In January, I conducted an interview with George Dishner and Jesse Hodges, dueling lead singers of Austin grunge ensemble: WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. Currently they have an EP on Emperor Jones, a full length out on Chalk Circle Records and appear on the endlessly impressive Love & Circuits: A Cardboard Records Compilation. Jesse Hodges is also the newest member of the band PTERODACTYL, which will be playing SXSW this year and making a stop at the inaugural SOUTH BY SOUTH FLESH in Dallas on March 22nd.
Parade of Flesh: What’s the best (and worst) part of being in a seven-piece band?
Jesse Hodges: Well I mean we’re all friends and that was super important in the formation of the band. Being in a single vehicle with 7 people for a really long stretch of time can be a bit frustrating especially when you’re in an atmosphere inspired by Taco Bell visits and hangovers. I’m really only around for tours and random visits so there’s a whole other dinos world with it’s own answers on that one.
George Dishner: We are all good friends, so it’s nice to be surrounded when we play and go on tour. It does get cramped in the van, and scheduling practices and shows can be difficult. We like rolling deep.
POF: Oh yeah, I completely forgot you are living in NYC now. How does that work with Jesse being so distance?
GD: Jesse being in a different city has been a part of dinos’ structure for a few years now. He was in Chicago and Tuscaloosa before NYC. On the 7 inch recording (sessions), we sent rough demos from iphone recordings for him to get an idea of the song, then sent the initial studio mixes as well. Then when we mixed, we dumped in his vocals. With Not Noiice, I think we scheduled recording days on one of his visits to Austin. We don’t have a set way of operating around the distance.
JH: Our friend Jonny “Two Eyes” Schenke of the band Mittens on Strings helped me with record stuff for Not Noiice and mastered it as well. He’s a bad ass! There is one secret version of “It’s not the Heat” that has clarinet (played by our friend Jacob Daneman also in MOS). It had that whole “When I’m 64” vibe with the long drawn out notes. I really liked it but the other dinos weren’t as hip to it. It will probably never see the light of day but I listen to it every once in a while when I’m feeling nostalgic and I still love it. Point being that the distance provides it’s own unique opportunities as well as pains.
POF: What are the other bands that everyone is, or has been, involved with?
GD: (Here is a) list of bands everyone has been in, (that I can think of):
Nate Cross (guitar) – Awesome Cool Dudes, Expensive Shit, Dakota Building, Tuxedo Killers, The New Drugs
Brandon Crowe (drums) – Oh, Beast!, Awesome Cool Dudes, The New Drugs, The Hammicks, (his could go on forever)
George Dishner (vocals) – Tuxedo Killers, Dakota Building, Expensive Shit, Bury Me With My Gun
Jesse Hodges (vocals) – Twin Powers, Pterodactyl, Dakota Building, Tuxedo Killers
Cory Plump (bass) – Awesome Cool Dudes, Expensive Shit, Foggy Mountain Cop Killing Boys, Fagg Jr, Dakota Building, The New Drugs
Chris Stephenson (drums) – Dykes of Holland, Fire vs. Extinguisher
Marc Voorhees (guitar)- Fagg Jr., Tuxedo Killers
POF: Jesse, So just coincidence being in two bands that are Jurassic in nature?
JH: Well it’s a recent development. Only in the last year have I been in two bands with dinosaur names. A lot of people have the same response when they find out…”oh you must really love dinosaurs?” and I usually respond with “not really” as I didn’t name either band. It just worked out that way. I guess I’m more into people who like dinosaurs than dinosaurs themselves.
POF: Have you thought of lending efforts to Dinosaur Jr. as well?
JH: I don’t think I would ever want to be in Dinosaur Jr. because J Mascis makes me nervous. I saw him at a Fucked Up show at Beerland during last year’s SXSW and all I could think about was what I got out of reading Our Band Could Be Your Life, which is that J Mascis would probably make me feel kind of nervous and awkward. To be honest though most people make me feel that way but it sounds like being in that band was a passive aggressive nightmare. No thanks.
POF: Did the band’s name “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” come from the 1970 movie with the same title?
JH: I don’t think so at least not directly. It’s funny how naming your band directly affects your knowledge of certain things. I know way more about that movie than I should although I’ve never seen it. In a lot of ways I wish we would have just taken one for the team and called our band Wayne’s World. We are all willing to go there for hours and would make googling ourselves much more interesting. I can’t wait for Wayne’s World 3: The Quickening.
GD: The name came from Marc. I wasn’t in the original line up, so I’m not sure how it came about. He has always been fascinated with Dinosaurs. I haven’t seen the movie, and I’m not sure if any of us have. Strangely enough, despite the name (or perhaps because of it) we do our best to avoid any sort of Dinosaur imagery when it comes to the band.
POF: Okay, last one about dinosaurs. What is your favorite dinosaur and why?
GD: The archaeopteryx (though it probably isn’t dinosaur in the strict sense), not so much for any cool attributes in possesses, but for the fact that it stands as a link between ancient dinosaurs and modern birds. The fact that people still dispute evolution in favor of something that is rooted in neither, logic or rational thinking astounds me.
JH: Caudipteryx. It’s like a two-foot tall chicken with talons that swallowed prey hole instead of chewing it. Pretty-scary looking. I picked it because I feel like I can relate
POF: Whose idea was the “Nirvana Unplugged” inspired video for “It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity”?
GD: I can’t really remember whose idea it was for the Nirvana aspect of the video. The original idea I think was to do something like a greatest hits of the unplugged series, however the costumes, etc would cost too much. All of us grew up watching MTV, and I personally think for the most part Unplugged is kinda silly (KISS, LL Cool J, The Eagles, Clapton etc). I think the Nirvana idea came about when we bought into the gag of doubles of everyone.
