Antihero Magazine’s Greg Ramar gets the Dirty Kid Discount from bassist Jay Crash, and talks about the meaning of punk rock, politics, the industry, trees and other stuff.
Greg: As an homage to the great Barbara Walters; if Dirty Kid Discount was a Tree, what kind of Tree would it be?
Jay Crash: Dirty Kid Discount would be a hybrid tree consisting of Evergreen and fruit bearing Apple branches, blossoming Cannabis vines growing up the knotted trunk and rooted in the skulls and skeletons of dead things. [separator style”line” /]
Introduce your band and yourself and describe your role within the band.
I’m Jay Crash. I play bass in Dirty Kid Discount. I also scream a bunch and do some poisonous toad vocals. As for the rest of the band – Icky plays the accordion as well as the Piano and does a lot of vocals. Pitch Goose plays the Resonator Guitar, a bit of washboard, and provides screams, vocals, and drinks the beers. Emily Elizondo plays the mandolin, the musical saw, and has got pipes for days!!!! Jake Carpenter plays Guitar, Trombone, and does vocals as well. Erin Wolfe plays claw hammer Banjo and sings a lot of the time. Jessie Cobb plays drums. John Underwood is our newest member who plays Trumpet, Trombone, and he sings as well. We also have a friend Junkyard Amy Lee who does guest vocals with us from time to time. [separator style”line” /]
Describe the band’s sound and culture using (only) the names of (5) other bands.
Filth, Ludicra, Ulver, Nux Vomica, Profane Sass!!! [separator style”line” /]
How has being an Oregonian shaped and defined the band’s sound?
The landscape and culture reflect the music. A lot of our lyrics are very visual. The trees, the Gorge, the long winters, the rain, the wild fires, the moon, and the changing of colors during the seasons all reflect the music. Our accordion player (Icky) lives in the woods on the Olympic peninsula. (Jay) I spend a lot of my time on the Oregon / Washington coast near the mouth of the Columbia River. We all travel with our side projects in the North West regularly. We’re all fascinated with nature and the power and energy it possesses. [separator style”line” /]
What do you think of the Independent Film Channels (IFC’s) show “Portlandia”?
That’s a question we get asked a lot. The TV show Portlandia isn’t relevant to our music. None of us watch TV very much or even own TVs for that matter. Pop culture really has nothing to do with our music. [separator style”line” /]
A description of DKD on the Facebook Page say’s “Romantic Nihilism & Camp Fire Crust”, what does that mean?
Dirty Kid Discount is constantly changing. So describing our music can be difficult. We draw from many different influences. The sound varies and we also bounce back and forth between playing acoustic and electric. It’s two different worlds all the time. Dirty Kid Discount has never really found a specific genre of music that describes the band completely. We are always coming up with new ways to describe our music and sometimes friends come up with good ideas too. We were described as Thrash grass for a minute. It was Dave Dictor from MDC that actually said that Dirty Kid Discount‘s music was a sort of Campfire Crust, a mixture of acoustic campfire music and crust punk. Icky was the one who came up with Romantic Nihilism. Slow waltzes with lyrics leading to the end of the world? It’s what we make of it that is important. Words are wind. [separator style”line” /]
What is the origin of the band’s name, and were there some alternate choices?
The name Dirty Kid Discount came from our Resonator Guitar Player, Pitch Goose. He came up with that name as a joke about 5 years ago when the Ghost Town Rejects, which was the project before DKD, were playing a show with Blackbird Raum and Defiance Ohio. A bunch of Dirty Kids got let in the side door of the venue and didn’t end up paying for the show. Pitch made a joke about all those Dirty Kids sneaking into the show got the Dirty Kid Discount. So it was really an inside joke that we continue to take too far! When we were doing the demo tracks for the first album we really liked Life Amongst the Ruins because of its reference to a new beginning after the disbanding of the Ghost Town Rejects. It actually became the title of our first record. Scarwood, Heretics of Doom were other cool black metal ideas we had at the time but Dirty Kid Discount always stood out to us in the beginning. It’s describes us best and touches on the culture around us. [separator style”line” /]
Why should someone see a DKD gig before they die?
