It’s more than likely a school night. A light glows from a room in Sacramento. A microphone plugged into a karaoke machine hangs from the rafters of a teenage bedroom. Toiling below the mic, two pre-teen punk rock hopefuls sit in front of their instruments and begin picking through notes, forming what will be the first song of their catalogue. It’s 2007, and the members of Dog Party are 11 and 9 years old.
Sisters Gwen and Lucy formed the band out of a love for ’70s and ’80s punk music. Encouraged by their parents, they quickly blazed a trail most independent musicians would envy. Since 2007, the group has released two full-length records and is preparing to release their third (Lost Control) with the help of Mike Park and Asian Man Records. The girls have merch, a record deal, and they’ve just completed yet another national tour. Side note: they still tour with their parents. And yes at 17, Gwendolyn has just gotten her driver’s license, but points out she wont be able to legally drive her bandmate/sister until she is 18, due to California state law.
The interesting thing about Dog Party is that they’re incredibly well behaved. Although it’s interesting on paper, the 17-year-old with the guitar and the record deal is surprisingly normal. Dog Party likes playing shows, but goes so far as in our interview to point out that, “During the school year we try not to play too many shows during the week. We just played a show last night (Thursday) and it was really tough! I had an essay that I had to work on the entire time, and even missed our friend’s band, who I really wanted to see. We just have to really manage our time.”
Their latest effort, Lost Control, is incredibly accomplished. Their sound lies somewhere between The Runaways and Best Coast (emphasis lying arguably on the latter, somewhat unintentionally). Their new record was recorded on tape, a process the girls prefer over digital, as recording to tape is, as they put it, “more genuine, more raw and full of energy.” This begs the question: What garage band do you know that’s made it through three records? Better question, what 15-year-old has an opinion on tape vs. digital that they can actually back up via a catalogue?
This isn’t meant to be patronizing, either. A quick jog around the Internet exposes interview after interview of the same question regarding school, boys, age, parents etc. Dog Party basically answers the same ‘Top 5’ questions worldwide. No wonder they have a publicist. I imagine at this point answers can simply be copied and pasted. Their story begs another question: How important is age in music these days? Was Dog Party arguably too young at its inception? Do they often feel patronized due to it? They’re also both female and in the punk scene, and although we’d like to think that was all cleared up by Ms. Hanna (Kathleen) back in the ’90s, is still mostly a major issue.
The girls address the topic with ease. “We choose not to really look at age or gender in relation to the bands we listen to or the shows we play, but I guess it could affect some people before they actually get to know us.” Age or gender apparently does not factor into Dog Party’s universe. They are without interest and can’t be bothered by either supposed hardship. The only downside they care to mention is, “It limits the venues we can play and we occasionally miss out on [performing live] with some really cool bands because of it.”
We’re at a stalemate. Dog Party is either so incredibly positive that they float above any and all conflict, or they are the most media-savvy teenagers in public school. They are normal, happy kids. They live normal lives and probably eat dinner every night with their family. But they have a publicist, which is what makes this feel different. They aren’t prodigies or musical masterminds. Their worth is built upon their relationship as a team. Their value is as a band; Dog Party is indie-rock’s most successful (literal) garage band.
They don’t hang out with people their age. They go on tour with musicians like Kepi Ghoulie (a punk scene staple for 20 years). Their first show was opening for Agent Orange. Dog Party goes home and does their homework, but the bands they open up for are the same age as their parents, and maybe that’s the real lynchpin here; Dog Party is two young ladies with incredibly supportive parents. Maybe at the end of the day this isn’t about talent or luck, but about a support system built around the creativity of two young people.
As their label owner Mike Park points out, “You don’t see many parents who are at every show helping sell merch and just being there to support instead of trying to show the world their kid is the next superstar. Everyone is humble and understands the punk ethics involved in this DIY endeavor.” Maybe what we really need are for the parents of these two bright young musicians to write a book on how to help kids blossom artistically. There aren’t a lot of kids out their who have three records under their belt, but there also aren’t many parents who would let their kid hop in a tour van at 17 and haul ass around the planet. This is a “chicken or the egg” scenario that should really be given some thought.
Gwen and Lucy are positive about their musical future. When asked about their upcoming plans, their only goal is “to have as much fun as possible! Make good records!” In some ways talking to Dog Party feels like talking to the incredibly positive sheltered kid in your math class. Except Dog Party isn’t sheltered by a social construct or an overly protective patriarch. They are held boldly in the arms of a music scene and network of people who’ve chosen to foster and encourage two kids with big ideas (and killer punk songs, to boot). Does Dog Party have more records than the average garage band because they are exceptional? Or is this a shining example of what two kids are capable of when we empower them to blaze their own trail?
