DUG E. BIRD
Interview by Scott Bass, Part 3
PSF: Las Mordidas lasts for about a year?
PSF: Okay, so tell me the origin of the All Scars; a bit of an All-star line up, right?
Dug: Right. I think Jerry wanted kind of like a House Burning Down type thing where there would be a forum for lots of musicians to write, collaborate, perform, record although instead of just being this one record, it would be... and so instead of it being this one album, it would be like a band, like an ongoing thing, like through many years.
PSF: Like Menduo.
Dug: (laughs) Yeah, sure.
PSF: (laughs) A revolving cast.
Dug: That's funny; Tomas had a Menudo guitar back in the day.
Dug: I don't know where... he must have gone to Toys-R-Us or something, yeah.
PSF: Oh funny!
Dug: Back in the day.
PSF: it's where Ricky Martin got his start man.
Dug: Yeah, so it's...
PSF: All Scars are not really a punk band, I mean it's punk in attitude but, musically... getting away from punk stereotypes.
Dug: Well certainly it was like... yeah, getting away from short and fast. I mean there was still stuff that was still pretty loud and pretty chaotic.
PSF: It seems like a lot of different colors were painted with the group, a lot of different textures.
Dug: Right, yeah.
PSF: Not very commercial though?
PSF: I wouldn't even call it very accessible; it's challenging music.
Dug: Yeah, yeah, I'll say!
PSF: You played on all of the records except on the last one right?
Dug: I think that's right.
PSF: So at some point, you decide you've had enough of playing with the All-Scars?
Dug: It wasn't that so much but basically I was getting closer to having a family in my life... my wife was ready to give birth to our first child, it was really hard to leave but...
PSF: Was your wife supportive of your music?
Dug: She was but it was how I wanted to do things; with a baby on the way, I couldn't see continuing in the band. I think like everybody else in the band had a different reality and it could easily continue to record and tour and I didn't want to have my head in like two places. I figured well maybe I can come back to this in time. All Scars was a really, really great band and not just because of the people but also the concepts. It started out as like somewhat-written songs and songs that kind of just blended into each other until it just almost became this single like 20 or 25 minute song... composed of little parts with transitions.
PSF: And you didn't seem to care much for song titles...
Dug: No, no and then it became more... with the transitions and everything, there was a big need for all of us to listen to each other really closely and just really like feel each other to get the transitions right and we took that even further and maybe like a year or two in where we weren't even really writing songs or you know, we would just practise, come up with a few like grooves that felt good and then not even like really construct much of a set around it but just really try to listen to each other for how and when and who was going to like improvise on a certain groove, how far we were going to take it, when were we going to like blend into the next thing? That band was so great, that was like really important to my development as a bass player or just as a musician in general because I was in a situation where I really needed to listen, I couldn't just play my part and hope for the best.
PSF: Reacting in real time?
Dug: Not even reacting but like anticipating, where you have to be on or reasonably on in like most of the practices leading up to the gig in order for the gig to be what you want and it was a big risk to take, you know, playing these long improvised jams. I wouldn't even call them jams necessarily; improvised performances maybe. It was really challenging like you said, not readily accessible. Some nights the energy was really great. We played at a place called, I think The Freezer in New York, we played some good shows there and then we played some other shows where just a lot of people hated us. That's the risk you take but I'm still glad I did it and what's really funny is for me, for all of my time as a musician, once I was in All Scars, I had finally forgotten about trying to get back to the Beefeater thing.
PSF: You were finally able to let that go?
Dug: Yes, I was finally able to let that go because All Scars was just like completely different, now we're just like improvising shit. We're not writing tunes with like words and titles and all this... the irony is that in abandoning all of this structure and expectation, I actually came back to some of that really great feeling of like early Beefeater and the first album where it was just like "We don't know what the fuck we're doing but we're doing it and it feels great" where it just felt like there was a lot of possibility again, so yeah, that was All Scars for me.
PSF: Had you ever noticed that the first album Introduction to Humanity is on the free music archive? It looked pretty legit so I assumed that it was sanctioned by the band.
Dug: Yeah, yeah, that's Chuck, yeah. He's put up a lot of our stuff on the Free Music Archives. Everyone in the band is cool with it.
PSF: You pretty much stopped playing with the All Scars around the time your son was born, so was that the last band that you officially played with?
Dug: Well, actually around 8 years later, Jon K. looked me up. He had been in North Carolina and moved back to D.C. He wanted to start playing again and he's an excellent guitar player and we have lots of similar tastes, so yeah we started playing and I was a little reticent because it felt like, well and I think he said he wanted to play shows, wanted to tour, wanted to do a pretty serious band thing but I kind of had to hold back due to family and I think that became frustrating for him so eventually, we went our separate ways after a couple of years.
PSF: And this band was...
Dug: The Formers.