The live sound is different from our record and a lot of our shows are about the community around us. Our sound is all over the place. We play all kinds of different shows and try to bring a different sound to those shows. We play a variety of different shows as much as possible. We also play with all different types of bands. Sometimes were busking on the street corner. Sometimes were all running through amps and screaming at the top of our lungs. Our shows are never the same so if you see Dirty Kid Discount before you die you may never see the same show again. Die knowing you seen a thing or two. [separator style”line” /]
What band or album was ground zero for you (Jay), a piece of music that was a paradigm shift?
The music you listen throughout your whole life shapes your musical style. Not one moment but many moments over a long period of time has shaped my own style. When I was 14 years old I got the Against All Authority album, Destroy what Destroys you. That album blew my pissed off little mind. Shortly after I came across Grimple and the album Grimple up your ass! I got into the Suicide Machines around the same time and happen to see their first show in Portland, OR. Slayer was big push in the metal direction for me early on which introduced me to all the different genres of metal. Seeing the Ramones, Rancid, Devo, Metallica in Phoenix, AZ in 1995 all in the same day was incredible. When I got into touring managing around 2006 and started going overseas and seeing music from the other side of the board, or from behind the scenes, that really changed my outlook. I learned a lot from being on tour with GWAR. Seeing all those guys treating there music as art and sharing the experience with their fans. I’ve also been very much influenced by my friends and the people I have played music with over the years. I listen to a lot of Classical these days which wasn’t the case. I liked Classical when I was a kid, early on. I suppose it’s come full circle. I guest from ground zero I’ve had many different shifts and continue to grow as a musician and a person. [separator style”line” /]
What does Punk Rock mean to you?
What does Punk Rock mean to anyone? Punk Rock is what you make of it. Punk Rock is the meaning you give it. [separator style”line” /]
If asked – What is the business or industry of music today? – How would you respond?
The music business or industry is forever changed. There is no big money from big record sales anymore. Record companies got use to that and some got used to getting paid to do nothing. Bands are becoming more independent. Festivals seem to be popping up everywhere in the states now. Just like it is in Europe. Why go see your favorite band when you can see a bunch of them all at once. A lot of venues and promoters in the states still lack on taking care of bands on the road. Just getting a solid gig booked and having it properly promoted is hard enough. Not to mention getting solid pay for performance, food, drinks, a place to stay for everyone in the band. It’s different in Europe as far as hospitality goes. Most places in the states look at you funny when you ask where the band can stay for the night. I see a lot of competition for table scraps and not a whole lot of people that understand what it takes to be in a fully active touring band. Some of these people show this lack of understanding while in a touring band and some are not in a band at all. Contracts, split points, request permission from management, sound scans, ASCAP, BMI, etc. UGH! Come on we’re all just people making art! It seems someone always has to get paid and that’s not always the band or artist. I think people rely too much on the Internet and are losing some of the value in music. Listening to tapes and vinyl and really hearing a record in its entirety is a different experience then listening to one song at a time on the Internet. Seeing the artwork and reading the lyrics were always important to me. Another thing that seems to be slipping away. Overall you really have to be tough and stick to your guns. One bad decision can ruin everything you’ve worked so hard for. It’s cut throat. Watch yourself and remember it’s always good to treat people with respect. [separator style”line” /]
Has touring with a band of 8 people consisting of BOTH genders been problematic?
No it’s never been a problem at all. Having both genders in the band brings a nice balance and it shows our crowd that you can be whatever you want to be. Having both woman and men on stage is very important to us. We have 2 and sometimes 3 beautiful strong ladies on the stage that set a wonderful and empowering example for the young people that come out to our shows and everyone for that matter. All the guys in Dirty Kid Discount are great dudes. We all try and maintain a strong family vibe in our band and with the music community based on respect. [separator style”line” /]
With such a large group, is it difficult to find a consensus for sound, direction or image?
