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Interview: The Dalloways.
So, let's see. Why did I decide to interview Fresno five-piece, The Dalloways? Oh, yes. I saw a bulletin posting on MySpace that said the band had an upcoming show at The Starline on January 28. So I took a look at the quintet's Web site and decided they were probably worth a couple hours of my time.
As I was reading through The Dalloways' bio, the word "dreampop" kept showing up as description of its sound. Now, I'm just going to come out and say it: I have no friggin' clue what "dreampop" is. I mean, I have an idea, but I couldn't really give you a definition. I guess I'll have to go to the show and find out. Now that I think about it, I've actually seen The Dalloways before. At least I think I have. It was quite a while ago. But I've forgotten what they sound like. I do, however, remember the guitarist having a cool guitar. Man, I just used the word "guitar" twice in the same sentence. Oh well. Maybe I'm thinking of a completely different group. Who knows?
Anyway This interview was done via e-mail with Dalloways singer/guitarist Gerhard Enns. He's also an English professor. I forgot to ask him where he teaches. I guess it's not that important. If you really wanna know, just ask him at the show this Saturday. This interview turned out really well. I think it's because Gerhard answered the questions in a very detailed manner. And I'm not just saying that so you'll read it! I should interview more musicians/English professors. It's makes my editing job a lot easier.
I won't go into too many details about this history of the Dalloways and all that stuff. It's not important. Well, it is important but I'm too lazy to write a long-ass intro (it's getting lengthy enough as it is). The band has a great bio on their Web site if you're interested. For now, let's just read this interview and make an attempt to see The Dalloways at the Starline January 28. We'll figure the rest out later.
Interviewed by Mitchell Peters
After I e-mailed The Dalloways MySpace and asked for an interview, somebody named Matt said to interview you. And the first thing that popped into my head was this other guy named Gerhard Potuznik. He's this electro-techno guy who goes under the moniker GD Luxxe. Have you heard of him?
Gerhard Enns: Never heard of him. I'll go for a listen on iTunes after this conversation. We Gerhard's have got to stick together.
OK, moving on I got this quote from The Dalloways blog (http://dalloways.blogspot.com/):
"Cross a college English lit. professor with a Britpop inspired rhythm section and one platinum synth girl (who happens to be married to the prof.), and you'll get something like The Dalloways."
Kindly elaborate on this statement so our readers get a better understanding of what the person who wrote this is talking about. Thanks
I've been into books for a long time — in particular British modernism. The band name is an allusion to a Virginia Woolf novel, and other literary characters pop up from time to time in subtle ways in the songs. For instance, I got the name and character idea for Tiffy from a John Cheever short story that I really loved. I've written about marginalized Biblical characters like Lot's youngest daughter, who's hometown and fiance got burned up by a wrathful God. I've just finished a song called "Ada" based on Lord Byron's mathematician daughter. So I guess that's where the English prof. in me comes out in the music.
The Britpop inspired rhythm section? Well, our whole sound is basically British, if you ask me — though we're all California born. The pop luminaries we admire always seem to be British — The Jam, The Style Council, Prefab Sprout, The Smiths, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Lloyd Cole.
And, as fate, luck, and love would have it, I married a platinum blond synth-playing girl who happened to fit perfectly in the band.
I really like the band's bio on your Website. It seems well written. Guess that's 'cause you're a English professor.
I prefer others to write our press material whenever possible, but that's not always practical and can get expensive. You've either got to hire great writers and pay them well or do the hard work of description and elevator pitch writing yourself. If you're an introvert or even slightly humble, then telling others how great you are is a difficult task.
Tell us about your latest full-lenth record Penalty Crusade.
Penalty Crusade is pop music. Most of the songs move from slightly understated verses to climactic choruses, like "Lot's Youngest Daughter." But other songs do break the pop structure. "Ice Capades" for instance seems to swell into one longer, more rambling chorus rather than the pop structure of a repeating chorus.
Regarding the sound, we've been inpspired a little by dreampop/shoegaze. I think you can hear that in the lush delays of the guitars in "Clarissa, Dear" and "Marriage Arranged." Those are my favorite guitar songs on the album.
Once the new album is out in 2006, I think that PC will stand out as our more melancholic album. It is full of break-ups and splits and losses. It was what I was feeling at the time I wrote those songs. The new material has its share of melancholy, but there's a little more joy and light shining through, as if those characters on PC have benefitted from the passage of time as I have.
I know The Dalloways have been around the Fresno music scene for a while. Give us a brief history of the band.
The Dalloways started over a mutual love of beautiful post-punk edge. After the punk revolution, the music scene seemed to backlash and get pretty, but it maintained that punk edginess. My high school chum Jonny Wall and I both loved The Smiths and The Ocean Blue. Some of those Smiths tunes are twangy honky tonk punk songs with this strange British guy crooning in a beautiful and sad way about young people feeling tragic. That's just plain strange, beautiful, and heartbreakingly sad, especially if you're in high school.
All high schoolers should listen to The Smiths. They need that healthy outlet for their tragic tendancies.
More history? Enlisted Matt Wall (aka Bluff) on bass, and Aaron Wall (40 Watt Hype frontman and producer extraorinaire), then Ricky Gonzales (40 Watt guitarist) to take the place of Jonny, who's priorities had changed, and then Nico Rhodes on synth to round out the live sound.
We share CDs, we listen to the same stuff in order to maintain a cohesion. For instance, I've shared Feist, Stars, The Dears, The Pernice Brothers, etc. with everyone in the band. But everyone has their own taste. In the tour van, the music shells break open. We've listened to Tool, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Burt Bacharach, 50 Cent. We're always listening and enjoying. All of it fuels the songs in ways we don't even understand.
