Dewey Defeats Truman was formed in the late 1990s by members of Red Dye No. 5 and Luper. Their debut B-Sides, Rarities and Out-Takes (Silver Girl Records) was followed by the Road to Nowhere Maps EP (2002).
They opened for bands like Jesus Lizard, Archers of Loaf, and Kelley Deal, and appeared at festivals such as NXNW in Portland, SXSW in Austin, and CMJ Music Festival in New York City. They were known for their fiery stage shows, and almost became infamous for one off-stage fireworks extravaganza.
"Based in California, where such fun is banned, DDT rarely drove by a fireworks stand in the interior states without stopping," says bassist James Reader. "There was one dark, desolate, very late night when we drunkenly stopped the van on the side of the road on the main highway between Denver and Fort Collins so we could pile out and take badly needed pisses. Someone (I don't know, it might have been me), thought it was a good idea to take a big block of multi-explosion, single-fuse works out into the center of the road and light them. What quickly ensued was a spectacular and decidedly way out of control fireworks show spewing massive explosions hundreds of feet in the air. And because these blocks of mortars were self contained with at least 20 rounds each, it was clear that this shit show was just getting started.
It only took a few massive explosions for us to realized we were in serious jeopardy of getting arrested, so we quickly scrambled to get collected and back into the van, with some pissing on themselves in our panic to get inside and going."
"We accelerated away from the scene with appropriate haste and watched in awe as the spectacular scene behind us faded into the distance, literally still in full effect as we were miles down the road. And through it all, howling, non-stop laughter. Those were the days."
Around 2003, they became inactive. The group reunited in late 2018 for a December 6 performance at the Casbah, as well as two shows in 2019, one of the Casbah 30-year anniversary shows and for La Escalera Fest OCHO. A new video was produced in 2020, "Blue Ruin," from their 2000 album B-Sides, Rarities and Out-Takes.
A digital 7-inch debuted in summer 2021 featuring the band's first new music in around 20 years, Always Waiting in the Wrong Line, featuring two tracks, "Bumped" and "Broken People." According to Mark MacBride, "Always Waiting in the Wrong Line means, I guess it refers to the regret of putting more time than one should into futile relationships, jobs, whatever. Or queuing up, half asleep, at the wrong gate at the San Diego International Airport and almost missing an important flight. You choose."
The songs were recorded remotely during the 2020 - 2021 Covid-19 pandemic. The Way You Shatter EP was released later that summer via Silver Girl Records. The drums were tracked at Thunderdome Studios in Sacramento, while the bass was recorded at local Emerald Palms Studios.
Timed to coincide with the release of the indie/emo rock band's EP The Way You Shatter, Silver Girl Records partnered with El Enojado Hot Sauce to release Serpent’s Kiss Hot Sauce, a band-branded special edition featuring sweet-hot pineapple and habanero pepper flavor in a five ounce bottle. San Francisco’s El Enojado Hot Sauce is run by San Diego indie rock veteran Kevin Chanel (The Front, Fern Trio).
"The band was burning through bottle after bottle of El Enojado during our immersive songwriting weekends," says James Reader, "so when Kevin reached out and asked if we wanted to collaborate on our own flavor, we were thrilled." The Way You Shatter showcases seven new songs, five of which are available on a limited edition clear vinyl, hand-screened 12-inch. A music video was produced for the track "Slow Reaction." In addition to a video of the first single - “Slow Reaction,” the next single, "Shots Taken" spawned a video.
An EP called The Way You Shatter was followed in September 2023 with Cover Your Ears, a double-single covering “Why Can’t I Touch It” by Buzzcocks, b/w a version of “Kidney Bingos” by Wire. According to the band, "The latest music is written and recorded remotely with the band gathering in person to perform live."
(Photo: Mark MacBride)