I sound like a stalker when talking about Minneapolis's Dillinger Four. They've been my favorite band for several years now, and that fact's pretty obvious. If you talk to me for over half an hour – it could be over meat loaf recipes or an explanation why there's an anti-foaming agent in Slurpees – I could pull out a relevant D4 quote or just start humming one of their songs.
Let's cut down to the simplest of facts. D4 has nailed the idea that the culture that kills us is – without irony – the very culture that gives us life. They understand that we may hate banks, but have to use them to cash checks. We may hate our bosses, hate work, and hate that the taxes taken out of our paychecks make nuclear warheads possible, but we have to live, earn a wage, and try not to go abso-fucking-lutely crazy. Along with their non-dogmatic and smart-as-hell ethic, they've recorded a catalog of one of the most ballistically accurate gallery of songs ever set to a four/ four beat. I don’t say this lightly. They've made many once-coveted sections of my record collection very lonely places.
I admit, I've probably spent too much time thinking about the band. Fuck it. They're so dead on. What gets me about D4 is how clear they are. Even when they think they're jumbled, drunk, or out of sleep, these bastards are more insightful than most and just seem to have a deeper understanding of what it's like to be honest, funny, hard-working, and hard-playing members of society. This isn't a band that's like a fragilely stacked collection of potato chips on the brink of being crushed. Their songs are steamrollers and so are the individual members who make up the Four.
What do they sound like? Everything in punk rock, compressed and energized, and nothing you've ever heard all in one place. They've got melodies but aren't saccharine. They've got hardcore speed and agility, but they hit every note and tweak the sonics. They can full-out scream, but rarely do. Topically, think along the lines of political and personal punk that hasn't lost its sense of humanity, its sense of durability. They pervade a sense that everyone is included in a revolution, even if that revolution is of sound and lasts the length of an album when you're driving to work or taking your laundry to get done.
This two part interview was originally printed in issues #11 and #12.
Todd: I've read in a couple places where people are purporting Dillinger Four as the saviors of punk rock. [laughter]
Erik: I think you wrote that.
Todd: No [laughing, then thinking]… I didn't. I'm a little bit smarter than that. I can see the context that you're working in. It's not a vacuum. There are bands that are your peers: The Thumbs, Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission, Toys That Kill, The Arrivals, Tiltwheel, Panthro UK United 13.
Paddy: I don't think there's any sort of savior anything. I think every couple years, something pops up. At the same time, I don't want to think of it as a renaissance because punk is no one definitive thing. It's not like anybody's going to save it. It's kind of the same way, a couple years ago, pretty much ninety-nine percent of what I bought was thousand-mile-an-hour thrash because there was a brilliant period of three years where there was just phenomenal records coming out, but that didn't necessarily mean that there weren't great things like Panthro UK and The Beltones, stuff like that. There was this one genre that really honed down and had this great stretch. No one can save it. That's all I really wanted to say. There's nothing to save. It ain't dying. And if it is dying, it's usually better when it's dying anyway.
Erik: The places or people who seem to write that usually tend to be in larger publications, where I'm sure a lot of what they tend to cover is the larger labels, the larger package tours, the larger bands, and a lot of those bands can be great, but there is a certain amount of more of the same. A lot of those bands tend to operate the same way.
Paddy: And sound the same. Look the same.
Erik: Right. And then we come in, and to them, we are on the same type of record label and all that, but we have sort of a contrary attitude to what they're used to. The not touring so much thing. The not tuning so much thing. All those things. We probably stick out.
Todd: They've even called you out for the hand-writing of your lyrics.
Erik: That's not saving anything. I think so many bands are basically doing things the same way in that world and we're a band that sort of had one foot in that world and one foot not, and they think, "Oh, this band is changing everything."
Paddy: Even the bands I've mentioned – including the High Stepping Nickel Kids from Boston – people doing something different, none of us really sound the same. I think it's more of an attitude thing. You know what I mean? You don't really want to be pro. You just want to play the music that you want to play, even if doesn't sound like everything else that everybody else is doing.
Todd: But not fall into a lot of the same traps that earlier bands fell into.
Todd: Becoming a little more savvy, business-wise doesn’t mean you have to adopt the asshole, cutthroat attitude.
Paddy: Right, and just because you enjoy a beer or twelve doesn't necessarily mean that you're a dirtbag, and by the same token, it shouldn't be your schtick. It's kind of weird. We've met a lot of bands that we see eye-to-eye. It's kind of hard to explain. I see what you mean. I think there is kind of a renaissance of catchy punk that isn't pop punk, per se, and I would put us in there with that. I like to call it aggro pop. Shit, like I've said before, if the Clash's debut record or Sham 69 came out today, they'd be pop punk bands.
Lane: It's all quasi-social, semi-political, semi-melodic beer punk.
Todd: How do you actively avoid becoming what you hate?
Paddy: We don't. It sort of just comes naturally.
Lane: Change your standards.
Paddy: Honestly, follow your gut.
Erik: Everybody goes through periods where they realize – it's that thing that you're becoming your parents. Everyone, whether it's just bands or people, go through that. You start to realize, Ben Weasel wrote it in a song: "we become what we hate." He wasn't talking about bands. He was talking about people. That's just something everyone goes through. I look at myself and think, wow, I never thought I'd be comfortable with myself being this way, but I am.
Billy: You don't have to be so dogmatic, where you're afraid to change your position from five years ago.
Paddy: Even in more of a scene or music sense, we have a tendency to buy a lot more records and go to a lot more shows than most people I know in bands. It tends to be a trend, especially people in punk bands, if they get any sort of notoriety, any sort of popularity, they become bigger fans of jazz or more sort of – some may say experimental music – I would just say anything opposite of punk. Then they get removed from it and then weird decisions start getting made because they view themselves in this broader world and I don't really think we tend to do that. We know what we like and we're comfortable existing within it.
Lane: In a weird way, it's a trick question because it's kind of like – Billy used the word dogmatic – the more you're pigeonholed, the more opportunity you have to become what you hate. You're stuck within a narrow definition of what you accept, but if you accept a broader range of ideas and different legitimacies, then there's less fear of that happening to you. There are still things that you absolutely wouldn't do and you would hate to be, but those things are probably always going be off limit. You just have a wider range that you're able to operate within.
