Dum Dum Girls
UK Tour
May 2010
Interview: Steve Bateman

“With each offering clocking in around the two minute mark, I Will Be is over almost as soon as it’s begun – leaving behind a smouldering trail of hazy mysticism and filthy bass lines. It’s short and sweet, but there’s a definite sting in the tail.” DOT MUSIC

“It’s anachronistic, fashionable and sometimes quite beautiful. It’s teen music for adults. It’s also incredibly sentimental.” NEW YORK TIMES

“Some may argue that there’s nothing here the Ramones or Jesus And Mary Chain didn’t do decades ago, and there are obvious similarities, to be sure. However, the decidedly female energy the Dum Dum Girls bring to the table puts them in their own category, inserting some welcome softness and subtlety into the genre.” NOW MAGAZINE

Describing their sound as ‘Blissed Out Buzzsaw’, the Dum Dum Girls are Dee Dee (vocals / guitar), Jules (guitar), Bambi (bass) and Frankie (drums), who call Southern California home. A review of their debut record and its energy source, highlighted: “A short, fast punk album littered with elements of ‘60s pop, the Dum Dum Girls wear their influences on their sleeves and traces of early girl groups and punk pioneers can be heard throughout I Will Be. Named after The Vaselines album Dum Dum and the Iggy Pop song Dum Dum Boys, the Dum Dum Girls were originally founded as a solo project for lead vocalist Dee Dee, who along with noted producer Richard Gottehrer, also produced the record.”

Speaking to About.com about her musical past, Dee Dee (who went to school in Germany and sometimes sings in German) revealed: “When I was a very small child, in pre-school and kindergarten, I used to record things. I don't really know what they were about, but those must qualify as my beginnings. I played violin in elementary school and middle school, I sang in choirs and studied voice through college. So, I had a pretty significant vocal background. When I was 20, I felt very strongly that I wanted to be in a band, but I wasn't really sure how to; I’d never been in one, I didn't play instruments. For a long time, I was pretty dependent on other people to write songs I could sing over. I had boyfriends, and I sang in bands where they wrote the songs. I picked up the drums, and played the drums for a long while. But, I only really started to write proper songs the last couple of years, when I finally picked up the guitar. It took me a while to know that I could do this myself. I learned the hard and slow way.”

Starting in late 2008, Dee Dee then began recording in her bedroom, alone, going onto release a CDR on her own label Zoo Music, followed by a 7” and 12” on a couple of small independent labels in the US. Although the tracks that would make up the Dum Dum Girls debut album, I Will Be (Sub Pop), as previously mentioned, also saw Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, The Go-Go’s, The Raveonettes) adding ‘gentle finessing’ to the final mixes – who was at the top of Dee Dee’s wish list to do so! With Dee Dee realising that she would now need a live band, she eventually found her gang one-by-one and completed the line-up in the summer of 2009. Image-wise, the girls’ look is put down to both a love of style and as a guise to help Dee Dee overcome the stage fright she has suffered from in the past.

Returning to their long player, the Dum Dum Girls Press Release adds: “I Will Be runs just under thirty minutes with eleven songs; a short tribute to love, loss, fear, fun and the classic pop form of the ‘60s girl groups and early punk rockers. Explaining the album’s dark-and-sunny feel, Dee Dee says, ‘There’s an overdramatic tone, much like a teenager’s world, but applied to the experience of getting older’.” As an LP that has already taken pride of place in my record collection, I was fortunate enough to speak to Dee Dee over the telephone – who was a total sweetheart – whilst the Dum Dum Girls were in the UK, about how they’ve effortlessly managed to bring their own brand of vintage bubblegum pop into 2010…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.To begin with, Dum Dum Girls songs have lots of catchy pop hooks and harmonies – but which song hooks and harmonies have most stuck in your head?
“That’s kind of been my favourite thing forever, which is why it’s in all of my songs! I was a huge Beatles fan as a kid, and now, I kind of feel like they did it kind of perfect from the beginning. I definitely try to impart extremely catchy melodies into all of my songs and then on top of that, to use a lot of harmonies as well. I love The Supremes and a lot of the girl group stuff – although they weren’t necessarily writing their own songs – but I love that pop song sensibility (pausing), you know, the songs were written by professional songwriters and it was like their job to write hits (laughing)! I mean I don’t think about it so clinically, but it’s definitely on my mind – always – when I’m writing a song, just to put in hooks.”

