Dot Dash L-R Hunter Bennett (bass), Danny Ingram (drums), Bill Crandall (guitar) and Terry Banks (vocals/guitar)
Critical Mass: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guys. I really appreciate it. For those who may be new to Dot Dash, can you give us a little history on the band? How did you get started?
Dot Dash: We got started in the front part of 2010. We’re from Washington D.C. and had all traveled in similar circles. Terry Banks plays guitar and sings; Bill Crandall plays guitar. Hunter Bennett plays bass; and Danny Ingram plays drums. Some of our “ex-bands” include Julie Ocean, Youth Brigade (Dischord), Modest Proposal, The Saturday People, Weatherhead and Swervedriver – and the list goes on…
CM: The band’s sound has a lot of jangly guitars and an amazing back beat to it. In your own words, who are some of the bands musical influences?
Terry: I think my “core” musical inspirations are The Jam, The Byrds and Joy Division. There are lots of others, but I think those are the main ingredients.
Bill: It's always been hard to put a finger on our collective reference points… While we all have slightly different spins, we all had our formative years in punk, mod, 80s post-punk, new wave, and power pop. Speaking for myself, I'd also go back further to The Who, Led Zep, Beatles/Stones, as well as fast-forward to more recent bands including Sigur Ros, The Shins, even electronica.
Hunter: I love The Jam, The Fall and Burt Bacharach.
Danny: I can’t really speak to the band’s influences, but recently I’ve been listening a lot to The Poster Children, The Chameleons and The Left Banke... and some of that energy definitely creeps into what I’m playing.
CM: Is there a main songwriter in Dot Dash? Or when it comes to writing material does everyone bring something to the table?
DD: Terry has written all the songs so far, but everyone writes their own instrumental parts and the end result reflects that.
CM: Being from the D.C. area, which has a rich history of punk music from bands like Minor Threat to Bad Brains, did you guys take any of that influence and put it onto the music you play now?
Terry: For me, harDCore has never been an influence in terms of songwriting, but it’s been a big, big inspiration in terms of overall delivery and attitude, especially people like Dag Nasty.
Bill: I was a mod at the time, so my involvement with punks was more along the lines of 'steely glares' exchanged on the streets of Georgetown. Sometimes we'd go to Little Tavern, buy a bag of those little hamburgers, and have food fights across Wisconsin Avenue. No, seriously, I think anyone who was around then couldn't help but be influenced by the amazing punk scene. I think the main thing we all bring from that and other music of the period is a kind of ‘pre-irony’ passion and sincerity. Because we remember that's how that period of music made us feel…
Hunter: I decided to move to D.C. because I was obsessed with mid-to-late 80s Dischord bands like Embrace, Gray Matter, Shudder To Think and Ignition. If those bands hadn't existed, I wouldn't be in Dot Dash.
Danny: I’ve always said no matter what band I’m in, it’s a punk band. I got my start drumming in some of the very first Dischord bands and though I’ve played in a variety of groups over the last 30-plus years, that initial spark propels everything I do... At the end of the day, however, the current-day influence of those bands and that scene has more to do with the ethos and less to do with the music.
CM: The band’s "Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash" is out now on The Beautiful Music label out of Canada. How did you guys get hooked up with a Canadian label as opposed to an American label?
DD: They’re just awesome guys who liked our music and offered to put it out. The answer was simple!
CM: Is this the band’s first full length album? And has the band released anything prior to this?
DD: In 2010, not long after we started, we had a little 3-song EP come out on a German microlabel called Edition 59 Records, which puts out a lot of underground jangle-pop stuff… Same thing as above: nice people who liked our stuff and wanted to put it out, so we went with it.
CM: Do you guys tour much outside of the D.C. area? And are there any plans for a tour this year?
DD: We play out as much as we can but, so far anyway, it’s all pretty much been in the D.C. area… We’ve done some cool shows, but all in our hood, more or less... Hopefully we’ll be able to get a bit further afield, that’d be great…
CM: Will we be hearing any new music from Dot Dash in 2012?
DD: Yes – that’s the plan anyway. We have eight new songs that we’re doing live, in addition to ones from the album. When we get to 10 or so that we feel really strongly about, we’d love to make a second album.
CM: Is there a website you guys wanna plug where we can get up to date news, upcoming gigs and merch?
DD: Sure, our Facebook page has got a bunch of reviews, photos and gig info.
CDs are available directly from the label.
and it’s also on iTunes and eMusic.
CM: I wanna thank you guys again for talking with Critical Mass. It's always great to hear a new band doing something different and exciting. I hope we can get you up to Chicago for a show or 2 in the near future. Thanks again guys.
DD: Thanks Chris — much appreciated!