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Dwarves | FEFU | interview | Blag Dahlia | punk | Lollipop
An interview with vocalist Blag Dahlia
Photos and interview by Chris Casella
Here with Blag Dahlia, rock'n'roll legend...
I appreciate that.
Blag helped raise me...
I take no responsibility for that.
Through your music and the guidance in your music, your vision of how to interact with the ladies...
Your mom and I, we did our best. We did what we could.
Is that where I got my brown eyes?
(laughs) I don't like to mention your mom and "brown eyes" at the same time.
The depravity of the Dwarves is the stuff of legend, on and offstage. What's the philosophy on this?
You can see some of it on the FEFU DVD that spans 20 years of mayhem. Something about our music inspires people to go off, get violent, and fuck each other. I can't really explain it. There've been so many incidents... I've been stabbed, beaten over the head, had my cock sucked, my balls kicked, and that was just on stage. Then there's the living legend that is HeWhoCanNotBeNamed, a terror both on and offstage. We should get stuntmen, we really should.
Why don't you bare yourself, or wear stockings, etc. onstage anymore? Is this the more mature version of the Dwarves?
I used to be the naked one, but HeWho had a bigger cock and a flatter stomach, so he inherited the mantle.
The Dwarves are out touring a 2004 release...
The Dwarves Must Die, right. It was a classic. It was in the realm of the world's not ready yet.
What about The Dwarves Must Remix?
Yeah, we had dance mixes of the songs. That was by popular demand. All the discos and places where people dance were demanding Dwarves tracks on vinyl. The baggy pants hip hop kids needed some Dwarves, so we gave it to them.
And they loved it, of course.
They lapped it up. You know how it goes. Like everything the Dwarves do...
You worked with Suicide Girls on your DVD?
Yeah, we worked with the Suicide Girls. That was thrilling.
They really beat the shit out of you...
Yeah, that was their instruction. The song was called "Fuck Eat And Fuck You Up." (Which is what FEFU stands for. Try to keep up, kids. -Ed.) We didn't eat that much, but all the rest of it, we did. The idea was to beat me senseless, beat the band, hit us, hurt us, make us feel it.
I understand why you work with dwarves: You are the Dwarves, but how was your love scene in the video?
You know, everybody else makes their video and says "We want it to have a story. We want an underwear model girl and the story is like, she's real sad cuz I'm on the road, but I have to go so I can communicate with the people, and then we talk on the phone, and we get mad, and at the end, we kiss." I said "I'm not making that video. I said I want naked girls to beat the shit out of me, then I want to make out with a dwarf girl."
She was on the cover of How To Make Friends And Influence People.
Yes, Selene Lunez is her name. She's a great little person. I dig her. It's my only love scene. I was surrounded by Suicide Girls and fetish models, and I said "I'll take the dwarf." It's just how I roll, man.
I started listening to the Dwarves when you were on Sub Pop, around Blood Guts & Pussy, when everybody was on Sub Pop.
Everybody who was an antibody was on Sub Pop. (He might've said "Everybody who was an anybody," but this sounds cooler. -Ed.)
Poor Sub Pop...
Well, come on... They ran out of steam, we didn't.
What was the "Penetration Moon" 7" about? It was one and done?
It was about having long hair and picking up metal girls in the late '80s. We did a lot of Dead Boys, NY Dolls, and other palatable hair music. It was pretty hilarious, and somewhere there are 10 more songs!
How did you get on the Epitaph tour?
We made a record in '97 called The Dwarves Are Young & Good Looking which had a lot of the pop punk classics, all the hits. I licensed that to Epitaph, so that's how we got on their label. We made another record for them called Come Clean, and we did the Punk-O-Rama tour with The Distillers and Dropkick Murphys and the Bouncing Souls. We mostly did cocaine on that tour.
That probably kept you going...
It did. Otherwise, I would've fallen asleep for the other bands.
That tour was all ages...
All ages is good. Young girls are good. Now I'm at the point that I can literally sleep with a girl that I'm twice as old as.
What do you do to keep yourself in top physical condition?
Sodomy, clean living, LSD, and pizza. In a cup. Yep, I like it in a cup.
What do you consider "clean living"?
Bathing each day and eating well. Also, not sharing coke straws with hookers.
So you eat everything but the crust?
Everything but the crust.
So, Butt Crust...
Yeah, butt crust. (laughs) It's sort of my philosophy of music too: Everything but the crust.
What do you think of the sad state of affairs that is punk rock these days?
It's now a place where young bands invite their parents to the show and propose to their girlfriends when they turn 18. In other words, it makes me laugh. When I started, it was for outsiders, now it's very much inside.
Have you checked out any of the new "punk" music out? The Bronx? Kill Cheerleader?
We played shows with The Bronx. I like them. Haven't heard Kill Cheerleader. I like to listen to talk radio and read books, so I miss most new bands. I'm sure some of them are good, but there are too many bad ones to sift through.
You did some dates overseas with Nick Oliveri?
Yes, Nick Oliveri is a Rock Legend. He slept on my floor for several years. He's brilliant. He's super talented. We went to Europe and did all acoustic shit, which was fun.
Are you ever going to do that again?
Yeah, but he was calling it the Uncontrollable, and I don't know about that. We had a great time. We did Dwarves covers and Mondo songs, and then we did some of my funny songs, like "Bitch, I Love You" and "This Jihad." I like doing the acoustic shit because I get to talk to the crowd and make fun of people, the different side of the equation. It's kind of like Earl Lee Grace: I made a bluegrass record when that wasn't cool. After that George Clooney movie, everybody made bluegrass records...
Why weren't you on that soundtrack?
