At the time of writing this introduction, I’ve been interviewing bands non-stop for seven years. Most bands are good for one interview – they’ve got some interesting things to say, some cool stories. Most everything I’m fascinated about them comes out, all bases are covered. On rare occasion, bands that I really like who I get to know better, both by listening to their music and hanging out with them on occasion, I’ll interview a second time. There’s only, literally, a handful of bands that I compulsively want to document, step by step. I’m a fan beyond all else. I don’t even pretend being objective – that’s a ruse for Barbara Walters to apply her makeup to. I’m not concerned with what’ll “move units.” I’m concerned with what I listen to and find that it resonates with me far away from the stereo, makes life not suck so much. Hands down, D4 have been my favorite bands for years.
The first time I interviewed them, I felt like Columbo. I almost felt like a stalker. I followed them around for three days and I’d ambush them with more questions when they drank more. My last interview lasted about three hours and was conducted in two states. Equal time was spent in an RV, in buffet lines, and a back stoop in San Pedro. It was around thirty pages long before editing it down.
Why the interest? They’re not accidental punks with typewriters, visiting the slums or a bunch of pricks with their hands out, waiting for accolades, adulation, or what they’re “due.” They’re Midwestern honest; humble as fuck, who happen to have written some of the best songs that I’ve ever heard.
Here’s a conversation I had with Paddy, the bassist, a man I’ve seen in assless pink spandex bicycle shorts. He’s one of those guys that’s secret smart, that when he’s making copies for lawyers is really applying his brain power to song titles like “A Floater Left with Pleasure in the Executive Washroom.”
Todd: Almost all of your friends think that you’re lazy bastards. How did you gain this reputation while putting out such high quality music?
Paddy: Well, people like you live so far away from where we are and I’m sure we do look like lazy bastards. For a lot of people, especially nowadays, their band is their entire life; that’s it. And I don’t necessarily mean that people don’t have boyfriends and girlfriends and wives and husbands, what have you, but it’s their job. We kinda never had that going on, and we don’t really have it going on now. The ironic thing is that most bands that I love tend to be the same way. I know a lot of bands try to spend upwards of six months on the road or put out a record a year, at least. We’ve kinda never done that style. I think that kind of mentality only came around when punk rock – and underground music in general – got huge, and you could do it as a living, but most of us had been in bands since before that, so we never slipped into that mindset. We all have jobs. Erik owns a business. Lane just became a doctor. And on top of that, there are a lot of important hot dogs to eat and video games to play, when you get down to it.
Also, I’m a bass whore. I’ll almost play for anybody who asks me to play bass in their band. This year we probably would have already toured, but I went out with my friend Sean’s band Sean Na Na for a little over a month. In the future I think we’ll be more active than we have been just because Lane now is done with his school and his practicum and all that stuff. That was always the really big thing. Erik still has a bar and restaurant; he’s building a venue onto it and, actually, I’m going to work there and help book shows as well. We’ve always got a bunch of things cooking. I’m sure, from a far perspective, it looks like we’re a lazy-assed band. I just think it’s a prejudice against fat people.
Todd: What’s the most ironic thing that’s happened to the band?
Paddy: For me, personally, for years, we were adamant about not having a quote/unquote “booking agent.” I was always really proud that we didn’t, because that became really common really quick in the mid ’90s. It was a real big deal that if you were at the point where you could have one, then you got one. It was almost a status symbol, like, “Yes, we would like to play in Phoenix, Arizona. Why don’t you call my person?” And I always hated that as a guy who helped do shows here and in Chicago when I lived there. “I’m talking to you right now. You’re in the band.” Now I have to call somebody else to negotiate you playing here. Eventually, we did end up with a guy, Brian, in Chicago, who now books all of our out-of-town shows.
Todd: Brian of the Fireside Bowl?
