TRACK PREMIERE: DIMBER “DOGS” (PLUS INTERVIEW!)
photo courtesy dimber
Dimber is the L.A. band that’s supremely proud of making “upbeat music for downbeat people”—and they do! And here’s a perfect example: the Husker Du/Dino Jr-style pop ripper “Dogs,” the first track on the b-side of their firestarting 7″ Damber EP—their vinyl debut!—out on Chainletter Collective on Friday, Nov. 17. They met with L.A. RECORD‘s Emily Twombly to talk about where they come from, how they got to L.A. and how they’re already working on changing the world around them. Their record release show is Wed., Nov. 22, at the Hi Hat.
You cover a song from the Josie & The Pussycats movie and Kelly Kapowski and Cher Horowitz are all over your merch. You’re seemingly obsessed with the 90’s—why?
Caleb (guitar/vocals): I don’t think obsessed is the right word. Those were formative years for us and we pull a lot from pop culture stuff. It wasn’t really something we all decided though, like, ‘We’re gonna be a band that worships Clueless.’ It just kind of happened.
Matt “M-Dog” Walsh (bass/vocals): It IS a fantastic movie.
C: We all are maybe actually obsessed with Clueless.
Andy (guitar/vocals): Get ready for our 90210 merch! We’ve only just scraped the surface.
C: I think these are all female characters that are strong cool women. It’s of a time period where it feels like our music kind of fits in. We all make the joke that our music sounds like a blender of the Clueless soundtrack—like all the songs into one song. Like that would come out sounding like Dimber.
How has living in L.A. shaped your sound and who Dimber is?
Matt Raminick (drums/vocals): A lot of my favorite bands are from the region.
C: Yeah! We have a lot of love for Los Angeles and Southern California punk bands. The Descendents, the Gun Club, Minutemen. The city also finds its way into our lyrical subject matter. The way it shapes the way we think and the way it moves us. We sing about the militarized police state we’re reminded of so often in L.A. with the constant helicopter noise.
As a new band, what do you hope to bring to the world? What are your goals and what do you want to offer to your local community?
C: I think we would like people to talk about issues and things about themselves that we all feel uncomfortable about in general. And strive to make each other a little bit better people, in terms of holding everyone accountable.
MD: Everyone can do better.
C: Everyone can do better and be more questioning of everything around them. For me, that’s what I hope people take away from our music—just to be like a little bit more critical of everything around them, including questioning why you don’t have enough love for yourself. Just figuring it out together.
Currently, in the film and music industry, we’re seeing a rash of men being called out for sexually abusing and assaulting women—and some other men—and generally just treating women poorly. I haven’t seen much in the line of solutions on how to prevent these things from happening. What are your thoughts on potential preventative measures so that the future of music is safe for people who are not just straight cis men?
C: I think it’s great that a lot of individuals are being held accountable for these things and it’s being exposed. It seems like there’s additional cultural focus on it. For me, I think that’s great. But I would like to see more of a discussion openly on the systemic problem that’s allowed for these things to exist so far, which is a bigger conversation and one that I think people shy away from because it’s a total redistribution of the power system that allows people take advantage of people this way—in terms of a lot of gender inequality and also the hierarchy set up. At least for the sexual harassment thing … the only thing I can think of as a society if we had some sort of funding for some sort of HR bureau? A lot of times people come forward and they get suppressed within the organization. It’s the power distribution thing. You have a production company and the heads of the production company are abusing these people that are interns or lower level people and they try to talk about it and they just get swept under the rug and it’s no big deal and it happens time and time again. The next person that it happens to is like, ‘Oh, I saw this person—they had their whole career ruined.’ There’s a fear and intimidation thing, I think.
A: It comes down to the institution or the workplace or the college—especially colleges —that just don’t want there to be a problem. So they dismiss it as not being a problem. It might be wishful thinking but if everyone held themselves and their friends accountable and think about the problem and how you may have made a mistake in the past and how it was wrong … just do some inward reflection on the whole thing. If that could actually take place, I think that would help a lot.
C: From day one, we need to teach people that these things aren’t allowed. It’s culturally acceptable for men to catcall a woman and that’s not OK. But we allow that to exist.
MD: People are suddenly paying attention because a lot of these are high profile people in the entertainment industry, but this behavior has existed in every industry. It goes back to the distribution of power. And like we were saying earlier though: we all just need to be better.
We talk a lot about creating ‘safe spaces’ at shows. What does that term mean to all of you? How do we go about creating spaces like that? Do you feel that the impetus is on the band to create that atmosphere at their shows?
A: Personally Dimber is my safe space. Seriously—hanging out with us as a group is very calm and fun and inviting. I find it to be very healthy for me personally for my state of mind.
MR: I think us playing and us doing what we’re doing … it sort of naturally bleeds into the people watching us. And it sort of naturally happens where we try to just connect with people through what we’re doing and not overly make it about a thing. It’s not something that’s spoken.