JH: I think it was Marc’s although the decision was made while I was living in Chicago or Alabama. Can’t remember that either. It’s been a long year. I can say that the inspiration definitely resides in our collective sense of humor/weirdness as a band though so I think the idea would have eventually presented itself regardless of who first thought it. If not Nirvana, it might have been Beavis & Butthead inspired or possibly even Jar Jar Binks. We’re really just oversized seventh graders.
POF: Tell us about “Houston Voice”, your contribution to the yet-to-be-released US Two records split with Batwings?
JH: It’s about being a creep, right George? It feels kinda anxious to me. That’s me breathing in at the end. I was anxious doing that song because of my situation this year of moving around so much and trying to keep up with all the projects I’m involved with. I did a little less singing and more just manipulation of vocal tracks to create more background texture and the occasional weird flourish.
GD: “Houston Voice” is lyrically about being a little bit of a creep despite your best efforts, specifically college campuses. I’ll spare you the boring details. The name came from a term coined by Oh, Beast! wherein someone has almost overwhelmingly gravelly voice, not unlike what Hulk Hogan’s voice sounds like.
POF: Jesse, How did you manage to land a job at Panache Booking?
JH: I used to work for SXSW in my early twenties. I met Michelle Cable (owner of Panache Booking) while I was doing some booking stuff there. We hit it off really well and when I left SXSW and Austin for Chicago, we stayed in touch and decided that we wanted to work together because we got along so well and shared a lot of the same common interests in music and an enthusiasm for touring in general. I helped her out, here and there, while I was working at the Empty Bottle in Chicago and then flew out to New York to discuss doing Panache full time and now I’m living New York and I’m doing it.
POF: I envy you’re appearance in the Marnie Stern video for “Ruler”. Any story behind that?
JH: My friend Matt Marlin (drums in Pterodactyl) played with Marnie for a while and we’re all friends. He was given the opportunity to shoot a video for “Ruler” and was super excited. We talked about the theme and I offered to help. Matt and I have a really weird sense of humor around each other, which basically stems almost exclusively from our love of the movie Step Brothers. I think in our countless hours together saying stuff like “chest pubes” and “ball fro” he got the idea that I could be this humorous character in the video. I got really excited because I love Marnie’s stuff so much and it sounded fun. My girlfriend Adrienne helped pull the fake chicken around in that scene and Joe Kremer (guitar, Pterodactyl) also helped as well so it was all in the family. If you look close you can see that my teeth are totally fucked up. I broke my four front teeth really badly as a kid and have to get them replaced every ten years or so. I was in between sets and so they are particularly gnarly and weird looking.
POF: What’s in the works for you two, either professionally, personally (or both) in 2009?
GD: 2009 will hopefully bring us more touring. Professionally, I’m hoping for more money I guess
JH: 2009 is going to be a great year. I totally feel it. There’s something stirring in the air right now, isn’t there? I’m going to work a lot and tour some. I’m working hard on getting my other project Twin Powers up and ready for live shows. Our first show ever is going to be with Daniel Francis Doyle (former WDRTE drummer) and our friend BJ Warshaw from Parts & Labor‘s other project Shooting Spires, so Adrienne and I are stoked! My main goal of 2009 is to get to the UK sometime this year to visit my dear old friend Gary Cottis. See Gary, our plan is on the internet now so it must be official.
POF: With an initial line-up already posted, who do you want to see this year at SXSW?
JH: I am always excited to see The Carrots. I’ve heard some newer things they have been working on and I’m stoked. Such beautiful sounds! Bands that I will 100% be seeing in one way or another: Vivian Girls, Shawn David McMillen, The Sonics, The Coathangers, and Total Abuse. **
GD: I honestly don’t usually make definite plans to see certain bands, with playing shows and trying to see out of town friends, it’s more fun to me to take in casual. Just go with the flow. I usually try to concentrate on seeing acts who don’t tour or play out much.
POF: Some nostalgia; What is the best show you’ve ever played and why? And it doesn’t have to involve WDRTE.
JH: This last tour had some really crazy moments that topped the list. For spectacle reasons I would say our best shows were at the Empty Bottle in Chicago and at the Lazer Puzzy in Little Rock. Those two involved shows involved the following: punches, sunglass bartering, chocolate gravy, overuse of a strobes and a smoke machine, and getting to go backstage at a Metallica concert. Shit was intense. My personal favorite WDRTE show based upon music alone was the last show of the only tour we did with Dan Doyle at Emos Lounge. Something clicked between all of us in a way that’s just hard to reproduce and “Bananafana”( aka Nanners) slayed.
GD: Best show lists are pretty hard… The Dinos vs Gorch Fock free week last year was fun. On last tour in Little rock was fun — we played in a tiny basement at a really fun party. The Tuxedo Killers’ art mansion pillow fight party years ago with Awesome Cool Dudes and Those Peabodys; (this is) when Jesse and I first started playing and hanging with Cory and Nate. Dinos show with Attractive & Popular and These are Powers. The Philly Show when we (played a) 12+ member stoner jammed “Bananafana” with Teeth Mountain and Hearts of Darknesses in a basement. The AAM Day Party at the end of CMJ a few years ago when we got way drunk at 10 am. The Sunday Show last year at SXSW when we go way drunk at 11am. The Prehistoric themed Glasslands show with Pterodactyl. The shows we have played with the Sneeze (RIP) and Skullening (RIP too) at RanchO RelaxO. Those are a few that come to mind (and) are all fun for different reasons, but generally because we played with awesome bands and great crowds. We’re a party band! Still Tippin’ Down.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth will be appearing at this year’s SXSW and a bunch of other neat cool places throughout the duration of 2009. Their US Two Records Split 7″ with Batwings should be ready by mid-March.