Tag Archives: Interview

Double Dagger @ CCAS Tonight

Today is an important day in the city of Baltimore. Double Dagger will play its penultimate Baltimore show tonight at the Charm City Art Space. If you don’t know or care who Double Dagger is, or if you don’t think tonight is important, then you can go look at some fucking cats or something, okay? For the rest of us, Double Dagger frontman Nolen Strals was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions about the last 10 years of his life…

Double Dagger plays CCAS Tonight. Go now or cry later.

So, why did you want to be in a band in the first place?

    In high school I wanted to be in a band just because, you know, I was young, newish to punk and it’s ideas and ideals and I was an angry kid in a small town with a lot to say. Being in a band gave me a chance to say things that were important to me. Sixteen years later I’m still in bands partly for that same reason but with new things to say. As anyone who knows me can attest, I usually have a lot to say. I’m full of ideas and opinions and I’m not afraid to let people hear them.

    Also, it’s just fun as hell to play shows. Double Dagger shows are almost always really fun, interacting with the audience. We’re giving them something, they’re giving us something back. I sometimes feel as if the crowd at the right show is like a fourth member of the band. Seeing people flip out for our music, hearing them sing along… there’s no questioning why I’m in a band when that’s happening. We all feed off that reaction.

What were your goals as a band? Do you feel like all of those goals were met?

    When Double Dagger started I think we just wanted to be a really high energy, smart-ass post punk band… In the middle years, when our original drummer Brian Dubin left and Denny Bowen joined full-time I think we were trying to figure out how to take the Double Dagger formula of spare bass, drums, and vocals and beef it up, fill it out, push that reductive combination further. The band as a whole got more serious, taking more care with our recordings, putting more effort into playing out of town and touring, etc. We definitely met or exceeded all of those goals. Touring-wise we exceeded it by going to Europe for almost a month in 2010.

    I think when we started people didn’t take us too seriously, and I’m really proud to say that I think a lot of people respect the band now. A ton of bands are liked or loved, but respect is harder to come by, and I think we earned that through the music we wrote and the way operated.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

    I wish we’d played more benefit shows, especially ones to help local organizations and causes. We care a lot about Baltimore City and that’s reflected in our songs, but I think our actions could have showed it a little more.

Baltimore could definitely use a bigger act like Fugazi, who played a lot of benefits and encouraged other bands to be more civic-minded and philanthropic.

    Totally agree. Bands who have a big draw have the ability to use that for more than just selling tickets. You can have an impact beyond that especially when playing locally, so there’s no reason not to.

    We’re a band that crosses a lot of the scene barriers in Baltimore. I love that we draw punk and hardcore kids as well as the art school warehouse types, plus high schoolers and old dudes. I think at times we pigeonholed ourselves to certain types of shows. Basically I just we’d played with more hardcore bands in the later years.

This final stuff you’re putting out is your last chance to design one of your own releases. How are you possibly going to top Masks?

    We’re thinking 1/6-scale vinyl toys of all three members with 9 points of articulation (11 for Denny), and when you pop the head off, a USB drive holding the songs is sticking out of the neck. Either that or something more traditional… we’re still hammering out the details.

After 10 years in a band, you'd be tired too.

What advice would you give to someone starting their first band today?

    Think. Practice. Practice. Think. Practice. Practice. We were a part of a generation of local bands who spent a few months figuring out their songs, their sound, and what they wanted to do before ever playing in front of people, because they wanted their first show to be as good as possible. They wanted people to take them seriously. It seems a lot of younger people (but not all) don’t have that mentality. It’s more of ‘Hey let’s just start a band and play our first show next week because we can and it will be cool.’ Those bands don’t last, and unless there’s some accidental genius at work they’re not very good.

    Figure out not just how you want to sound, but why you want to sound that way.

    Don’t accept that just because certain things are done regularly now, that you should do it too. When you first start out, book your own shows. You don’t need an agent, tour manager, or booking agent within your first several years of being a band. You’ll probably never need one. I’ve heard recently about some relatively new, comparatively tiny bands who have publicity agents and tour managers with them while playing only small DIY shows. That’s some rockstar bullshit. Get real/get out.

    Play out of town early and often. Playing in-town all the time is too easy. Play for people who aren’t your friends. That’s a better gauge of what you’re doing. Philly, DC, and New York are all close, and all have DIY scenes that are easy to access so play there. You’ll become better playing for strangers than you will for friends.

What are some of the more important things you’ve learned along the way?

    Oooh there might be some bitter replies in this one… The views in this reply are only mine, not speaking for the other dudes here:

    I learned hard work is often trumped by internet hype. Accept this early on. The lesson to be learned here is not to go after blog hype. Not if you want to last at least. Very few music bloggers are music journalists (don’t worry Chop, you wrote better questions than we usually get from music writers). Get ready to be let down and, at times, surprised.

