Californian punk rock duo, Dog Party, rule! I first found their fuzzed out, catchy, melody laden tunes five years ago and just had to find out more about them, so I interviewed them (read it here: Dog Party: Ramones. Pizza. P.A.R.T.Y!). Since then, The Giles sisters, Gwennie and Lucy, have put out four more albums and signed to Asian Man Records (you can read a chat I had with label founder, Mike Park, here). I recently caught up with them to chat about latest record, ‘Til You’re Mine. It’s been on high rotation at my house since I got it—big drums, killer Death By Audio Fuzz War guitar, and tight harmonies! A real treat, it has a Ty Segall X Ramones X Bikini Kill flavour.
I’m so stoked on the new record, ‘Til You’re Mine! I can totally hear a little Bikini Kill influence coming through, you cover their song ‘Rebel Girl’; how did you first discover them?
LUCY: We first discovered Bikini Kill from watching the Kathleen Hanna documentary, The Punk Singer. I watched it and was totally just shocked by the whole thing. I thought, wow, this is so cool!
GWENNIE: And we watched it again…
L: Yeah! And again and again. We started listening to Bikini Kill after that. I was so bummed though because, I thought, dang! I’ll never get to see her perform, like ever, this is gonna suck [laughs]. But, then she actually started to perform again and we got to play a festival with her, Burger A-Go-Go. Her band, The Julie Ruin played—I was so stoked!
I love The Julie Ruin, I haven’t had a chance to see them play yet but, I did see Bikini Kill play on my summer holidays from school back in the ‘90s. They were amazing and Kathleen wore this amazing oversized shirt with a cheesy shirtless man model ‘hunk’ looking dude on it, it was hilariously awesome. I’ve interviewed Kathleen too (check it out here)!
G&L: [Laughter] That IS awesome!
What was it that resonated with you guys?
L: Her drive to play music was really interesting. She was initially a poet and was writing poetry, then someone went up to her and was like, dude, you can’t just be writing poems, you have to go start a band and sing your poems so people can hear them. That was cool! Also, one of the influences for her to start the band was, because her friend got raped in her own apartment, so she took that energy and put it all to good use, she went across the country singing her songs and saying what she thought—it really inspired a whole movement [Riot Grrrl].
G: Before we watched the movie, a lot of people were coming up to us and would use the term riot grrrl, and we didn’t really quite know what that meant. The documentary had a lot of insight into that movement. Then how she [Kathleen] was stricken by Lyme disease, that was wild to me. I was so bummed because writing and playing music is what she loves to do and then her ailment prevented her from doing so.
L: Now she’s playing again, so, yay!
What inspired you to cover her song, Rebel Girl?
L: That song was played a lot in the documentary, like in all transitional breaks. That song is just so powerful; I was like, dang! I want to play this.
G: She came up to me and she was like, THIS is the one!
L: We pulled up the YouTube video and learnt the song… its scary actually, y’know, trying to sing it, ‘cause she’s just so cool. I didn’t want to do it poorly. There’s a lot of pressure to do that song. One time we played a house show in Las Vegas, there were all these rambunctious boys and men doing this big most pit and slamming all these girls against the walls. There were tons of girls that were there and wanted to see the show but they had to end up leaving because of these drunken rambunctious men! At one point, they were just…
L: Yeah, crazy! They were knocking into my drums, I asked them politely to stop. They were mimicking me, and saying things like, “ohhh I love when you get feisty!” I was so mad! Then we played ‘Rebel Girl’ and I was like, this song is for all the girls and blah, blah, blah, blah [laughs], this is not for the boys! I was yelling because I was so mad. It was terrible because these guys were trying to take my sister’s mic away from her and they were trying to sing our songs. I kept yelling at them, put that mic down! This is for the girls and you’re ruining it! That’s probably one of the craziest moments for when we’ve played that song.
There’s been many articles come up in more mainstream press lately addressing sexism in the music industry; have you personally come up against it?
L: Yeah, it’s crazy because not only are we female but, we also are young, we started young. People are always…
G: Categorizing us…
L: Yeah as a kid band and an all-female band—we’re trying to get away from that stuff. We want to be like…
G: We’re just a band just doing what we love.
L: We’re like any other band, it doesn’t matter that we’re young or that we’re girls, we’re just doing it like anyone else.
G: It’s interesting looking at a lot of different festivals, and noticing that it’s a bro fest.
L: Yeah, it’s all bands with guys. For example, it was shocking when we played SLC Punk for that movie… every single band on the bill were all guys. I thought it was cool they had us play…
G: It brought a different dynamic. Sometimes sound men, I’ll tell them what we like, like we’d like a little bit of reverb on the vocal, and they’ll look at me and look like, why are you telling me this? Who are you? I’m like, aaah, I’m in the band!
I have a friend that recently filmed some bands at a festival and they needed to be plugged into the soundboard and the guy working it looked at them like, what?! And treated her like she was really stupid. A similar thing happened to me, one of my friends’ band was on tour here and they wanted a place to record while they were in town and I had a friend with a studio nearby, I went about trying to hook it up. The singer for the band was like, does it have a Pro Tools rig? I said, yeah. Then he repeated again slowly, really sounding it out, a Prooooo Toooools rig? Treating me like I was an idiot and didn’t understand what he meant. I wanted to punch his smug face so bad. I was like, YES! I have a pro tools rig at home, I know what it fucking is! I use one myself to record. It can be so frustrating.
L: Yeah, it can be so annoying.
