The Dirtbombs are the heaviest thing out of Detroit since Bob Seger’s “Ivory.” They have a new album out now and a bubblegum one coming. They speak now from a tour that will never end. This interview by Dan Collins.
So you’re Mick Collins and I’m Dan Collins. Do you think we’re related?
Um—it’s unlikely. Possibly some of your ancestors owned some of mine.
I was looking at your discography, and you’ve almost done as many split LPs, seven inches and EPs as you have done your own releases.
Basically if anybody out there asks to do a record, I basically say yes.
And it seems like a lot of bands, you know—the Black Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jay Reatard—have all opened for you guys. Are you kind of a springboard to fame?
Oh, we joke about it all the time! ‘The Dirtbombs Curse.’ So many bands that have opened for us have gone on to be a lot more popular than us. We joke about it now.
With the Gories, I’ve read that you were kind of going for a Back From the Grave type of band. Was there a specific band or specific sound that you wanted to emulate with the Dirtbombs?
No, we’re deliberately trying not to sound like any other band in existence, actually.
But do you think that there’s a certain amount of Detroit to your band’s sound?
That’s a difficult question to answer because I’m from Detroit and everybody in the band is from Detroit. So maybe there is, but not anything I can see. There’s no one Detroit sound. Everybody’s pretty much doing their thing, so we’re only a Detroit band insofar as we’re from Detroit. I guess we’re loud—ha ha! That’s kind of a Detroit trademark these days. Every Dirtbombs album set out to be different from all the other albums. I made a list of what I wanted to do back in 1992. Well, actually, I made the list in 1996. I formed the band in 1992, so somewhere around the time we started recording the first LP I decided, ‘Let’s see what I feel like doing with this sound.’ Every one of them was designed to sound different. This one actually was not on the list. It started out of the five-song EP we were cutting. And then we were in the studio, and In The Red called up, and it came up that there hadn’t been a new Dirtbombs album in four years. So I thought, ‘Aw, shit, I better get on that.’ I figured this one was totally unscheduled, so it’ll be something unexpected.
I’m kind of excited about this whole list thing. Is it something you can email me?
Naw, it’s some shit I wrote in a notebook that’s sitting in my basement in Detroit.
Is 50% of the list crossed off? Or are there still lots of things to come?
There’s two more on the list. Two more records, after which I will have said everything I’ve planned to say with the Dirtbombs.
Can you please tell me that one of those two is going to be the bubblegum album?
One of the two is the bubblegum album. For real. You’re one of the only people who’ve asked me about that because this album was supposed to be the bubblegum album. And like I said, we weren’t really cutting the album when it happened, so the next album—probably. I have to admit, I’m a huge Archies fan. I think the Archies are great. However, the Dirtbombs’ instrumentation of the band lends itself far more to Kasenetz-Katz.
Are you going to cover Captain Groovy and His Bubblegum Army?
Yeah! It’ll sound a lot more like Kasenetz-Katz—totally.
Any B-sides, like ‘Sticky Sticky,’ or something rare? Any backwards songs?
Well, the working title of the album is Gooey Gooey Chewy Kablooey.
Goddamn—that sounds fucking awesome! What year is that coming out?
I don’t know.
Well, we’ve still got to enjoy this one for a while. I listened to ‘Wreck My Flow.’ It’s dirty, but it’s also very rhythmic—very on-time and tempered. Do you use any samples or tricks to get that sound so consistent? Or is it just pure rock ‘n’ roll power?
Let’s go with that! I don’t remember where the actual title came from. The song itself started being about driving down a street in Detroit, and it sort of became the craziness that it became. Every song on the album started being about something else, and sort of became a social-political rant.
You played with some classics back in the day. You were on Andre Williams’ Black Godfather album, right?
Yeah, I did basically everything except the basic recording on Black Godfather.
Was that around the time he converted to Judaism? Were you there when he got his tip snipped?
That was after, I think. I just saw him in Chicago—about a month ago. And he looked really well! He looked alright.
Wasn’t Dan from the Gories on there?
He was on Silky. Black Godfather was all these different bands recording different tracks.
But you get along with Dan. You guys weren’t the problem that split up the Gories.
We still get along, actually. Zach was in one of Dan’s bands. He’s on long-term loan. I asked Dan to do it, but he was busy.
Do you ever think about getting a reformed Gories back on the road?
No. In a word, ‘No.’
Do you ever get jealous that Dan had sex with Cynthia Plaster Caster?
I can’t say that was ever a source of jealousy! I didn’t even know any of that had gone on until after it was over, actually.
She’s still casting people, so you know, your time may come.
I’ll get my chance, I’m sure!
THE DIRTBOMBS WITH TV ON THE RADIO ON THUR., NOV. 6, AT THE WILTERN, 3790 WILSHIRE BLVD., LOS ANGELES. 9 PM / $23.50 / ALL AGES. LIVENATION.COM. THE DIRTBOMBS’ WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED IS OUT NOW ON IN THE RED. VISIT THE DIRTBOMBS AT THEDIRTBOMBS.NET OR MYSPACE.COM/THEDIRTBOMBS.