Dash Rip Rock: 20 Years and Strong...
Bill Davis Interview (4-7-05)
By Ronnie

Yep, I admit it - I'm an unabashed Dash-hole! In 1989 I saw Dash for the first time and it was nothing short of a religious experience - the band reaffirmed my faith in rock and roll and I was reborn as a fervent member of the holy rock 'n roll church of Dash Rip Rock (ha ha- probably being "baptized" by Hoaky from his then ever-present bottle of Jack Daniels!). A lot has changed since then - various membership shake-ups and even the departure of Hoaky. But Dash Rip Rock endures. And I don't mean, "endures" like some bands, which milk their name for all it's worth. Dash Rip Rock is still vital on each new record and as a live act (their live show is something of which legends are born and that must be something that is hard to live up to!)

Amazingly, the band is celebrating their 20th anniversary. Hell, that makes Dash Rip Rock almost an "institution". What's even more amazing is that the band has never put out a bad album! How many other bands can claim that in 20 years? And in touring for their 20th anniversary (hell, have they ever STOP touring?), Dash Rip Rock has a lot to celebrate. Not only are they still going strong as a touring unit (despite many, many membership changes) - but also they also just signed on with Alternative Tentacles Records and have released a new compilation of some of their best songs (plus a few rarities) called RECYCLONE. And if that ain't enough to satisfy all the Dash-holes out there - they've got a weekly podcast show with plenty of Dash Rip Rock rarities and never-before-heard live tracks.

Dash Rip Rock also holds another special place in my heart - they were my FIRST interview when I embarked on this "hobby" of rock 'n roll journalism (ha ha, I still don't make ANY money at it, so I just call it a "hobby"). That was in 1995, so I guess I'm also celebrating an anniversary in 2005 - ten years of writing about music! Over the years there have been plenty of interviews with Dash Rip Rock, but they are still one of my favorite acts to talk to. I recently talked to Bill Davis about the "state of the Dash Rip Rock union".

E.C.: You've got a new record RECYCLONE on the Alternative Tentacles label. How did the Alternative Tentacles deal come about?

Bill Davis: I met Jello backstage at a Mojo Nixon show during SXSW in the 80's. He said he had bought our 1st 45 (MArsupial/SHake) and had paid $20 for it! He and Mojo had just recorded "Prairie Home INvasion" - it had the mega-hit "Will the Fetus Be Aborted." He is a vinyl nut and doesn't own a computer nor a CD player. We hit it off. Drivin & Cryin asked us to do some dates with them this spring/summer and I thought it would be a good idea to have a new record out to sell to the DNC crowd. I called Jello and he said he wanted to put out at least 3 records. So we're on their roster, which is where we should've been all along. We're a punk band with an identity crisis.

E.C.: What's it like working with Jello Biafra? Did he have much input on the new CD, other than suggesting the title, "Dash Rip Rock-The Mullet Years"? While that is a funny title, none of you guys ever had a mullet (especially Chris)! Did it take much convincing to convince him to go with RECYCLONE as the title?

Bill Davis: Jello gave me a list of 20 possible album titles over the phone. He has about a thousand of these ideas sitting around - song titles, band names, album titles. His suggestions were way better than anything we'd come up with. I think our next record is gonna be called "Howling on the Back Porch of Hell" - another JB idea.

E.C.: When I first heard "Marsupial" and "Shake That Girl" I said, "Wait! These are different versions from the original albums!" Then I read that they were off your first 45rpm released summer of 1984. Are there any other Dash Rip Rock rarities still in the vault? I guess the "holy grail" of Dash Rip Rock collectibles is still "Greatest Shits"?

Bill Davis: I'm doing a podcast every other week for our website. It's a radio show that loads directly into your MP3 player - or you can also hear it on your computer. I've dug up some cool old Dash stuff that I'll include on that thing. I can't see a rarities album ever being release. Our songs are about as rare as dirt, air, water - beaucoups. "worst of Dash" is a tape Fred made. "Greatest Shits" is also a hoot. You did the art for that one, I think.

[Note: actually the cover I did for "Greatest Shits" was a parody from 2004 when Bill first mentioned this CD to me.]