Paddy: Yeah. Brian’s just a right-on guy in general, and Erik and I have known him for over ten years and that’s kind of how it happened. And he’s not even comfortable with us calling him our “booking agent.” He’s just like a guy who helps out. We still call people about shows and stuff, but at the end of the day, Brian is the guy who organizes stuff. That’s a pretty big irony to me because I always prided us in the fact that we would never do that. But the fact of the matter was we ended up having two tours in a row where all of a sudden we realized, “This is really weird.” We’re pulling into towns and there’d be a hundred fifty people there to see you and you’d be, “Fuck, yeah. This is awesome. There’s a ton of people here.” And then somebody at the show tells you, “Well, you know, there would have been three hundred fifty people if all these other people would have even known about the show.” And then you’re like, “Are we doing something wrong?” So Brian was, “I could probably help out. Why don’t I book a tour and see how it goes?” And we did and it was like a whole other world. He’s a pretty down dude. He’s down for the cause.
Then, also, I’d be a total liar if I didn’t bring this one up to you, but on the first seven inch, we had a song that started out with me doing this chant, “Hipster, scenester, you’re a fucking brown noser.” And the ironic thing now, is that ten years later, there’s local people who say we’re kinda scenesters. But in a weird way – they say it in a nice way. Now we kinda know a lot of people, but I think that’s just because we’ve been doing this band for almost ten years, and inevitably, at least in your own town, you’re probably going to meet anybody who has anything to do with music.
Todd: There’s a big difference between being a scenester and a supporter.
Paddy: Exactly. That’s the thing. At that time, I thought of the terms “hipster” and “scenester” as being really derogatory, so I found myself looking back on it and thinking, what is a scenester? Someone who’s down with the scene? Well then, fine, count me in. If that’s bad, then I’m guilty. I like my scene.
Todd: This sounds like a really cheesy question, but it’s not. What are you doing now, now that you’re possibly going to get a lot more exposure from this album and doing an extensive tour? What are you doing to keep it real? What reality checks are the band writing for themselves to make it not business as usual?
Paddy: Ironically enough, I know what you mean with it being cheesy, because I hate the term “keeping it real,” but actually, ironically enough, is to keep it as business as usual, to be honest with you.
Todd: Your business as usual, not the music industry business as usual, right?
Paddy: Yes. Our business. Especially with the tours this summer. There are a lot of things happening with them that have never happened with us before. There are places that are trying to outbid each other to have us play. We’re not used to that. That’s real weird, especially considering they pretty exclusively tend to be cities we couldn’t get shows in four years ago.
It’s kind of funny because, on the other hand, there’s a lot of places where people have told us, “Oh, dude, the record’s coming out on Fat. You ought to plan on playing the House of Blues somewhere,” let’s say. The thing is, we’ve never played places like that and we don’t really want to start playing them now. House of Blues is kind of a weird example. I don’t know that much about them. But you know what I mean – huge rock venues in certain towns, where now it’s okay for a punk band to play at it, but seven years ago they wouldn’t touch punk as a policy. We’d just rather avoid those places in general.
Todd: I was also thinking that you’re making a big effort to not make this a package tour and picking local bands to open up for you whenever you can.
Paddy: It’s funny because I think a lot of these bands that do package tours – we’re from the Midwest. We have sort of a different perspective, I think, than half the bands in this country. The thing that I notice is that there will always be a ton of punk and hardcore bands in the Midwest, but the numbers right now aren’t as big as they should be. I think that’s because all these bands that are doing these package tours, local bands can’t play, so in a weird way, we’re generating these generations of kids who don’t see a reason to start a band. When I was young you could start a band, play around for your friends, have a good time, and eventually, if you played around long enough, you might actually get to play before Youth of Today or Crimpshrine. It could happen. But now, package tours are so common, that isn’t even a possibility anymore. There almost seems, in a lot of cities, two different show-going worlds. The kids who buy these records and go see these package tours, and there are the kids who are into what’s going on in their own town and are really excited about it. I just don’t want to be a part of the package tour thing. It’s like the Starbucks of punk. Every town they go to is the exact same show. I don’t think that would be very fun. I think half the fun of touring is that you’re going to see bands you’ve never heard of before, ever. And a lot of them are going to suck, but the few that aren’t going to suck are probably going to be some of the best shit that you’ve ever heard. A lot of promoters like package tours more because it makes their jobs easier.
Todd: It’s a known commodity, too.
Paddy: Which is also really funny, too, because I don’t understand – I would think that a lot of bands would want to play with local bands because local bands will also probably draw local people who might not have heard of the touring band. It just seems kooky to me. It just seems so Family Values, Limp Bizkit.