See, we always do everything before everyone else. So, Blood Guts & Pussy was before punk came back, and our first record, Horror Stories, was before the '60s punk thing, so we're always first. First punk band to lay beats and drum programming on a record. Five, six years later, everybody thought that was cool.
So what do you think about everybody riding your coattails?
It isn't even so much that they ride our coattails, they don't know enough to ride our coattails! We're just so far ahead of the curve, musically. They're riding someone else's coattails who's riding someone else's coattails who road ours. They don't even know... Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
I've seen you a few times live, and I've seen the two DVDs, and looking back on the early years, there was a considerable amount of violence.
There's been a lot of violence, and it's funny, because we can't fight to save our ass. Somehow, we are always getting stuff thrown at us. I got stabbed in the throat, almost killed me. I get beat over the head with things. It still happens all the time. Our music brings out violent impulses in people.
Like the back of the Blag Dahlia 7".
Right, where I had the shit beaten out of me. I've always been a target for violence. I've gotten in a few blows here and there. If you're going to dish it out, you're going to have to take it.
HeWhoCannotBeNamed looks like he can dish it out.
HeWho is more into random chaos, but you gotta love him. He's the guy who walks into the dance party and shakes around like an epileptic. By the end of the night, everybody's in love. It's impossible not to love HeWho. HeWhoCannotBeNamed is an icon of rock.
What are the plans for new recordings?
I'm making a weird record now. I'm doing it with a really good guitar player, Tom Harris, from Oakland. It's just crazy. I don't know what it is: It's not a country record, it's kind of retro, it's just a crazy record, it's not very Dwarves. I don't know what I'm going to call it, if the readers of Lollipop want to come up with a name for the record I'm making now...
You put a ton of time and effort into getting the folks you got to be on the last Dwarves record.
That was a hard one. Everyone from Dexter Holland from the Offspring, Nash Kato from Urge Overkill, Nick Oliveri from Mondo Generator...
And Queens Of The Trust Fund...
Yeah, and Queens Of The Trust Fund. We had San Quinn, who lives on my block in San Francisco, he's a great rapper. It was crazy: All kinds of different people guesting on there, like Gary Owens, the original announcer on Laugh In, an old television show from the '70s.
Wasn't he in the video for "Bleed On"?
I don't know if he's in there, he might be. I don't want his agent to call me. Yeah, The Dwarves Must Die, the idea was "can you change genres every sixty seconds on a record?" You have pop punk, hardcore punk, hip hop, turntable, noise, garage, every genre... and then you loop over, say, a garage record, and make it as though you were making a hip hop record, and make a new song. The Dwarves Must Die was a great experiment. I had Eric Valentine help me produce it. He's a great producer. It took a lot of time and was cool, and at the end of it, I said "the Dwarves must die, we can't do anything better than this, the Dwarves must die, death." This, being in Cleveland on a Monday night, is part of our death.
I heard you got in a little scuffle with the singer from Queens of the Stone Age.
Yeah, he was mad cuz I made fun of him on a record. He doesn't have much of a sense of humor. I was just sitting there, and he came up and hit me over the head with a bottle. I don't know if you've ever been hit over the head with a bottle when you're just kind of sitting there, but it's not like the movies. I don't give him too much thought. I don't like to talk about him, I like to talk about me.
The Dwarves Must Die mocked all the bullshit rock bands I don't care about, and I pretty much conquered them through music. They tried conquering through publicists and labels, but I don't have the time for that, I make music. So we decided to collect up all the old footage that we had and make a DVD of all the weird, violent events that happened. I've been around forever. One little monkey doesn't spoil the show. We made the FEFU video with footage from over the last twenty years.
I have to mention this: I wrote a book called Nina, about a naughty seventeen year old girl. It just came out, and people are saying I'm a child molester and all this kind of stuff. I got in an argument with someone about the Dwarves and that very subject a few years ago and almost beat the shit out of them. I tried to tell them it was just like watching a horror movie, it wasn't real. (laughs)
We're all on your team.
Team Dwarves. That's why we're in Lollipop, dude. These other magazines, it's all about payola. They don't care if they like the band or not, as long as we're paying for advertising, they'll put us in the magazine. Lollipop, this is a legit mag, man. That's why they're talking to the Dwarves.
Do you still have a rotating line-up?
We're like the Wu-Tang Clan of punk rock. No one ever leaves. Right now, we have the drummer from KMFDM, Dutch Ovens. We have the bass player from a San Diego metal band, End of Power, and John Cougar Concentration Camp, Chip Fracture. And, of course, HeWhoCannotBeNamed, my partner in crime. We've been making rock for 23 years. Fresh Prince of Darkness on guitar, he's a classic. All kinds of guys over the last few years. Nick comes in and out. We went to Europe, and he played bass. Yeah, Dwarves is like the Wu-Tang Clan, no one ever leaves. We only take the best.
Will there be any more Blag Dahlia singles or EPs?
I did a spoken word thing recently, based on some radio things I'd done, and some readings from my book Nina. I'm making a new record now that will probably get a group name, but not the Dwarves. It's kind of retro, kind of humor stuff.
One thing that stumped a lot of people is when you had a female bass player.
See, this is the thing: We don't hate women, we love women. We've even got a foreigner now. If we can get foreigners and women in our band, you know that we're warm and fuzzy. That was Tazzy Bushweed, she was great. Women are allowed, everyone's allowed in the Dwarves. You just can't be whack, that's the issue. We haven't had a Canadian yet, but we're working' on it.
When is Blag going to settle down and get a steady girl or (deep breath) get married?
I just got divorced, so give me a few days.