E.C.: As a retrospective, I like the fact that RECYCLONE leans heavily towards Dash's later stuff (TIGER TOWN, PAYDIRT & SONIC BOOM - which I think are under rated!). Also, it's great seeing “Falling Apart", which was one of my faves from TIGER TOWN. How did you decide which songs to use? Were the entire tracks re-mastered?

Bill Davis: "Fallin' Apart" is my ode to Badfinger and Blue Oyster Cult. It was written when two very close friends lost family members - so I was trying to cheer them up. The newer stuff sonically kicks more ass. On the first 2 records, George Pappas was trying to straddle the line between punk rock and REM-influenced southern jangly stuff. The songs are good but they don't have as much bite. My goal for Recyclone was for it to be a PUNK RAWK record start to finish. It only slows down at "Marsupial".

E.C.: You don't own the Mammoth Records stuff correct? Did you use the GOLD RECORD versions of the songs from DASH RIP ROCK, ACE OF CLUBS and NOT OF THIS WORLD?

Bill Davis: All the songs are off CDs not owned by Mammoth. They're the only record company that retained any rights to the Dash. And that ownership is in doubt - they're not really in business anymore so we're hoping to grab them back soon.

E.C.: I love the new version of "Pot 2005", updated with hippy bands. Will there be a new video for it as well?

Bill Davis: We brought POT into the 21st century with the current crop of dope bands. They're still around and they're still pissing me off. Bonnaroo is another reason I felt like Pot should be resurrected. It's a big old fuck-up fest with hours and hours of mindless, talentless noodling. We have a video for "Eventually Evangeline" we are releasing with this disc. It's on our DVD. We hope to get some TV time with it.

E.C.: I recently came across a Dash Rip Rock discography on the net and there was an album from 2001 that I had never heard of called "Hits and Giggles". Was this a 'greatest hits record' or were any of these tracks re-recorded like GOLD RECORD? Are there any rarities on this record that can’t be found elsewhere?

Bill Davis: "Hits and Giggles" was a homemade deal we just sold out of our online store. It was never on a label. It had "Jenny Says" on it, among other things. It was big in Denmark, go figger.

E.C.: The last time I talked to you was about a year ago and since that time Kyle has come back, correct? What happened to Jody Smith? Did he spontaneously combust?

Bill Davis: Jody wasn't quite right for the band. He didn't travel well and his sense of humor ran counter to me and Brian's. He would say things on stage that would just puzzle the shit out of me. He's a good drummer, an awesome funky drummer. He played the best drum solo DRR ever had! He didn't combust, Kyle wanted back in so Jody was nice enough to let him rejoin.

E.C.: What are the plans for the band after the 20th Anniversary? Still staying together and playing live? Business as usual?

Bill Davis: We're gonna record for AT as long as possible and tour our butts off.

E.C.: You had also mentioned possibly having some reunion shows (with Fred and Hoaky), did that ever pan out?

Bill Davis: We did two, they were fun. It's really up to Fred. His schedule is the busiest. Hoaky's just chillin' down in Fla. - He's probably not wanting to hear a bunch of loud irritating music at this point. We're gonna reunite when they put us in the Hall of Fame. One night only.

E.C.: You can always do a series of "farewell tours" - or even do like YES and have every single member who has played with you on one stage! I think your former bass players now outnumber your former drummers! Speaking of bass players, is Brian Broussard singing yet?

Bill Davis: I'm trying to have as many bass players as drummers. The number is nearly even. It's easiest just to count the guitar players we've had. Brian sings like fuckin' canary. He's got my vote for this year's American Idol, Nashville Star and America's Next Top Model. He's the glue that holds the Dash together. We're still trying to get him laid, though. He's the shy, silent type.

E.C.: How about that ever elusive Dash Rip Rock book? Now that the muckraking biographer Albert Goldman has passed, I guess we'll have to rely on Kitty Kelly? Or are we gonna have to wait for you to "retire" to see your memoirs?

Bill Davis: A book would require all 40+ members of DRR to remember what happened. Most of us are having trouble feeding ourselves and going potty.

E.C.: When will there be a new Dash Rip Rock record? And...when the hell will we see a Bill Davis solo record ("Hey Bill")?

Bill Davis: I do have solo record in the works - it will probably coincide with the Beatles reunion. It will be called "Bill Davis plays music for comfort".

Over the past years we have had many articles about Dash Rip Rock. Here is a list of them: