So the first thing I did to endear myself to Blag was leave an anonymous - yet UPROARIOUS - "crank" phone call on his cell phone voicemail. Imagine the laughter that must have ensued when he checked his messages only to hear an unfamiliar old hick voice saying, "Hello is dis.. is dis heah Bugs Diarrhea? I'm tryin' to reach Bugs Diarrhea. Is dis Bugs Diarrhea? Cuz dis is... dis is some-oney cawlin' f' Bugs Diarrhea. And if you don't divulge...Diarrhea. It's da band a da Doors - da Doors! Touch me two times. IS DIS BUGS DIARRHEA?"
Ah yes, humor is God's medicine and I am the balm that soothes the tortured knee of despair. I returned to the Internet to do whatever it was I do on there all goddamned day when SUDDENLY ---- (note: Bolded text is ME - Unbolded text is Mr. Blag Dahlia of Dwarves fame)
my phone: ring!
This is Blag.
Hey! How's it goin'?
And who might this be?
Oh. So you star 69'ed me I guess.
No, I just saw the number on here. Who is this?
Oh this is Mark Prindle from New York. Say! Do you have time for an interview right now? Or are you busy?
Yeah, I can - but you should call me back on a line where I don't have to pay.
Oh you're paying for this?
Yeah, it's a cell phone. Let me give you a number to call me back at. (speaks to somebody in the background) Okay, you can reach me at (phone number). No. That was wrong. It's (slightly different phone number).
Ok, I'll call you right back!
(I call him right back)
Hey! Excuse me while I turn the tape recorder on, so I don't have to type while we're talking. (note: the tape recorder then proceeded to not record the first few minutes of the interview, for no clear reason. So I had to dictate from memory!)
So now you're all mad at me because of my hilarious "crank" phone call.
I'm not mad at you! Just disappointed.
Well, I'm disappointed at you for being able to find out that it was me! So what was with this email you sent me that said the Dwarves probably won't make any more albums?
Well, you never know. Anything could happen.
Did you get sick of it or....
Well, I've been doing it for a long time.
Plus I guess... I mean, by the end you were the only original member, right?
Well, and He-Who. Me and He-Who were the... the constants.
Really? I thought he left the band for a while. Or did he just become a different character?
No, he was always on the albums.
He was on Young And Good-Looking?
Some of it, yeah! His presence was always felt on the albums.
So you're... you don't want to do the Dwarves anymore?
I've been doing that type of music for like 15 years. I just wanna try some other things.
Like that bubblegum loop thing you were telling me about?
Yeah, I've been doing some of that.
What is - what do you do?
Oh you know, take old sixties records and make loops.
But what do you use? Pro Tools?
Yep. Pro Tools are my tools.
I've got a couple of friends who have that. So are you gonna release this stuff?
I might! We'll see.
So do you do stuff like that and like Earl Lee Grace and all the different stuff on Come Clean, because you felt like you were being forced to play punk? Or...
No! Nobody does anything they don't wanna do. I like playing punk rock. I never worked very hard at it.
Well, it sure sounds like you did! Your songs are great - most punk rock bands can't write songs half that good.
Well, you know....
Were you the main songwriter from the beginning?
Why did you - for a while, you were disowning that first record (Horror Stories). It's a good record! I mean, it was reverbed all to hell in the beginning but... I love that reissue you put out (Lick It)!
Yeah, well the thing was at that time nobody was into that kind of '60s punk. Now everybody's into it so they say it's great, but at the time, we couldn't get shows anywhere! So when we started playing hardcore, we thought it would be best to bury that garage stuff kinda.
(note: at this point, the tape miraculously started recording, so all of this text is verbatim)
Do you, but did you - you always liked it though, didn't you?
Yeah you know man, I mean I did it so I love it. If I took a shit, I'd like it.
OK, put that out! I actually like the Earl Lee Grace CD a lot more than I was expecting to. That stuff's cool!
Yeah! And again that's a whole other thing where nobody was very into bluegrass and now all of a sudden everybody's into bluegrass, so.... It's called being ahead of your time, Mark!
So... we're all gonna be into bubblegum loops!
Yeah. Yeah, there you go.
Why did you switch from Blag Jesus to Blag Dahlia?
It was always just different last names, I mean I kept Blag Jesus, I just, you know, Blag whatever. Blag History Month. Blag Plague.
I like Blag History Month!
Anything with Blag.
Blag History Month is good! Am I right that when you started the band, you were the guitarist? And He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named was the keyboardist?
Yeah, that's right.
What happened to that original singer guy?