2.Famously, Nirvana never ended a song on a fade-out, but do you ever think about how a track will end / its tempo, or does this happen naturally?

“That definitely happens more naturally and after the fact. I write all of my songs on an acoustic guitar, so you know, for me it’s more like, ‘OK, here’s the verse, the pre-chorus, the chorus, here’s the bridge’ and then once I start recording it, then I can start playing around with it and moving things around, or changing the tempo or doing a fade-out, stuff like that.”

3.Do you prefer to have a deadline to work to, or to be able to complete music / lyrics as and when you want to?
“I don’t know. It’s kind of that weird thing that happens with first records versus second records, where you maybe don’t know that you’re writing for a record that first year, when you’re compiling songs. So then all of a sudden when the opportunity presents itself, you’re like, ‘Oh sweet, I have 10 songs – I’ll write 2 more and then there’s a record!’ It all happens very naturally you know, and without pressure. Then, you go on tour for a year and all of a sudden, you’re like, ‘Shit! I need to write a record and record it in the next 2 months (laughing)!’ For me, I don’t know if I will like how that feels, so I definitely haven’t stopped writing songs. You know, it’s not that I write songs everyday, but I definitely have compiled at least 8 songs which could be shared between an EP and the next record. I try to write them as they come, but sometimes, I do sit down and force it out a bit more, because maybe a month has gone by and I haven’t written anything. So sometimes it comes out really easily and sometimes it needs a bit of prodding.”

4.What was the first song that you wrote and were really proud of?
“I’ve written songs since I was a little kid, but I really think that when I wrote Catholicked, I was really proud of that one. I felt like the words were (pausing), some were clever, but they also had quite a bit of meaning behind them. I was pleased with how the melodies developed and I thought it was kind of that combination of a straightforward pop verse, but then with a much more soaring chorus driving the song. It was just unforgettable really, and it was kind of my first success at pairing up all these things together; the harmonies etc. So yeah, I think that was maybe the first song where I was like, ‘OK, I think I’m onto something and I think this is what I want to be doing’ and that song received a lot of attention for the small world that it existed in, so that was validating in that sense as well.”

5.Are there any particular lyrics that you’ve heard, or any lines of poetry that you’ve read over the years, that have always stayed with you?
“Um, I can’t think of any off-hand right now, but I definitely read a lot of poetry and I read a lot of collected lyrics of bands that I love, as inspiration. My husband (Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles) gave me a collected book of all of Patti Smith’s lyrics and she’s one of my biggest inspirations, and if I’m ever having a dry spell, I always read her lyrics. She’s definitely my go to! But poetry is something that (pausing), if I wasn’t writing songs, I’d be writing poems (laughing)! Yeah, for me, it’s like a big thing that I do follow. It’s funny, at my house, like I said, if I’m having a dry spell, I go to Patti Smith and my husband goes to Nick Cave. They’re kind of our go to’s (laughing)!”

6.In the UK, there is an excellent Sky Arts TV Show called ‘Songbook’, whereby a songwriter talks in-depth about their career / songs, but is there anybody who you would like to see discuss their songbook?
“Let me see here (thinking)… Probably Patti Smith, I find her whole career and her deal, pretty fascinating!”