Feel free to think about that one…
For more info, visit http://dogpartyrocks.tumblr.com/
photos by Sam Giles
If you have not heard or seen FIDLAR yet, you soon will. They are quickly becoming the visage of the surf/punk scene. After haphazardly meeting in an East LA studio, they embarked on a project that started with gear modifications and sound engineering.
“I started interning at the studio and living there. I met Elvis [Kuehn] at the studio; he was interning as well,” Zac Carper (guitar/vox) explains.
Bandmate Brandon Schwartzel adds, “The live aspect [of the band], which most people focus on, came second; we started out recording in the studio.”
In 2012, FIDLAR stumbled upon the opportunity to tour nationally, opening for The Hives. “The first show was in Washington, D.C. We showed up to the venue while they were sound checking and they immediately stopped sound check to introduce themselves; it set the bar for the entire tour,” Schwartzel says. The band credited The Hives for showing them the ropes, as well as being great mentors. “They are the best example of a band that did it right, how they handle themselves as a band and as a business.”
Since last summer, FIDLAR has caught fire, touring Europe’s festival circuit as well as making new music. If you have not seen the music video for “Cocaine,” it stars the well-respected Nick Offerman of NBC’s Parks & Rec, who is a friend and fan of the band. The guys collectively explain how surreal it was to shoot the video, which was Offerman’s original idea.
“We filmed some of the shots on Memorial Day, and Nick was walking though an East LA park pissing on shit. And we were looking around like, ‘No little kids, if any kids show up we have to shut it down.’”
Be sure to catch FIDLAR on their North American tour, starting this month.
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA
ARTISTIC APPROACH To make sweaty, loud rock n roll.
photo by Ali Onasty
“Interesting take on punk that takes you right back to the good ol’ days”
Hailing from Pennsylvania, Stardog Champion’s new album, Exhale, is neither short on guitar nor drums, which is a recipe that will have you head banging and ready to mosh in no time. Don’t let that fool you, though.
Exhale is an emotionally-charged album saturated with passion. This balance between great guitar riffs and emotion creates a fantastically orchestrated record that’s slightly addictive, but not bad for your health.
Stardog Champion was formed in 2011 after a dispute between Aaron Fink, a former Breaking Benjamin member, and their lead singer Benjamin Burnley. Upon breaking away from the band, Fink reunited with former Lifer member (a band with whom he started his career) Nick Coyle. Fink and Coyle began Stardog Champion, picking up Josh Karis, former drummer of Leroy Justice, along the way.
This loud, aggressive rock is nothing to pass up. With the history of the band in mind, let yourself enjoy this new take on some of your favorite sounds that were brought to you by these members in another time.
Produced & Mixed by Neal Avron
Engineered by Erich Talaba
Mastered by Ted Jenson at Sterling Sound, NYC
There’s a moment in the middle of A Band Called Death where David Hackney’s widow starts describing her late husband and his connection to music, and it’s clear from the waver in her voice and the tears welling up in her eyes that she loved this man, his music and his vision. Wholly and completely. That’s exactly what’s at the center of this wonderful documentary: love. The brotherly love of three black kids from urban Detroit hell-bent on forging their own sound, the love of a mother willing to let her boys raise such a ruckus in her house, and ultimately the love of the music.
The story is simple, and yet it’s so much more than what a simple summation can ever hope to provide: three kids, rock and roll, and dreams. David Hackney (pictured), the group’s spiritual leader, and his brothers Dannis and Bobby crafted what can only be considered proto-punk in the legendary United Sounds studios in Detroit, but had a helluva a time getting A&R people and labels to accept the band’s name: Death. Throw in a relocation to New England, some changes in musical direction, and ultimately the prophetic words David had for his brothers upon handing over Death’s original master tapes for safekeeping, some 25 years after their recording: “When I’m gone, people are gonna come looking for this music.”
And how right he was. After his passing in the early 2000s, people did come looking. Slowly, but surely, an Internet buzz grew about this unknown punk band from Detroit, one that pre-dated the Ramones and whose sound was even more raw, more aggressive, and faster. Their sole 45 was now selling for hundreds on eBay, and thus the eventual phone call from Drag City Records, with an interest in re-issuing Death’s unrealized album for the world to hear.
It’s an amazing journey, and an even more amazing collection of songs that the masses can now enjoy. The film is now available on-demand and on DVD and Blu-ray. We highly recommend it.