Oh well I sang too, but the dude Sigh Moan sang too. He and I were the singers, and we had him playing drums for a while but in the beginning he was just sort of percussion/vocal kinda guy.
I didn't even know you were singing on that first record! Was your voice the same?
Yeah. Yeah, I sing, let's see, on the first Dwarves record I sing "Don't Love Me" and "I'm A Living Sickness" and "Mind Expanders" and "Be A Caveman" - I did a lot of them actually.
OK. What was the big turning point? I mean, on that album, a lot of the songs are pretty fast, but it's not like what you turned into!
We were always into '60s punk and stuff like that but the problem was that scene just wasn't any good, you know? It was a bunch of like real wimpy people with old clothes on and they didn't really like anything that was new ever. Like, you were only good to them if you had an old amp and an old guitar and you were playing an old song. That wasn't what I was interested in doing. I wanted to play new stuff that I wrote. And then I was always into hardcore and I was always into punk rock and stuff and most of the, that scene too was a little bit limiting, so what happened was when nobody was very interested in punk anymore, I started getting into it again.
Then I kinda combined the '60s influence into, you know, if you listen to a song like "Back Seat Of My Car," that's basically '60s -
Oh, I know! It's all over the place! It's just a lot faster..... more offensive and louder. The guitars are so loud on that album! (note: Blood, Guts and Pussy)
If you go back over your albums, are there any regrets at all? Or you pretty much like all the songs?
Oh there's always regrets, you know? I mean, the biggest regret being if we would've had better budgets and more time, we probably would have been able to do more, but then again it would've been a whole different ballgame then, so... I mean, I try not to regret things. I look back at them and it seems pretty cool to me. It seems like it's stood the test of time fairly well, people are still interested in it. We didn't need a big marketing campaign to make people enjoy it.
I've been following the band since right when that album (note: still Blood, Guts and Pussy) came out. I hadn't heard the stuff before it, but right when that album came out was right when I got into the punk rock. So since then it's been one of my favorites.
See, I really love all the ones that came after it too, though! But that one - God, that one is so MEAN-sounding!
What, Blood, Guts?
Yeah! Well, there's certain moments in time when people really capture something, and that was one of those moments in time.
Sugarfix kinda had a different feel, but I'm not really sure what it was. Maybe more reverb on the guitars or something? I don't know what it was. I love it, but -
No, it doesn't really come down to things like reverb. It comes down to...
Yeah, we'd kinda gone through a lot of the hardcore formulas at that point, and people were big on grunge and angst, and again we were early in that scene as well. So a song came out like "Anybody Out There" and "Underworld" and, you know, we always try and do something different every record so Sugarfix does do something kinda different.
It seems like when you go through Young And Good-Looking, it seems like you hit pretty much every type of punk there is through that album. At least that's what -
Yeah, that was always the thing. Like what most bands do in punk rock is just keep recycling the same thing over and over and over again -
Sign up with Epitaph and sound like Bad Religion!
Yeah! And bands like Bad Religion are a good example. I mean they're perfectly good; they just had to write the same song over and over for twenty years, and if you do that, it's easier to kinda hold on to your core audience. It's very comfortable for them, you never change anything, you know? We were never like that - we just liked to change styles all the time. I like different kinds of music, and we were just never really into repeating ourselves endlessly which is part of the reason why we never sort of caught on with everybody all at once. Because it would take them a couple of years to catch on to what we were doing, and then we'd be on to something else.
So you think doing that alienated some people? From your audience?
I think any time you change styles and people liked what you were doing before, you might alienate them. And also it could potentially go the other way and open you up to a whole new huge audience. It just sort of, that has a lot to do with marketing and different things, but we were more into sex and drugs and all that stuff, so we didn't really pay attention to it.
Was being on the road as crazy as the songs made it sound like it was?
Oh yeah! Absolutely. We did things that other bands sorta needed a stuntman to pretend they were doing it.
I remember the first time I saw you was in Atlanta, I'm not sure which tour it was, but it was - I think you were playing with Flipper. I think. It was about ten minutes long. And you had that Crash Landon guy in the band. And the back of his guitar said something like "Fuck you" or something.
And you were swinging the mic off of the mic cord like Roger Daltrey but really far out, and it kept going right over his head! The mic - and I was just watching, waiting for it to smash him in the face.
Yep, sometimes he'd get smashed, sometimes I'd get smashed.
Sometimes you'd hit him? Aw I would've loved to see that.
Once in a while, I would say. I think everybody's gotten hit with flying stuff and some people had a better sense of humor about it than others.