    Don’t trust the words of people whose job title rhymes with the two words “Hooking…” and uh, I can’t finish this joke because nothing rhymes with “Agent.” Doing it the hard way pays off in the long run.

    And if you are going to do something the hard way, be it music or otherwise, you’d better be sure what all the repercussions of that will be in your personal life, and you need to determine if it’s worth it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it ain’t.

    If you eat shitty food on tour, you will play shitty shows on tour. Local, cheap, good restaurants trump any fast food ever. It may take an extra 30-40 minutes, but your body will appreciate it. Ask local folks where to go. Fat Sandwiches in New Brunswick, NJ are the best post-show food ever.

    Pack light, but pack thoroughly.

    Shows in towns that never get shows will always be more fun than selling out huge rooms in big cities. Small town kids will appreciate you going out of your way to play in their no where town more than even the most enthusiastic city dweller. You need to play those shows from time to time. I wouldn’t have gotten into punk rock without that happening for me.

    I realize most of these sound negative, but lessons aren’t always easy. The easy stuff happens the rest of the time, and it outshines all the bad. I learned a lot of amazing things in this band and saw incredible places and made great friends in places I never would have gone otherwise.

    The DIY Punk Community is international, beautiful, and inspiring.

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Charm City Art Space is at 1731 Maryland Ave in Station North. 7 pm doors, all ages.

Tonight’s show also features Holy Tongues and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

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Chop on the Spot: Interview With Sixteen Tons Proprietor Daniel Wylie

As you may already know, the Chop is no stranger to matters of style. Classic American fashion is one of the cornerstones of this blog. So when we heard word of a new men’s shop opening in Hampden, you can believe it raised our eyebrows pretty high.

For too many years quality menswear in Baltimore has been strictly limited to the suit-and-tie crowd, and anyone wanting to look good outside of office hours has had to hump it out to the mall, and as we all know the mall can be a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volkswagen.

Daniel Wylie has been a busy man of late, curating goods, rebuilding his shop space from the ground up, and dealing with the myriad other concerns of getting a business together. Sixteen Tons had its soft opening about 2 weeks ago, and we can tell you firsthand, he’s done a hell of a job. The newest store on the Avenue looks great, and will have you looking great by the time you walk out the door.

Busy as he’s been, Daniel was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to the Chop about his new shop, ideas on style, and how to keep the gentlemen of Baltimore Town looking their best.

Thanks for taking time out to talk to the Chop. With interior design, as well as with men’s fashion, the details can make or break your whole style. As we speak, you’ve got the doors open, but have still been laying on the finishing touches. How has it gone so far setting up shop?

    I agree about the details. I was fortunate after much BS to get a truly unique building in Hampden, The Augusta Bank Building at 36th & Hickory [most recently Squidfire] and that to me is part of the battle as people are just drawn to it. They want to walk in and see what’s inside. The interior was pretty much just a room, raw space needing some serious attention. It hadn’t had much done to it in almost twenty years so I really had to start from scratch. There was nothing I could do that wouldn’t be a massive improvement on what was there. Some may say I went too far, but I really wanted to cultivate a distinct Sixteen Tons environment and experience that will hopefully compliment everything within it. The whole process has been grueling, lots of late nights and sore muscles. Fortunately, I had the Boh Man helping me. (He’s fucking useless really…)

Could you tell us a bit about your personal style, and how it may have evolved over time?

    Having style and having a style I think are different but obviously related; probably cousins. I’d like to think I’ve always had the latter and as I’ve grown (slightly!) older I am learning more about the former. As far as style I mean not so much the rules and regulations, but how and why certain things just look good on me. The terabytes of incredible information that are online have really been like an exhausting college course for me on the history of men’s clothing and everything associated with it .

Who or what do you think has had the most influence on your own wardrobe or style?

    My personal style has probably evolved over time mostly on gut instinct. Though even through those years of ignorance I can now see that I was at least unconsciously drawn to certain things and people for specific reasons. Most of those had to do with a kind of effortless not-giving-a-fuck but looking sharp nonetheless; maybe studied but not labored. I would have to reference as a couple of personal touchstones Sammy Davis Jr. because the man just perpetually looked sharp and Paul Simonon. The whole Rudeboy/Rat Pack/Rockabilly thing I dig, its like the bastard offspring of Ike Turner and Gene Vincent in a Nudie Suit with steel capped Cuban Cuban-boots.

It sounds like you’re talking about the Italian idea of Sprezzatura. Baltimore is a city with 21st century ideals, but very rough edges. It seems that artful dishevelment and organic wear and tear should be as natural here as cowboy boots in Texas or Sandals in Key West. Any thoughts on that?

