“If you want somewhere to run to, and if you want someone to tell you the truth- go look out your window, baby.”
I’ve got a handful of things in life that make me truly happy. The obvious one being music. However, getting to write about a band who I adore (they’re not just a band, I’m lucky enough to class them as friends.) Writing about a band you love when they’re about to release something truly beautiful, well, that’s another great feeling entirely. I’ve had a copy of Dreamless by Crocodiles since May. I was given it at a point where I needed something, and I got it instantly from Dreamless. Hopefully when you hear it, you’ll get what I mean. I know I like to take apart each song when writing about a record, but I’m getting by on not much sleep at the moment so it probably won’t start or end well.
It’s so obvious how much I love Crocodiles music. From the moment I picked up their first record based on the artwork to fast forwarding to now, writing about Dreamless. Summer Of Hate and Sleep Forever had this amazing aggressive sound. Effortlessly menacing that left you wanting more. Endless Flowers took this menacing sound and mixed it with something so delicate which fully bloomed (pardon the pun) on Crimes Of Passion. Boys flirted with all their previous records- so what is left for them to do with Dreamless? Oh dear reader, they are just getting started.
I’ve looked through the records I own and also the music I haver stored on my laptop, and I can easily reel off the names of bands who much like Crocodiles change with every record. These are the kinds of bands that make you want to make your own, the kind that keep your attention constantly. Bands like The Kills and back to the likes of Captain Beefheart, Ramones, Patti, Morrissey- I could go on. And on. These are the ones who are gloriously fearless and can make each record sound as if they are a brand new band but still maintain a style that makes them tower above others. Crocodiles do it with every record. Dreamless is no exception. Although record in Mexico City, it sounds like it was born out a damp ridden apartment in Berlin circa early 70s. They’ve always given me that feeling, and for me- that’s how I want something to sound. I want it to take me somewhere I have physically yet to go, but mentally I am always there.
The record opens with Telepathic Lover, which consists of my favourite lyrics to any song I’ve heard all year. When I played it for the first time, it blew my mind. I felt this, massive connection to the lyrics, and they have been the backbone to a lot of thoughts I’ve had this year and god knows what else I’ve carried. “Telepathic Lover, please don’t look into my mind. Telepathic lover, you won’t like what you find.” Hands down my favourite lyrics of the year and probably my favourite by them, ever. There are so many songs by them I could list as being my favourite or what have you, but this one has something that just leaves me in awe of them. This is the one I keep going back to. It’s like meeting someone who really gets you.
Time To Kill has some gorgeous words to, and is beautifully sung. Brandon’s voice sounds like a gentle whisper on this one, and it makes the words echo more in your ears, and brain. It’s got a haunting sound to it, and this eerie tone lures you in. You feel secure but slightly scared all at once. Aside from the whole damn record being a work of glorious art and me obsessing over Telepathic Lover- you should know that Jumping On Angels is also one of the finest moments on the record. If this makes their live shows (I can only hope it does) then I’m pretty sure it’ll make the song sound greater than it already is. What I love about this record, is that the lyrics really make you think. I’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth over songs I love and finding lyrics that I love, and lyrics that mean something. With this record, Crocodiles have again made something that just makes you think and see things differently. They challenge themselves and the listener with every record, and that alone is a reason to completely love and respect them. Produced once again by Martin Thulin, it’s really no surprise that this is probably the best record you’ll hear all year.
Welcome To Hell has this groove to it that makes you want to dance, but when you delve into the lyrics- you’ll again, see just how brilliant they are at writing songs that just make you take your mind elsewhere. Welcome To Hell makes you feel like you’ve wound up in a fight in the middle of some dodgy bar, and as you stumble home, the trouble just doesn’t leave you be. You just need to get yourself home and shut off.Welcome To Hell also has the brilliant line, “I never should have been a Peeping Tom.” Wonderfully perverse, in the best way. I’m Sick has this way of making you feel less alone with burden of self you can carry around at times. An easy song to relate to- listen to it and don’t be too tough on yourself.
I guess it shows at times I never re-read anything I’ve written, and I know I’ve probably missed out so much. I know I could have said so much more about Dreamless and how stunning it is. But, if you’re already a fan of Crocodiles then you’ll already know what to expect. You’ll already know that with every record, they blow your mind and do something to just make you love them even more. Songs like Go Now are perfect to play when you need some quiet time to get it together.