Erik:There are things that we do now that we probably didn't think we ever would. That's just reality, but that doesn't mean that I hate myself or we hate ourselves because of that. It's just that you live and learn things, essentially. There are things that are universal truths within this group of four people that will probably never change.
Lane: In my definition, there are a couple things that I would never want to become. There aren't many things that I hate, but one has to do with work. If you're ever in the position of being a manager or a boss, never forget what it's like to be the person doing the shitwork. The other thing, as far as the band goes is, hopefully, you're successful in an ethical way and don't forget what it's like to play to ten people or try to scrape together gas money or try to do those things that bands do to struggle to get their music out there.
Paddy: That's the funny thing in the punk scene that everybody says and it's totally true, but nobody will say it in front of certain people, is you will see a band play to twelve people who should be playing to five thousand and you'll see a band playing to two thousand who shouldn't be playing to anybody. We tend to be really good at looking at something for what it is. You're the little band that might not necessarily draw a ton of people, but we're going to offer you a bunch of money to play with us because we like you and we want you to play with us. If we have that opportunity, we'll take advantage of it just because we want to see you and we know our friends will like you. But the flip side is also, too, this may be the big, ritzy venue, but, hey, fuck you, your sound sucked and your bouncers were dicks. And, yeah, maybe it's a notch in our belt that we got to play here, but we don't have to.
Todd: Is it true that you guys brought about the reincarnation of The Arrivals?
Erik: According to them.
Billy: That's a feel good moment.
Paddy: I think that's the thing I'm the most proud of as far as that whole relationship with other bands. We all loved the CD and called them up and we said, "Who is this band that nobody we know in Chicago knows?" We just got a message to them, saying, "Can you come up and do these two shows?" And we found out later, they were already basically broken up. Isaac and his wife, Sue, were joining the Peace Corps. They decided to come up and do the shows. Little Dave from The Arrivals had come to see us for years. We'd kind of met him before.
Erik: His first show was a Dillinger Four show, when there were only three people in Dillinger Four.
Paddy: They came up to do the shows and they went so well, they were kind of, "Huh, well, maybe we should keep on doing this." It's funny. It's great. Now, we've taken them out east with us, we've taken them out west, and all of our friends whose taste we respect have all walked away going, "God damn. That's a motherfuckin' band." It's funny, too, because it sucks that they ever broke up, but they're the kind of band… they're too good of guys. It makes sense that they'd broken up at the point that they did. They'd never think, "Man, things aren't going right. We better get a manager. Let's shop around." It was kind of like, "Hey, things aren't going well. I'm going to join the Peace Corps." "Well, that's cool. I'm going to pick up a couple extra shifts at the bar." It's just kind of cool to look at them now. In San Francisco, they tore shit up.
Todd: If you just had three members at first, why were you called Dillinger Four?
Erik: It just sounded better.
Paddy: That was a weird time.
Lane: It was kind of a joke, in a way.
Paddy: Literally. I wanted to call the band The Young Dillingers, because that was a street gang in Philadelphia, but then it turned out that they were on the thanks list on a Nation of Ulysses record, and, so, we had to second-guess 'cause it was kind of like, "Is there already a band called The Young Dillingers?" And, literally, we were at the Emma Center (*) and Erik was just like, "Why don't we call it Dillinger Four?" Honestly, I think anything we say will be a stab in the dark.
Todd: But it seems very fortuitous that you pick up a fourth member.
Billy: Those jokers had their eyes on me for years.
Lane: He's a lot to look at. Maybe not so much in other ways, but just a lot of him… Actually, this is probably an Erik question to answer, but I'll answer it for you. I think part of it was, it fills out the sound to have two guitar players. I think it gives the band more options as far as what the guitar parts are because I think that Erik's an excellent guitar player, as is Billy.
Erik: With a lot of things, even now as much as then, there is not much thought behind it. It's sort of random.
Lane: I'm really scraping the back of my mind, but there was some suggestion and maybe I'm still off base here, that we were actually going to get a front man or a guy who was just going to sing and that was going to be the fourth man. This is ancient history.
Todd: Going into the present tense. Why is an American flag put so predominantly on the cover of Situationist Comedy?
Billy: We've always flirted with Americana.
Paddy: It's kind of like a "Fuck you, we'll take it back." It's almost a spite thing, like it's so predictable to be punk and hate the American flag, but it's weird, because, yeah, it represents everything you hate, but on the other hand, it represents what we are. A lot of people who have never left America, I don't think they realize that.
Lane: It's kind of like in partial answer to another question, which is, you can hate a lot about the government, but you don't necessarily hate the people or hate aspects of the culture.
Paddy: Actually, you know what? I don't even know if I'm quoting or citing Easy Rider, right here; there's this thing in Easy Rider where he talks about that. He's got the American flag on his jacket. He talks about it like, "I'm American. This is my country as much as anybody else's."
Billy: Hell yeah.
Paddy: It's my right to say that the government's shit and it's my right to say I deserve an honest wage and make that a law. It's my right. I'm not going to stand apart from you and act as if I'm the stepchild, because I'm not. I was born here, too. There is no other American who can tell me what America should be and have their opinion any more valid than mine, 'cause I am American. Fuck you. We're a punk band. We gonna sing the lyrics we do and this is a flag. It's not patriotic. It's very unpatriotic, but it's very Americanly unpatriotic. We're a country based on revolution. It's a fact. Why should it shock you? Fuck you. I hate the government but I'm American. This is my flag more than it's yours.
Lane: If I'm not American, why not? What am I? This drove my girlfriend crazy when I first met her. She's like, "What are you?" I'm, like, "Well, I'm American." "Well, you're something else." But, no, I don't identify with being anything else. I guess, technically, I'm Norwegian, but I don't know shit about what that means. It's kind of a default thing for me.
Paddy: To be honest with you, there's also the sarcasm. The two records (Midwestern Songs of the Americas is the other) that we have had, well, there is the three, because Vs. God had it on the insert, if people look at how they're used, it's making a point. The tattered one in the window, the tattered one at the cemetery, and the one behind a gorilla.
Lane: The founding fathers did not mean for the American flag to be held up in back of a gorilla. That's not proper etiquette. And it was probably dropped at least once during that photo shoot.
Paddy: It's kind of also like the same way where a conservative politician can say, "How can you spite the American flag? It means more than you'll ever know." Yep. It means more than you even know, and not in a patriotic sense at all. Purely, if this is a symbol of freedom, then I have a freedom to use it and say what I want. It's flippin' the bird. Let's call it what it is.