PSF: Rhymes with The Warmers?
Dug: You know, featuring the former this, former that. So kind of a joke there I guess and yeah, we played a couple of shows, in DC, in Arlington... we played a show in Baltimore. We had some good songs.
PSF: How would you describe the band?
Dug: Elements of metal, punk and funk. Really intense, crazy guitar playing. Jon K. is a brilliant guitar player. I like his sound because it's intense and metallic the way, you know, that's through a Marshall, I love that sound but he manages to push it sonically so that it's like kind of grating but not too grating and you know, there's just something I like about that.
PSF: How long was that group around?
Dug: Oh, two years, two and a half maybe. Some of our shows were really, really good and I think up to that point, not going out much, not playing much was taking away an outlet so I had a lot of pent up energy and so The Formers was really great in that respect, it was really...
PSF: Therapeutic if nothing else?
Dug: Fucking A and you know, it was really good to play because Jon writes complicated songs and they're not like bad complicated, like put you to sleep or anything but they're good in a sense that they're talented so I like that.
PSF: Did you do any recording?
Dug: Yeah we did, like not studio stuff, I think we did like a basement thing that we just ripped or just dumped to a CD that I have at my house somewhere.
PSF: Not officially released but kind of available to friends and that kind of thing?
Dug: Yeah. Once we played at my neighborhood pool which was a fucking trip. We all went in there with our scary looks and our Marshall stacks to this pool with all of these nice, suburban people and their kids.
PSF: Sounds comical.
Dug: I do play a bit with some of the other dads in the neighborhood. I was playing upright (bass) for a while until my upright kind of became unplayable so I've been playing electric lately. So that's what I'm doing these days. I figure eventually I'll get back to playing regular again.
PSF: And the Beefeater reunion gig, when is that happening?
Dug: (Laughs). Oh, I don't know man.
PSF: Something to hope for in the future, I guess. Any last thoughts, thinking back on the decades of playing in all of the various bands?
Dug: Well, I never would have thought that I could have done the things I ended up doing like at the start of Beefeater. I have to credit Fred... like the general idea was "We want you to do this." And then Fred picks up a bass and goes 'bong chica bong,' just like beautifully sounding, awesome slapping. I never would have thought I could do that but yet like somehow it happened. So all of these bands just have been a real awesome experience in humanity, it just reminded me of that All-Scars title, Introduction to Humanity because I was able to do things that I had no idea were possible for me ever, like originally had just assumed that I wasn't going to be able to do but once I dropped that mentality, I was actually able to like make this change that brought me a lot of happiness, so and I'm really grateful for the experience.
DUG E. BIRD DISCOGRAPHY
Underground Solider - "Sunday Slaughter" from V/A Bouncing Babies LP (1985 FOY)
Underground Solider - Fun Before Profit! LP (1985 Speed of Sound)
Beefeater - Plays For Lovers LP (1985 Dischord)
Beefeater - "Wars In Space" from V/A - Alive & Kicking 7" EP (1985 WGNS)
Beefeater - Need A Job 12" EP (1986 Olive Tree/Wetspots UK)
Beefeater - House Burning Down LP (1987 Dischord)
Beefeater - Plays For Lovers / House Burning Down CD (1991 Dischord)
Beefeater - "Just Things" from V/A 20 Years of Dischord 3xCD (2002 Dischord)
Fidelity Jones - Piltdown Lad 12" EP (1989 Dischord)
Fidelity Jones - "Venus On Lovely" 7" (1990 Dischord)
Fidelity Jones - "Blood Stone Burn" from V/A State of the Union LP (1994 Dischord)
Fidelity Jones - "Destructor" from V/A 20 Years of Dischord 3xCD (2002 Dischord)
Suture - "Goodgirl," "Falling," "Secret Language," "Pretty Is" from A Wonderful Treat tape (1991 no label)
Suture - s/t 7" EP (1992 Decomposition/Dischord)
Rain Like The Sound Of Trains - "Bad Man's Grave" 7" (1993 Dischord)
Rain Like The Sound Of Trains - What I Want 7" (1993 Dischord)
Rain Like The Sound Of Trains - s/t LP (1994 Dischord)
Rain Like The Sound Of Trains - Incoming 7" EP (1995 Spring)
Las Mordidas / Mukilteo Fairies - split 7" EP (1994 Honey Bear)
Las Mordidas - "Surrounded" 7" (1994 Compulsiv/Dischord)
Las Mordidas "1,2,1,2" and "Washer/Dryer" from WGNS Gots No Station Compilation - Vol. 2 (1994 WGNS)
All Scars - Early Ambient LP (1997 Slowdime/Dischord)
All Scars - Bushu 7" EP (1998 Ace Fu)
All Scars - Introduction to Humanity (1999 Slow Dime)
(If you didn't start at the start, here's See Part I of the Dug E. Bird interview)
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