Did you get beat up by jerks in the audience sometimes?
Got beat up a few times, yeah. Sorta beat up afterward or threatened, or I beat up people or various things have happened. Threatened, vandalized, had stuff destroyed, had the cops come, carted us off to jail, went to the hospital, got stabbed. All kinds of things happened.
But it was always like - that's rock and roll! That's cool though that you actually, I don't know, you just hear about all that stuff being in the past, history. Did you have groupies and stuff?
Oh yeah, absolutely! That was why I did it! I wouldn't have been interested in it otherwise.
I would imagine touring would be a real nightmare without something like that.
Yeah, you have to have something - that was the something for me.
Do you think you're ever gonna tour again in any capacity or are you kinda over that?
I don't know about touring. We like to go out sometimes and play a couple shows here and there. Fly in and do a quickie, get out.
I'm glad I got to see you on your last tour then! In New York, I saw you playing with three local bands I think -- no no! It was with Gas Huffer, I think.
Oh right! Yeah yeah, those were some fun shows there.
Yeah, that was a good one. And your show was like 25 minutes almost. Like an epic!
Yeah! We did the whole thing!
I thought it was actually, I was VERY interested in how - well, not that interested because if I was that interested, I'd be kinda gay. But I thought it was neat how different you looked with the short hair. I mean, you looked a lot - a LOT - meaner!
Yeah yeah, it's true. Well the long hair was how you got laid in the late '80s, early '90s. Because heavy metal girls were not too interested in punk rock. It was a defense mechanism.
But they went to the shows?
Sometimes at the shows, sometimes just at the bar. Whatever. Wherever.
Weren't you just like really excited when you saw my reviews and saw the great grades I gave you?
Yeah, I was!
That meant that you'd ARRIVED!
(heavy depressed sigh at my own lack of influence on popular opinion).
I thought it was cool! I'm into it!
Okay, thanks. Your web site's really good. You designed that yourself, right?
No, Kara Bruce designed the web site.
Okay. But do you maintain it?
There's different people that add stuff to it here and there but again, it pretty much is what it is.
At what point did you get a sense that you were like at your most popular? Could you tell? Or was it pretty much the same size audience the whole time?
It was pretty much the same the whole time! Things would threaten to happen - Right around Blood, Guts, it was supposed to get a lot bigger. But Sub Pop didn't deliver much on that. Then we started up again with Epitaph and we were supposed to get really big and it all stayed the same.
How did you end up with Sub Pop in the first place?
Well, we discovered them before they were big. We were one of the first bands signed to them. They didn't have any big acts, they hadn't sold a lot of records. They were just kind of a cool underground label and we went up to Seattle and played, and we did really well there and we had a good following and we sorta pushed our way in and that was it!
Were you ever mistaken for a Seattle grunge band because you -
Yeah, people would always say we were from Seattle. And it would say "Sub Pop band", so people would always assume we were from Seattle. A lot of people didn't know that we were from San Francisco.
So people who bought the Sub Pop stuff expected grunge?
They did, and then again a lot of them didn't like it because they were wanting to hear something like Mudhoney or Green River and what they got was more like hardcore. So a good amount of people didn't get it.
Was Epitaph pissed that you didn't change your sound to sound just like Bad Religion like every other band on their label?
(laughs) I don't know. They're pretty incoherent over there. I don't think very much affected them or got them very motivated one way or the other (laughs).
(note: at this point I seem to have accidentally moved the phone a little too far from the recorder's condenser mic. As a result, the rest of this is my statements verbatim and what I think he was saying, although boy was it hard to make out on the tape, so I could be totally wrong.)
Did you get to smoke crack with Mr. Brett?
No but I got in his car and I smelled a bunch of crack!
So I did my record deal and got released, figuring that, you never know - a bunch of crack probably costs a lot of money, they might not exist long. So I got mine while I could. But yeah, he's just a typical crack person. A quitter. He says he quit doing crack, supposed to have, but he'll probably start up again if he hasn't already.
Did you ever get into, I mean I know you're always talking about drugs in interviews and stuff. Were you ever like into the heroin thing or the coc-
I've done all that stuff, but I don't have that addictive side to my personality. So I escaped the phase that a lot of those people get stuck in.
I read your book (Armed To The Teeth With Lipstick) this week and that was all over the place. It seemed like you - that had such good wordplay! Like everything was a pun! It was ridiculous.
Just a bunch of bad puns.
