Interview with Dash Rip Rock
Taking their name from Ellie May's boyfriend on The Beverly Hillbillies, Dash Rip Rock has been relentlessly belting out their southern version of country-punk for ten years. Their popularity on the college circuit comes despite their lack of airplay. With the upcoming release of their sixth album, DRR is hoping to finally break the radio stronghold with Get You Some of Me on the Austin-based label Sector II. While on a stop in Atlanta, Bill Davis (guitar and vocals) and Hoaky Hickel (bass) took a breather from their hectic touring to talk about their new album and the band.
They average about 250 gigs a year, mostly in the South. "Yeah, we go up to Seattle once a year. We tour the major rock markets at least once a year to remind everybody that we're not dead," Bill states. Hoaky chimes in, "And we come back and they say 'Damn! You guys are still alive?'". The band's constant touring results in their tightness onstage, Hoaky claims. "If we take more than a week off, we forget the fucking songs!" Bill adds. "That's very true. Each one of us in our own individual areas are superb musicians!"
On Get You Some of Me, the band tried a different approach from their previous five albums. "We didn't have a producer, we just did it ourselves," Bill explains. "This time we were able to do all the wild shit that we wanted to do. It works together, but it's wilder. We took chances that the producers don't like to take."
After two previous labels, Dash Rip Rock signed a three album deal with Austin's Sector II records. The album was delayed from release for almost a year because, as Bill says, "We were waiting to get the right deal. We were six years into our career and we still didn't give a shit whether we made it big or not. We've made so many albums, we've been together so long and we've made so many mistakes."
With a new record label, new manager and new booking agent, Bill says the band has a new approach "with some sort of strategy, which is unheard of with Dash Rip Rock."
In addition to the new album, the band also has a radio single from a compilation album called Let's Go Smoke Some Pot. They voted hands down for what they call their stupidest song, "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot". "It's gonna get shitloads of airplay, just cause it's so stupid. It's destined to be a smash hit!" Bill laughs. "At least the morning DJs will play it, it's kind of a joke song."
A hybrid cross of Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Sex Pistols, Dash Rip Rock's form of pure rock and roll endures. Bill even caught The Sex Pistols in Louisiana in 1978, stating the band's influence. "It made me wanna drink and be a wild punk rocker, you know? We wanted to take some of the more sensitive Southern stuff that was happening at the time, like R.E.M. and Guadalcanal Diary and mix it together with The Scorchers and The Leroi Brothers. So we'd play all these punk songs and we'd play some pretty cool southern country songs as well."
Bill is hoping that Get You Some of Me is the album that breaks the elusive radio stranglehold. "Right now, I'd like to try to get some airplay and sell some records. I think with the new album we are gonna get close to that." When asked the reason for their lack of radio play, Bill replies, "Our first records were kinda collegy, but we started turning more haywire-twisted-redneck punk rock on our more recent records and there is no radio market for that."
Dash Rip Rock falls between "new rock" and "classic rock"- they aren't frustrated heroin artistes or over-the-hill dinosaurs.
"We're close to being over the hill dinosaurs, ha ha! I mean, we'll never be associated with any trend. The funny thing about trying to be different or rebel against grunge or alternative or anything is that you're not gonna sell records, you're not gonna get airplay. I think there is a reason for it. Historically speaking, two hundred years from now we'll be remembered as being that wild, punk rock country band from Louisiana. Whereas all these bands that re lumped into Lollapalooza and all that shit are just gonna be nameless and faceless."
At the end of the interview I mentioned a Dash Rip Rock virgin's initiation to their live show and my friend's reaction afterwards. My friend asked, "Why aren't these guys big?!" I asked Bill the same question. "Fame is something we don't pursue. Why be famous when we're just doing what we wanna do?!"