Crocodiles are currently on tour in Europe and will be coming over to the UK within the next few days. I’m skipping the London date and going to Manchester instead. You can’t miss seeing your favourite band at one of your favourite places, can you?!
Come out and see them at any of the following dates. Dreamless will be released on 21st October on Zoo Music.
1th October 2016 – Leeds Headrow House
13th October 2016 – Glasgow Broadcast
14th October 2016 – Manchester Night and Day
15th October 2016 – London Hackney Wonderland
This is going to be painfully biased. When it comes to Crocodiles, I can only form a biased opinion because it is blatantly obvious how much I love and adore them, as people and the music they make. I can tell you now that Dreamless is my favourite record of the year, I’ve been playing it solidly for the past few months. It makes my disdain for people being oblivious to personal space on public transport easier to get my head around. It makes living in an overwhelming city easier to deal with, at times. When I heard Dreamless, Telepathic Lover was the song I instantly connected with based on the lyrics. The more I listen to it, the more I can relate to it.
Many have said that Telepathic Lover is different to what Crocs have done previously, and to an extent that is true. But this song is as gentle as All My Hate, Screaming Chrome, She Splits Me Up and Blue. Brandon’s voice is nothing short of gorgeous on this song, and goes so well with Charlie’s tame guitar playing. For the most part what drew me to them was how loud and brutal they were. Neon Jesus grabbed me in a way that no other song did at that time. My first heartbreak was soothed by their debut record, and from then on I learnt how to not take everything to heart- there are worse problems, and breakups make you who you are-tougher. That said, I’ll cry at anything to do with cute animals. I can’t stop myself.
Telepathic Lover opens with my favourite lyric of the year, “Telepathic lover, please don’t look into my mind. Telepathic lover, you won’t like what you find.” I can reel off lyrics from Ash & Ice by The Kills and claim they were written for me, but this line is easily the one I can fully identify with. There’s so much truth in it. Having someone who knows every thought in your head before you try blurt it out is massively terrifying, but also comforting because if they stick around- then you know it’s worth more than anything else in the world. These are the ones you cling to and love for life. I’m into lyrics/ words in general in a huge way. As someone who is 80% useless most of the time with their own, I take a lot from others- mainly bands/singers. I’ve heard a lot of myself in the music that Brandon and Charlie make, and Telepathic Lover is by no means an exception. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Dreamless, and I find myself constantly going back to Telepathic Lover. We’ve all met/had someone who is a telepathic lover- keep them. Makes life less daunting.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Telepathic Lover, but each time I, as cliched as it sounds, find something else to adore. From Martin Thulin’s (he also produced this record, along with Boys) captivating playing on the keys, another lyric to love, the way Brandon sings certain parts of the song, Charlie’s effortlessly cool guitar playing- there’s always something there in the song for me to keep going back to. Something new to love about the song. The whole record is made up of beautiful songs like Telepathic Lover, and I think that’s why Dreamless is going to be one of the finest records we will hear all year. It is made up of gentle and tough songs. If you’ve never listening to Crocs before, you’ve got until October to go back and listen to their previous five in time for record number six. What else are you going to do? Or maybe work your way backwards. Start with Dreamless in October, then go back . It’s up to you. Dreamless picks up where Boys left off, and it’s a great place to be in. They seem to put a record out nearly every year, and for me that commends more respect than most.
There is something still ferocious in their music, but it’s kind of like a Nick Cave kind of thing here- dark lyrics, gentle voice and hypnotic sounds. Crocodiles thankfully don’t have a set sound. They don’t have anything typical about them, and I’m so glad Telepathic Lover has been chosen as the single because it shows them exactly for who they are- if you expect their music to always sound like this, you’ll be proven wrong but you will constantly be blown away by how bloody brilliant they are.
You don’t have to take my biased opinion on board, I’m just glad I can finally unleash how I feel about this song onto any poor soul who may read this.
I managed to count how many times I’ve seen Crocodiles- Saturday will be my tenth time. Does someone need to buy me a present? If so, I’ll take some paracetamol and a comfy bed for a few hours. Never ever have whiskey, sleep for 3 hours and go to work. It will not work in your favour but you’ll probably have had a lovely time in the midst of it all.
Life is made up of strange and nice things at time. There are a few moments in my 28 years on this planet that I keep very dear to me, from crying like a baby in front of Patti Smith to finding certain records. Always music based. Last night something bizarre happened at the end of Crocs show last night. A lovely man (I think his name is Andy) came up to me, asked me “Are you Olivia?” Of course I assume the worst and thought he was going to call me a name or something, so I was shocked when he mentioned he reads my blog and enjoys what I write (I’m playing it down because I really hate talking about myself.) So Andy, if by some chance you see this- thank you. A billion thank yous. This is one is for you.
