Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: Play Pussy; Get Fucked! An Interview with The Dwarves by Rex Reason

Shocking people isn’t hard – Marilyn Manson and Andrew “Dice” Clay have sold out arenas at points in their lives. But shocking people and being relevant and talented? That’s hard. And rare. Like Bill Hicks rare. And it’s why the Dwarves should be huge. Formed in the mid-’80s in Illinois as the Suburban Nightmare, the Dwarves have played everything from psychedelic garage rock to nihilistic speed punk to ultra-catchy pop punk to something close to electronica, all while maintaining a reputation for one of the most notoriously intense live shows in rock. Singer and frontman extraordinaire Blag Dahlia is the only constant in maybe the world’s most volatile band: they had the most memorable sequence in the documentary Kurt & Courtney, with then-bassist Rex Everything bashing a member of the audience in the head, yelling, “Play pussy; get fucked!” But they’re probably best known for fooling the music press (and their label Sub Pop) into thinking naked-yet-masked guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed had died. And perhaps the strangest chapter in Dwarves history is yet to be written – they’re scheduled to play with English punk vets the Damned at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

Rex Reason: Who’s in the Dwarves now?
Blag: “Who’s in the Dwarves now?” You know you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. There’s me. Blag the Ripper.
Rex Reason: That’s the name now? Not Blag Jesus or…
Blag: Well, that’s the name too. I go by all of the above. Anything that’s Blag. Then you’ve got HeWhoCannotBeNamed, plays guitar. The other guitar is the Fresh Prince of Darkness, my personal favorite at the moment.
Rex Reason: Does that go along with Blag History Month?
Blag: Yeah, kinda like Blag History Month. Tazzy Bushweed in bass, the first female to ever grace the Dwarves. And then you’ve got Toss on the drums, a pretty wacky character too. We’re like the Wu Tang Clan of punk rock.
Rex Reason: You’ve done garage, hardcore punk, pop punk, borderline electronic music, a bluegrass album.
Blag: All that stuff and more, baby.
Rex Reason: Why don’t more people recognize?
Blag: You’re asking the wrong guy. I’ve been asking the same question forever. I think the answer is a lot of people do recognize. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of wack shit out there that gets a lot attention that just bores the fuck out of me. It’s always been that way, so guess it will always be that way. I think also when you do things that are more predictable, when you have the same kind of punk band and you sound the same way for twenty years, it’s very comfortable for them. They make you feel comfort bled with their musical wallpaper. We don’t do that. We always make it different. We were playing ’60s punk music, garage stuff, and it just cracks me up. We were doing that a long time ago. We always thought it was a really cool style, and people hated it. When we started doing things on Epitaph, like drum programming or sampling, people would trip out on that and hated that. It’s funny to me because to me it’s all just music.
Rex Reason: And who knows, maybe what you’re doing now will be all over the radio in twenty years.
Blag: At this point, that’s about all I’ve got. I’m always ahead of my time. I just hope I don’t end up being hailed as behind my time.
Rex Reason: Was there much of a backlash when you started doing the sampling and programming?
Blag: We’re like a cult band. Some people get it, some people don’t. Some people understand the whole spectrum of it, some people only like one part or another. Some of those ’60s punk fans are still around from fifteen years ago remembering it for that. And then there’s people who only like Blood Guts & Pussy because it’s total hardcore or because of the cover. Then there’s the kiddy, more pop punk people who only like the Epitaph ones.
Rex Reason: You mentioned that HeWho’s still in the band now. Did his “death” cause more trouble than it was worth?
Blag: Death is a hard thing. The guy died, but fortunately he had the good sense to be resurrected. He’s a very Christ-like figure to me.
Rex Reason: Do you have any ill will towards Sub Pop with everything that happened after his death?
Blag: No. I feel sorry for people who work at record labels. It’s a pretty thankless job. Some of them make a lot of money; most of them just waste a lot of time. At the end of the day you have to deal with a bunch of people who play rock’n’roll. Having done it a lot, I feel sorry for them. The people at Sub Pop, the people at any of these labels, they trip out on their own importance for a while, then they come crashing back down. I’m just glad that I play music. You have a little more control over being relevant. People are only as relevant as they choose to stay.
Rex Reason: How about Epitaph?
Blag: They gave me a bunch of money and I was glad to get it. I needed it to eat and live. Also, I made a lot of good friends over there, as corny as it sounds. It was the same with Sub Pop. At the end of the day, they’re all sort of like investment banks. I’m not gonna go out and be real upset at Shell Oil or Coca Cola or Bank of America. They do what they do to try to make some money. The thing you have to do is gouge them for every penny that you can.
Rex Reason: Who or what is the Greedy Brothers?
Blag: The Greedy Brothers is me and whoever I’m producing records with. A lot of time it’s Brad Cook, who’s a real good producer from down south. Sometimes it’s Eric Valentine who’s like a big stratospheric pop producer. All kinds of different people. If I’m doing something, I call in the troops and try to make a record.
Rex Reason: So that’s the day job: Blag the Record Producer?
Blag: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I’m doing a record for the Swingin’ Utters right now for Fat, which is a really cool record. I do records here and there for labels that are hip enough to ask me.
Rex Reason: Is it true that you recently got married?
Blag: I did. Yes.
