How's the big fun snow treatin' y'all? Still diggin' out a week later here in Chicago...
Speaking of Chicago, how 'bout taking a listen to the Windy City's very own hill-boppin', trash-tonkin' band, The Dyes? We've got an interview with 'em below, but here's our humble take on their new, self-titled record first.
Led by wailing yodel-cat Lisa on vocals and guitar, Jill on bass, and Charlie on drums, The Dyes are a manic rawkin', hellcat jamboree of a band. Fueled by twin tower love of the Cramps and Wanda Jackson (the good stuff), this records sweats yr swishin' tail in circles, octane-blasted and swagger-honked cow punk.
Reeling around balled jack trash-holler like opener "You Still Get Around", "Just Forget About Me", and "All Through the Day", The Dyes lay down a creepified junk can fuzz of gin and moonshine rave, amped trailer park scuzz twanged into meth-sped hayride oblivion.
Contrasting, then into blazed tumbleweed noir like "I'll Leave" and "I Don't Know", The Dyes rollick into the open prairie, wagon wheels rolling wobbly and deep into the coyote-howled groove, dusted by miles and canyons open.
And slow, then, when the moon appears, and the embers are a-lit, The Dyes take you into a sepia-toned grass-singed lowdown. Crackled old-timey sounds of AM transmission, still-watered sounds of lament and bad things gone wrong, the transistor buzz and hum present in sleepy regret. Songs like "Don't Toy With My Heart", "Your Love Has Turned To Hate", "Don't Pass Me By", and, particularly, "Sun's Come Up" rake the bottom of the heart and find the will to carry on.
But, in the end, the record is sex. It's everywhere you look and hear, the heartbeat of the album. You can hear it in vocalist Lisa's tossed off put-downs, the fuck you and fuck me swing in her delivery, and the timbre of her astonishing cowgirl/trashwoman voice. You hear it in the deep, deep bottom of bassist Jill's rumble, tribal and twanged. You even hear it in the filthy, primal pounding of drummer Charlie's rhythm attack.
Is it a Country record? Is it a Garage record? Well, yes. Yes it is. Both and none and all. It's just a great fuckin' record. It's pretty much everything you come here for.
The Dyes were kind enough to answer a few questions for us. It was a band effort, and resulted in one of the best interviews we've conducted. Enjoy!
A Big Rock Candy Mountain Interview with The Dyes
Big Rock Candy Mountain: First, tell us who you are, and what kind noise do you make? Where do you come from and why are you?
Lisa: The Dyes are Lisa- Guitar/Vocals, Jill- Bass, Charlie- Drums and other odds 'n ends. We make the kinda noise that some call "Garagabilly".. also have been told we sound like Wanda Jackson singing to The Cramps. We all come from the Chicagoland area (we formed in high school in Westmont to be exact- home of Beanie Babies and Muddy Waters).
Charlie: Our sound was probably forged by trying to play rockabilly music to high school kids - to keep their interest we had to crank up the volume and tempo.
BRCM: Who are your influences? What hum buzzes between The Dyes' ears?
Lisa: My main inspirations are Hank Williams, The Cramps, and the Flat Duo Jets, among other too-many-to-name rock'n'roll, blues, and country obscuros.
Charlie: I'll listen to anything that moves. Recently it's been mostly Motörhead and Deerhoof.
Jill: As Charlie mentioned, I’ll pretty much listen to anything that moves, especially if it keeps me movin’ too. I’ve always been really into blues, especially early delta blues. If I dig deep enough, I feel like that achy, hypnotizing vibe is the root of most of my influences.
BRCM: You mix a variety of sounds in yr latest record. We hear a distinctive garage/trash influence feeding into a very distinctive honky tonk influence, jumbled up and pureed in a high-speed blender. Do we hear incorrectly, or are these the primary sounds that inform The Dyes?
Lisa: I suppose that is an accurate translation; You can hear both of those in our influences (i.e. The Cramps and Hank Sr.)
BRCM: What is the band's drink of choice?
Lisa: chocolate milk.
Charlie: double whiskey coke no ice.
Jill: If you place it in front of my feet and to the left of my amplifier, it’ll be my drink of choice that night.
BRCM: In this day and age, location is everything. What type of audience do you draw for a Dyes show? You're based in the Chicago area...do you find a receptive crowd in Chicago, or do you find a more receptive crowd outside those confines?
Lisa: It always depends. Things are never consistent. Wouldn't say we have the biggest "rockabilly scene", but things like crowds and scenes vary all the time. We've got some loyal fans and have met and befriended some great people and bands in Chicago and elsewhere on the road that we wouldn't trade for the world. But it seems like a lot of things are lacking in this day and age if you're out playing music. Just gotta keep on trucking and either way we have a good time doing it.
Charlie: How receptive a crowd is usually depends on what night of the week it is, but Tulsa, Austin, and Kalamazoo were pretty wild.