Lane: I'd love to fuckin' burn a flag on a capitol and when people say, "What are you protesting?", I'll say, "Protesting nothing. I'm celebrating my right to burn the flag. What do you mean I'm some deviant? This is a joyous thing." Unfortunately, the people who work so hard to keep it sacred don't seem to understand that. That's what, supposedly, makes it a good flag.
Paddy: I hate the government. I feel like I get ripped off every day and I sure meet a ton of Americans who feel the exact same way I do.
Todd: You don't have to limit this to your current job, but what's the best scam you've ever pulled off at work?
Billy: I pretty much financed the Scooby Don't tours working at an auto parts warehouse. Man, I was walking out of there with alternators, seriously, under the jacket, dodging the supervisor – doot dah doot dah loodle do – tool kits, car stereos, little things like spark plugs. Matt, the drummer, rebuilt that van, but I supplied the parts to that mean, old van.
Paddy: I can't actually go into any detail about anything, because I still work at the place I'm still cleaning up off of, but when we lived in Chicago, I worked at a Dominic's Finer Foods and I worked in general merchandise. I used to steal condoms and cigarettes and batteries and all sorts of shit and I used to take them in a shoe box, take them out to McGregor's (*) at shows, and just sell 'em. If batteries or cigarettes were three bucks a pack, I'd sell 'em for a dollar. Boxes of twenty-four condoms were seven bucks. I'd sell 'em for three. It got to the point where there were people I didn't even know, and I'd be at a show, "Hey, do you got any more Marlboro Lights?" It was awesome. "The funny thing is I do." I'd run to the car.
Lane: When I was a kid, I used to work at a really fuckin' fancy steak house. I worked a job called "coffee water." My job was to make sure no one's coffee cup or water glass went empty ever, or you get your ass chewed like crazy. The waitresses there would totally fuck over bus boys and everyone who they were supposed to be tipping out. After a while, to supplement my income, I'd buy these really wide, loud, fucking obnoxious ties that sort of stuck in the craw of the boss that I'd even wear them. I'd find the smartass at the table who would joke about it or try to make fun of me and I'd turn it around on him and convince him that he needed to buy it. And, of course, everyone wants to see the asshole eat his words, so I'd end up selling these ties I'd get for a quarter for five or ten bucks. I'd do other shit like stand on my head and pour coffee on dares and get big tips doing that. At first, the owner was so fucking pissed about it. He'd be like, "This is not a fuckin' circus." But then customers would rave about it, that they loved it, and he kinda changed his tune. The waitresses would be so pissed to hear that this lowly guy who they can't even show the respect of – assuming that he knows how to work some math or algebra and knowing that he's getting screwed over by them – they couldn't take the fact that I might make five dollars that they couldn't get a piece off of. It was a big fuck you.
Paddy: I used to steal offering money when I was an altar boy. It was kind of my claim to fame, actually, with some of my friends who I grew up with, because I stayed being an altar boy well into when I very, definitely didn't believe in god. It was good fuckin' money, man.
Lane: I think we've all had situations where you work somewhere and you take some rolls of toilet paper out of fuckin' necessity. It's not really a scam.
Paddy: I'd like to think that everybody does that.
Lane: That's just real life.
Todd: [to Billy] When did you find your inner Lemmy Kilmister?
Billy: That was pure accident, man. It was hella freaky. I don't know. We talked about doing the show (where D4 played an all-Motorhead set, all dressed as Lemmy) so I went to the Halloween store. Everyone was getting wigs. I got the warts and, I don't know, man, no glasses and that wart.
Paddy: It was also the black shirt, half undone.
Todd: The same height and sort of the same build.
Billy: It was pretty terrifying. It was a surprise to me, too.
Todd: And your voice, when you gravel it up a little.
Billy: I don't know. I think Paddy's got a better…
Paddy: I think we've got a double-barrel Lemmy going on.
Billy: That was pretty shocking to everyone. After that show, we went down to a nightclub in Minneapolis and I rocked the Lemmy there, too, and got a couple weird stares.
Lane: The funny thing is my understanding of Lemmy, is that he's actually not that tall and he's not that big of a guy. I've never actually stood face to face with him, but from people I know who have, apparently he's fairly short and he's fairly diminutive, but on stage he looks like he's fucking ten feet tall.
Paddy: I like to subscribe to the theory that Lemmy's as tall as he wants to be.
Lane: The one thing I'll say about Lemmy, about him being the ultimate badass in rock and roll is, number one: he never found god; number two: he's never gone to rehab and; number three: that motherfucker rocks as hard as he's ever fuckin' rocked, with the possible exception of the Hawkwind anecdote where he was on so many drugs that he couldn't even stand and they had to sort of point him to the stage and he asked, "Which way is the audience?" They point, he takes five steps, and he says, "Hit it." I don't know if it's true or legend.
Paddy: It's true that his band tells him to take all of the bass out of his bass when he's on stage. Honestly, I've been doing that for years, based on him. I played a Rickenbacker for years just because Lemmy did.
Lane: He's the ultimate rock'n'roll badass. There's no doubt about it.
Paddy: We should have named the band The Kilmister Four.
Todd: I have a series of questions about situationism. You guys okay with that?
Lane: This is where I shut up.
Todd: First of all, for the laymen, what is situationism, in a nutshell?
Paddy: Maybe, it's an amalgamation of isms and an adherence to the idea that you could use a cultural terrorism to get the agenda across that people deserve to be free, without a respect for one particular ism. Maybe that's too vague.
Billy: One of the biggest things that I always got out of it was not only a very strict anti-government stance, but a very pro-individual stance. We don't need this government, but we do need artists, we do need musicians. You should get fucking crazy and follow your calling.
Paddy: The pursuit of happiness. The Parisians, I don't know if they were fixated on that. It's a hard thing to say because this is why I had reservations about actually using the term "situationist" on the record. It isn't just the situationists that we're into. It was also the Motherfuckers – there were a lot radically political but very artistic "statement groups" of the late '60s through the late '70s that I get a lot of inspiration from, and a lot of it's going on today. I can't remember what they call it, but it's an art form in and of itself where people modify billboards to have political statements, but they use Coca Cola and McDonald's ads to do it and I view that as the same sort of thing. It's a creative, fun way to get across a very serious political message, which brings it down to a grassroots level that is almost Common Sense in its own right, like Thomas Paine. It's easier to mentally digest. Too often, I think political groups get too heady and the thing is, you may be trying to effect the life of the janitor, but if you're going to get grad school on 'em, it might not register and it's not 'cause he's dumb – he's probably really smart or she's really smart – but it's in a different way and it's not going to register. Whereas, I think what we got with situationism was that it brought it down to a very grassroots level, where it was we're not going to get intellectual about this shit. It's just like this: the rights you have should be stronger.