Todd: Are there any other band-wide policies? We can rule out gang raping and hate crimes, but what rules are self-governing D4? Are there any unwritten codes?
Paddy: We won’t play a show if it wasn’t one we’d pay to see in the first place. That tends to be more things that are going on in Chicago, Green Bay, Milwaukee or here – somewhere within driving distance. Even if there’s a show we know 1,200 people will be at, if we don’t have any plans of watching any other bands we’re playing with or if we never had any plans of going to the place we’re going to play at, why would you want to do it? Kinda lame.
Also, it’s kind of funny – it’s never been a policy. We never made it a rule, but we have long discussions about how much things cost. For a while now, the records are tending to come out on labels where they’re dictating how much they cost, which we’re fine with because I don’t think we’ve done anything on a label that was particularly expensive. But we get in pretty extensive conversation/debates about how much shirts should cost. Like the Mutant Pop 7″ we had out a long time ago, we got in huge debates about how much we should charge for that. Maybe it’s kind of dumb.
We got in a huge argument for the cost of the shirts in Japan because everything is so expensive in Japan and it’s pretty much par for the course that a t-shirt is fifteen dollars. We got in a band debate. “Should we be those guys who actually charge ten?” You know, whatever. That’s the kind of debate we get into all the time.
We also get in those debate/arguments about that stuff when it comes to beer for the practice room. It’s not all these good guy things. Some of them are also dirty, fat Midwestern dude arguments. We have a lot of drinking rules. You have to have at least two beers before you play because nobody wants a stiff guy up there bumming the rest of them out. At the same time, if you get way too trashed and you can’t even play, then you’re kind of in the penalty box. You can only have two beers for a couple shows.
Todd: How much time and energy do you guys spend selecting your soundbites between songs? How the hell did you find directions on tuning your stereo using the sound of a ping pong game?
Paddy: That one was on a record that Sammy from the Selby Tigers had. He had it down at the studio when we were looking through and that’s when we got the idea to throw that on the record. Billy and I collect a lot of stupid records. I have a couple of boxes that are strictly stupid records. Redd Foxx comedy records and Ronald Reagan reciting American history. I’ve got a lot of religious records. I’m super into a guy named Jack Van Impe. I love that dude. Soundbites were always important to me because I hate dead air on records. It just feels weird. That seems like something a rock record should have. Rock records have spaces in between songs, I think, just because they get played on the radio and all that kind of stuff.
Todd: Right, so the DJ knows where to cue the CD.
Paddy: Exactly, and you don’t really need that with a punk record. If we come across anything really crazy, we’ll go, “Oh, yeah. That’s gotta go on a fuckin’ record.” Plus, we watch a lot of stupid movies. The funny thing, with Situationist Comedy, it actually became an issue. We had a lot of stuff that we wanted to use for the new LP that we ended up finding out it was probably a better idea that we didn’t just because we’ve entered the world of there’s a ninety-nine percent chance that no one will come back and say, “Why did you put that on your record?” but there’s that one percent chance. If it did happen, there could be a court case to destroy all the quote/unquote “product” and remake it and that’s something we’ve never had to deal with. So, all of a sudden, I was sitting around with nine little soundbites and samples I wanted to use and I was like, “Wow, we can’t use any of these,” which is a real bummer. I think from now on, we’re going to start using our own. Actually, I have one that’s Todd of Toys That Kill that I’m saving for the next record. He left a phone message of him playing the banjo and singing.
Todd: What’s the kick-off soundbite on the new album before “Noble Stabbings!”?
Paddy: That’s a friend of ours, Takashi, from a band here called Sweet J.A.P. There was? well? there’s no beating around the bush here. I was shit-faced. And on the way home. This is so stupid. I was really fucking loaded and I’d taken a bunch of Ativan – they’re supposed to be anti-anxiety – and I’d taken a bunch of those and I drank a lot of Jack Daniels. I was kind of having this daydream – you’re kind dreaming, but you’re not really passed out yet. I was just thinking about how great it would be – if we were the kind of band that made a video – to make some super crazy cheap video of robots attacking Tokyo and then we showed up with an army of monkeys. That just ended up sticking in my head the whole time and then when were making the record, I thought it would be cool to put that at the beginning. So I talked to Takashi – he is from Tokyo, he is Japanese – and that’s what he’s yelling over and over again, “Where are these robots from? What are these robots doing? Send in the monkeys. Dillinger Four. We need Dillinger Four! Get the monkeys!” Hopefully that’s just laying the foundation down for the concept of the video we’ll make some day.