Jill: Certain cities react differently to live music than others. Can’t really blame Chicago for having one million things going on every night of the week - it’s hard to keep up with, for anyone! It’s always a treat to go out on the road and play for smaller, tight-knit scenes who are excited when an out-of-state rock n’ roll band comes to play for them.
BRCM: What's your best live experience? Worst? What can we expect from a Dyes show?
Lisa: We played a Santacon event in Kalamazoo, MI which was a recent epic endeavor. It was great; a room full of drunken Santas. I mean FULL. An endless sea of Santas dancing around and sloshin' their pitchers of beer all over the place. We also played New Year's Eve opening for Los Straitjackets. That was a ton o fun!
Usually during a Dyes set, Charlie plays the drums like the Muppets' Animal, Jill and I sway back and forth a bit to the music, and as a grand finale we both crouch down and pee in Charlie's mouth. At the same time.
Jill: Haha! I’ll never forget when we played in Tulsa. It was at this hole-in-the-wall bar, two nights after my Jaguar bass got stolen in San Antonio, and it was the last night of the week long tour. Exhausted and depressed over my loss, I was barely in the mood to keep rockin’ and rollin’. I borrowed a bass from a friend-of-a-friend in town, and went at it anyway. By the end of the show, the entire crowd was on “stage” dancing with us. This kid to my right was convulsing like a madman; eyes rolled back and in desperate need of a straitjacket. That show was the definition of what rock n’ roll should be and the reason why I do what I do.
BRCM: How long to the top, if you want to rock'n'roll?
Charlie: We're not at the top yet, so we wouldn't know. I'm gonna guess there's no bagpipe solos there though.
BRCM: Generally, you're a three-piece. How does this work in terms of songwriting? Is there a shared songwriting aspect? How are your songs formed? Do your songs draw from real life, or are they based on an observation of outside influence?
Lisa: Our songs have primarily been fueled by my teenage laments about man troubles. All of the songs on the last CD were written when I was 17-20 years old, and 95% of 'em are true. That's a big part of it; rock'n'roll should be motivated by either the groin, the gut, or heartache. Especially rockabilly. The thing about rockabilly that gets to me is the raw gutteral growls, frantic shouts, and hiccups that permeate through the music. It's a very urgent, desperate sound, and the subjects usually directly address something like love or violence. It was and always will be teenager's music, and it's influence really helped me
get through my tender years and channel these kindsa emotions.
get through my tender years and channel these kindsa emotions.
The songwriting process usually goes like this: Lisa'll come up with the bones of a song, the lyrics, guitar, and structure, and then bring it to the table at practice. Then Jill and Charlie'll chime in and start playing along with whatever they think sounds good, adding the rest of their delicious meat and potatoes. Then together we work out any kinks, throw out suggestions, and it sticks.
BRCM: Turbo-charged or economy?
Charlie: I think this is car terminology. But I don't drive, so I'm stumped.
Jill: It’s true, The Dyes consist of two female drivers... lookout!
BRCM: What song most defines the Dyes aesthetic?
Lisa: That always changes in my mind, but right now it's "Sun's Come Up".
Charlie: We have performed "Wild Wild Lover" by Benny Joy at almost every show
we've ever played, so I'll go with that.
Jill: “Wild Wild Lover” is the staple for a grand finale of a Dyes show. “Mean Mean Man” (Wanda Jackson) has also been a favorite cover to play as of lately... As far as originals go, there’s always been something really haunting and heart-achy about “I’ll Leave”, and the reverb/feedback speaks even louder than the words to me.
BRCM: If you could play with one band or artist, living or dead, who would that be?
Lisa: Southern Culture on the Skids, Wanda Jackson, Dex Romweber, uhh.. too many!
Charlie: I think we'd make a good backing band for Yoko Ono personally.
Jill: Miss Jackson, if you’re reading this, won’t you play with us? Won’t you? Please?
BRCM: What's next for The Dyes? Recording? Touring? etc.
All of the above! We’re eager to get back on the road, as always, and we’d ideally like to do some overseas touring as soon as possible. We also do a biannual Cramps tribute show (Lisa starring as Poison Ivy, Jill as Candy del Mar, and Charlie as Nick Knox) with our friend Matt McVader of Thee Invaders (based here in Chicago) as the late, great Lux Interior, and Augie Barnhart of The Muddy Udders (based out of Green Bay) as Bryan Gregory. We’ll be doing that at The Exit punk bar in Chicago on March 10th for the Psychobilly Spring Fling Pre-Party. We’d also like to film another music video!
Phew! That about sums it up then. Take a listen, and then go buy their goddam record! Have we ever steered you wrong?
The Dyes: Sun's Come Up (mp3)
The Dyes: You Still Get Around (mp3)
Please support your local independent whatever. Seriously. Buy local when you can, consarnit!