The Savage Nomads kicked off the evening with their South London ways. They ventured all the way North last night to expose us to their infectious tunes and charismatic ways. A massive pleasure (finally) to see them live. I’ve been a fan for a while now, and it was really good to see their live shows. An effortlessly smooth set that was led by frontman Cole leading the band into the depths of North London by standing on the drum kit and performing as if they were at Wembley. A proper frontman with a mean dress-sense.
Next up, Hatcham Social. I went to uni in 2006, and whilst there Hatcham Social were a band I was in love with. The love has always been there, and I finally got to see them live last night. Their set made you want to leave and start your own band and make your own noise. This is proof that some things are most definitely worth waiting for. I think they’re doing some more dates with Crocodiles so please get there early and be left in awe.
The main event. The loveliest band in the world. Crocodiles. Sure it can be hard to comment on a band you’ve seen so many times. I’ve run out of reasons as to why I bloody love them. From their Punk ethic to their poetically brilliant lyrics. I just love them and will never grow tired of them. If you’ve ever seen them live, you’ll know exactly why it is so easy to end up seeing them so many times. They’ve got something, and I’m not sure what the word is. Maybe their isn’t word. This is what 3 hours sleep does.
Their set is a brilliant mixture of old and current hits. Personally, I’m just happy Refuse Angels is in the set. The band go nuts during this one, and it shows just how magnificent a drummer Robert is. It’s because he’s Northern, that’s why. The ferociousness in this number is out of this world and is so brutal. On the flip side of this we have Me And My Machine Gun (one of their best songs ever) which just sounds and feels like a whirlwind romance with no care for consequence.
We need to appreciate Charlie Rowell. Let’s be honest, there’s no better guitarist around. He swirls the guitar round in the most carefree way imaginable and you can see such concentration in him as he plays, but you just know it is effortless. The band is effortlessly brilliant. Sweat falls from his hair as he jolts the guitar around. This guy is solely responsible for you wanting to learnt to play the guitar. Robert, Brandon, Charlie and David (he’s in Hatcham Social too y’know) are pretty much the definition of a “super group” each of them has talent that would make other bands think, “I wish that guy was in our band.” I think anyone who sees them live and is in a band would probably leave wanting to improve on their sound.
Crocodiles transport you to Max’s Kansas City in the 70s waiting for the weird and wonderful to cause a scene. I guess this is why I was drawn towards their sound back in 2009. I found their music by accident, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Their sound changes on each record, but when you see them live it is like hearing your top 5 records of all time in an hour. Of course I think they’re the best band around, only a tool wouldn’t.
The fury in I Wanna Kill gets me every time, and I’m pretty sure most of the crowd feel the same. That song could excite the weakest of souls. They end their set with Jet Boy Jet Girl. A proper depraved song that only Crocodiles could cover in a way that makes you think they wrote it.
It is so easy to get bored of modern life. For the most part, it is rubbish. Full of people gormlessly staring at their phones in the hopes something happens. It won’t happen. SOMETHING will happen at a gig. That’s where the people come alive, that’s where you meet the best people. What I love about Crocs shows is that the crowd genuinely love the band. They aren’t there to be seen; they are there because they fucking love this band. It’s a united passion that is absent in most. Thank the heavens for a band like this. A London Crocodiles show would not be complete without Omar making an appearance on stage. He may be on crutches, but he made it onto the stage to sing a bit of I Wanna Kill.
Crocodiles have just started their UK/Europe tour. Tomorrow night they’re playing the Manchester Psych Fest,which will probably be brilliant. Hopefully I’ll nap in the car!
There are some bands that repeat themselves with every record they make. Their blandness is what some may be drawn to and keeps them “loyal” but there are some bands who not only exceed any expectations one may have of them, but they also manage to come out with something hugely different to what they’ve done before. There are a few bands I love that fall into this category, and they’re ones that I’ll continue to write about because it’s just bloody wonderful to hear what they’re going to do next.
12th May is the release date for my pals new record. Crocodiles are finally releasing their fifth record Boys. Everything I am going to write about this record is just my biased opinion, and if I were you I’d just buy the record and sack off anything I may say because it’ll just be an enthusiastic ramble. But if you’re into that kind of thing, let’s be friends and go into this together.