Todd: I have one question for each member of the band. Before he dressed up, did Billy know how uncannily he looked like Lemmy when you guys played your all-Motorhead tribute set on Halloween?
Paddy: No. That was fuckin’ weird. He didn’t even put the entire costume on until I was already drunk and when I saw him, I was like “Holy shit.” He’s even got a chest like Lemmy’s. After the show that we played as Motorhead, we ended up going to another show, actually to see the Selby Tigers, who were playing in St. Paul and we showed up and everybody was like, “Holy fuck. It’s Lemmy.” He’s so spot on. I think they’re the same height.
Todd: I didn’t know if it was a costume he did as a kid or something he happened into.
Paddy: Actually, that’s funny, too. We went to go see Motorhead about a week ago and I was trying to get Billy to dress up like Lemmy to go to the show but he brought up a good point. “That won’t be any fun.” You’d have at least three hundred people, going, “Hey Lemmy, hi Lemmy, hey Lemmy, Lemmy will you sign my cock?”
Todd: This is a three-part question and you have to answer the first two with one word answers.
Paddy: Oh, shit.
Todd: Lane has a Ph.D. What is it in?
Todd: Has Lane ever gotten shit-ass drunk?
Paddy: [laughing] Absolutely.
Todd: What astute and alarming professional advice has he offered to any of the band when he’s been pickled?
Paddy: The only really good advice Lane has given me – professional or otherwise when he’s drunk – is “You probably shouldn’t talk to me right now because I’m really fucking drunk.” If the Dr. Monkey Hustle is loaded, he is no fountain of advice at all. I can honestly tell you for as long as I’ve been in the band with him, I’ve gotten no insight from him when he’s been loaded. I’ve offered none either. There’s no bad mouthing here. He did at one point – I don’t know how you’ll translate this – in the middle of a desert in New Mexico with a bunch of people from Yuma, Arizona. He told us all, “Nine dying ding doo wha hah.” Somehow we all remembered exactly what he said and say it to him all the time. We’re not too sure what it means. He doesn’t really know, either, but he was pretty adamant about it. He said it to us a couple of times.
Todd: Why does Erik always look so tired?
Paddy: I could show you pictures of Erik when he was eleven, ’cause we knew each other since then. He’s always had eyes like that. Always. I don’t know. He’s got the bags, man. I like to tell people that he’s on heroin. I like to tell people he’s a junkie and a speed freak and all that good stuff. Maybe it’s genetics. It’s funny, on the new record, we have these high contrast photos of ourselves on it and when I showed Erik the finished versions of the pictures, he was like, “Man, look at my eyes. Is there anything I can do about that? I look crazy.” And the funny thing is that I had to tell him that we had already doctored him up. It was so dark that it didn’t even look like eyes. It looked like he was wearing new wave sunglasses, which I was pretty down with at first, but then we tried to clean it up, but, still, he looks like Raccoon Man.
Todd: I’ve got a three-parter for you? You came in your shoe?
Paddy: [rabid laughter] Woah! What are you bringing up? Who have you been talking to? Did I tell you that?
Paddy: Holy shit. Yeah. But which time? Holy cow. Yeah, quite a few times. I think I have them somewhere, too. They’re an old pair of Converse One Stars. Well, you know, you’ve got to come somewhere. I didn’t necessarily fuck my shoe.
Todd: How many people know that you’re quoting an SS Decontrol song title when you take off your shirt? (Paddy has a tattoo across his chest that reads, “How Much Art Can You Take?”)
