Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dash Jacket Interview

Dash Jacket are the kind of band I wished for when I was in high school. They play loud cool music. Dash Jacket feature distinct melodies buried beneath a loving coat of reverb and grime. Check out the interview below.

Where you guys from in Orange County? I am from a bitchy little gated community outside of Mission Viejo.

Thomas Lucero: I live in Ladera Ranch, a bitchy little ungated community that's technically part of Mission Viejo. All the houses look the same and the weather's always nice; kind of a paradise, but also kinda dull. I spent some time in Humboldt, about 800 miles from Orange County, and came to appreciate what we have here though.

Matthew Towles: I live in Foothill Ranch, a tiny master-planned community that is technically part of Lake Forest. All the houses look the same and the weather is always very nice. Like Thom said, very paradisiacal, but at times very dull. I've always loved it here, and i can't really think of somewhere else i'd like to live, really. Maybe closer to the beach. (By the way, Coto de Caza has long been a bane of my existence, but it's also filled with super nice houses and a lot of my friends that live there have super nice houses which are fun to run around in.)

What do you think of the Orange County scene? Talking to Tan Dollar they said that the scene is slowly becoming more than just straight edge hardcore.

TL: Yeah, I think there's always been stuff that wasn't Straight Edge Hardcore, there was just nowhere to play it. But now with Acrobatics Everyday and Revolutionary Poor, who put together awesome shows in Irvine and Fullerton, and venues like the Avalon and the Crosby, there's actually an outlet for good music. All kinds of variety too; there's the garagey 60s inspired stuff (Audacity, AM, Cosmonauts, Charlie and the Moonhearts) and there's experimental stuff that goes down at UCI (Tan Dollar, Wonder Wheel, Italic Indian), and there's Revolutionary Poor bands like Canyons and Horse-Fed Buffalo (both of whom are totally different from each other), and there's Tomorrow's Tulips, who have a Velvets/Vaselines 80s indie pop vibe going. The Orange County "scene" is actually a bunch of smaller scenes, and it's all amazing.

MT: When I was in high school that crappy "hardcore" music was all the rage (really it was just screamo sung by rich kids with lame hair). And I would guess that stuff is still around at places like Chain Reaction (and I guess they played it a lot at the now-defunct The Alley), but i never really saw it as "straight-edge" even if they "were" or whatever. I would definitely say the scene is more than just hardcore, but to be honest that stuff is so distant from what Orange County means to us that it hardly seems relevant at all. The Orange County scene is so much more than the pop-punk and the pop/rock that it's known for. There's a lot of crap, but there's so much that's pure gold. Like Thom said, the scene is made up of a lot of little scenes, though it is certainly much larger than that, with all of the "scenes" mixing and mingling all of the time. The Revolutionary Poor (run mostly by our good friend Jeremy Leasure (of Canyons) and our friend Renjit, among others) is great and necessary and perfect, and Acrobatics Everyday is easily one of, if not the best thing for music coming in and out of Orange County. I think the OC scene is extremely fertile and extremely exciting. Places like The Crosby in Santa Ana, Trashpretty Vintage in Laguna Beach, The Santa Fe Cafe at the Fullerton Train Station, and Burger Records in Fullerton--places that are offering themselves up as venues for local bands even though they wouldn't normally host music shows--they are so great and so important for the whole scene. There is too much stuff to mention, but yea everyone is great: tomorrow's tulips from Costa Mesa, Tan Dollar from Irvine, Wonder Wheel from all around town, our friends Airborne Age from Mission Viejo, Canyons from Fullerton, Cosmonauts from Fullerton, Little Desert, The Light Rays, hiv, The Muddly Flowers, etc.; there are just too many to count. These bands are all total ace! Everyone should listen to these bands (and see them play) as soon as possible!

When I listen to Dash Jackets I hear punk roots, did you guys ever play in a straight ahead punk band?

TL: If we ever played any straight ahead punk, it was on our earliest recordings (our first cd album "Some Songs"), but even then we chose melody over aggression. Amusingly enough, our last band (the earthenware yawn) was basically folk pop, heavy on vocal harmonies and reverby lead guitar and fingerpicking. But we also ended every show with 10 minutes of pure noise, and during the last couple months of our existance our shows were more and more raucous and fast-paced all the way through. When we started this band, we were in the mood to do away with melody and just be loud as fuck and crazy at shows, but the melodicism and atmospheric tendencies from what we did before are starting to creep back in.

MT: There have always been punk roots in our music, if not musically than certainly in terms or intent and outlook. When we started Dash Jacket, we were writing music that was in direct opposition to what we had been playing before. A lot of noise on the first album was added simply to be loud and alienating, and to parody the "lo-fi" noise business the "indie" world was so fascinated with at the time. We were definitely writing "punk" music in the beginning (or at least i was), but, like Thom said, melodicism has always been there. I think our early, early shows playing to a handful of people were pretty punkish, though I would be careful in using the word "punk" to describe the actual music. One man's Black Flag is another man's Softies.

Do you find inspiration in the Southern california experimental scene (the smell/No Age/LA, wavves/San Diego)?

TL: The Smell was definitely a big influence, in the beginning for sure. In High School, when the only places to go to shows in Orange County were hardcore venues, the Smell was a real eye-opener. There was an unprecidented sense of freedom there; it seemed like you could do anything you wanted if you somehow got a show there. So it was always a goal of mine to play there, and I made the drive up to LA whenever I could to see random shows there. But it's gotten so popular, and it's pretty hard to get a show there. So I think we're actually more influenced now by the bands we've become friends with and the people who put on the shows we play.

MT: Yea definitely. My high school was pretty close to Chain Reaction and it was the only all-ages place around for a while, so it was pretty much all we knew. I always hated the music that was being played there and so when we discovered the Smell it was this bastion of hope, and it was something new. It represented complete freedom--thrashspazz played next to drone played next to Lavender Diamond. You could do anything you wanted! I assume this is how things were in a lot of places, not just L.A., but it was new to us and definitely had an impact. However now i would say we're more influenced by the bands we play with and the people we're around. We don't really need to go all the way L.A. anymore to go to a great show or see a great art exhibit or hang out with rad people. I wish i knew a lot more about the S.D. scene, but i don't, yet.

I saw that you listed No Age on your myspace and have played the smell, have you ever meet those guys?

TL: Well we haven't played the Smell yet, we're playing there for the first time in July. We haven't personally met anyone in that scene, I've said "Thanks for putting on these shows, man" to Jim before, and I introduced myself to Dean of No Age at a show in San Francisco and gave him some of our cds about a year ago, but we've never hung out or had any sort of lengthy conversations. They all seem like cool people though, it'd be cool to be friends with them, haha..

MT: Yea, we're playing the Smell in July on our summer tour with Tan Dollar and Weed Diamond (from Denver, CO). We're super stoked on that. I've met them all at various times and various places. Randy Randall is an especially rad dude. I've only spoken to them all breifly, though. Lots of people that help out at the Smell are all super cool too. But yea No Age is boss and Dean and Randy are great. I'm sure it'd be sick to see a movie with them or something.

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