Totally! It sucks that we have to deal with stuff like that. I’ve noticed when other people have interviewed you, they often focus on your being girls or young, like we were talking about before, and people hardly ask you about your songs! Your songs are really, really great; let’s talk about your songs. What’s each of your favourite on the new album?
G: I like ‘O Brave New World’.
L: Oh yeah, ‘O Brave New World’, I wrote that about the book, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I was really inspired by the book, it’s really cool. The songs is call-and-response but, kind of not really [laughs]. The first couple of lines, I had them down and really liked them and I decided to keep them even though they didn’t have much to do with the book. It goes from Lenina to John’s point of view. My vocals are Lenina’s and Gwennie’s vocals are John’s.
I love that you wrote it from both perspectives.
L: Thank you. That was a big theme in the book, John is from the Native American tribe or he grew up that way, and Lenina was from the New World, they looked at things totally differently and I thought that was totally bizarre [laughs].
Tell me about the title track, ‘Til You’re Mine’.
L: ‘Til You’re Mine is pretty cool. I wrote that song, the words just came out. I was in a not-so-good relationship at the time, I wasn’t y’know flirting with anyone else but, I was just dreaming of what my life could be without this dude [laughs]. That’s where the root of that song came from. I try to figure out where the songs come from when I write. If I’m just playing the guitar and singing, it’s just coming from my conscience, I’m not really aware of what I’m saying. When I’m writing songs, I just like to play guitar ad press record. That was one of those songs. The lyrics were kind of telling me what to do. It’s cool also that it’s a story.
Were there any songs that were challenging?
G: There were songs that were challenging to record after I wrote them, just to play. One of the songs I sing, the vocals go really low and up and down and up and down, if I sing a lot, I can’t sing as low… my voice cracks and I can’t go that low…
L: I help her out and [says in a deep voice] I get my manly voice on.
L: A lot of the songs I write are short. I have a hard time writing more parts to them. ‘Til Your Mine, the title track was originally a verse short. We wrote that verse in the studio, we needed to fill it, Gwennie helped me write that middle verse. So that song is a cooollab… [laughs].
Do you have a favourite moment from recording?
L: Gwennie and I are very efficient in the studio, we know what we’re doing so we can just knock stuff out. We can knock out all of the instrumental tracks in less than a day. Singing is also really cool because we sing on an omni mic at the same time, it’s really fun to double and triple the vocals and layer them up. That part can be aggravating at times though, if a track messes up in one part…
G: We record on tape, so it’s not as easy as going on Pro Tools and fixing it in a second.
L: We usually have to record the whole take again until it’s perfect.
G: ‘Punch-ins’ are harder to do on tape.
L: We think tape captures the energy more of what we’re trying to do. Since we’re a two-piece with drums and vocals, so if you record on Pro Tools and nit-pick everything, especially as a two-piece, it kind of loses its energy. The take on tape is more pure, for me. It’s really fun recording that way.
On this record the sound seems a little fuzzier; what did you do to get that sound?
L: We honed in thicker guitar sounds. We have a reverb and tremolo pedal we used a lot on Vol. 4, we didn’t use it as much on the new one but we did pumped the Death By Audio Fuzz War pedal, which is our favourite fuzz pedal. For the drums, Chris the guy we record with, always has great ideas for the drums and new angles of how he wants to do the sound. Basically, from Lost Control to Vol. 4, I’ve wanted a thicker, louder, thunder-y-er drum sound [laughs]. He did that really well on Vol. 4 and really beefed it up on the new one.
G: Another cool thing is that because we’re a two piece and have 16-tracks, we get to put more mics on the drums than you’d usually have.
L: It’s really cool ‘cause you get more aspects of the drums, which is fun!
G: We record some of the songs live. For Caffeine the very last track, we actually wrote that in the studio because I had drank a lot of coffee. It was the first day, pretty much the setup day, we had to set it all up and mic it all up and it had to be perfect, it’s a long day and you’re shaking ‘cause you’ve had so much caffeine… I was like, caffeine… la la la la… and Chris is like, you have to record that! [laughs].
You’ve been touring the new record…
L: Yeah this summer we did a full U.S. tour, and did a bunch of runs on the West coast and then a short one on the East coast. We did the California tour with Jacob Danger. We played the whole thing with, Sneeze Attack.
What was one of the coolest things that you saw or experienced along the way?
L: Eating food in different places is always fun! Being in the middle of America is always wild because people there are sooooo interesting…
L: They never see people with coloured hair. They’re very Republican!
G: It was also our very first headlining tour. It was great to see the turn out.
L: I’d just be setting up my drums to play and I’d look out and there’d be all these people there, and I’d think, dang, they’re here to see me, that’s pretty cool!
L: We have a couple of shows that are booked for this year. We’re playing Oakland on October 8. Do you know that band, SWMRS?
Yeah, sure do.
L: They’re doing a Halloween Festival and we’re playing that, which is really exciting. I go back to school actually really soon, I’m going to CSU Long Beach. Gwennie starts later. I’m in So-Cal now and Gwennie has been living in the central coast for a while now so things are going to be interesting. Hopefully we’ll be playing a lot more Southern Californian shows.
G: We’re always writing…
L: We’ve been writing more songs and hopefully we’ll have something new coming out next summer or Fall.
*Images courtesy of @dogparty’s IG; 1 & 5) @ceciliaroguephotos; 2) live @programme by @m.haight; 4) @dinothegirl. Mixed media DP collage art by me.