Supersonic 2012: This Little Girl Ain't Afraid Of Nobody - Dope Body Interviewed
, September 14th, 2012 03:35
B-More’s Dope Body have fixed you up a speedball of dirty noise punk and radio friendly alt. rock, which you can mainline at Supersonic 2012 next month
Nothing was planned. It all happened by accident: “Our name came from this weird You Tube clip called ‘Me Tellin You Motha Fuckas Off’, where this kid called Little J is mouthing off to someone and says: ‘This little girl right here ain’t scared of nobody.’ Except she’s got this weird lisp so it sounds like she’s saying, ‘This little girl right here ain’t scared of Dope Body. It just became a band in-joke.’”
David Jacober, the drummer from Dope Body – Baltimore’s most excellent post hardcore/ alternative rock/ AOR/ pig fucking noise atrocity genre smash – is a graduate from the school of we-just-make-music-for-ourselves with a diploma from the college of and-if-anyone-else-likes-it-that’s-a-bonus.
But even while trying to stick to the script of the quartet being a bunch of pals who just want to rock, there’s something different about them. For example, most bands who sing about what they can see out of their practice room windows have nothing to say because of the quiet streets they live on. Things are slightly different for this band however: “There’s a lot of heroin in Baltimore. And when we would be done practising we would be completely worn out and dripping in sweat from playing so aggressively and we would look out of the practice room window at people strung out on heroin and say, ‘Man, I feel like that person looks right now.’ It became this joke… that we had dope bodies.”
Andrew Laumann, the band's vocalist adds: "Andrew: “Our first practice space that had a name was in Down Town Baltimore about two blocks from the main strip. It’s only really active during the day, then at night it just kind of closes down and heroin addicts just wander round the streets a lot. It’s pretty bleak and desolate part of town.
“Usually we’d go in there at 10pm and play until 4am and you’d just see these people out of the window just fucked up on junk and there was this association between what we’d see and the music. We’d be leaving all super tired and wrecked and be walking through these people. It was a case of an extreme expenditure of energy had happened in two different ways.”
Dope Body are a Baltimore band, in the sense that they don't sound like anyone else from Baltimore. Laumann explains: "Baltimore has this amazingly diverse and enviable music scene because there has been no national attention been shone here before recently. There’s always been a traditional punk and hardcore scene but it doesn’t really go outside of the norms, it’s not really arty at all. Then in 2000 – 2003, the noise and electronic scene started creeping in, probably because of the low incomes and the fact there were a lot of empty warehouse spaces. So really Baltimore became a haven for those kinds of artists because they could live really cheaply and pretty much dedicate all your time to your craft. And the influx of people meant that everyone was trying to do different things, there was no scene as such, everyone wanted to do something different, which was fun. And if you didn’t want to do something totally different, then you probably would find it hard to get a show.
“I haven’t really seen a regular show in Baltimore over the last few years, it’s always been weird and experimental.”
But it is Baltimore that has stamped its mark on the band in other ways: "I would say that our environment is an underlying element to our music that we’ve clicked into, in the sense of the music scene that we’re part of. Especially this band as we decided to settle on a darker kind of sound. We all have other bands that we play in but conceptually Dope Body exists in a darker realm. It has a darker energy and it reflects the bleakness we feel and that in turn comes in part from Baltimore."
On paper, the way that they have mangled several seemingly incompatible strains of music together, should have consigned Dope Body to the big bin of bad ideas. Now on their fourth album, Natural History, they have, admittedly, toned down their appreciation of frat rock like Red Hot Chili Peppers and RATM but they still are the only people on the face of the planet combining the unlikely sounds of Killdozer, The Clash, early Mercury Rev, Killing Joke, Green Day, early Butthole Surfers and Jesus Lizard. More importantly, however, it seems like they have pulled off an exquisite balancing act, with the ugly, serrated, angular noise and the arena sized melodic sensibility actually complementing each other harmoniously.
But if this sounds wilfully perverse, this isn't how the band see it. Laumann explains: "The perversely eclectic nature of Dope Body comes primarily through the writing process. We all do our own thing and we’re all into different stuff. The songs come out of very long protracted jams, for maybe three hours while we change and change it. Each of us has different musical taste though. David is into hip hop, so you get different rhythms than you’d expect to get. The same with the guitar playing [Zachary Utz], it gets really classic rock at times but overall we try and keep things sludgy and heavy. And our band is also inspired by all Baltimore sounds, concentrated into one format: the rock band. Garage, hardcore, electronic music. It’s actually weirder for us not to use all these influences. It’s natural and organic and it just comes out this way.
Perhaps it’s essential for Dope Body’s artistic success that they come from a down at heel party town like B-More, constantly sharing stages with friends such as Dan Deacon, Future Islands and Double Dagger and not part of the hipster coteries of Brooklyn or LA. Jacober is certainly at pains to say that their sound is a natural result of the combination of the four members’ starkly different tastes in music rather than an ironic experiment in combining unlikely genres: “Our collective influences in music have just led us to this sound because we all like different types of music. This is just what comes out when we play together. It’s not necessarily what we intended it to sound like.” It’s what you’d call a happy accident.