- A BAND CALLED DEATH
- Directed by Mark Christopher Covino & Jeff Howlett
- Drafthouse Films
- 98 Minutes
Some initial thoughts on 3PM: Unapologetic pop-punk from a very young group of dudes in B’More. Catchy guitar pop in the vein of early Blink-182 and (very) early New Found Glory. Definitely reminiscent of the radio circa 2000.
Due to the musicians’ ages (ranging from 15-21) one could maybe call this vintage. Let’s be realistic for a moment here, when Blink-182’s career-defining Enema of the State was released, one of the members of 3PM was 2 and one of them was 1.
This is possibly why the group is so quick to fly the flag of bands like Good Charlotte (a group who, for those who were there, was sort of a four-letter word during their peak). This isn’t a bad thing, just an interesting note on the potential for “timelessness” from the genre’s early albums. Again, this is millennium-era radio-ready pop-punk that completely bypassed the hardcore influence that crept up on bands like New Found Glory later in their lifespan (meaning fans of Set Your Goals or A Day to Remember can skip this one). Fans of Blink-182 should check out the riff at the top of “You Can Only Find Her in the Safari Zone,” and those who sided more with New Found Glory can get their fix with “Your Best Mistake.”
Recorded at Buzzlounge Studios by Eric Taft
“Cue circle pit in 3…2…1…”
Bullet Treatment is a unique band indeed. With its only stable member being Chuck Dietrich, Bullet Treatment is a semi-super-group that consists of whoever is down to jump on a track (past members have drawn from Anti-Flag, Strike Anywhere, Suicidal Tendencies, Good Riddance, etc). Their latest recording is sort of a proper follow-up to 2006’s The Mistake (their 2009 release, Designated, was more of an experiment that featured one song played multiple times with different lyrics/vocalists on each version).
Ex-Breathers is eight songs, and clocks in at about nine and a half minutes. This is furious, fast, loud punk rock at its best. Bullet Treatment is everything that early LA punk and hardcore had to offer, just recorded on higher quality equipment. For those who downloaded the “new” Black Flag single and remembered that jam bands were absolute crap, go track down Ex-Breathers and smash your face into a brick wall for fun. Quite simply, Bullet Treatment is the truth.
Recorded at Basement Studios
Mastered by Azimuth Mastering
Why The Abrasive PDX 3-Piece Turned Its Drummer Into Their Frontman
Gaytheist. Say it out loud. OK, did you get that out of your system? Spin labeled them as “unfortunately named,” which we think it absolute hogwash. One of the most abrasive, unique and dynamic vocalists to hail from the Pacific Northwest in recent memory, Jason Rivera has known his fellow band mate Tim Hoff [bass] for over 20 years, and Nick Parks [drums] for more than a dozen, but the group only formally got together in 2011. Now, just two years later, they’ve just released their latest LP, Hold Me…But Not So Tight on Good To Die Records, a killer follow up to their previous effort, Stealth Beats.
Who leads the creative process for the band – is that mostly you?
It’s me in so far as I write music at home, and I’ll show up at practice with my ideas. Tim and Nick will flesh it all out so we have an actual rock song.
Can you take us inside your songwriting process?
Sure. For the most part I just sit with my guitar – I’m a hands-on writer, I can’t read or write music, so I start with a riff and slowly form the concept of a song, and then I’ll come up with a vocal melody. Usually, before I’m done showing [Tim and Nick] a song, Tim will immediately plug in some lines, and Nick starts thinking about some drum stuff; they’ll start writing their parts and eventually we’ll have a fully worked out song.
So you bring them the framework, and everyone adds their layers to it.
Yeah – with Gaytheist I try to write for our drummer. I’ve been in other bands where I try to write all over the place, and I wasn’t thinking about everyone’s strengths in the band. This time around, I knew Nick was just this amazing drummer who goes insane and plays so fast, and so great. Everything I write is so loud and heavy that it just complements his style perfectly.
Interesting – I would think most bands in your genre write with more of a guitar-based focus…
We’ll have things where I’ll be, ‘You know, this is kinda the same tempo as another song…’ and before I know it, Nick will write a new drum part for it to make it sound unique. He saves me a lot from having songs that sound the same.
I’ve been in a couple two-pieces before, so the idea of getting everything tight and unison is something I learned a while back. So I think it works well – our live sound features very loud amplification so we can be heard over the drums. I suspect Nick could kick us out and still pack places [laughs.] He’s our real frontman – when we set up live he’s up front on the stage. Tim’s an excellent musician; he plays bass in the band but he’s actually a lead guitarist. So his bass lines are very melodic and very full; he fills the space amazingly well.
So I find we can do these short little numbers and so much can happen in a minute, then we’re done. We keep ourselves entertained, and hopefully the audience, too.