Lane: That's a good point, that idea of bringing it down to a level where not only can people understand it more across the board, but that people don't feel like they're being talked down to or condescended to. Even people who are very intelligent don't enjoy people talking to them in a way that could be interpreted as condescending.
Paddy: It's funny, because you could probably find a college professor who can possibly give you a really articulate speech on the crime of minimum wage history in America, but shit, no one's going to put it in its place better than a sixty-year-old man or woman who has lived it their whole life. It's one thing on paper. It's one thing in life. If you want to try and effect anybody, you gotta talk like you talk. Just like Muddy Waters.
Todd: You've done it several times in songs and tackled pretty strong gender issues. Often, it's through how advertising affects both women and men. I'm thinking of both the songs "Super Models Don't Drink Colt 45" and "Fuzzy Pink Handcuffs," which has the line, "She's got a catalog, it's full of hopes and dreams. It makes her hate herself. It's what she wants to be."
Paddy: Especially now more than ever. It's more and more like that.
Erik: That's something we've written about a couple of times. It's something that we obviously don't have first-hand experience with, but every woman in our lives does. One thing that has been interesting to me is direct marketing, be it children or minorities or the ways companies can almost, to a point, invent products and then convince entire groups of society that they somehow actually need them and actually have to have them.
Lane: Advertising has become so shrewd in terms of subdividing and dissecting people into finding niches to exploit. It's kind of unreal in ways, sociologically.
Paddy: It's kind of weird, because even in a pop culture sense, things are so ridiculous at this point. People think the women in Destiny's Child are feminists. It's so ironic. "She's so strong. She's willing to be this sexy."
Lane: It's interesting; feminism with consumerism. "This fancy car, I bought it. This very fancy ring, I bought it. All this stuff that I own, I bought it all." It's sort of a strange idea to me.
Paddy: It's pretty fucking terrible. Shit, look at the two opposite sides of the spectrum of what's going on in punk rock right now as far as the consumer cultures. On one end, you've got these emo kids who are buying these borderline designer clothing that's so insanely expensive, but they'll couple that with Dickies pants, so then it's cool. On the other side, you have these "chaos punks" who are going and dropping $140 on bondage pants.
Lane: [to Paddy] You probably bought your fuckin' pants at Target for ten bucks and got your t-shirt for free. Collectively, with what the four of us are wearing now, you could do that for the price of one chaos punk's outfit.
Paddy: I think that's sad in and of its own right, too. But it's weird. Supposedly, the economy's good, so that's what happens. We're living in kooky times.
Todd: That goes off another recurring theme in your songs – that the image of the rebel up for purchase is powerful. Merchandise doesn't make rebellion. The leather jacket didn't make Fonzie an anarchist.
Lane: And, at the end of the day, Fonzie wasn't that rebellious. He was the good-hearted guy with an edge that people just didn't quite understand until they saw his heart of gold. Fonzie is all about doing the right thing. Let's not kid anyone.
Todd: Going by diameter, what's the biggest thing you've been able to shove up your ass?
Lane: This is directed at Paddy, I hope.
Paddy: Geez. Wow.
Erik: The fat end of a screwdriver. That's pretty big.
Billy: That bottle of Bacardi in Germany.
Billy: That just wasn't placed there, it was in there, dude.
Paddy: That hurt. That one was uncalled for, too. That was not intentional.
Billy: That was a shocker.
Paddy: I didn't have time to block the shot.
Lane: I've got to ask – because from where I sit I don't really know – most of the time, is there actually penetration or is it mostly held in by the cheeks?
Paddy: Things like beer bottles and all that kind of stuff, yeah, it's in there. When you get into things like flags and shirts, no. But, a lot of times, it's just kind of surprising. "Woop…. Woah…. Hey!" Sharkey (*) from Cleveland with that beer bottle. He was just being a team player, but… Wow. Dude, I think I had secretion for twenty-four hours.
Lane: I do have to say that we played a show down in Austin once where, apparently, the hand-end of a drumstick went up Paddy's ass and, apparently, it got passed back to me, and I didn't quite realize and it went back into a stick bag so I had to play the rest of that fucking tour, wondering which of the fucking sticks was up his ass, and handling that every day. I'm not scared of eating a raw hamburger. What's more terrifying to me is, "Do I have fecal matter on what I'm touching?"
Paddy: I'm not really into the things in the butt anymore.
Lane: Especially when it's a surprise. No good times in that.
Paddy: But if people are going to do what they're going to do, I guess, let 'em.
Lane: I don't know if you want to be quoted as saying that. That might bring a whole rash of people trying to stick shit in your ass.
Paddy: No, I'm saying if people want to stick things in their ass at our shows. Not my ass. It's like with the nudity thing. Why did you come here to see us do it? Why don't you come to the show to do it? If I knew I could breathe fire better, I'd be up front for KISS.
Todd: What's the number one non-musical benefit for being in this band?
Lane: Free t-shirts. That's just a recent thing for me.
Paddy: For me, meeting people in a way you can have real conversations, for sure. There's a social dynamic that develops between people and bands.
Lane: This is going to sound incredibly shallow, but I think it is amazing to do something for a period of time where you can show up, drink beer, hang out with awesome guys, meet and hang out with awesome people, and it's not like every day's a fucking party or anything like that. I wish. But that's a pretty hard thing to do in life, especially when you reach our ages. It's an amazingly fun thing.
Paddy: It's incredible, when you think about it. It's a huge perk that I think sometimes people in bands don't recognize. Not that they're dicks about it, because they're not. It really didn't dawn on me 'til we went to Japan. It's phenomenal that we can live this life, if only for awhile, where you can go somewhere and not be from there and there are people who want to hang out with you. Some of them may suck and some of them may rule – and they really want to meet you. You may talk about nothing, but you may talk about something. That's pretty fuckin' awesome. You can pull into Berlin, Germany, and there is a really interesting guy who wants to meet you and wants to buy you a beer. And that's what he really wants to do. He's not brown nosing you. It's cool because every one of us has been on the flip side to that. At first, you feel weird in situations, when people are like, "Huuaaahh, I've been waiting two years to meet you." And you're like, "This is creepy. This is weird," but then you think, I've been that guy. It's cool.