Paddy: Next to nobody. Not even in Boston did anyone bring it up to me after I got the tattoo. The only place, when we finally played New York City – we could never get a show in New York for like eons – until The Explosion, a band from Boston, who are awesome, helped set it up. We played that show and right after it, about thirty different people were like, “Dude, love that SSD tattoo.” The funny thing is that I always thought New York guys hated Boston guys, so I thought that was pretty ironic. The funny thing, nowadays, I don’t know how many kids would like SSD. We’re living in a weird time where hardcore is basically metal. And especially if they heard the song. I love it because when I listen to it, I go, “What a ridiculous fuckin’ song.” I love SSD. I know that’s what they had to have had in mind when they were writing that song. “Dude, let’s write a really fucked up song and call it ‘How Much Art Can You Take?'”
Todd: What do you do, personally, to avoid becoming a novelty act?
Paddy: Wow, that’s a really good question. I’ve got kind of a beef with that now and I have for about the last two years. Well, first of all, the funny thing is that straight-up, as a policy, I do try to not take my clothes off ever when we play. It was funny because it eventually reached the point when there were fourteen-year-old kids up front going, “Take your pants off.” And to be honest with you, my instinct was to kick him in the face. “You want to see something crazy? I’ll give you something crazy.” So I have done a lot of that stuff like wrestle a kid down and sit on his face – not naked or anything. I’m not about to lie. There have been some shows where we got straight-up wasted and shit went fucking crazy and we go nuts. If the pants fly off, oh hell, that’s what happens.
It’s kind of funny. It’s even not just with me. It’s with the band. At one point, we started to get worried that that is what we were. Like, “Hey, it’s the fat guys who get drunk and can’t play.” And then you get to thinking, “Hey, that’s only going to fly for so long, because I don’t want to see a band that can’t play.” Maybe once, maybe twice, and then after that, it’s kind of like, “Why am I going to pay to see you not play?” That doesn’t make sense. A while ago – we do have an inner-band policy now – if somebody is so loaded that they can’t even play, now that’s bad. For a long time, that was par for the course. But once a lot of people came to see us and we were headlining shows, then you start feeling guilty.
Also, sometimes, I don’t worry about the novelty thing because there still are lyric sheets. So, no matter what, there’s going to be plenty of people out there who are going to know that whatever we’re doing on the stage or acting like, that’s like half of the deal and I think we’ve always been pretty clear with that. Hey, look, there’s a whole other side to who we are, but standing up on stage at a show is not the place for it. I don’t want to bum anybody out. I mean, you know there’s differences. If you just played a show right after September 11th, it makes sense to bring it up. If your mother died two weeks earlier and you want to talk about that on the mic, that’s your fucking prerogative because that’s going on in your life and there’s no point to pretend that there aren’t serious things going on. But, at the same time, it’s like I don’t want to get up every night on tour and gripe about how shitty minimum wage is or gripe about my job. It’s a show. That’s the time for celebration. We’re a community. Let’s have fun. Maybe there’s a lot of knuckleheads and ditzes who only get half the deal and think that we’re just drunk dudes pounding on our guitars, but I think there’s plenty of people, too, who know we have something else going on. [In mock sixth grader voice] If somebody thinks I’m a novelty, then I just think they’re just a novelty. Got ’em with that one, huh. When that gets transcribed into print, that’s going to look so lame.
Todd: So, how do you think Situationist Comedy fits, quality-wise with your other albums?
Paddy: The other guys in the band might kill me, but I was just joking with Al Quint, who does Suburban Voice zine, about this. I’m already beginning to get the feeling that Midwestern Songs of the Americas will be that album for us. I think, pretty much always, people are going to say Midwestern Songs is the best. The funny thing is that I love everything that we’ve done, but I will openly admit that I love the new record more than I love Versus God. We’re still on that upward slope, baby. I’m glad we never had that disappointing sophomore record. That’s the thing you’ve got to be afraid of. I’d rather have the disappointing fifth record.
Todd: Has anybody in the band ever skated?