7.What are your memories of the first ever show that you all played together, and as you’ve now played shows in the USA, Europe and the UK, have there been any particularly memorable places for you?
“We played a few shows together for CMJ last year in New York, and we did a tour. But for me, the first time it felt like this was the beginning of a longer path we’re on, was probably our first London show in February at The Old Blue Last. Something about that night was just magical! You know, we showed up and we’d just flown in – we didn’t know what to expect and it was a small crowd. We set up our gear and we met the opening bands, who were so sweet and they seemed excited to be playing with us, and for us it was like, ‘Wow, it’s kind of shocking that anyone even knows who we are really.’ The fact that we were at the beginning of a week of shows, all in London, it was like, ‘I think we’re going to play to you every show (laughing)!’ That seems bizarre, but that night, the club sold out and I think it was over capacity. I’m not sure if you’ve been there, but the set-up in that room is pretty long and narrow and high-ceilinged, but something about it just felt really comfortable in that space, and I feel like our sound really enveloped the room perfectly. We had a chance meeting with the band Girls as well, who we were about to go on a US Tour with and they happened to be in London that night. Christopher and JR came to the show and we met them, so that was really fun too and surprising. It was kind of like the perfect night basically and we played really well, we weren’t jet-lagged yet (laughing), so something about that seemed like the beginning of something. The tour with Girls was also really special and we played New York with them, which was really amazing – we played Webster Hall and it was huge! So I would say perhaps that gig as well.”

8.In relation to this, The JD Set recently invited a selection of bands to reinterpret classic and influential albums as part of a series of special shows, but is there a record that you would all like to cover for a one-off gig?
“You mean to perform someone else’s? Oh wow (excitedly)! I would do – I’m sure a terrible attempt – but I would cover Spiritualized: Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. That’s one of my favourite records of all-time! Maybe in the future (laughing)!”

9.I Will Be has a very memorable opening and closing track, but do you have any favourite album intros and outros?
“Wow (surprised), you know, I put so much thought into what opened and closed my record, but that’s maybe not something that I think about that much when I’m listening to a record – I think I should (laughs heartily)! So, I don’t think I have an answer for you (laughing)… The next time that I listen to a record, I’ll pay special attention!”

10.As you’re responsible for the artwork on your sleeves, are you yourself an avid record collector and do you have any favourite collectibles?
“Yeah, I definitely am, but I mean my husband is more so than I am, so I kind of leave it up to him – he has a huge record collection! I think most recently, we were really excited about all of the Spacemen 3 reissues.”

11.Each month, NME.COM is giving away a free ‘Radar Mixtape’ to download with 20 of the best tracks from emerging new artists / groups. Do you think this is a good idea?
“Yeah, I think that’s great! I don’t have my finger on the pulse completely, in terms of what’s going on now, just being so busy with what we’re doing. So, I appreciate little introductions like that, where it’s a band that I might not have heard, had someone not shown them to me. I know I’m not going to like everything, but I’m sure I’d like at least one thing.”

12.I really love the duet with your husband on Blank Girl, but if you could sing a duet with anybody else, who would it be and why + are there any dream collaborations that you would like to see happen?
“Oh wow (excitedly), I would love to sing with Iggy Pop! He’s one of my heroes, so that would be unbelievable! With a dream collaboration that I would like to see happen, I don’t know, I’m not sure – that seems like a personal thing for the band you know? I mean for me, I can say, ‘I’d love to duet with Iggy Pop or J Spaceman or something,’ but I’m sure the band would have to figure it out for themselves.”

13.I read that you use Dee Dee instead of your real name (Kristin Gundred), as a tribute to your Mum, but what do you think are some of the coolest rock stars names of all-time?
“Iggy Pop’s pretty much right up there (laughing)! I also think Dee Dee Ramone and the Spacemen 3 names are pretty good, like Sonic Boom, and maybe Engelbert Humperdinck (laughing)!”

14.What are your biggest hopes for the Dum Dum Girls, and do you see your sound evolving in the future?
“I think that right now, we’re just looking into this next year of touring and we’re going to record an EP and then eventually another record. I’m sure that we’ll evolve slightly, I’m not interested in doing the same thing forever – I’m kind of seeking out forward movement and progression!”

15.Seeing as your music evokes images of classic Americana, do you have a favourite diner, and the reason that I ask that is, because lastly, this is a long-running question for fun, which would you choose out of chips (french fries) or cream buns (pastries)?
“A favourite diner? I actually really enjoy The Brite Spot in Echo Park, Los Angeles, and out of chips or cream buns, I would go for sweet (laughing). I like them both, but my preference is with the sweet!”

A very special thanks to Dee Dee, to the Dum Dum Girls Tour Manager Joe, and to Nita @ Goldstar PR, for all of their time and help.



‘Blissed Out Buzzsaw’



wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?