Rex Reason: How does that change being in the Dwarves and being the lead Dwarf?
Blag: You know, I’m a rock legend. Nothing changes but the day of the week.
Rex Reason: Still business as usual?
Blag: Absolutely. Pimpin’ ain’t easy.
Rex Reason: What’s your connection to Queens of the Stone Age?
Blag: A lot of them were in a band called Kyuss. I took them on their first tour when they were about seventeen, eighteen. Nick Oliveri, who’s half of the Queens, was Rex Everything from the Dwarves. He played on the Epitaph records, wrote some songs. He’s a pretty interesting character. I did some DJ stuff on their new record. I wrote some goofy promo stuff for them.
Rex Reason: Are you like the first radio DJ voice on their new record?
Blag: I’m one of them. Actually, I haven’t even listened to it. To me, those dudes are kind of like hippie music, but they’re my friends.
Rex Reason: Does the Dwarves reputation ever conflict with life outside the Dwarves?
Blag: Sure. Of course. People believe image. That’s what so funny about it. You throw that image out there, and you think, “Nobody’s gonna buy this,” and yet people believe it. So it makes them afraid. It makes them afraid of all kinds of things. Afraid to make records with you, afraid to do shows with you, afraid to produce a record with you. It’s one of those things. It’s something I’ve been doing the whole time I’ve been making music, just scaring the fuck out of people who are boring. I figure that comes with the job for me. And there’s enough boring people out there that they scare awful easy.
Rex Reason: You’ll be employed for a long time.
Blag: Absolutely.
Rex Reason: Do people expect that same kind of mayhem if they run into you on the street or the grocery store?
Blag: It depends on what they’re doing. If people are stupid and come up on the wrong side of me, they might have a big problem. I try to be pretty easygoing about things. I’m generally more known for the quick put-down than anything else. But you know, there’s been plenty of violence in the Dwarves’ world and I say, “Bring it on.” The older and more decrepit we get, I always think these young bands are going to come along and be able to knock us right down, but the joke is they just keep getting lamer and lamer, and we just keep getting more and more potent. I don’t know how that works. I can’t think of another band like the Dwarves that just keep getting better and making better records, or… fuck, man, I wanna go masturbate right now just thinking about it.
Rex Reason: Have you ever had offstage confrontations or legal action because somebody got punched or injured by the band?
Blag: Absolutely. Yeah, plenty of that. That was ultimately why Nick had to leave the band. He had a tendency to do that kind of stuff. I guess that’s why he wants to do more hippie kind of stuff now. The audience is comatose, so he doesn’t have to beat anyone senseless with a bass guitar, for instance.
Rex Reason: Did that happen a lot?
Blag: Yeah. The thing about the Dwarves was that I always got blamed for everything, and the rumors were always about me, but actually the other guys in the band were much tougher than I was and all kinds of weird things would happen that I would eventually hear about as though I had done it.
Rex Reason: Did you ever think you’d be performing at Disneyland? (The Dwarves recently played at the House of Blues in Anaheim which is located in a shopping/entertainment area called Downtown Disney.)
Blag: Honestly, I never did. But, you know, there is kind of a cartoon element to the Dwarves, so it only makes sense.
Rex Reason: Do you have anything special planned for the kids who might be coming over from Disneyland to see the show?
Blag: I’m going to show them how rock’n’roll is done, but we don’t make any plans. It isn’t predetermined. People sometimes ask if we’re going to trash everything, or whatever. You’ve just got to come out and see. It might be ten minutes long. You just never know. One time this guy jumped on the stage, knocked me right in the balls. The show was over in thirty seconds. You never know.
Rex Reason: Was that your shortest show ever?
Blag: I think so. Aside from the ones we cancelled.
Rex Reason: You’re playing on Halloween right around that same time. What does HeWhoCannotBeNamed wear on Halloween, like a business suit?
Blag: I’ve often wondered that myself. I’ve seen him on Halloween, but I was always too fucked up to remember. We’re also playing at the Troubadour. That’s for the more Hollywood people.
Rex Reason: Is that the cooler crowd?
Blag: Well, I just get paid a lot more.
Rex Reason: What was The Scum Also Rises?
Blag: That was a collection of videos and weird things, but it never came out. It was like an advertised thing, but it never happened. I’ve just been sitting on those videos for a long time, a big stack of weird videos.
Rex Reason: Do you ever think with all the popularity of Jackass, you’d want to release it?
Blag: It’s not like Jackass. I like Jackass, I think that shit’s great. But one thing I never wanted for the Dwarves was that we were one of these like skateboard punk rock bands.
Rex Reason: Even though you had a skateboard on the cover of one of your albums?
Blag: I just did that to make money. I always thought it was funny. If you were around in the ’90s, every tattoo artist thought he was in a fucking band. Now it’s everybody with a skateboard. To me that’s just jocks with wheels under them. They’re welcome to try to rock, but it’s always so fucking pathetic. But I DO like watching them jumping off three story buildings, and you can’t beat those skateboard dudes for that stuff. I love watching them ride a skateboard and destroy themselves on it and fall down the stairs. I can’t imagine working that hard. It’s just when they pick up a guitar that I start to get pissed off. Because you’re not going to catch me picking up a skateboard. Let’s just face the fact that you live with your parents. That your girlfriend is fucking all the other skaters. That you need to grow up.
Rex Reason: That sounds like a lot of bands, too. Maybe that’s why they think they can cut it.
Blag: Yeah, I guess there’s a lot of similarities between the two.