Lane: The other amazing thing about touring in a band is that it's so much about being in the fucking moment. You're not worried about the past. You're not worried about what's coming up so much. That's a very alive type thing for me and after all these years, there are more memories than I can even begin to recall that I didn't even encode, that I couldn't retrieve. It's a very alive thing, even when it really sucks. It's still being very much caught right there with no diversions.
Todd: Why is it important that you guys are anti-robot?
Lane: I'm not the guy who came up with it, but, to me, what it means is robots in all sorts of ways replace humanism, replace people, replace all those things that make life worthwhile. Who wants to be an automaton? Who wants their art to be robotic? Fucking dance music? You put me in a fucking room with dance music, I guarantee you in two hours, I'll hang myself. Put me on drugs and it'll happen in a half hour.
Erik: That's all we have to do?
Lane: Ba-boom, ching.
Paddy: Heck no to techno.
Lane: To me, monkeys are so real and visceral.
Billy: Robots have one or two tricks. Monkeys fuckin' swing through trees and throw shit. You don't know what's going to happen with a monkey. With the robot, you know he's going to go this way.
Paddy: Robots don't make decisions but they're efficient, so people love 'em. Monkeys make a lot of decisions and a lot of them aren't very good, but damn it, they're funny.
Billy: Sometimes they ride cute little bikes, wearing costumes.
Lane: Sooner or later, a robot may be created to do almost anything. Creating music and art will be the last things that robots will be able to do, if ever.
Todd: Has anybody ever tried to push an angle on you, like you should try to be sexy?
Lane: Sexy and Dillinger Four are not usual words to be in the same sentence. In our private lives, maybe, but it would be a colossal failure there, too.
Paddy: Push the angle? That's why we live in Minnesota. There is no need to push angles. We are not even within a thousand miles of anyone pushing angles.
Lane: You see me behind that snow blower? Was that fuckin' hot or what? You can't see any of my fat under that parka. I look like a real man out there, snowblowin'. Goddamn, that thing's an extension of my dick.
Billy: When I came out of the bar, slipped on some ice, and busted up my lip? Yeah, that's pretty sexy.
Todd: What's the best crowd response you've received – I don't mean encores – that the whole crowd got into?
Erik: We had a kickass thing happen. About a year and a half ago or so we had a little string of shows at home, probably three or four straight. We had a song off of Vs. God that kind of referenced smashing glasses.
Paddy: It was more than four shows because it went on for like half a year.
Erik: I guess it did. There are four that really stick out in my mind. Every time we play in town, by the time people finally filtered out, there would be a sea of broken fuckin' glass on the ground. We would be like, "Thank you. Good night." And you would hear smash, smash, smash, everywhere. Security or bartenders or bouncers or whoever would be trying to get people out, and people would be smashing every bit of fucking glass.
Paddy: It sucks for the people who've got to work there.
Erik: It did, but it was awesome.
Paddy: After you're done and you're breaking down your equipment and you're moving off the stage and you look out and you see, holy shit, every square foot of this floor is broken glass. Pretty fuckin' sweet. The funny thing is that we went back to all the places that we usually play. They went to plastic cups, so people got weaned off it. "Damn it. I've been throwing this cup for ten minutes and it won't break."
Lane: As cool as that was, I'd rather drink beer out of a bottle than out of a plastic cup, so please don't break bottles if that's going to make me drink out of a plastic cup. I'll just let it reside in my happy memory place.
Paddy: We have a few places where we always play, because we love the venue, we love the people who work there. Everything's cool.
Lane: We're really at a spot now where people are less breaking glass and more lining up for refunds. That's how it's changed.
Todd: Have you ever walked into your parents having sex?
Lane: At conception.
Paddy: My parents have been divorced since the six months after I was born.
Billy: I think my parents made it until I was about two.
Erik: I can't verify if my parents have ever had any sort of sex.
Lane: He's adopted.
Erik: And my brother is, too. My parents had separate bedrooms. They didn't always, but when I was in junior high, they did. But they're such like a team. They've been together forever. They will always be together, but if they are having sex, I don't really know when.
Lane: Or how. And that's good.
Paddy: That's weird because I walked in on Lane's parents having sex, which was really fucking weird.
Lane: I think it's always better to have a don't ask/ don't tell policy with your parents having sex. It's kind of like you don't want your parents walking in on you having sex, so why would you? Unless your parents are super-fucking hot, which none of our parents are.
Todd: When was the last time you recognized you found a weird chord?
Paddy: For me, it was this record. "The Father, The Son, and the Homosexual Single Parent." I don't know how to play guitar very well. I know how to play a guitar Ramones-style and that's about it, but I had one weird thing where I was really high. It was totally accidental. I don’t know if it makes sense, it just sounds like it does. Erik's the virtuoso. He pulls weird chords that are totally structured things that technically shouldn't make sense.
Billy: Every now and then, I'll rock a weird one, but I usually just play the meat and potatoes a lot of the times. That's why we've got two guitars.
Todd: What, for you, makes a timeless record?
Lane: I'm probably the least qualified to answer, so I'll go first. To me, a timeless record has got to have six songs on it where you're like, "These songs more than make the grade." That's a fucking great record. There are so few records where you say the whole thing is so fuckin' bad ass. Most records, you might say one, or two, or three songs might be bad ass. If four songs are bad ass, that's a bad ass record.
Todd: Name a record that fits that criteria for you.
Lane: Boston's first record. That whole fucking record is bad ass. I don't give a fuck what anyone says about me for saying that. Seriously. That record is fucking amazing.
Billy: There are so many ways to look at a timeless record. There could be a personal turning point. It could be the discovery of a new genre. It could be the discovery of a new idea, a fuckin' bad ass aesthetic you're into.
Paddy: It's weird, 'cause I don't know why records have been timeless to me.
Lane: One thing is that the ideas aren't outdated.
Paddy: Well, it's weird. Scream's debut LP is timeless to me. That's my favorite hardcore record of all time. I can't really put my finger on why. Maybe because it's kind of eclectic. I don't know. I agree with Billy and Lane. I think it's half genuinely a great record and half where you heard it, and what you knew about them, if anything, before you heard it.