    Sprezzatura is a new word to me, but absolutely spot on in definition. That is the black belt of fashion (life?) we should all aspire to.

Can you give us a teaser about some of what we can expect to find on the racks at 16 Tons?

    Some outerwear, some knits, some shirts, some no bullshit selvedge denim, definitely some labels new to Baltimore.

Locally exclusive labels, you say? That’s interesting. Care to tease us with some examples?

    Pretty positive that I’m the only one in Baltimore with Farah Vintage, Universal Works, Naked and Famous Jeans, Artifacts and SkunkFunk (who I probably won’t have again after this winter), and possibly Revolution Now, Field Notes and more.

That’s some quality stuff. Many men might cringe at the term “boutique” but 16 Tons is at least what you might call a “specialty shop”. What advantages for the customer does this style of shopping have over, say, a Macy’s or a
Sears?

    I just have to believe that most men loathe malls as much as I do. I’ve always preferred a more comfortable, interesting environment that has a unique personality to 2500 sq ft of racks of whatever. And it’s less complicated in the sense that if you like what the store is doing, its style or whatever, then it saves you having to hunt it down yourself. Also, I think the increased awareness of supporting smaller, local, independent businesses overrides any discomfort of what that business might be listed under in the yellow pages.

You’ve made it clear that 16 Tons is striving for Timeless or Classic style, but what does that mean to you exactly? It seems that there’s a very fine line between timeless and Old Fashioned, and many fashionable men unwittingly cross it when trying to smarten up. I’m thinking specifically of certain NY/Brooklyn or Jack White types who’ve run the slippery slope from fashion into age-inappropriate mustaches, hats, suspenders, etc. and end up looking like an anachronism.

    I think that the standards, the basic building block items of a man’s wardrobe, design wise, say since the beginning of the 20th century, can and have only been improved on so much. Pants are pants, two legs forever. A well cut, well fitting suit just looks good, forever. This is more or less why certain elements never go away, because they’ll never look bad. All the extremes or aesthetic details of different styles or eras are just that, styles, that come and go. A man will always look sharp in a nice hat but you can’t really say that about a dude in spats.

Speaking of going back in time, these days it can be tough to have a conversation about menswear without at least one or two Mad Men references being thrown around. Is this a blessing, a mixed blessing, or a curse?

    I’ve never watched it, but I’m familiar with the reference. I don’t think that anything that encourages men to wear clothes that fit them and not be afraid to look sharp can be a curse. It just depends on how it filters out into the public, good examples to learn something from and apply to daily dressing or a bunch of guys in period costume.”

In terms of fashion, what, if anything, sets Baltimore apart from any other east coast city?

    If my memory serves me correctly, it was the Baltimore market that single-handedly kept the Nike Air Force 1 in production, amazing if you think about it. Besides that bit of minutiae and maybe the Deaconites antifashion/fashion of a few years back, I can’t think of anything that our humble city has that makes it unique, clothing wise that is.

Finally, if you had to pick, what one thing should every man have in his closet?

    Hangers or skeletons…

Thanks again, Daniel. We can’t wait for the chance to blow some of our post- Christmas gift cash in the shop, and get to be looking right for New Years’ Eve. Of course, we may not have to now that you’ve got gift certificates available. Let’s be honest, Baltimore. A 16 Tons gift cert makes a much better last minute gift for the man in your life than that same old bottle of booze.

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Sixteen Tons is now open at 1100 W. 36th St. in Hampden. 410-554-0101 or shop16tons.com. Mon-Thu: 11-6, Fri & Sat: 11-7, Sun: 12-5.

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An Evening With Terry Gross @ MICA’s Brown Center Tonight

Well, just when we thought we had learned our lesson about buying tickets for things in advance, we completely failed to secure tickets for tonight’s appearance by Terry Gross at MICA’s Brown Center. This is pretty disgraceful, since we’ve known about this for several months now. We even put it on our calendar and everything, but didn’t bother to look into buying tickets until it was well sold out. (Maybe just as well though; $50 is not a cheap ticket for a public radio host.)

Gross is, of course, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air, a daily arts and culture interview program which is easily one of the best things on radio and one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

Terry Gross appears at a sold-out Brown Center tonight.

Even though we’re not going tonight, it gives us a good excuse to relate an anecdote which we found funny at the time.

We were in a smallish German city on our trip to Europe earlier this year, where we found a tiny little record shop on a corner near the edge of downtown. There were some good vinyl and posters on display in the windows, but the first few times we went by there the shop was locked up tight.