# # #

In the time honored journalistic tradition of plagiarism, I have turned to the internet to write my bio. Here’s my life through the eyes of nameless, faceless strangers.

Rex Reason’s life is full of triumphs over adversity, being stillborn as he was. He was born to the best-dressed chicken in town. Housed in their own purpose built, fully equipped and modern training center on the outskirts of Darlington, Rex Reason employs a full time staff of thirty-seven.

He was born a poor black child. Rex’s powers were enhanced by Earth’s yellow sun… and then degraded by Earth’s microbrew selection. Pretty like a pony. He has been mistaken for some other dude by some people. Rex likes Black Sabbath and Black Flag, and looks like Crispin Glover.

Bananas have potassium, which is good for him, good for him, bananas, tropical; if you peel them the wrong way (from the bottom up, instead of from the stem down), you get fewer stringy fibers. He has never put an autistic child in handcuffs. Never has one man given so much of himself to the youth.

Rex Reason is a slimy, self-absorbed liar, thief, drug-addict and pervert. He’ll probably end up being found murdered at the age of sixty-five in a cheap Hollywood hotel room wearing thigh-high fishnet stockings and a ghastly, gap-toothed smile.

He taught himself to read by staring at the newspapers that served as the flooring in his family’s shanty. This was where he made his best-known record This Island Earth, a chartbuster for 1955. At one point, his name was changed to Bart Roberts, but it was quickly returned to its proper form.

He decided to put his faith in the soup.

He can sense earthquakes through his sensitivity to vibration, as his hair stands on end to indicate the severity of the impending disaster.

I remember driving through West Virginia four or five years ago at like two in the morning, flipping through the AM dial, and just about shitting myself when I heard Mojo Fucking Nixon ranting about how the only reason the Republicans were after Clinton is because none of them ever had a blow job.

Rex gave the BEST performance ever under that little desk in the bungalow.

Rex Reason has one testicle.

Rex was never really able to get close to women. Never closer than the court-ordered five hundred yards, anyhow.

Rex Reason: the man who turned home porn into a cottage industry. Rex is a real super-size homo jackass.

When people think of Rex Reason, there’s a mess on their hands.

Semper Fidelus,
Rex Reason
[email protected]