Artist of the day: The Dags
Mid-20s duo the Dags have been highly proactive since forming in August 2011. They recently conquered the East Coast, with a tour culminating in New York City, and already have two albums under their belts.
The Dags are Ash Dudney, guitar and vocals, and Drae Williams, drums. They previously played together in Al Torchia and the Tattered Saints before deciding to forge their own path as an energetic, grungy, punk-blues act.
The group performs with Booker & Norton, Gentlemen Please, Fowler’s Bluff and Geri X at a benefit for scene member Jason Smith, who is recovering from injuries sustained from a car accident. It’s $5 at 7 p.m. Saturday at Octave, 661 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
Dudney sat down with us and shared his manifesto.
What is the story behind the name The Dags?
From the movie Snatch; Brad Pitt’s character, Mickey. He plays a “pikey” (gypsy), and pronounces dogs as dags.
Are you currently a two-piece?
Right now, it’s just Drae and myself. We had a bassist when we went on tour to New York. Once we came back, he left, so right now we’re just running on fill-ins until we find the right guy.
When you were on tour, how did the audiences respond to you?
We were well-received everywhere we went. It seemed like everyone was really receptive of us. We didn’t realize it, but we ended up the headliner for New York playing Pianos, in Manhattan, which was amazing.
Was that frightening, exciting, or both?
It was exciting. There’s nothing wrong with getting a slot like that. It was a lot of fun. The whole trip up, we didn’t have a bad time anywhere.
Did you book the tour yourselves? Your online presence purports a strong DIY ethic. What is your philosophy?
It just gets things done. You don’t have to find the right people to do the right work. It comes back to, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” (There’s) nothing wrong with outside influence or advice, but for us it’s just always worked with Drae and I being as motivated as we are to just take everything on ourselves, and say, “You know what? We’re going to do this.”
How is it working out for you so far?
It got us to headline in New York, so can’t be that bad. It got us two albums out that cost us nothing but the production of the actual physical CDs.
Are you working on a third release?
If our bassist hadn’t quit, we’d be recording right now, ready to put out another album in the spring.
Have you thought about recording the bass yourself?
On our last album, I’d say about half of the basslines I did. It’s just a matter of writing. It’s better when we write as a band. Drae and I can write songs; it’s always nice to have that fill of bass to add more to each song.
Is that how you write, you throw things against the wall and see what sticks?
It depends. A lot of times I’ll approach him with a song I’ve already wrote. A lot of our best stuff, as far as our favorite stuff, has been from collaborating together.
The Dags are heavily influenced by rock music of the ’90s. What is it about that era that you are particularly drawn to?
There’s something raw about it. There’s something that seems to move people, which is why sometimes it’s frustrating that in this day and age it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are to willing to be moved. Nonetheless, it’s the energy; it’s the power, especially when we get political. To have that ’90s anger to it, mixed with that ’80s Dead Kennedys sarcasm.
Is your music political?
A good bit of it is. Dollar Sign was written based on the last presidential election. The story behind that was, I was shopping at a grocery store and was in the cereal aisle and I literally started crying because I couldn’t afford the food I needed. It just enraged me to see such a different class of people who have no idea what it’s like to feel like that ’cause they’ve been well off all their lives.
Those who represent us don’t necessarily understand us.
You’re telling me.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*