Erik: Timeless means just that. Timeless. It was considered a great record and how many years later, decades in some cases, people who loved it then put it on, and it still holds up to what they listen to now. It's still a great record for them. There's always records like that for every genre. But what I find funny, through years of any musical genre I've been into really hard at one point of my life or another, when I go back to the records I thought kicked ass, it's interesting to see which ones are actually timeless and which ones aren't. A record I haven't listened to in six years and someone brings it up in a conversation – it happens a lot with straightedge hardcore records that, at the time, I thought were the shit. They'll come up, and I'll go, fuck, I should go listen to that.
Paddy: Like Spirit by Up Front.
Erik:Spirit by Up Front is a huge one. I loved that record. Paddy loved that. For some reason, we all loved that record, and the couple times I've listened to it, it's just funny. But, the No For An Answer LP, I like still.
Paddy: And the Gorilla Biscuits LP.
Erik: And most Youth Of Today I still love. Actually, some of those records I would have guessed, but there are weird ones.
Billy: Angry Samoans. Back from Samoa still rocks hard.
Paddy: That re-issue of Independence by Toxic Reasons, I picked that up just to have it, just because my copy's all beat up, and I hadn't listened to it for a really long time. I don’t know what makes it timeless. It's just got to be great.
Lane: A lot of time, it's got to capture a mood and probably more than one mood. It can be the kind of thing you can hear in a variety of contexts and a mood will still strike you from it – not the same mood, necessarily, but many moods. Like, Who's Next is a fucking timeless record. Hell yeah.
Paddy: From the gutter to the penthouse.
Erik: There are entire bands that have made nothing but timeless records that still sound good.
Lane: But enough about us.
Todd: Erik, a direct quote: "You never want to be too happy being exactly where you are because the band starts to get boring." Explain that. Why are you afraid of comfort?
Erik: Oh, I enjoy comfort. It's "the grass is always greener" thinking that people always get into, which I think is a good thing, as far as bands are concerned. If something is really comfortable and you know it's never really going to change and change would fuck it up…
Billy: Comfort's a weird, relative term, though. I'm sure a lot of bands' idea of comfort is getting on a label and getting on the package tours and possibly doing Warped, but I'm fucking comfortable hopping in the van and bringing out The Arrivals or Rivethead. That's what's comfortable to me, being in a position where you can bring friends to see a band that you think is phenomenal and no one knows about them and try to be in a position where people can dig on it.
Lane: I think the thing is, comfort can easily become complacency, too, and that's where comfort becomes an malignant thing. That's why, on this tour, I cut our RV's air conditioning off. I think we're getting a little too complacent. We need to bring it back to the suffering and roots.
Paddy: You take the desperation out of rock and you've got Matchbox Twenty and Eric Clapton and who wants to hear that? In my experiences, when people aren't desperate anymore, that's when they start harkening back to old time music and they start trying to write Americana anthems. They start trying to write songs for 1930s depression people and that's when you're really grasping for straws. There's enough shit that's fucked up today and what's going around you.
Erik: I was thinking more of where that quote came from, and it was a, "When would you be satisfied?" "Ultimate goal of the band?" question. I remember a time thinking, "If we could get fifty people to come to most of our shows, that would be great." And then you're at the point when fifty people do come. You can't just be satisfied with that. The thing is, that's just using an analogy of growing as a band, but that works for sort of everything. I think it would get boring. It would get dull if all of sudden you were like, "We had a goal and now we achieved it. Now we have no other goals." You have to keep finding new things to do.
Paddy: You should be aware of what's going on around you. You shouldn't be comfortable.
Lane: Or complacent, or any of those things.
Todd: What poor gods do you make?
Paddy: Are you getting all Naked Raygun on us? Dude, none. Fuck, I don't make shit. I got no gods. As far as I'm concerned, we made some pretty poor ones. The Greeks were on to something. I respect them for it.
Lane: The Greeks, at least, had diversity in their gods. To me, a god just detracts from real life. If I'm going to have a fantasy, it's going to be a lot better than some god, unless it's a sexy god.
Paddy: I've had people who have inspired me, but I don't have heroes, and I never really have. There are certainly people I know in bands who I know are being emulated, and I can't relate to that, 'cause I've never related to that. Not to read too much into your very clever Naked Raygun question, but none. I think everybody makes poor gods. There is nothing but poor gods.
Lane: This might be a variation of what you said. You start to look at something like a god, and you're setting it up to fail. You're setting it up on the pedestal to have it be knocked down. What's the use in that?
Paddy: God, I can't believe I didn't even think of this. Ask the question one more time.
Todd: What poor gods do you make?
Paddy: I don't know.
Billy: It's so obvious.
Todd: Lane, please cover the incidents leading up to meeting the security personnel of the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas.
Lane: When I was first out there a few years ago for the Punk Rock Bowling Tournament, my friends and I had an enormous amount of acid so we brought a pretty significant amount with us. The first thing we did as soon as we got off the plane was drop some acid and hit the bar – we're drinking all night and everything, and sooner or later, someone says, "Man, I can't believe it's daylight out. It's morning." It was incomprehensible to me. You know what it's like to be in a casino. It's dark. You're not supposed to know what time it is. So my friend, Aaron, and I go to investigate and, sure enough, we walk outside and the sun in shining. It's beautiful. He and I feel like we're in our own world, and I walk into the oasis at the center of the traffic circle at the Sahara, and I kind of think, well, as long as I'm here, I might as well take a piss.
Todd: Since you're in the jungle.
Lane: That's right. Since I'm at the oasis, looking for relief. So, I put my beer down on the pillar and let loose. It was no small piss. About halfway through, I suddenly realized I wasn't the only one in the world with my friend. In fact, there were people unloading their luggage and milling around everywhere and I was in a very, very public place. Luckily, I was able to finish up. I grabbed my beer. I run back inside and go back to talking to people, which was my girlfriend and some of her friends who I had just met at that time. Didn't know 'em. Suddenly, about a minute later, I'm surrounded by about five or six armed security guys, and this guy says, "Do you think what you just did was funny?" In my state of mind, I knew he was trying to trick me into saying something wrong, something that could lead to a little jail stay or something like that. So, I'm trying to think of a reasonable way to answer that question. I want to put my beer back on the bar to address this guy and grab a breath. My depth perception was off and thinking that I'm letting my bottle go over the bar, I actually let it go over the tile floor and it falls. It bounces once and there's this collective gasp, and then it shatters. So, that was, effectively, my answer to that question to that guy. I just turned to him. I said, "You know, I have a room at this hotel, and I believe I'm calling it a night." And they escorted me all the way up to the room with a couple of friends I was with.
