Interview with BLAG DAHLIA

conducted by Dakin Hardwick

Blag Dahlia has been the front person for legendary punk Bay Area punk band THE DWARVES for over 30 years. They put on one of the rowdiest, messiest live shows you will ever see, and you’ll get to experience it all at this year’s Burger Boogaloo. We had an opportunity to chat with him ahead of the festival to talk about performing live, their fantastic new record, and pretty much anything else he wanted to talk about.

Hello Blag! I know you've got a radio show to get to after this call, so I'm going to make this quick. So, tell me about this radio show you are running off to?

This guy named BOBBY PICKLES has a sports radio show and he has me on every once in a while, just to talk about weird issues. And if people want to interview me, I'll give them an interview. Even if I don't have anything to say. Even if I just want to talk about something ridiculous, I'll still get in there and have an interview.

So are you actually talking about sports? Or are you going into random other worlds?

I think it's just random stuff in the world. I really know nothing about sports...It would be the coolest to have me talk about sports.

This is your second time at Burger Boogaloo…

Yup. We've made a lot of records with the Burger guys, a lot of reissues with the Burger guys, and our new record, Take Back The Night, is out on Burger. We are part of the family, so it feels good to be on the Boogaloo.

Are you excited to get to play so close to two different hospitals?

It's pretty fun to do the hospital circuit...You never know!

You’re on Burger Records now, but you've also worked with Epitaph and Sub Pop. How does it feel to know that all of the legendary labels want to have you?

We were also on Sympathy For The Record Industry. I think it's a combination of our reputation for wild live shows mixed with these records that are thoughtfully put together and well produced. It makes for this juxtaposition...You get a little bit of both --- this reckless Rock’n’Roll feeling along with these pop overtones on a punk record. So it has everything you might need.

And the album covers are, really, so beautiful. In college, a friend of mine wrote a short story about a man that could only get aroused when he's surrounded by Dwarves album covers. Since it's been about four years since we lost him, how would you think (frequent Dwarves album cover model) BOBBY FAUST would feel knowing that?

I’ve always thought the covers were another way to get in the door. And I know some people only like our records for the covers. I have some records and sheet music that I only like for the covers, you know? I can accept that. I think they are missing out though, because if you get a little deeper into it and listen to the records, I think you'll get some fun out of it. But whatever works for you! I think now, more than ever, people in Rock’n’Roll are afraid of those impulses. Afraid of the nastiness. The Dwarves never shied away from that. That's how we do.

Is there any other band out there today that you think embodies that nastiness?

Well, no. The Dwarves are kind of a one-of-a-kind thing in that realm of Rock’n’Roll. Punk rockers, very hedonistic, drug and sex…That sort of thing. However, every generation does their own thing. I did just see this band called BIRDCLOUD...Two females from Nashville that embody that Dwarves spirit, even though it's acoustic and humor based. They have this quality where their band could only exist with these two people in it --- nobody else is going to get what's going on here. They can only exist in and of themselves. There is no template to follow.

BIRDCLOUD are really, really good. I'm happy that you brought them up.

Yeah... I just happened to catch them in Dallas. I had a lot of fun with it. I thought they were hilarious. I recently saw SCOTT H. BIRAM, who I think is one of the great modern bluesmen. There's all kinds of people around doing stuff...You don't see that as much in the punk and hard rock circles. There are too many rules, and, you know, more’s the pity.

Is there anyone you are excited to see at the Boogaloo?

Yeah…What's so fascinating about that is they've done a great job. And it's not just the guys from the label. Marcos Ribak does a great job curating it, especially this year. You've got DEVO, who rarely play, and THE DAMNED. He also knows how to find the obscurities, garage bands like THE MUMMIES, bands that people want to see that aren't in your face at all the other festivals. And with JOHN WATERS sort of tying the whole thing together, it's a really unique thing that you only have in Oakland.

I've got one more question. This one is incredibly personal. A few months ago, I attended Punk Rock Karaoke at Bottom of the Hill. I selected two songs. I practiced them for weeks. Then I showed up right when doors opened, expecting to be able to put down one of those two songs, but you had already signed up for both of them. I was devastated. The question: How does it feel knowing that your abuse of power ruined my night?

(Uncontrollable laughter) I think that's a reasonable question. When you've been in the rock game as long as me, you are always on the inside track, man. They called and asked me what I wanted to sing and I gave them those two songs. I think you should feel really happy in that great minds think alike. That means there is a brilliance in you that you didn't even know you had, because it's echoed by me.

Man. That's the best possible answer you could give.

I feel good just knowing you are out there, rocking the scene, knowing you are ready for karaoke.

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