No, it’s a collective process. We all talk about the decisions we have to make as a band and come up with what is in the best interest of the band and then we execute our decisions. We set up shows and tours way in advance based on the approval of the entire band. So we are always pushing in the same direction. It seems that everyone in the band has their own thing that they really excel at and bring to the table and contribute to the band. Our Banjo player does a lot of the art. I book our tours and do a lot of promotion. Our mandolin player handles the merch, etc. We have 8 people in the band. We pretty much do everything ourselves with the help of a few close friends. On the creative side, even when one member writes a song or comes up with a concept, it changes and takes shape in several different ways. Sometimes those are big changes and sometimes they are more subtle. We all contribute something to the music and songs take shape fully once they have gone through the entire band. We also have two versions of most of our songs since the songs are played both acoustic and electric. [separator style”line” /]
What are the sweet spots of touring – what moments can you do without?
I suppose the sweet spots are all the good times we have playing and making music as a group, traveling, hanging out and having fun. It’s amazing how far we have already come just to get to this point. We really love to play. Yet being in a touring band is a lot of work ,for not a lot of pay, for the first few years, and at times it can be tiring, stressful and a struggle. It just comes with the territory. Without the struggle and without it being difficult there would be no real reward. We have not only grown as a band, but as people and as friends. I think if things get easier for DKD because of the hard work we have put in that’s okay but if it was just handed to us it wouldn’t be the same. [separator style”line” /]
What was DKD oddest gig?
We play a lot of odd gigs so it’s really hard to say. We’ve busked at an Alien Parade. We’ve played shows with bands that were very different from us and those have been some of our best shows. We played a back yard show in Orange County where they told us that the crowd probably won’t like us and then after one song we had 200+ crazy So-Cal D Beat kids pitting around a massive fire, riding on each other’s shoulder and going absolutely crazy. Lots of craziness unfolds at our gigs. [separator style”line” /]
What would be a dream gig for DKD?
A big show in the Forest or Jungle where we get to play both acoustic and electric!!! Northern Lights, etc… Playing an awesome taco stand sounds like a dream!!! [separator style”line” /]
What has been the oddest reaction to walking onstage with an accordion at a punk gig?
Everyone wants to touch the accordion for some reason. I never expect it but it does happen regularly. Like they don’t know if it’s real or not. We get a lot of people trippin’ out on the musical saw as well. [separator style”line” /]
Tell me about Crash Assailant Records.
Crash Assailant Records is a small record label I started in 1999. It’s been a vehicle for my own projects as well as friends I’ve tried to help out over the years. I’ve been doing the same label for 16 years now. Everything from putting out records, putting up digital downloads and Internet videos, promotion, tour management, music production, etc. It all falls under the umbrella of Crash Assailant Records for me. I have a small tour service where I rent my van, trailer, and gear to bands and then drive them on the road and sell merch for a reasonable rate. Some of the members of DKD have driven on other tours then DKD tours and sold merch for other bands as well. I had an uncle that told me once if I was going to be a musician there were certain aspects of being a musician that I needed to treat as a business. This turned out to be very true with not only with music but international travel as well. I’ve very thankful that I listened and always tried to do the responsible thing in my 20s. Crash Assailant Records is opening a silk screen shop at the end of the year, expanding our backline next year, and will hopefully be moving on to setting up our studio at the end of next year. I also work for Crawlspace Booking. I book tours regularly so for me Crawlspace Booking and Crash Assailant Records go hand and hand. [separator style”line” /]
You have an upcoming gig at the legendary 924 Gilman Street club (where Green Day cut their teeth) – have you played there before…and what has been your touring experience been like in California in general?
We love playing 924 Gilman. We’ve played there several times with a lot of great bands. The staff is great. We’ve played all over California and Gilman is one of our favorite spots to play. Looking forward to this gig with Blackbird Raum and My Pizza My World. We’re playing Gilman and then the next day we are all headed to Broken Strings Fest to play with a bunch of great acts! [separator style”line” /]
Final shout outs, comments, rebuttals or thoughts on Donald Trump?
We’ll see all of you out on the road!!! We’re doing a big tour October 7th – November 22!!! We’re raising funds to do an EP and our next full length record at the same time!!! We’re raising the money DIY style. Playing out and do some benefit shows. We are calling our DIY fund raising campaign – Busk the World!!! If you want to help Dirty Kid Discount Busk the World you have to come to our shows to donate cuz we’re not gonna take anyone’s money on the Internet!
All the politicians are going down in a soup of themselves just like the Human Race. We’re on one big ship and it’s sinking fast. There will be no place for the rats to swim to once the ship sinks. [separator style”line” /]