By Alex Distefano
By Daniel Kohn
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Photo by Jesse FisherShocking people isn't hard—Marilyn Manson and Andrew "Dice" Clay have sold out arenas at points in their lives. But shocking people and being relevant and talented? That's hard. And rare. Like Bill Hicks rare. And it's why the Dwarves should be huge. Formed in the mid-'80s in Illinois as the Suburban Nightmare, the Dwarves have played everything from psychedelic garage rock to nihilistic speed punk to ultracatchy pop punk to something close to electronica, all while maintaining a reputation for one of the most notoriously intense live shows in rock. Singer and front man extraordinaire Blag Dahlia is the only constant in maybe the world's most volatile band: they had the most memorable sequence in the documentary Kurt & Courtney (then-bassist Rex Everything bashing a member of the audience in the head, yelling, "Play pussy; get fucked!") but they're probably best known for fooling the music press—and their label Sub Pop—into thinking naked-yet-masked guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed had died. And perhaps the strangest chapter in Dwarves history is yet to be written: they're scheduled to play with English punk vets the Damned at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.OC Weekly: Is it true that you recently got married? Blag Dahlia: I did. Yes. How does that change being in the Dwarves and being the lead Dwarf?
You know, I'm a rock legend. Nothing changes but the day of the week.Does the Dwarves reputation ever conflict with life outside the Dwarves?
Of course. You throw that image out there, and you think, "Nobody's gonna buy this," and yet people believe it. So it makes them afraid. Afraid to make records with you, afraid to do shows with you, afraid to produce a record with you. It's one of those things. It's something I've been doing the whole time I've been making music, just scaring the fuck out of people who are boring. I figure that comes with the job for me. And there are enough boring people out there that scare awful easy.You'll be employed for a long time.
Absolutely.Do people expect that same kind of mayhem if they run into you on the street or in the grocery store?
It depends on what they're doing. I'm generally more known for the quick put-down than anything else. But you know, there has been plenty of violence in the Dwarves' world, and I say, "Bring it on." I always think these young bands are going to come along and be able to knock us right down, but the joke is they just keep getting lamer and lamer, and we just keep getting more and more potent. I don't know how that works. I can't think of another band like the Dwarves that just keeps getting better and making better records or . . . Fuck, man, I wanna go masturbate right now just thinking about it.Have you ever had offstage confrontations or legal action because somebody got punched or injured by the band?
Yeah, that was ultimately why [bassist] Nick [Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, a.k.a. the aforementioned Rex Everything] had to leave the band. I guess that's why he wants to do more hippie kind of stuff now. The audience is comatose, so he doesn't have to beat anyone senseless with a bass guitar, for instance. The thing about the Dwarves was that I always got blamed for everything, and the rumors were always about me, but actually, the other guys in the band were much tougher than I was. All kinds of weird things would happen that I would eventually hear about as though I had done them.So you've done garage, hardcore punk, pop punk, borderline electronic music, a bluegrass album—
All that stuff and more, baby.Why don't more people recognize?
I've been asking the same question forever. At the end of the day, there's a lot of wack shit out there that gets a lot of attention that just bores the fuck out of me. We don't do that. We always make it different. When we started doing things on Epitaph Records, like drum programming or sampling, people hated that. It's funny to me because, to me, it's all just music. One thing I never wanted for the Dwarves was that we were one of these, like, skateboard-punk-rock bands.Even though you had a skateboard on the cover of one of your albums?
I just did that to make money. I always thought it was funny. If you were around in the '90s, every tattoo artist thought he was in a fucking band. Now it's everybody with a skateboard. To me, they're just jocks with wheels under them. They're welcome to try and rock, but it's always so fucking pathetic. But I do like watching them jump off three-story buildings, and you can't beat those skateboard dudes for that stuff. I can't imagine working that hard. It's just when they pick up a guitar that I start to get pissed-off. Because you're not going to catch me picking up a skateboard. Let's just face the fact that you live with your parents. That your girlfriend is fucking all the other skaters. That you need to grow up.
THE DWARVES PERFORM WITH THE DAMNED AND THROWRAG AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-BLUE; WWW.HOB.COM. SUN., 7 P.M. $22.50. ALL AGES (THOSE UNDER 16 MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY ADULT).