I suppose that every reader of this blog knows my devotion for powerviolence (if you didn’t know it, right now you do). Like every fan of this music, I’m really into everything Chris Dodge made in his whole career: from his beginnings with Stikky to his releases with Slap a Ham Records, from Spazz to every band he played. He started in the middle eighties and he’s still into hardcore, even if his open minded musical tastes brought him to discover new musical dimensions. He probably played more shows, with many more bands than any other “old” dude did, and if you’re really into extreme music, you’ve listened to some of his projects even without knowing he played with them. Here are the questions I asked to him (he was supposing to answer some months ago, but anyway, have fun!)
You’ve got a new project, TO THE POINT, and you’re back to sing in this one. Can you tell me more about this new band? Are you still in Lack of Interest? I heard a rumor that you’re not anymore in LOI, but maybe I’m wrong.
TO THE POINT is basically LACK OF INTEREST, but with me on vocals instead of bass. I’m not playing with LOI anymore. But LOI isn’t very active these days. I’m having a good time doing Caveman vocals with TO THE POINT… I have not been a frontman for a band in a very long time, so it’s interesting. Most kids probably think I’m just an angry dad yelling at them, or a pissed-off lumberjack.
I didn’t understand if you’re going to take part of this INFEST reunion or not. If it’s not, what do you think about it?
Yes, I’m playing bass with them. Joe and Matt asked me about it last summer. I feel like I hit the lottery. Great songs, all of the shows are awesome so far. I’m honored to play with these guys.
Do you have any news about Despise You? Is there any chance to see you guys playing in Europe?
I’m not playing with DESPISE YOU any more. We’re still friends, but I had to quit because they’re setting up a lot of tours this year, and I just can’t commit to touring… I have a full-time job, and I have a family who depends on my income. Yes, they’re going to be in Europe this summer. Please go support them. They’re some of my favorite people on the planet.
You’re in the hardcore scene since almost 25 years, but you still have a deep interest into that. What are the new bands that you prefer?
I played my first live show in 1985, and it blows my mind when I realize I’m still playing this music 28 years later. Honestly, I still listen to old hardcore more than new hardcore, but there are still a lot of great newer bands I like. In Los Angeles, there’s a constant flow of newer bands who are awesome… ACxDC, Hordes, Life Of Refusal, Final Draft, Malpractice Insurance, Scrapmetal, Barking Backwards, CharlieXSheen, Sordo, Fissure. LA is my favorite place to play. The kids are very supportive, and more enthusiastic than anywhere else in the country. Outside of LA, the list is endless…. Magrudergrind, Sick Fix, Shitstorm, Kill The Client, Backslider, Sidetracked, Maruta, Pick Your Side. I feel like this type of music went into hibernation from about 2000-2006, but these days there are more great bands than ever. I’m constantly inspired.
Will Slap A Ham Records reborn from the ashes? What is your favourite Slap a ham release?
I’ve thought about releasing vinyl again. I think it would be fun. I just don’t have the money for it now. Vinyl is so expensive these days! I have a lot of favorite Slap A Ham releases, but if I had to pick just one, it has always been the NO COMMENT “Downsided” 7”. I’ve always considered that a legendary release… like an extension of the DRI 22-song EP.
You’ve played in a lot of hc bands, but you like also other music genres. What are you favourite non-hc bands?
I’m really a music “nerd”. I’m always trying to find something different, or at least something I’ve never heard. A lot of times, I find myself exploring music from the past that I wasn’t familiar with until now, like obscure 70s progressive rock or Krautrock. I have an endless list of favorite bands, and reading it would be boring, but my current favorites in heavy rotation are Gentle Giant, Earth Wind & Fire, Ambrosia, Jethro Tull, Gerry Rafferty, The Stylistics, Zapp, Yes, Chicago, ELO, Joe Walsh, Gary Numan, Toots & The Maytals….
I see you like the opposite thing of an “hardcore god”: what do you love about your regular life beside the scene?
I just love spending time with my wife & my son. I love the peace of mind of just hanging out with them, relaxing, enjoying simple everyday things. My wife & I spend many evenings sitting on the patio behind our home, looking at the mountains, having a drink, talking about our day. Those are my favorite times.
You love painting: what are your favourite artists?
I’m not really into street art or anything “extreme”. Most of my artistic tastes are fairly normal. Lucian Freud is probably my favorite artist. His portraits are incredible, and slightly warped. I really love the Western artwork of Frederick Remington and Maynard Dixon. There’s a newer artist I really love named John Brosio. You need to see his stuff at johnbrosio.com
I saw in a lot of picture an old man from LA that everyone calls GRANDPA, but I don’t know who is him! I see that probably every year there is a birthday show at Gilman 924 if I don’t get wrong.
Grandpa is the grandfather of Bob from Deep Six Records / Lack Of Interest / To The Point / Infest. Grandpa has been going to punk, hardcore, metal shows in California since the mid-80s. He’s a legend in Los Angeles. He’s a true one-of-a-kind person. A senior citizen who loves hardcore.
A few years ago, Eric Wood came up with the idea of setting up a Grandpa birthday show. The last two were in LA, and this next one will be up in Berkeley at 924 Gilman.
You’re selling some rare items of you personal collection. Are you still buying records? What is the situation with record stores in California? Here is not good, but when I was in the US I’ve been to some huge record stores that were like dream places to me.
I still buy vinyl, but I usually buy it cheap at flea markets. I buy a lot of 70s LPs… classic rock, soft rock, prog rock, R&B, jazz fusion. There are some incredible record stores in California, mainly Amoeba Music. There are a lot of smaller stores, but I know they have a difficult time staying open. Yes, I’ve been selling my collection for many years, but it’s because I have to pay alimony every month to my ex-wife. The financial strain is too much, so I’ve had to sell most of the best parts of my record collection to pay for it. It really sucks, but I don’t have a choice unfortunately. I’ve tried to take a “zen” approach to my record collection… it’s only material items, that I don’t need to own. I can keep digital copies and sell the original, so at least I can still listen to them. That makes the impact of selling them not so bad.
You played in a shitload of projects and bands, and some of them are not hardcore bands, but you’re still considered “the guy from Spazz”. Do you mind it? Are you going to play again with them?
I don’t mind it. People need a point of reference, and Spazz is one of the most popular bands I’ve been involved in, so I don’t mind being called “the guy from Spazz”. I don’t think we’ll ever do a reunion. It’s possible, but very unlikely. Logistically, it would be very difficult. We all live thousands of miles apart, and we really aren’t that motivated to do it. Maybe it would be fun, but I don’t particularly want to do it. That’s probably because I’m having a good time with my current projects, To The Point and Infest.
Obama has been re-elected, It is a good thing or you don’t give a fuck about it?
With our elections, you always have to pick the candidate who is the least-bad, so I’m glad it’s Obama. I don’t agree with all of Obama’s decisions, but if Mitt Romney was president, we would have a lot more bad choices to contend with.
Do you know/like some italian bands?
I’m not familiar with too many newer bands, but I would love to hear them. I’m glad Cripple Bastards are still grinding after all these years. In the ‘80s, many of my favorite hardcore records came out of Italy: Declino, Impact, Eu’s Arse, Raw Power, Wretched, CCM…. All are legendary!
The interview ends here: do you want to add something?
I took a very long time to respond, so I’m sorry for making you wait! Thank you for taking the time to ask about my current projects. I’m very honored to answer your interview questions. Also, please let your readers know I’m posting FREE downloads of my music… all material that is rare and out of print: chrisdodgesounds.blogspot.com