– Ciao Terry, how are you? where are you writing from?
Hi, I’m fine, thanks. I’m writing from Washington D.C.
– How did Dot Dash get started? I see that all the members in the band have had very different musical experiences. Both in the world of hardcore and in the world of pop. What is the thing that has united you with experiences so different?
I guess just a shared love of good songs, strong melodies, and exciting performances… Danny and Steve (our new guitarist, who joined the band earlier this year) both started musical life, many years ago, as teenagers, in those kinds of bands, and Hunter likes that kind of stuff, too — I, personally, don’t know anything about hardcore, it was never my thing — but, overall, we have way more in common musically (and just in terms of our general creative approach) than we do not. To me, the good thing about ‘punk’ is the attitude — of being direct and open and honest — moreso than some of the actual music. Anyway, the combination seems to work really well!
– What was your initial vision for how you wanted the band to sound?
Melody. Poetry. Energy. Brevity.
– After the positive reviews about the second record how did you approach to the work related to this great third one?
To be honest, we didn’t think about it too much or go in with any specific plan. We always just try to follow our instincts.
– The record seems to be a step forward compared to the previous album: immediate melodies, noisy guitars, melancholy, sincerity and open spaces and and great attention to the rhythm and not just on guitars. It’s like the best of your previous album was concentrated in this one. Everything is more in focus and more direct. What do you think?
Thanks! I agree that this last record is our best — glad you like it, too. Our second record, Winter Garden Light, has a fair amount of stuff that’s darker (at least for us) and, in retrospect, lots of songs about death… I still like that record a lot, and the first one, too, but this one just came together better and, as you say, is more focused and direct and just sort of fresher — not really sure why, maybe just good luck.
– Melody is vital on your record. It seems everything was born in a very natural and spontaneous way, and it’s incredible how all your choruses lend themselves to becoming hymns. Am I exaggerating too much if I say that, right now, “Half?-?Remembered Dream” represents a true fundamental example of power pop?
Thanks again. I totally agree that spontaneity and being natural is really important. In short, it shouldn’t sound like you’re trying too hard, or maybe even trying at all… And, yes, I think we are kind of a power pop band — albeit hopefully a sort of melancholic, slightly left of center, fairly visceral kind of power pop band, but, in any case, there’s no denying we’re in the neighborhood of power pop… If I had to drop genre names, I feel like we, perhaps, combine post-punk withpower pop, but who knows… Wally, who runs our label, The Beautiful Music —www.thebeautifulmusic.com — says we’re “post mod” (kind of a mix of post-punk and mod) — I like that, too!
– You’ve been compared to big names like Superchunk, The Jam, Teenage Fanclub, The Buzzcocks. Personally, I adore your love for guitar sounds of the past (90s guitar-pop and C86) which are filtered through a modern taste. Can I tell you that the album has really carried me out of time? I suppose it’s a rare thing, to find songs which carry the listener out of space and time. Does this album communicate the same feelings for you?
Excellent — that’s very kind of you! I’m not sure how the record makes me feel but I agree that the best music has that sort of ‘transcendent’ quality!
– ‘Hands Of Time’ leaves me speechless. Melodically speaking, I find it one of your best tracks ever. How was this song born?
Thanks so much. The beginning guitar figure, which is sort of central to the song, just struck me as sort of a ‘prettier’ version of something Joy Division might have done. I liked its melancholic, sort of regretful feel and it just sort of propelled me on from there… It kind of feels a bit like a ‘torch song’ to me. I really like it. The outro has a bit of an ‘Orange Juice-meets-The Jam’ sort of feel — not that you can ever plan these things (or that any of it’s intentional) but that’s kind of how it sounds to me…
– Terry, what did your past musical experiences teach you? (If they did.)
Gee, I don’t know. I think to achieve even modest things in music (and maybe everything in life) you have to just sort of dive in and do it. Sitting around theorizing doesn’t usually result in much. Also: sing loud!
– What are your memories of Sarah Records? Is it true that Cherry Red Records will publish a 2-CD St. Christopher compilation “Forevermore Starts Here”?
I didn’t play on any of St. Christopher’s Sarah releases (their last Sarah single came out about a month before I joined), although we did many of those songs live. I really liked the time I spent in the band — we played shows all over the U.K., France, Germany, Holland, etc. — got to places like Denmark, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, all over the place — it was cool. Yes, I’ve heard about the Cherry Red comp — well deserved. They recorded a lot of stuff before before they were on the Sarah label — they’d been around maybe five years at that point. I have a cassette somewhere of about 10-12 songs from 1983-ish, I think. I remember one song is called ‘That Tinsel Feeling,’ which I liked as a title… I think the Cherry Red comp will have lots of that early stuff. Their best record, if you ask me, was the ‘Forevermore Starts Here/Remember Me To Her/Sinking Ships’ EP — those songs are incredible.
– Do you have an example from the record of something popping up that you weren’t expecting?
Hmmm… On ‘A Light In The Distance’ I had to add a blood-curdling howl at end of one of the verses to fill up a little timing gap, and, at the last minute, I added what I think are some nice, jangly guitar overdubs to ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘Shopworn Excuse,’ so maybe those…
– Thank you again for this interview and for the time you made for me. Which one of your songs do you think could be the right closing soundtrack for the end of this interview?
Thank you too! Hmmm… how about ‘(Here’s to) The Ghosts of The Past.’? There’s a free MP3 of it here: https://dotdashdc.bandcamp.com/track/heres-to-the-ghosts-of-the-past