Punk Band Dodge Dart Returns With Punk Fury and Prison Stories

In some ways, OC punk/pop band Dodge Dart has been around forever. And in others, they haven't.

That's because the group has taken a few, shall we say, hiatuses, during its career. These lapses in activity aren't due to the usual inter-band fightings or the guitarist devoting himself to yoga. Nope, Dodge Dart has gone all for all the cool, rock 'n' roll reasons — you know, stuff like prison. Singer/guitarist Nicky Sjobeck recently did a 17-month stint at CMC West Prison in San Luis Obispo after selling 20 Vicodin pills to an undercover cop.

Doing time usually ends bands, but in Dodge Dart's case, it started one as singer/guitarist  Sjobeck and guitarist Efren Davis formed the group during a 1994 jail stint. Sjobeck kept the band active on the outside and released the “Something in My Eye” single in 1995. From there, Dodge Dart issued two other 7-inches and a full-length titled So American in 1999 and has appeared on six compilations.

Dodge Dart has seen more members than Menudo, but is back with a new lineup (Sjobeck, Davis, bassist Anthony Guarino and drummer Randy Robbins) that has recorded new music and is playing its second show to date Saturday at the Tiki Bar. We got a hold of the band recently to chat before the gig. Check out the interview after the jump!


OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie): Soooooooooooooo…where the hell has Dodge Dart been?
Nicky Sjobeck: I just got back from an 18-month vacation in April.

Why resurrect the band now? And how did you decide on the lineup? 

Sjobeck: This is the first time in years that I've been healthy enough to actually play. When I put the band back together in April I immediately contacted Efren because, outside of prison, we never had a chance to play together and it sort of brought the Dart full circle. Anthony was an obvious choice since he'd been in a really early incarnation of the band and we brought Randy in because he rips at drums.

Is it possible to be a musician while incarcerated? By that, I mean, can you write music/lyrics in jail? Do you have any creative outlets? 

Sjobeck: It's no secret that Efren and I have done a lot of time. I had a really good punk band at CMC prison the last year and a half. Shows on the prison yard are intense! Also, that's the kind of place that you don't want to pick up groupies. I had a he-she following me around after my last gig. It was awful. “She” even had chesticles and everything.

Is this weekend your first show back? If so, how long has it been since you've played? 

Sjobeck: We snuck on a Smut Peddlers show last week in Redondo Beach as a warm up for the Tiki Bar. This will be our first OC show in years.

Do you have any concerns about playing with the Heathens? I sure would if I was you.

Anthony Guarino: Concerns? Over the Heathens? We are Dodge Dart…people should be concerned about us when we play. Broken bottles on heads, teeth flying through the air, Rickenbacker basses over some heads…this is the norm for one of our shows.

What are you plans for this new recording? Assuming you remain alive, of course.

Sjobeck: It looks like Hostage Records wants to do a full length with us. We still have to work out some details though. Hurley has also shown some interest, so we're just going to wait a bit and see what the better offer is.

I've heard three new songs and I'm wondering…you say you “just wanna be dead.” Should I call a suicide hotline for you? 

Sjobeck: “Wanna Be Dead” is actually a remake of one of my former bands The Simpletones. And by the way, the singer, Snickers, is dead now. He died of a heroin overdose in 1997.

Who is this Cynthia girl that one of the new songs is about? And is she single? Cuz she sounds like my type of broad. 

Sjobeck: I'm not the kind of guy that would write a seething song like that and then tell you who it's about. One thing for certain, it's not about my former roommate Cindy Blake. Cindy, by the way, is single.

Did you ever think the band Dodge Dart would actually outlast the vehicle Dodge Dart?

Sjobeck: No! But now that Chrysler has re-released the Dart, I hope that we don't get sued.

Because there are a lot of former members, is there any concern that there could be other Dodge Darts out there kind of like how there are about four different version of L.A. Guns right now?

Sjobeck: If there were, I think Efren and I could probably persuade them to change their name.

If your new music gets huge and you guys become famous, will you upgrade to Chevy Camaro? 

Sjobeck: There's a name for that and it's called “downgrading.”

Seriously, what's with those Heathens? I'm telling you — be careful.

Guarino: We'll be careful not to hurt them too bad. After all, Nick just got out. We don't want him going back too soon. In all honesty, the Heathens are our friends, and we'd have each other's back during the riot.

Dodge Dart performs with Cadillac Tramps, HFL and the Heathens at the Tiki Bar, 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa. Sat. 7 p.m. $15. 21+.

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