MD: One of our band mottos is ‘upbeat music for downbeat people.’ There’s something there … I have a boring office job and I rage all week and then we go to practice and it’s catharsis. We just let it all out. One of the first shows we played was a year ago right after the election and that was a primal scream of a show.
C: I think the impetus is definitely on the band for creating a safe space at a show. It’s up to everyone involved in the show, including the people running the space and the audience as well. If you see someone having a bad time—someone accosting someone else in any capacity—it’s on us to call it out and be there as a support for each other so people feel comfortable voicing these things. And not feeling ashamed about it. I’ve been to so many shows when the band is playing and it’s aggressive music and things are getting out of control and almost … some bands thrive on that sort of violence and chaos. Bands need to allow for space for people to be comfortable and be ok there. Bikini Kill said ‘girls to the front’ because at the time in the scene, women didn’t feel OK being at the front of a show because men were harassing them and pushing them. That goes for everyone regardless of their gender … but [it’s about] creating a space where everyone feels comfortable to be there and to be together. I think a band can be a big thing for setting the tone. We want that for our shows.
Let’s talk about your EP!
MR: These are some of the first songs that we wrote together and we’re really happy with them and proud of them.
C: We had a really good track record of making songs that we were proud of right awa as far as a sound and a message. We have a cool zine that we worked hard on all together that’s going to be a part of it that hopefully is representative of our band and what we would like to say. Our friends Ben and Heather—who run a really great label called Chainletter and are an integral part of our community—are putting it out. They’re really great human beings.
MD: We did this record with a really cool dude named Andrew Schubert. If you’re a young indie band, call him up! He’ll record you and make you sound real good.
C: He’s also in a great band called Marriage Material. We’re really excited about it!
How did you guys all meet? Andy, Matt, and M-Dog, I know you all grew up in Florida.
A: I met Matt Raminick when I moved to Florida from Portland and we were in marching band together. The following summer I met Matt Walsh at driver’s ed during summer school and we drank a lot of Mountain Dew.
MD: The driver’s ed instructors sold Mountain Dew to students for $1 a can. It was like a bootleg side hustle they had.
A: So I cover M-Dog one day and he covered me another day for our Mountain Dew fix out in the 100 degree Florida heat and eventually we figured out with lived close together. And I was hanging out with Raminick at the time. Turns out Matt Walsh played bass and me and Matt were jamming in Matt’s bedroom with a couple different people but as soon as we met Matt Walsh, we started playing together and continued to do so for the next five or so years.
MD: Can I just add that this all happened in the summer of 1997? Twenty years ago …
MR: I moved to California first because I was coming back and forth already and ultimately decided to move here because I was tired of flying back and forth. I was working with a bunch of bands and touring with whatever band wanted to take me. I had just moved out here and these guys—not even planned—ended up moving out here right after me around 2004 or 5.
MD: I was living in Japan and while I was there, pretty much everyone I knew in Florida moved to L.A. by the time I came back to the U.S. I love my family but it was cool to come to L.A.
MR: Then we all sort of just met Caleb …
A: No. That’s not how it happened at all! I lived right down the street from where Caleb was working and would casually see her working at the beer store. And then I ran into Caleb at a Masked Intruder show … or was it the Queers and Teenage Bottlerocket? We kind of hit it off and started talking and I started telling Caleb what a great bass player I was. And Caleb had a really awesome band going at the time called Spooks and kept insisting the band needed no bass player—but definitely appreciated my inquiries! Eventually Caleb decided maybe Spooks could handle a bass player or … tolerate a bass player. So Caleb asked me to join Spooks and I did.
C: We just started seeing each other at shows. We were at the bar and then I’d see you at shows and I was like ‘Oh. You’re like … of my community.’
A: Then in Spooks Caleb and I started talking about, ‘Oh, what if we started a fun pop punk band?’ And Caleb said, ‘Hey, I have some cool songs.’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I have some cool songs.’ And I was like alright … I know M-Dog.
What’s next for Dimber?
C: We have a record release show on November 22 at the Hi Hat and we’re trying to record a bunch of new songs.
MD: We’re also going to have a follow up 7″ on the way on Chainletter.
C: Maybe a puppet show?
DIMBER’s DAMBER RELEASE SHOW WITH NEZA ALEXANDER, THE PRIMALS AND REMORSELESS ON WED., NOV. 22, AT THE HI HAT, 5043 YORK BLVD., HIGHLAND PARK. 8 PM / $10-$12 / 18+. GET TICKETS HERE! AND ON MON., NOV. 27, AT BLANK CITY RECORDS FOR ‘BLUE MONDAY’—INFO TBA HERE! DIMBER’S DAMBER EP IS OUT FRI., NOV. 17, ON CHAINLETTER COLLECTIVE. VISIT DIMBER AT DIMBER.BANDCAMP.COM.