Todd: Did they rough you up at all?
Lane: No. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that I didn't get booted out or that sort of thing. We got up to the room and once that door closed, we started rolling in laughter because it was such a tense moment. At that time, I'm walking up and I'm thinking, if I bring them all the way up to my room, can they search it? All these things were going though my drug-addled mind at the time. So, I went up and sat down for a couple hours and by noon, I was back down drinking beer by the pool, so it was no big deal. All's well that ends well.
Todd: With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, have you ever been tempted to evaluate your own band members?
Lane: No. I don't do that. Honestly. I don't do that with my friends, and, hopefully, they don't do that with me.
Todd: And also your personal relationships.
Lane: I think to be effective as a clinician, you have to have some degree of objectivity and I don’t think I would. Friendships – we've known each other for a long time, so it's not really a consideration.
Todd: I know that you and Erik met at Hamline University, but how did you fall in line with what you're doing now? What persuaded you to go, "Here's something that I haven't listened to," and then you start drumming for a band that is, quite possibly, unlike anything you've heard specifically before?
Lane: Well, I spent a couple years pretty much blackout drunk.
Erik: He's not kidding.
Lane: I'm not kidding.
Todd: [tries to stop laughing]
Lane: Honestly, though, meeting Erik, and probably one of the first punk bands, quote unquote, was probably Bloodline (a band that Erik was in). Where I grew up, there wasn't punk music. There really wasn't. It had never come across my radar screen before and I met Erik at college, and gradually through him, became more and more exposed to punk music and that type of thing. You know, I think there's a common sort of problem with people who grow up in small towns. There's a limited number of things that you might come across, especially if you don't have access to a bigger city nearby or that type of thing.
Todd: How far away was the biggest city?
Lane: About sixty miles. Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Todd: In the long run, do you think that's a benefit? Do you think you're more resistant to trends – like pop punk and now emo – because there's more of a foundation set?
Lane: I think, across the board, it's because Erik and Paddy and Billy listen to pretty diverse things in punk. They're not listening to the same sorts of bands. I come from something that's probably completely different from the three of them, but yet connected in some ways, too, because it's not like those guys never listened to metal or classic rock or some of the other things, too. We probably bring a more diverse range of influences, so it's harder, maybe, to see where the influences are coming from.
Erik: Bands that really fit, that are card-carrying members of their specific genre – for example – when you have four guys who are all the biggest into screamo in the entire town, and they get together and start a screamo band, you're not going to get much else than what you've heard before. I think we're lucky with that. Within or without of the punk scene, we all had kind of different tastes, so we weren't going to be, automatically, anything. It was very up in the air to what kind of sound we would eventually have because we weren't going for any sort of specific thing and the few influences that we all kind of could agree on, things that we were into, were pretty diverse right from the start.
Todd: So, how much does Otis Redding have on the direction of your sound?
Erik: Direction of the sound? Sometimes, I wish more. I think soul music, in particular, when it's incorporated into punk well, it's so fucking good, but it's really hard to do it. Rocket From The Crypt is one of the few bands that really has – as far as bands that aren't total garage bands that come much more directly from that – done it well. There's times where we're like, "Let's sorta have one of those beats, sorta like an Otis Redding song." When you translate that through the four of us, no one would probably ever get that, but that's how we see it.
Lane: It's an intangible quality and it comes down to whether you think a band has depth of influence or not. Those things translate in ways that probably, even being a member of the band, you don't really understand, but it's one of those extra little things that pins you down in another area.
Erik: I know in one way that is specifically Otis Redding. It's one of those times where the band, in the early tours, would definitely stop being punk as far as what we were listening to constantly. I remember – everyone's always been down with Otis Redding – when all of us really started getting into him, really into listening to him, that's sort of a big departure 'cause, all of a sudden, instead of listening to Jawbreaker and a lot of the punk bands that we agreed on, we have this other thing that we're all listening to all the time and we're finding really refreshing. Johnny Cash, we hit a period.
Lane: Motown in general.
Todd: He's the only musical artist you've named directly, correct?
Erik: In a song, yeah. We also took a Billy Bragg lyric, just straight-up took it.
Todd: Do you remember what the lyric was?
Erik: Yeah. "Mixing pop and politics, he asked me what the use is." That's a Billy Bragg lyric, but we didn't cite it to him.
Todd: "And I'll die the day I find I'm fucking useless"? (From the song, "The Great American Going Out of Business Sale.")
Erik: Yeah, yeah. We kind of continued the sentiment. Billy Bragg – Lane and Billy weren't into him so much – but me and Paddy have been way, way, way into fuckin' Billy Bragg and that's another huge influence as far as songwriting. Because of Gerty (the non-drinking, non-smoking roadie, who's still with D4, from the very first tours) traveling with us, he's into a lot of mountain music, country music, and folk music. All of a sudden, we want to listen to Woody Guthrie, and we want to listen to Roger Miller.
Todd: Why are so many punk rockers so scared of being influenced by other things that could never be considered punk rock? Lane admits that he likes Neal Pert of Rush's drumming. A lot of people would say, "Fuck you, poser. You're not punk to the core."
Erik: Punks, in most cases, like any music-based subculture, they're very into music. They don't just passively know about music. They just don't have stuff that their friends play for them and the radio. If you get into punk music – this was more so true in previous years and it gets a little less true as it becomes more available – but you have to be an active participant in it and that makes you sort of obsessed with that music. Consequentially, many people go through a period where you become a fucking snob about that music and that's essentially what it is. You meet someone who kind of likes jazz, you can talk about jazz. You meet someone who's a freak about jazz, they're no fun.
Todd: What steps have you taken to not become that person? At times, against my best efforts, I'm a snob.
Erik: Well, I think I have been that person at times.
Todd: I think age has something to do with it.
Erik: Age is part of it. I've definitely gone through times when I loved nothing more than to completely bash anyone else's musical opinion as mainstream and boring and trite and useless. I'm that person in the past, but not for many years, so when I do meet punks who I think are pretty closed minded about outside influences, I know where they're coming from and they'll probably grow out of that to a certain extent.