I did want to do this as a track-by-track review but I don’t really like doing them because it’s so structured, and I don’t like any form of organisation.
For me, the record sounds like it has stemmed from the roots of depravity in the back streets of New York in the 70s when Punk was slowly but surely getting some attention. In all the right places, Crocodiles have picked up on the smuttiness and wit in the likes of Transformer and Sally Can’t Dance. They’ve also got something Iggy Pop-esque flowing around Kool TV. Last year when they played Hackney Wonderland, I remember them performing some new tracks and Foolin’ Around was one that really stood out. The bassline is slick as the one on Groove Is In The Heart. This record is sordid and brilliant. If this record was a place, it would be a camp dive bar in the underbelly of Mexico city. It makes the uneasy feel alright in their skin. Crybaby Demon sounds like something that The Stone Roses could have easily put out. It’s got something really special about it that just cements the idea that Crocodiles are probably the best around.
There’s a song that I need to do a special mention on. Blue is probably the best song that they’ve done to date. Every record they’ve put out has one song on it that towers a little over the rest. It’s just over 3 and a half minutes long, but it feels like a lengthy and satisfying daydream. It’s the perfect song to drift away to as the sun sets, you just gaze into nothing in particular and Brandon’s hazy voice sends you on this gorgeous trip. Charlie enhances the dream with the whirling guitar sounds that flow in and out of your ears. It is my personal favourite from Boys, and easily in my top 3 songs by Crocodiles. I would happily write a massive essay on the song, and when you listen to it next month you’ll see exactly why. A gorgeous song that you just have to keep going back to. You zone out properly to this one.
Although the record was done in Mexico, it feels like something from Iggy, Bowie and Lou’s take on Berlin. It’s got that something about it that just feels really familiar and comforting, but then there are songs that just feel like something you’ve never experienced before. There are many bands that are doing weird and wonderful things, but Crocodiles take it some place else. More than anything, I wish these guys were credited more for their lyrics. Their lyrics are bouts of depraved prose and thoughts to expand the mind.
Boys consists of songs you would hear in an underground drag bar in the depths of New York, Mexico, London…anywhere and everywhere. They are songs to lure in a lover at 2am when everyone is being spilled out into the street or to just throw your limbs about to (go nuts to Foolin’ Around, Hard and Do The Void.)
Writing about a band like Crocodiles is easy because they make every release as interesting as the last. Each record feels like hearing them for the first time. The first time I heard their music was back in 2009. I moved back home after being dumped, wandered into HMV and saw the cover of Summer Of Hate staring at me. I didn’t know anything about them, but I picked it up along with Love Comes Close by Cold Cave. I turned one of the worst feelings possible into something I could handle. I found two bands who have since become the world to me. The thing about Crocodiles that I love the most is that they make me feel like I am anywhere but where I am. I don’t feel like I’m in 2015; I feel like I’m in the 70s watching Punk win over hearts and guiding those who are fed up. Crocs are a mix of all the stuff I love and things I’ve never heard before. They bring all these insane sounds together and make something that is worth treasuring.
I’ll say it’s their best record until number 6 comes out, you know how it is. If you’ve yet to experience the world of Crocs, then let Boys be the one that seduces you, let it be the one that you cheat on other bands with. And in time, it will go from being your bit on the side to the love of your life.
Crocodiles start their US tour in 3 days time, and will be coming over to Europe in June. Personally, I’m massively excited to see them in Manchester as part of the Manchester Psych Fest along with July (this is fucking HUGE.) I’ve always wanted to see them in Manchester, and with July also?! Oh man who needs Christmas!
Boys is out via Zoo Music on the 12th May and is produced by the incredible Martin Thulin. And yes, it is my record of the year.
The most handsome men in music are back. Crocodiles, the loveliest guys you’ll ever meet are back with a new record called Boys out in a few months, but first, to get you ready for this stunning record (I’ve heard it and no other record is going to be as important as Boys this year) they have just put out the video to Crybaby Demon.
Crybaby Demon is a trashy and smutty number. If any band can make you feel violated and dirty in the best way possible, then it is easily Crocodiles. With Charlie’s unapologetic sneering guitar sounds and Brandon’s smouldering vocals, Crybaby Demon is the perfect Crocodiles song to lose your mind to. Sure we can call start mini riots to I Wanna Kill, but Crybaby Demon is the year’s most trashiest anthem. Gloriously perverse and weird.
