy. They’re just so bloody wonderful.
I don’t know if I’ll do a list of my favourite records this year, so I’ll call Depression Cherry now as the most beautiful and ethereal records anyone will hear all year. Beach House have this ability to bring out curiosity in the listener. They fill you with hope and wonder, and the assurance that it will all be okay. Depression Cherry is a map to happiness, and although I have so much sentimental value clinging onto Teen Dream, I am willing to take some away from it and latch it onto Depression Cherry. Their new record is a hug after battling through a shitstorm of a day.
Depression Cherry ends with the hypnotic Days Of Candy. If you’re unsure of what unconditional love is, listen to this song. Just listen to Beach House. Days Of Candy is the perfect way to end such a stunning and gorgeous record. It feels like the sun setting in your mind. It gives you clarity and the ability to go on. We all feel lost and unsure, I don’t think I have ever gone a day without feeling like that, but Beach House are that band who make you feel like someone has your hand or is watching over you to make sure it eventually goes alright. As I have already mentioned about the record, it really does feel like you are being reassured and as if you are putting on your favourite item of clothing. I sometimes wonder how it is possible to love a band as much as this, but there are moments where it just hits me why. Depression Cherry is a reminder for any Beach House fan as to why they are one of the most incredible bands around.
Their gentle and homely sound is good for the soul and can calm any inner storm we may face. Victoria and Alex have yet again created something that in years to come, you and I will listen to and just be transported to a place where nothing and no one can touch us. Depression Cherry is a statement from a band that know exactly how to move their fans and how to lure new ones in. You lapse into a daydream when you listen to Depression Cherry, and you hold onto all that it makes you feel and think. In a world full of people being absorbed by their phones, Beach House are a band that really make you see the world and take in all that is around you.
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.
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!
“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.