Do you ever feel limited by having just three members?
I have in the past, but where I’m at now I’m very satisfied. And if I’m not satisfied, I have the ability to go put together something else and keep this going. But I’m so happy with the way this has been going, and we’ve been getting so much done that I’m really content right now.
For those of us on the East Coast who might not know the area so well, is the Pacific Northwest a scene in itself, or are Portland and Seattle and the stops in between separate scenes?
They’re separate scenes, but they need each other because the Northwest is so spread out…so you’ve got a three hour drive between Portland and Seattle, with not much else beyond that. We rely heavily on each other – it’s not like the New York area where you could play 20 different cities and still sleep in the same bed at night. But here, you get to know people in Seattle and Seattle people get to know Portland people and we help each other out…
The only thing I know for sure, when Stealth Beats came out, there was a little problem. Public radio flat out told the label they were hesitant to use our name. And someone brought up [the band] Fucked Up as an example. Fucked Up was getting press, and radio play – it was a very long, uphill battle for them, but they were doing it. I started this band under the pretense I’ve started ever other band, which is to have fun and not go crazy; although, this is the first project I’ve done where I’ve had other people coming to me with interest. And once [our label] Good to Die got onboard, we knew we’d have to start to get serious and think about things like whether our name would hurt us.
We may have lost opportunities we didn’t even know about [with our name]. But in a way, the name…I constantly see people online say it’s one of the best names they’ve ever heard. So in some ways it might be the thing that gets our foot in the door with [listeners]. It just might be the thing people need to take those 30 seconds to go on YouTube to listen to a song. You know, ‘What on earth could Gaytheist sound like?’
It’s actually pretty similar to our last album, since we recorded at the same studio. Stealth Beats was the best sounding recording we ever had, so we went back happily for the new one. We put the album together by just practicing the hell out of the songs. Money is always an issue, so we wanted to be ready for the studio and not waste time. This time around, it’s more involved than last [record], as far as the dynamics and changes, but I write a lot of music and we just like to jam on them. We got to where we had enough material to present a new album, and we hope you like it.
Drawing influences from almost everywhere in the DIY scene, Atlanta (sort of) based band The Wild is an act to watch. With influences ranging from Phil Ochs, to Bright Eyes, to Crass, The Wild’s unique folk/punk sound has earned them opening spots on tour with the likes of Against Me!, The Queers, and Joyce Manor. In addition, they’re also alumni of the Florida “Fest” family.
Their most recent album, Dreams Are Maps, was recorded over a week with engineer Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!). Although in the past The Wild has worked with producers, for their latest offering they found themselves with such a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish, that they chose to self-produce the entire record. According to singer Witt Wisebram, the dynamic between The Wild and Laura Jane Grace came together naturally, “I have always really respected Against Me! and Laura’s ideas, so I was incredibly honored that she was willing to work with us on this record. She was very precise with the engineering of the album, and I think she was able to help us create the best sounding recordings we have ever done. It is a really cool and rare thing when someone else can understand your vision and creative process and help you to achieve it the best that you can.”
By spending more time on this album than past efforts, the band, who prides themselves on fewer overdubs and catching performances in a more natural setting, was able to capture the “big” sound that their live shows are known for.
To add complication to The Wild, its members live all across the country (Atlanta, Lexington, Denver, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Massachusetts). A few years ago, when vocalist Dianna Settles got a scholarship to a San Francisco college, The Wild became more of a “touring” band. She explains, “For the first couple years that we were a band, we were playing shows in Atlanta almost once a week. After a while, the most shows we played were while we were on tour. While it’s sort of a bummer sometimes to see some great shows happening out in Atlanta that we can’t play because of the distance, I think we’ve navigated being spread out pretty well.”
Dreams Are Maps is currently available from Asian Man Records. Check them out on tour in the U.S. this summer, or this fall at The Fest 12 in Gainesville, Florida.
- HOMETOWN: Atlanta, GA
- GENRE: Folk/Punk
- ARTISTIC APPROACH: Punk influenced folk recorded au naturel.
- URL: www.thewildatl.com
Punk/Bluegrass Outfit on Using Craigslist to Find a Tour Bus, Home Studio Gear & Their Fiddle Player
The wholesome, backyard nostalgia of bluegrass intertwined with the rowdy romp of punk. Those two genres usually don’t mix, and when people hear the concept the general consensus is a resounding: ‘huh?’
But finding the happy medium between banjo and badass is exactly what LA based septet Old Man Markley has done. Finding their start in the family room of band members Johnny Carey, Annie DeTemple, and Ryan Markley in 2007, the band has grown, shrunk, evolved and experienced a lot in the past six years.