INTERVIEW: Daniel Tilford and Adam Dickison of DRY SUMMERS on their band, people watching, and Rollins vs. Morrissey!

Photo by Alice Buchanan 

I spent a lot of time listening to stacks of outstanding releases last year, but one of my favorites that I can’t stop going to came from alternative post-punk four-piece Dry SummersGood Enough Is Great is the name of their debut cassette, and if you know what’s good for ya you’ll check out my favorite song “Mr. Kopfsilot” below:

Aside from this tape, I don’t know very much about these fellas.  My curiousity led me to asking band members Daniel Tilford and Adam Dickison if they’d be up for an interview, which they were kind enough to participate in.  Read on as we talk about the band’s inception, their future, and more…

Never Nervous: Tells us about how Dry Summers came to be, as well as who’s in the band and who does what.

Daniel Tilford: Dry Summers started out because Gangly Youth was on a bit of a hiatus. Dan (Davis) and I collaborated on a lot of that music, but he had the final say and there was always material I liked that just didn’t fit his idea of what Gangly was. Starting out, I was really into Flying Nun bands (especially The Clean and Tall Dwarfs) and bands like The Feelies, and wanted to try to make something that stole from all of those great weird pop bands of the 80s.

The night I decided I wanted to start a new project, I just happened to be at a show with Bryan Powell (bass) and Chad Blevins (drums), and just pitched the idea of starting a band with those influences, and they both said yes on the spot. I called Adam Dickison that night, and pitched the idea of us being writing partners and doing the thing together. We played together in my first real band (Prairie Wisdom) and I always loved his guitar playing and songwriting. He’s definitely the musician of the two of us. When we’re writing songs, I throw a lot of chords and ideas at him, and he makes sense of it all. But to get back to the band, that line up of the four of us was the core group from the beginning. We ended up adding Shutaro Noguchi on keys for a while, but he ended up cutting out at a point to focus on his solo work. We just lost Bryan too, so our show on Tuesday will be the first with our new bass player, Anthony Creek (who had drummed with Gangly on our Malaysian tour).

Adam Dickison: I think everyone was ready to try to write simple, straightforward pop songs, and not overthink it too much. That was the feeling starting out, which is where the Good Enough Is Great mantra came from. We’re not trying to do anything perfect, necessarily; we’re just doing what comes naturally, sharing it, seeing what sticks, seeing what’s fun, then maybe we’ll record a few of them and move on.

“I think everyone was ready to try to write simple, straightforward pop songs, and not overthink it too much. That was the feeling starting out, which is where the Good Enough Is Great mantra came from.”

NN: Now that Good Enough Is Great has been out for a while, what’s the plan moving forward? More records? Touring?

DT: We’re working on recording an EP with Andy Myers (of Cereal Glyphs) right now. Right after we released our tape, we wrote a handful of new songs that we’ve been playing live the last 6 months or so. It definitely has it’s own vibe. Adam and I kind of consider those songs to be a song cycle or suite. They’re all more rockers, I guess. They’re just fun live songs. After Shu left, we started approaching the writing of the songs a little differently since we knew we wouldn’t have his atmosphere in the mix.

Adam and I definitely want to be a recording enterprise for sure. Almost every week one of us will send a song to the other, almost always just a little voice memo of us strumming an acoustic guitar or an unplugged electric, and the ones that stick out, we bring to the band to expand on. We’d love to have a set up in our space where we could record good sounding full band things in the future. I’d love to record a new record every year for sure. We have the material for it.

Tour wise: We’re leaving on our first little tour on Wednesday, and we’d definitely like to do more out of town shows in the future. I live in the same house as Bart from Ted Tyro, and I think I’m going to steal a page from his playbook as far as doing little one offs and weekend trips is concerned. He’s kind of the king of that.

AD: I think we have twice as many songs stuck or left behind at some point in the process than we’ll ever think about recording proper, mostly songs that get left in “phone form” in favor of bringing other stuff to the band (time). I still really like most of that stuff, though.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the aforementioned tour, go here.

NN: To me personally, the music Dry Summers makes has a distinct 90’s alternative flavor. Is that a conscious direction the band made from he beginning?

DT: We all definitely love that stuff, and obviously grew up on it. But I don’t think any of us necessarily thought consciously about that when we were starting, or really now. My influences in songwriting are more geared in weird 80s pop, and post punk (Television, Richard Hell, Mission of Burma, Gang of Four, etc…) than 90s alternative. But, I totally get the comparison and am totally flattered by it.

AD: I definitely don’t think the 90’s thing was a conscious decision. I think it’s just that, starting out, we we’re drawing from a lot of the same influences as those bands. I made a sort of inspiration mix right after our first practice with stuff like Orange Juice, Roxy Music, The Go-Betweens, The Smiths, The Wake, etc. Basically all the guitar pop I love from right before the 90s, haha. I gotta say I listen to more classic rock stuff and WAKY radio than anything else, though.

NN: As a collective, are there any influences the band draws from? Whether it be related to music or not, who or what inspires the band to create?

DT: The X-Files.

AD: Depression.

NN: Is there a deeper meaning behind the band name, or do you just really hate the rain?

DT: I should probably let Adam take this one, since he’s the one who came up with it. My only addition is pluralizing it, which was a real point of contention, since Adam really wasn’t a fan of it at first.

AD: Ha, I actually saw the name browsing Criterion movies, and liked the seemingly fine, but uneasy feeling it gave off. I have to say, I don’t love it, but I’m willing to settle because I don’t think it matters and coming up with a band name was a huge pain in the ass.

NN: Are there any bands/artists in Louisville that you are particularly into lately?

DT: Ted Tyro is awesome and is just such a dynamic live act; you can’t do much better than him (even if he does steal our drummer away from us on occasion). I love Family Dog. Blake is just an incredible songwriter. I’m not one for long sets, but I always feel like I leave their shows wishing they had played a few more. Tropical Trash and State Champion obviously slay. Those two seem like no brainers though.

AD:  Shutaro & The Oyamandilers (sp?) blew me away the first time I saw them. Can’t wait to see them play again at our show!

NN: Considering their ongoing beef over the years, pick one: Rollins or Morrissey.

DT: Morrissey on music. I’d rather get a beer with Rollins, though.

AD:  Morrissey, and I’m making this all about their music. I love punk, but most of it I don’t think I really relate to on a personal level. The shouting, the noise, the “brutality.” It’s fun for me to see and hear out of a kind of awe-inspiring, morbid fascination, but in the end that up-front, challenging anger leaves me feeling more uneasy, like I want to hide in the corner. I have trouble, like, bro-ing out, too. Maybe those are related. Also, Bona Drag is one of my favorite albums ever.

“I love punk, but most of it I don’t think I really relate to on a personal level. The shouting, the noise, the “brutality.”…But in the end that up-front, challenging anger leaves me feeling more uneasy, like I want to hide in the corner.”

NN: Assuming you’ve seen it, give us a brief review of Star Wars VII!

DT: If you lost interest in the franchise, like most people, just go see it. No long talks about trade embargoes or whatever. Just big, fun, dumb summer entertainment. Also, Adam Driver kills it. Best acting in any Star Wars movie, in my opinion.

AD: Haven’t seen it.

NN: Speaking of movies, I’ve been on a major horror kick lately. Care to share a fright flick that really got under your skin?

DT: I love Cronenberg movies; The Fly and Scanners in particular. I just re-watched The Thing at Baxter last month, and that movie just holds up so well. I love a great gross out practical effects shot, which pretty much never happens anymore. Also, Under the Skin got under my skin.

AD: Under The Skin is probably the last thing I saw that actually kind of frightened me. It makes the most seemingly mundane qualities of our planet seem confusing and unnerving. X-Files has a lot of pretty scary episodes, too, though in a more jumpy, “something is obviously going to happen I just don’t know when” kind of way.

NN: I’m writing the questions for this interview while at the same time drinking beer at the bar inside The Silver Dollar. As I’m sitting here, the guy next to me is being a fucking prick to the bartender, and I’m quietly hoping he drives into a tree on the way home. Care to share an awkward moment where a stranger was a complete asshole for no apparent reason?

DT: Can’t really think of one. But maybe Adam can get you on it.

AD: I feel like an asshole a lot so no comment.

NN: Where would you say is the best place in Louisville to people watch?

DT: Backdoor or the New Taproom, probably. My buddy Dallon and I do a little bar crawl on Bardstown Road every couple weeks, and we always end up at those two spots for that reason. Taproom is the best place in town to watch drunk guys try and fail to win adult DVDs in a claw game. In case you were wondering.

AD: Probably a strip club.

“Taproom is the best place in town to watch drunk guys try and fail to win adult DVDs in a claw game. In case you were wondering.”

NN: Before you go, tell us about the last record you bought. What band/artist, where’d you purchase it, and how’d you like it?

DT:  I can’t remember the order I bought them, but Meat Puppets – II and The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take out the Trash were the last ones I bought. Both of them at Guest Room Records.

AD: I got the new Kanye album and I love it.

Dry Summers will be performing tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 23) at The Cure Lounge.  For more information on the event, go here.