After four EPs and three full-lengths, the Dum Dum Girls, masterminded by Dee Dee Penny (née onetime San Diego resident and Grand Ole Party drummer Kristin Welchez, aka Kristin Gundred), seems poised to go ubiquitous, and the tour behind the new album Too True (Sub Pop) might well take her stratospheric. The band performed “Rimbaud Eyes” (from the new album) for David Letterman on January 30 (“Paul and I would like you to be here every night,” opined Dave; “Oh, please!” put in Paul). They’ve also got a three-and-a-half star review in Rolling Stone (even with the brand-new deeper cuts in that mag’s reviews section), and a link-up to the high-fashion world through V magazine.
- Friday, March 7, 2014, 8 p.m.
2501 Kettner Boulevard,
Dee Dee calls Lou Reed (R.I.P.) and Patti Smith her “spiritual parents” and also credits the new album with her stack of reading material picked up in Los Angeles, including “Rainer Maria Rilke, Anaïs Nin, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire, Sylvia Plath.” The band plays the Casbah on March 7. Dee Dee took some questions over email.
What are your favorite memories of playing live in San Diego?
“I met my future husband opening for his band at the Beauty Bar in 2006.”
What are your favorite memories of the Casbah?
“I saw an incredible Horrors show there in 2009. Best stage presence, still haunts me now!”
How does playing SD with the Dum Dum Girls differ from your live experiences with earlier bands?
“It’s just a tour stop now, though I still have a few good friends there. Also my in-laws come :)”
What was the Dum Dum Girls’ best gig?
“Our first festival was Primavera in Barcelona, and I still can tap into the delirium of that experience. It was one of those rare, transcendent performances, even though we’re technically a much better band now. Plus, we had just hung out with Ari Up and later saw Pet Shop Boys on MDMA.”
How has your songwriting evolved over the past few years?
“I would hope it’s gotten better. I’m very cognizant of progress, regarding it as this craft/science that can be improved upon with practice and effort, and at the same time it really feels like a channeling sort of thing. You know how Keith Richards wrote ‘Satisfaction’ in his sleep?”
How did you first meet [ex-Ravonettes and Too True collaborator] Sune Rose Wagner?
“I was a big fan of his, and we both ended up with the same manager and producer, so it was Richard Gottehrer who suggested we bring Sune into the recording fold. I was hesitant — it would be awkward simply because I’m awkward, but it really was very immediately a great fit. We jumped right into the He Gets Me High [EP], cold.”
How did you divide the labor between Wagner and yourself, recording?
“I still to this day demo songs very thoroughly, from rhythm and lead guitar to bass and drum samples. Every record to date still includes multiple demo tracks buried in the mix. Generally, we determine if my tracks are usable on their own or if they should be doubled or replaced completely. Sune generally redoes guitar leads I’ve written, as I’m not a very fluid melodic player, and the same is often true for bass — he’s a much more authoritative bass player. And Too True made use of his drum-programming skills just as End of Daze [EP] did.”
Which songs on the new album do you like best and why?
“I love the dropout on ‘Cult of Love,’ the drum beat of ‘Lost Boys & Girls Club,’ the bridge of ‘Too True to Be Good,’ and overall, ‘Under These Hands’ is probably my favorite.”
Which songs were the most challenging to lay down and why?
“I was extremely unhappy with the lyrics and verse melody of ‘Lost Boys.’ They felt like subpar placeholders and I guess they were. It took some reevaluation to get it where it ended up. Once I got the main phrase, the rest of the song followed shortly.”
How does your musical relationship with co-producer Richard Gottehrer [Blondie, Go-Go’s, Richard Hell] continue to evolve?
“We humor each other’s ideas more and more.”
Who will you have in the touring band this time, on which instruments?
“It’s the same lineup as it’s been for most of the band [Dee Dee on lead vocals and occasional guitar, Jules Medeiros on guitar, Sandra Vu on drums] with the addition of Malia [James] on bass for two years now, plus Andrew Miller has joined us on guitar.”
Which cities do you look most forward to seeing on this tour, and why?
“San Diego for Lefty’s, San Francisco for Philz, Nashville in general (a first for DDG), and Marfa for a quick visit!”
What are your plans for after the tour?