But I love how halfway through the narrator admits it's a bunch of bad puns. Where he goes, "Jesus, is this what we sound like out loud?" or something. (note: In the chapter "The Long Hello," Martian narrator Lucifer Doolan - on Earth to find a "girl gone bad," as Van Halen might say - greets an ex-Martian named Geek Pederast with a "Been a long time, Pederast." When Pederast cleverly responds, "Longer than it was hard, Doolan, ya flimsy meteor maid," Doolan has a moment of self-realization: "Jesus, did we sound that goofy in real life?")
And then at the end I think in the NASA thing you talk about how it's just a bunch of bad puns. (note: at the end of the book is a "joint report by NASA and the American Heart Association" which includes the line "Bad puns and dodgy bohemian ethics may fly in San Francisco, fat boy, but who died and made you king of the airport newsrack?")
It's a cool book! I did really enjoy it. The writing was really interesting.
Yeah I wanted to make it interesting. There's some cool stuff in there. A lot of fun.
What kind of writing are you doing now?
Short stories, stuff that's actually readable Less wordplay. You know, easier to get into it.
Are you gonna self-release it, you think?
I don't know! Self-publishing isn't as lucrative as the record business. And I like doing stuff that brings in money.
Well, you don't wanna have to - you don't have to work a real job, do ya? Or do ya?
I probably should but I never do.
So you're like not rich, but you can at least afford not to.
That would be a good way to describe it.
Yeah. Must be nice.
Well, except for when you're going through a difficult time in your career and you have no way of making money.
Oh yeah. Well you had that, I guess... Were you scared when Sub Pop threw you off the label?(note: Sub Pop dropped The Dwarves after they pulled a media prank pretending that guitarist He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named was murdered)
No, I wasn't scared. I was angry and confused about it. And they were pretty confused, and on drugs too. So they sorta just did the typical thing that big rock stars do when they make a lot of money, and just lose all their friends pretty much, and live in a daze - stuff like that. Standard Sub Pop behavior.
Oh. Well, I don't wanna keep ya all night, although I could. What are you doing tonight?
I was gettin' ready to go get dinner.
Okay, what are you getting?
I'm gonna order me a pizza.
But I just became a vegetarian!
You did? That's great. I haven't made it there. I haven't progressed that far. But look, do me a favor - you're not gonna give out my phone number to anyone, are you?
NO! Jesus, I'm not even gonna ever use it again or anything. No. I.. Believe me, no. No problem. Why would I?
Well 'cuz people are silly when they get drunk and they do silly things, but...
I won't. It's only in this email, which is in my email folder, and I don't really care -
I trust you based upon what you've written but I like to be sure that people aren't giving out my private information.
Is there anything else you'd like to plug or talk about in this?
Yeah, I just want to reiterate what the Dwarves are. We've fucked more groupies than the whole pansy ass Warped Tour put together. New bands don't know how to party, just whine to their managers about the deli tray and act like they care about the kids. We sodomize teenagers and dose them with Rohypnol, we beat other bands senseless and steal their gear, we terrorize promoters and rip off the box office. We kick the shit out of label owners and rape booking agents. We are rock 'n' roll, everything else is just a a pale, tired imitation. How's that?
Also, look out for the Cool Millions. That's the new shit I'm doing. Got some stuff on a Ramones comp in Sweden, and now we're coming out on I guess an AC/DC comp - we do "Big Balls." We do a really cool version.
Cool Millions - is that a new band or is that the thing you're doing by yourself or...
Well no, I don't do anything by myself. It's just some new guys I'm playing with. New name, new band.
So can I - are any of those out now? The...
Only in Sweden, the Swedish Ramones comp - The Song Ramones The Same.
Oh! I've seen that! I need to get that! I have -- this is kinda pathetic too - I have, I think, every single other Ramones tribute album made. There's like 15 of them. Alright! I didn't know you were on that. That's awesome! I looked at it and it was like a bunch of bands I'd never heard of.
Yeah, you should get it!
OK, I'll go on ebay right now! Alright, well thank you so much for all this - I'll write this up somehow and then I'll send it over to you so you can change anything you want. Then I'll shoot it off to whoever.
Go ahead and plug our web site. (note: www.thedwarves.com - it IS a great site! Very funny.)
OK! Alright, bye.
My telephone: (click!)
So there you have it! My telephone discussion with Bugs Diarrhea.
HA! BUGS FUCKIN' DIARRHEA!!!! NO WONDER I HAVE MY OWN TALK SHOW WITH WIT SO MAJESTIC!
Again, way to go. Im so jealous of you I could kill somebody---Blag is my idol.
Back to Mark Jacob's Jingle-Heimer Prindle Record Schmidt Reviews