By Adam Lovinus
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By Rachel Mattice
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By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Matthew Towles doesn’t like Radiohead.
Seems odd, given how much of a go-to answer the band are for local groups looking to sound like they have good taste. But neither Towles nor his Dash Jacket band mate Thomas Lucero is interested in doing what everybody else is doing. Thus their wholehearted embrace of messy, punky rock, inspired by the likes of Wire and the Ramones; their dutiful switching between guitar and drums after nearly every song at a live show; and their willingness to commute 40 minutes from their South County residences to classes at Cal State Long Beach (Towles is an English major; Lucero, art).
They’ve played music together for more than four years—playing in traditional, full bands—but started their current two-man project early this year.
OC Weekly: How did you guys meet?
Thomas Lucero: We met in cross-country in high school. The first conversation I remember having with him, we were on a four-mile run, and we started talking about Beavis and Butthead, and that was it right there.
You’re both pretty young to know Beavis and Butthead.
Matthew Towles: They had it on MTV2 for a while, so I grew up on that, I guess.
Lucero: I remember watching it several times against my mother’s wishes.
Your sound is very lo-fi, which is pretty rare for Orange County in general.
Towles: I wouldn’t say the only reason we’re lo-fi is because of the recording, but, like, that’s one of the bigger reasons.
Lucero: If we were able to get into a studio where they use microphones, we wouldn’t oppose that.
Towles: Lo-fi because you have to, not because you want to.
So the songwriting is pretty much 50/50?
Towles: 50/50, or we write them together.
And based on the live show, it’s 50/50 with the instruments, too?
Towles: It was never like, “Let’s make this our thing: We switch instruments.” We both know how to play drums; we both know how to play guitar. It’s, like, necessity.
Lucero: It’s basically what we were playing when we wrote the song.
A lot of duos eventually expand to a full band. Is that a possibility for you?
Lucero: We’ve talked about adding a bassist, but I think if we did, it would only be for live shows. As far as songwriting and recording, it’d be just us.
Towles: The only problems we’ve run into with being only two people is, based on the venue we’re in, the sound is sometimes not as full as we’d like.
Lucero: Right now we’re playing our guitar through a bass amp so we can get the lower end.
Your first Dash Jacket release was 11 songs in 12 minutes. Is it difficult to write a song that short, or is it actually just easier?
Towles: Writing the song, you still write all the parts that you would in a “normal” song.
Lucero: You just don’t repeat them.
Towles: We don’t want to get any longer than three minutes, usually. I just a lot of times get bored with long songs. I really like short songs more than anything.
What’s your favorite long song, then—over five minutes?
Lucero: In high school, I was obsessed with the Mars Volta. They have very long songs—like, 30-minute-long songs.
Towles: Anything by Television.
Lucero: “Marquee Moon.” That song’s, like, 11 minutes long or something, but it feels like it’s two.
Most duos who are big right now—Mates of State, obviously the White Stripes—consist of a male and a female. Do you worry that the fact that you’re both dudes hurts your marketability?
Lucero: We’ll just play off it.
Towles: I can wear a wig.
Lucero: I actually wanted to get a dress and wear it to a show.
Towles: I think if we do get a bassist, we’ll make it a girl. Just to make it marketable.
Lucero: Even if it’s a guy, we’ll make him a girl.
Dash Jacket with Action Star Addicts and Distant Lakes at Santa Fe Express Cafe, 136 E. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-1725; www.santafeexpress.cafe. Fri., 6 p.m. Free. All ages. Dash Jacket can be found online at www.myspace.com/hatepophatepop.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and upcoming show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to firstname.lastname@example.org.