Lane: I think there are some people into punk who are worried that if somehow you touch something mainstream, punk is going to be co-opted even more. I say, why not co-opt things from mainstream and make them punk?
Todd: My whole thing is access; have what we do available, and given the opportunity, drag new people into what we're doing.
Erik: Not to the point of trying to write your one poppy hit song so that you can convince people to listen to your other stuff, not really to that extent. Like with any other genre of music, it's interesting to see the first times we heard punk mixing with country. The first times we heard punk mixing with rap, it was interesting. It turned into something that's less interesting, is one way to say it, but it's always interesting to see the first times that that's done, when you see someone who's found a new thing that really hasn't been tried yet. Usually, the initial stuff is a.) pretty popular and b.) interesting and good. I always think that's cool.
Todd: What's the Twin Cities Pop Mafia?
Lane: It's a series of tattoos on people's arms.
Erik: There was a time when there were all these bands in the Twin Cities – and there still is – but there was a particular, larger group of bands that were more on the pop side of the punk thing. Very few of them were actually pop punk bands. It was one of those goofy things that people start talking about. "We're the Twin Cities Pop Mafia." Frank and Norm and various other people in Minneapolis started designing up little tattoos for it and making shirts. It was kind of like a fun thing to have. No sort of organization to it.
Lane: I think it reflects the sense of community that there is in Minneapolis. Even though it's not a serious organization or it's not defined in any serious way, it reflects that people from all types of different scenes in the cities are hanging together.
Todd: You guys have always been very supportive of bands that aren't genre specific, but at least share your ethics. Atmosphere and Lifter Puller come immediately to mind. You guys turned me on to them.
Erik: Every band winds up with their counterpart band. For us, at first, that was Scooby Don't and that was the most obvious because they were the only pop punk band doing a lot in Minneapolis. Them and an early band called Dirt Poor, we fit right in with. They would help us on the few shows that they were getting and when we started to be able to get shows, we would do the same.
Todd: Dirt Poor. That's the guy who's doing the label Slamdance Cosmopolis now?
Erik: Yeah, which is a phrase that's Paddy's been saying since he was fourteen. I love the fact that it's actually used for something now.
Todd: It's a Clash lyric, isn't it? (From the song "Ghetto Defendant." The lyrics were written by Allen Ginsburg.)
Erik: Yeah, it is. Paddy's always used that phrase constantly. And then after that, it was The Strike. Three out of five shows we were playing in town, we were probably playing with The Strike. It was really weird for people at first, when all of a sudden our counterpart band became Lifter Puller. But it was a really cool thing in Minneapolis. At first, people didn't know what to make of them. They were really more of a bar band at the time and we started getting them all ages shows and we would do some twenty-one and over ID shows and that was a really cool and fun time. It wound up even enlarging. In Minneapolis, the punk scene has always been tolerant of each other's band – but all of a sudden, it opened up an even larger spectrum. Like, wow, here's this kind of indie rock band, but because we were playing together, we'd go to their shows when we weren't playing, and all of a sudden, you'd be seeing the same people. And vice versa. We would play a more bar-ish sort of place, and there's more indie rocker types that started to catch on. There's a lot of bands in Minneapolis that we never really got on with or just never wound up hooking up and doing anything with, but regardless of specifically what punk genre you're in or anything like that, if we like the band, we want people who like us to know about that band. We've never been shy about it.
Todd: What was the best Halloween costume you had as a kid?
Lane: I always liked the sheet over the head with the two eyeholes cut out. No fuss, no muss. Get out and collect the candy and get on with life.
Todd: Lane, do you have any interest in doing other things, musically?
Lane: For a long time, I've been talking about doing my side project, Spankray, which would be a ripoff of a lot of different things and one of things where I get a lot of different people who play a lot of different things to come and participate on it. I want to do a 7" and see what happens.
Todd: What would be the focus, theme, or idea?
Lane: I'd like to do a concept record and the concept would be to sell a lot of them… I'm teasing, you know? I think it would be a fun thing to do. I don't know if it'll come to fruition or not.
Todd: Besides the actual Ramones performance, what other direct Ramones reference has been in The Simpsons?
Billy: [deliberating] I've been thinking of Homerpalooza.
Erik: I think it's the episode where Bart and Milhouse drink the crazy Squishees and they're having their freakout. Or, it's when Homer takes the fucking chili pepper…
Todd: The Guatemalan insanity pepper, and?…
Erik: I can't remember what part of the freakout. I can't remember who it is who said it, but he's having this acid freakout from it and he's talking to someone and someone's, "gabba, gooba, gabba, hey."
Todd: You're right on track. Homer's looking at Flanders, who's saying a lot of gibberish, then says, really clearly, "Gabba gabba hey."
Erik: I watch insane amounts of Simpsons.
Lane: I thought you were trying to make us look good in this interview.
Erik: Two or three episodes a day for years, but I smoke a lot of weed when I do it.
Todd: Did any of you ever go to camp?
Erik: I went to a Boy Scout camp for few years, during junior high. My last year of Boy Scout camp, I bought a bunch of weed and just sat around for a week and got high in the woods.
Lane: Erik, I think you need to tell your loading your underpants at camp story.
Erik: It was my first night at one of the Boy Scout camps, which just had tents, not cabins, but they were kind of like permanent tents on a platform. It was storming like crazy. It's the first night there. I was pretty young. I was probably like ten or something.
Weebo (the driver): He's probably like fifteen.
Erik: Yeah. Storming. I woke up in the middle of the night. It was probably four thirty in the morning. There was a crazy thunderstorm going on. I have to shit like crazy. I have no idea where the outhouse is, but I know it's storming everywhere and it's off in the woods somewhere. I wasn't entirely afraid of the dark, but reasonably freaked out, just with the thunder. I kind of do the "lay there and pretend that it will go away," forever. Finally, I'm at that point where I’m like, fuck it. I gotta go. I make a mad dash for it and I fuckin' just load my pants – piss and shit them completely. So, I duck into – I don't remember if I went back into the outhouse. I had a bunkmate in my tent, so I'm sure I didn't go in there to take care of it. I was fairly embarrassed. So I pulled my underpants off and fuckin' winged them off into the woods, just figuring no one will ever know it was me. I came back. The guy who was in my tent hadn't woken up, so