I tried to Google your label — Bird In Box Records — but the page that came up didn't load. Where are they based out of and how did you hook up with them?
The URL, www.birdinbox.com is up now. The Dalloways are indie in the purest sense. We do the music making, producing, management, and public relations. Bird is Box our own imprint, our own company. As a band taking on many business roles, it's useful to create a company to help separate the business aspects from the music. So if Nico is working through Bird in Box, for instance, she can represent The Dalloways in a more detached way than is possible as a band member.
If/when we sign a label deal, the Bird in Box imprint will hopefully follow. You see this precident set on lot's of indie bands that move on to larger labels.
Where does your band's fascination with Britpop come from?
Hard to explain. Early in high school I gravitated to the Brit sound. I may have longed form something more exotic than a life in Reedley could offer. There was something that seperated the sound of a band like Ride, for instance, from anything coming out of the states. The cymbals were awash, the vocals were dreamy. New Order was simply amazing to me. The Cure's Disintegration. It was all Brit.
Do you remember the first real concert you went to?
The Simple Minds at The Selland Arena in Fresno. It was the Once Upon a Time tour. That album was huge. They were up there with U2 at the time — so it seemed, anyway. The album is really over the top, and great in some way. They were beautiful post-punk. Members even started out in a punk band Johnny and the Self-Abusers.
I read that you have a background in fiction writing. Does this play into your music at all? If so, how?
Most of my songs take a narrative thread — they are snapshots of the lives of their characters. "Ice Capades" for instance is about a fictional male figure skater and womanizer who nearly wins a gold in Innsbruck 1976 and carries on with one of many women in the Olympic Village. Flash to present day, and he and the woman meet again at his Ice Capades show. He's a wash-up, really, skating in a viking costume with his old silver around his neck and his unrealized dreams following him around the ice like ghosts. But here is this living, breathing ghost from his past, and suddendly, there's a chance at something good growing out of the ashes. It's my favorite song of mine because I feel so strongly for the characters and want them to connect and finally find love. I wrote that one on Post-it notes stuck to my steering wheel on a long drive back from a gathering at the coast. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone — it's very dangerous.
What current bands/artists are The Dalloways listening to these days — Fresno and beyond?
Feist is beautiful. The Pernice Brothers are fantasic. The Sleepover Disaster (Fresno) is a longtime favorite. Bart Davenport — especially Maroon Cocoon. I just bought The Essential Willie Nelson, and that keeps me company to and from work right now. Talk about a great story teller! It's very creepy when you realize that behind that soft, benign voice of Willie is a menacin first-person fictional character that is promising his ex-lover, "Oh, in time you're gonna pay."
Browsing through your Website and blog, I saw quite a few rave revues for Penalty Crusade. Did you guys make press kits and send them our yourself or do you have a publicist?
We sent many out through our label. Some of them were requested by music journals and e-zines, and others we just sent blindly. It's a good idea to connect with editors before you send out. It helps when they're expecting the CD.
We send to every reviewer a copy of the CD and a one-page that includes a pic, a bio, credits, and contact info. In general, reviews have been really positive.
Your heart stops when you get a review back. I always have Nico read them first and then tell me about them because I'm really not very tough when it comes to these things.
I see you have California tour dates from February throug April. I'm not sure if you all have day jobs but, if so, how do you manage to juggle working and touring?
Right now, we do have day jobs. I teach, so summers are fantastic for me. We all work hard to make time for the band. Sometimes it necessitates burning up a few vacation days for some of us. More often, it means planning for weekend shows. We frequently play a night show in San Francisco or Los Angeles and then blitz back the same night because one of us has work the next day. If you love music, you make time for it however you can. It, of course, is the dream of us all to retire from our day jobs and enter the world of full time music.
Does your band have a booking agent and/or manager?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for booking information.
Any memorable shows you've played in Fresno that you'd like to share?
The Starline is always a highlight in Fresno. The engineers and the sound system are first-rate there, and we're usually very happy and content on stage. I remember a fine show there in February 2005 with our buddies Cerus Victoria and Winter Wardrobe. The place was packed with happy people and had a great vibe. We felt warm and inspired on stage that night. Not all shows have this feeling. Some, especially on the road, can be real disappointments. Seattle, for instance, was a real dud — a room full of drunk frat boys standing at the bar with their backs turned to us. They didn't inspire us, and we didn't inspire them.
Judging from your band photos, you're all pretty snappy dressers. I hate dressing nice. I guess I'm just lazy. Anyway, do you always dress this nice, or just for photo shoots?
We like to shop and dress up for the night. When we come to perform, we want to stand out, even when we're just talking before or after the set. We want people to think, "Oh, they must be in the band," even if they don't know us. Why do all those old school jazz and soul musicians always look so dapper in their suits and skinny ties? Same theory, I guess. But maybe we'll change. For the next album, maybe we'll all be wearing hipster T-shirts and tight jeans. Or maybe we'll go mod, like The Lilys.
What are your short/long-term goals for The Dalloways? Do you want to take the project pretty far, or is it just for fun?
We have a lot of fun along the way, but if this were just for fun, we wouldn't be feeling so much of the business pains that come with touring and promoting. We would just play locally and would not be going through the hassle of making retail-ready CDs. This is a lot of work and sometimes demands all your money. We're recording new material right now and will be shopping it to major indies as soon as we've chosen and spruced up the new singles. The new album will be out in 2006. We'll be playing some of the tunes at The Starline January 28. How's the new stuff? It rocks in a very pretty way.
The Dalloways will be performing January 28 at The Starline (833 E. Fern Ave., Fresno, CA 93728). The 16 and over show costs $6.