The video to Crybaby Demon is directed by Tito Echevarria (Young Boys/SISU) and it feels like one of those obscure films that are on TV at 3am when you’re too wired to sleep. It feels like every lucid dream you’ve ever had. A real sleazy and utterly charming video that brings the song to life, a perfect fit.
It is fairly obvious that I could write about Crocodiles until I ran out of words or something equally dramatic. There is something massively relatable about their lyrics and something freeing within their music. They take you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. I just bloody love these guys and cannot wait for everyone to hear Boys and for the tour to start.
Crocodiles are one of the few bands that have that real Punk feel to their music and how they do it. Their DIY ethic is evident in all they do, and that alone demands respect. If you’ve never seen them live, GO. Their shows are wild and carefree. The London crowd that go see them are the least dickish London crowds around (I’ve been to enough shows in London to be tired of seeing people just stand still when exposed to brilliant live music.) It’s just like one big party and the love the fans have for Crocodiles is just bloody lovely. Hopefully I’ve sold it to you!
Boys is out via Zoo Music on 11th May. Outcasts, deviants and rebels rejoice because this record is for YOU.
There are some records that when you hear them, you know that in 10/20 years from now someone is going to name it as a record that made them want to make music or to just do SOMETHING good. You can probably list about 5 now, right? I have a solid 5 that I could list if I was musically talented. I’m hopeful that someone, one day is going to drop Azar Swan’s new record in that kind of list.
I love music that is weird. It doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, I just want it to sound weird and I want it to make my brain do weird things. And Blow Us A Kiss by Azar Swan is probably the most beautifully weird record I’ve heard in a long time. I’m pretty sure those who listen to them will automatically think “ZOHRA SOUNDS LIKE KATE BUSH.” No. Just listen to her voice real closely and you’ll hear nothing from anyone else in her voice. It is truly beautiful. Zohra (a gorgeous name) has this wonderful tone that eases you, but not like a comfort blanket. She kind of psyches you up to feel like you can do anything and/or that whatever is eating you just isn’t worth it.
My favourite so far from the record is For Last And Forever. The start of it sounds like something real sordid and depraved. As you get deeper into the song, you feel like you are in some dingy, dark, basement bar being stalked out by some possessed woman. Whatever gets you through, I can think of worse. This isn’t bad at all. Her voice lures you in instantly on every track but there is something about For Last And Forever that feels really sinister, it’ll be the one I play to death for sure.
Judge a record by its artwork. If the artwork looks a little strange, then buy it. Fall in love with, and keep doing it over and over with most record purchases you make. I’ve done it many times and the bands I’ve done it with have become bands I constantly listen to and really adore. There is something thrilling about buying a record that you know nothing about aside from the fact that your eyes are hooked on what they have seen. Sometimes you’ve got to go with your eyes and not head/heart (or bank account.)
I’m really bad with putting music into genres, I find it pretty daft you know? Music is music and there is too much of it for any of it to be lumbered with a unnecessary description. If I like something, I like it. If I don’t, then I don’t. Azar Swan take bits of all the creepy stuff I listen to and have made a truly ethereal and creepy record. Zohra’s voice pierces through you in the most pleasant way possible. I remember when I first heard Zola Jesus years ago. I was in awe that a person’s voice could do that or have such power. The same feeling comes to me again when I listen to Azar Swan. Oh, and yes they are a duo but that plays no part in my opinion of them. I know I love duos, but Azwar Swan are something else. They’re the type of band you would need to say playing in an abandoned church or in a neglected cemetery. Their music feels like it was made for a horror/thriller film. Their music isn’t going to relax you in a conventional way, and I think that is part of the charm and why they are a sheer joy to listen to.
Zohar’s lyrics have the power to rip into your gut and really make you think; just go back and listen to their first record Dance Before The War then ease yourself into And Blow Us A Kiss. You can flail your limbs about to their futuristic sounds if you want, but start off with laying on your bed and blasting it through headphones. Really connect with the song In The Garden. There’s something in Zohra’s voice on this song that makes you really REALLY feel it. It’s a gorgeous song. Blank Space is a haunting gem that you jut keep hitting repeat on, it feels ritualistic.
I feel uncomfortable writing reviews because I don’t think I can do it. All I do is blab on about how it makes me feel and all it conjures up. I have no right to talk about the production on something as I don’t know anything about it!
So what I am trying to say is that, Azar Swan have just put out on the most exciting and eerie records I’ve heard all year. It’s a pleasure to listen to, and they are evidently one of the most interesting bands around.
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.
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.