Paddy: Billy and Erik used to shred it up. It’s really weird because in the world of skateboarding and dirt bikes, the rules that applied to them all are very regional. I think everybody would agree to that. Erik grew up on the north side of Evanston, Illinois. I grew up on the south side. North side kids rode skateboards and some of them were kinda punk, but they were those kind of people who had a Minor Threat record and a Descendents record, but then a lot of them were metal heads. Erik was a metal head. But all of us on the south side, we all listened to punk and we all rode dirt bikes. So, the funny thing is that I’ve never even ridden a skateboard. I tried at one point. A couple years ago, we stayed at the Real warehouse in Oakland and Jim has a big half pipe in there and I had a couple of beers and was feeling kind of sassy, so I took a deck out there and had a go at it. Let me tell you, it was pretty fucking funny. Ever seen a drunk, fat man try to skateboard for the first time? Erik got out there. I don’t think he was getting any air, but he was definitely taking it to the pipe. Billy was all about BMX dirtbiking. He was probably that kid who was downtown with his deck fucking trying to jump off a cop’s face or something.
Todd: On the new album, there’s a picture of two members of the band in ski masks. Is this a reference to the Zapatistas or to snow mobiling?
Paddy: Well, we’re from Minnesota, so you know which one it is. Of course, it’s the Zapatistas. Actually, I’ll openly admit it. Every image that’s in the record is very thought out, except for the cover, which was a very last minute, “Oh, dude, let’s do this.” They’re plays on a million different things and about nothing, all at once, too. Initially, we weren’t going to have pictures of ourselves on the record and then later on we decided, “Fuck that. We’ll have pictures. We just won’t do super pretty guy pictures.” But that’s initially why the ski masks were there. We didn’t want to have our faces on the record anywhere. But, the suit photos, it was the dichotomy that you’re all styled out, but have these fucked-up-ass masks on.
Todd: Can you share with readers some discarded album or song titles?
Paddy: It’s funny because sometimes I want to use them again. Actually, we honestly called it More Midwestern Songs of the Americas just for the hell of it, just because we thought it would be so fuckin’ stupid and there was part of us for one night – we were all hanging out bowling and drinking – and we actually toyed with using the exact same layout and just changing the song titles and putting “D4” instead of “Dillinger Four” on the cover.
I had a song at one point called “Our Science Is Tight,” and that came out on a Hopeless comp and that song was originally called “Ska + Emo = Not This Song,” and I kind of regret that we didn’t end up using that because “our science is tight” seemed really funny that day.
I think at one point, Versus God was going to be called Who Farted? But then we decided that’s so dumb, it really is dumb. We were just thinking at the time it would be cool to give the record a really dumb name, something so dumb it’s ridiculous, but we decided, “No, that’s just really dumb.” The titles – I’ll get something caught in my head. It’s usually based around a theme anyway, and then I’ll either write a song based on that theme or Erik will. On the new record, there’s the song, “Putting the ‘F’ Back into ‘Art,'” and that was going to be a seven inch title eight years ago and I’d kind of forgotten about it and then I looked at one of my old journals.
Then there’s also things like there was this band from Minneapolis called Lifter Puller and they had a song called “Let’s Get Incredible” and that was also a possible name for Midwestern Songs years ago, but we didn’t use it, so Craig used it for Lifter Puller.
There was a Strike record A Conscience Left to Struggle with Pockets Full of Rust, and A Pocket Full of Rust was the original title for The Kids Are All Dead seven inch we did, and they ended up using it. Chad from The Strike had always liked that a lot. One night at a party, he was like, “Name our record. You’ve got ten minutes. Use Pockets Full of Rust but make it longer.” I went out in the back yard, had a beer, and went, “A conscience left to struggle. Here you go. Yeah.”
Todd: What is your “Unifying Theory of Indie Rock”?
Paddy: Oh, god, it’s just fucking boring. It’s funny because even now, that kind of pseudo underground shit is filtering into mainstream shit because when I’m at work, I have to hear stuff like Hoobastank and Incubus, shit like that. Elliot Smith. At the end of the day, it is just music. It’s not like I want anybody to die just because they play music that I don’t like, but, man, do I fuckin’ hate it. It’s not heavy, it’s not catchy. It’s not especially insightful. All I can tell about a lot of these singer/songwriter people is that to certain people they look really cool and apparently their records are really well produced and I should like them and that’s something I hate.
