Here’s a reprint of an interview I did with Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls that ran in Hot Press last month.
Dum Dum Girls front-lady Dee Dee talks to Edwin McFee about life, love and loss and explains why her second album was a record that she had to make.
Just over a year ago, all-female garage punk group the Dum Dum Girls unleashed their critically acclaimed debut offering I Will Be out into the wild. Sounding a little like the snotty-nosed brats that the Ramones and the Ronettes never had, the record crackled and fizzed with power pop hooks and youthful bravado and it helped resurrect the tired old corpse that was the LA noise pop scene. Fast forward 17 months or so and the band are currently preparing to go out on tour to promote their second album Only In Dreams and it’s an LP that is sure to surprise some of their hardcore fanbase. Not that singer and main songwriter Dee Dee cares, mind.
“You know what?” she says in her sleepy, West Coast accent. “The punks will probably hate this new record but I really don’t care what they think. I don’t have any interest in making the same album over and over again. I’ve already done that, so now it’s time to move on to something else. For me, I felt like I took that garage punk sound as far as I could on I Will Be and I didn’t see the point in repeating myself. Hopefully our fans will stay with us and enjoy the new record and fingers crossed we’ll make some new ones too.”
Boasting a massive leap forward in terms of song structures and production values, Only In Dreams takes the ghost-pop choruses of the Shangri-La’s and blends them with Mazzy Star’s moody atmospherics and the Cramps’ 50s inspired stripped back sensibilities to emerge with a sound that’s unmistakably their own and it’s all polished to perfection thanks to B-52’s and Blondie producer Richard Gottehrer.
“This is the first record we’ve made with a producer,” Dee Dee explains. “It’s also the first album we’ve made as a band. I recorded and played on the previous record and singles and this is the first time everyone’s been involved and Richard really helped us all shine. I think the constant tours we’ve been doing have really helped us gel as a group and they’ve made us so in tune with each other that when it came to laying down the tracks everyone knew what they were doing and we never gave the ‘difficult second album syndrome’ a second thought.”
Dee Dee (whose real name is Kristen Gundred) has also matured into a powerful lyricist over the last year too. While the songs on I Will Be were generally about her fun-filled, boy crazy teenage years, much of the material on Only In Dreams was inspired by the recent death of her mother (who also graced the front cover of the band’s debut record).
“Basically I write about what I know and that’s my life,” begins the musician. “At the time I was coping with my mom’s death and I was also constantly on the road so I was missing my husband and my family a lot, so I wrote about it. I didn’t really have a choice, you know? I’m a song-writer-that’s what I do and I write music every day.”
While the likes of the epic ‘Coming Down’ and poignant ‘Hold Your Hand’ may be incredibly moving and mesmerizing pieces of music, we have to ask the singer how she feels about performing these songs night after night over the year ahead as well as reliving her experiences when she’s doing interviews.
“Now that we’re entering the press cycle side of things, I’m mentally preparing myself to get asked a lot of questions regarding the lyrics,” she concludes. “Admittedly I didn’t really think about that when I originally wrote these songs, but I accept that it’s a part of being in a band and it’s going to come up. As for performing them, well I really don’t know what it will be like touring this album. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, but hopefully it will be ok. We’ll wait and see I guess. People have really responded to songs like ‘Coming Down’ and they love them and that means a lot to me and it’s one of the many reasons why I’m glad I made this album.”
Only In Dreams by the Dum Dum Girls is out now on Sub Pop Records.
(Check out ‘Coming Down’ on the link below.It’s easily one of the tracks of the year).