Zack Wentz, primarily a drummer and vocalist, is somewhat of a minimalist with regard to band lineups — Kill Me Tomorrow is a three-man act, and the offshoot, Tender Buttons, was one person on keyboards and Zack with a mike. When Tender Buttons no longer had tender moments, Zack was open to a new side band.
“Shelby [Gubba-Reiner] and I were playing music with some friends of ours,” says Zack, “only Shelby was on drums, and I was on guitar. We started messing around before and after practice with just Shelby on bass and myself on drums and soon found we had half a song or two done by the end of every session. We seemed to finish each other’s sentences, musically…this was at the very end of 2008, just after Kill Me Tomorrow got back from Europe.”
The Dabbers were formed shortly after that. A limited-edition, self-titled 7-inch single will come out this November. “On crazy-colored vinyl,” says Zack.
When he’s not playing music or spending time behind the counter at M-Theory Music, Zack writes fiction. “Art has always been the higher priority for me, but I suppose that’s why I’ve never done terribly well with day jobs.” His first novel, The Garbageman and the Prostitute, was published in 2006, prefaced in 2004 by a Kill Me Tomorrow CD with the same title. He’s currently shopping his second novel and finding that publishers are reluctant to take on “experimental” fiction in the current economic condition.
As for music, “Pop is personal,” Zack says. “I like the kind that produces the sort of floaty, blissed-out, Whirling Dervish vibe — songs I can put on repeat for years, the quietly exploding shit that talks to your DNA.”
The Dabbers play SOMA September 26 and Costa Mesa’s Detroit Bar on September 27, both shows with Autolux.
And…that mustache is real, not a prop.
HISTORY OF YOUR INSTRUMENTS?
Zack: “All of this gear is fairly new, besides Shelby’s bass rig. The Dabbers’ drum kit is actually Shelby’s. We got them off craigslist. Nice young couple. The woman gave us some Christmas cookies she had just made, right out of the oven. That probably sealed the deal. Craigslist people: Think ‘warm cookies.’ ”
Shelby: “I had just spent a ton of money being haggled at Guitar Center to buy an amp combo. My friend got ahold of me that same day to show me a bass rig he wanted to sell and introduced me to my current setup — a Road head and a giant Acoustic speaker cab for $150. I returned the amp combo the next day, much to the chagrin of the GC dudes.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Zack: “Pussy Galore’s Dial M for Motherfucker, for some reason, but really I mostly just listen to the classical station at night. I’ve been listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s The Last Prophet a great deal lately. Sometimes for hours on end. Easily one of the greatest singers who has ever lived.”
Shelby: “Right now I’ve been obsessed with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. I went crazy at his merchandise stand a few weeks ago when he played at the Casbah, so I am currently rotating Vs. Children, Advance Base Battery Life, and Answering Machine Music in my car.”
EARLIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
Zack: “Sitting in bed by myself making shadow animals with my fingers on the wall at the old Hillsboro [Oregon] house. I had a book that showed you how to do them. My sister hadn’t been born yet, so I was younger than three. I remember the day my sister was born quite clearly, so I suppose that’s the second-earliest memory, and a much longer story.”
Shelby: “Eating handfuls of pink, yellow, and blue saltwater taffy in a strange part of town I can’t recall, given to me by a local drug-dealing hippie.”
YOUR ALTERNATE UNIVERSE LIFE OR JOB?
Zack: “Getting paid a wage that I could actually live on for what I already do seems otherworldly, at this point — making music, writing books, comics, scripts. Perhaps I can pull a bit more of that dimension into this one. I need to hang out with more theoretical physicists.”
Shelby: “Making music, art, and reading books all day. Looks like Zack and I would probably be meeting up in that alternate universe as well. Cool.”
IS “LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT” REAL?
Zack: “Blinding hatred at final parting seems to be more common.”
Shelby: “I think one’s first sight is part of the first moment, and the first moment is bound to the first few hours, and the first few hours are invariably connected to the first week, and so on. So, yes, love at first sight is possible, because it can be love at first forever, if you want it to.”
Zack: “The art of our necessities is strange, and can make vile things precious.” — Shakespeare, King Lear.
Shelby: “We can learn as much as we wish, listen to the greatest masters and so on, but what we do, what we become, is determined by our character.” — Henry Miller
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED?
Zack: “My father used to always say, with regard to life, ‘You get the alternative, inevitably.’ ”
Shelby: “My mother’s most repeated advice is, ‘Don’t trust nobody.’ I think the double negative always appealed to me more than the actual meaning. Yet I still hear it every time someone asks to borrow something.”
FAVORITE SAN DIEGO HANGOUT?
Zack: “The Whistle Stop is where I’ll usually go if I need a beer and want to spend time with friends in public. If I go out, it’s usually to see and/or play a show, which usually means the Casbah. I feel more at home there than any other venue in the world.”
Shelby: “Mitsuwa Marketplace [Kearny Mesa] for eating sashimi, ramen, and buying random cute toys.”