The ’90s were a period of ironic music. Beck: he’s fun, he’s goofy. It’s novelty music. It’s Doctor Demento on the top forty, which is like, fine. But somehow the hangover cure of ironic music turned out to be the golden age of the PR person – music you were supposed to like. “Elliot Smith will tear at your heartstrings.” It’s like, aaahh! No he doesn’t. He’s annoying. He’s really fucking boring to me. But, like, whatever, everybody has different tastes. I know that, but, to me, that whole genre of indie rock – there’s some stuff that people call indie rock that I fuckin’ love. I really like Guided By Voices. I really like Wedding Present, but these bands are also kind of aggro and at least catchy. The stuff I don’t get is kind of atonal mumbling singer looking down at his shoes, like “I’m shopping at a thrift store, heeey.”
The other thing I want to know: indie rock women. What the fuck is up with this thing with cats? I’m not just talking about Cat Power calling herself Cat Power, I’m talking about this Mary Timony lady just put out a record and she’s also on the cover in a cat mask but it’s almost like a fuckin’ rule that if you’re in indie rock and you’re female, you have to have some sort of cat themed thing in every fucking thing you’re doing. I wish I was female. I’d start an indie rock band and it would be based all around rhinos. I would take a different kind of animal. It’s really fucking irritating to me. To me, it seems like really self-indulgent stuff where the music takes a backseat to what your intention is supposed to be. To some degree, intention plays a role, but god damn, can you just give me a fucking seven inch record that I want to listen to eighty times in a row in an hour? What’s wrong with that?
Even before, when that shit became really in vogue, I could tell – it’s considered this division in punk rock because a lot of the people apparently used to play in punk rock bands – but I don’t get it. They have more to do with bands like Air Supply and shit than with anything that has to do with rock’n’roll or whatever. And the funny thing is that bands like that get brought up in the same context as a modern Elton John, but at least Elton John was catchy. Yuck. Gross. The whole thing’s gross. It’s not as bad as yo metal, though. Even for as much as I can’t stand Elliot Smith’s music, I’m at least willing to wager that he’s at least probably a really, really good guy so if I had to be stuck in a room either watching him or Godsmack, fuck dude, I will be up front for Elliot Smith, fucking cheering him and waving my arms and blowing kisses at him.
Todd: One last question. How is the Midwest the center of the universe?
Paddy: [laughing] Oh shit. Oh man. It’s funny. I wouldn’t even call it the center of the universe. I would say that the reason I love it is because it is definitely not and nobody wants it to be. No offense, but if you hang around a very cliché Los Angeles person, “LA’s the greatest city in the whole world.” It’s the same with New York and San Francisco, and I’ll even admit with Chicago, whatever, and that’s in the Midwest, but I don’t even think that most Midwestern people think of that kind of shit. “I got a good job. The house is kind of pretty and I think I’m going to have a barbecue this afternoon.” I’m not saying that there aren’t other people with that mentality on either of the coasts, but if they have it, that’s way more of a Midwestern thing than anything else.
It’s the kind of thing that drives me nuts when I see an interview with somebody like Moby or Barbara Walters. People will make comments if they’re trying to reference an idiot or a hick, like, “That movie was great. I don’t know how it will be received in the Midwest.” The Wu Tang clan will make jokes about people from Iowa. The way I look at it, fuck that. That’s who I’m down with. Fuck that shit. That’s where I’m from. I understand them. It’s more laid back. I think it’s a little more loyal. I fuckin’ love the Midwest. It’s just kind of chill. Everybody’s just waiting to die and are having a good time before it happens. The funniest point of this conversation, in general, hanging around in LA, San Francisco, and New York and places like that, most people I meet aren’t from there. That’s the joke my friends say, who live in New York City, “There’s more people from Omaha in New York City than there are in Omaha.”
Midwest is just fine by me. Maybe people gripe about how the weather sucks, that it’s all flat here, so when it snows, it really snows hardcore, but hey, you know what? I love it ’cause that means at least once a year, all the fuckin’ assholes are leaving. You know what I mean? Los Angeles, it can get really hot, but it’s pretty fucking mild year round so if you get somebody who sucks, the odds are more than likely they’re going to be staying there forever. Assholes can’t make it through the winter. Even if they’re bugging you for six months, just wait ’til November. They’ll be gone.
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