Eventually we found it open one afternoon, and although we don’t mess around with vinyl records, we thought we might find some European exclusives as a souvenir for Roommate or even some eBay gold for our own benefit. We gave a nod to the proprietor who was busy with his macbook and started browsing the stacks. Instead of playing music we were listening to some old man go on about something or other over the speakers in English for several minutes. When he finally wound up his monologue, Terry Gross’ voice came over the air.

“Oh!” We say “You’re listening to Fresh Air! I didn’t realize you had that in Germany.”

When we said this to the guy behind the counter, his face lit up as brightly as a Christmas tree. It turns out that they do not have Fresh Air in Germany, but that he was listening via iTunes. When we mentioned that we regularly listen on the radio, and live sort of near Philadelphia (people abroad do not know where Maryland is), his perfect English became very excited. We recounted some of our favorite episodes, including the infamous Gene Simmons interview which was one of the most awkward broadcasts in the history of radio.

As it turned out, this record store guy was a huge and rabid fan of Fresh Air, and was trying to work his way through the entire archives of the show. Once he found out that we’d been listening for years, there was no shortage of questions, most of which we had no answers for.

There was one earnest question he did ask though, which we could answer with certainty:

“So, in your country, Terry Gross is a big star? Like Oprah?”

Not quite…

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If you’ve never heard the Gene Simmons Fresh Air interview, we strongly encourage you to click through and listen to it. It is not available in the NPR Archives, and it’s a solid hour of Simmons insulting Gross and NPR and making a series of very inappropriate and sexist remarks while making himself out to be a primal filthy rich sex god. In our opinion, Gene Simmons is a fucking clown, and Terry Gross is one of the greatest interviewers working anywhere today.

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Baltimore Portrait: New Drawings by Erin Fitzpatrick @ UB Tonight

If there’s one activity that Baltimore likes to engage in collectively, it’s looking at itself in the proverbial mirror. It’s part of the reason we love the films of John Waters so much. It’s why we think The Wire was such a wonderful show, and it’s even why we went to go see Naked Baltimore when it opened at the Metro Gallery.

This ongoing game of monkey in the mirror is also part of the reason we’re so excited about the opening of Erin Fitzpatrick‘s Baltimore Portrait series at the University of Baltimore’s Student Center tonight.

Baltimore Portrait opens at the University of Baltimore Student Center tonight. 7-9 pm (Show is on 5th floor, not 3rd).

The current installation of the Baltimore Portrait series includes 20 new local faces, selected from a total of 75 and counting, with more than half of the series completed recently. Portraits from the series have been on display since November ’09, most recently at the Theater Project’s John Fonda Gallery.

But don’t take our word for it. Erin was kind enough to answer a few quick questions for us in advance of tonight’s show. It’s the first time this blog has undertaken to do an interview, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Let’s begin, shall we?

Megan Fitzpatrick

The Baltimore Chop:

    Your portrait series focuses on a collection of people from a specific place. What connections or effects have you observed between people and the places they live and vice versa?

Erin Fitzpatrick: “So far, almost all of my subjects have been Baltimore-based. Some have transplanted, but they are all people who I met here. I have plans to start some new pieces based on subjects in L.A. this summer. Maybe then I’ll be able to get a better perspective on how the portraits differ with location.

For me, working within the parameter of a certain city is about meeting, and capturing on paper or canvas, all of the interesting people that live within that area. It’s like visual networking.”

Chop:

    In addition to being a working artist you’re also a proficient blogger, focusing on your portrait series as well as other more general topics like fashion and Baltimore life. What made you want to start blogging and what’s kept you going?

Fitz: “I originally started Fitzbomb as an easy way to show my art on line. I got a few hits from people I knew and through random searches. Then I started thinking about what people want to see (themselves and other people out and looking good) and how I could tie that in to my art. I started carrying a camera around and shooting nightlife (especially when I could capture people who I have drawn/painted.) This approach immediately expanded my viewing audience.”

Elena Johnston

Chop:

    How has the Fitzbomb blog complemented or helped with the portraits’ creative process since it’s inception?

Fitz:
“The main way that Fitzbomb has helped my portrait project is through exposure. The next stage in my plan is to make the portrait project and the blog more cohesive.

While I’m sure that I will still photograph/post a lot of social events, I really want to get into documenting my subjects. Like, this is Erin, this is where she lives/works/hangs out, here are some interview questions that tell you what she does, and then the whole thing culminates in my final portrait. I want Fitzbomb to primarily be a place to exhibit my subjects both as portraits and as people (thus actually living up to the blog’s tag line. Ha.)”

Chop:

    All of the portraits in this series are very similar in composition, with a lot of negative space at the top. Do you feel a similar look helps to highlight the differences and details in your subjects?

Fitz: “I compose my pieces with a lot of negative space to draw the viewer in to each individual portrait. So, yes, you got it.

I’ve been thinking about doing some paintings in the near future that have more than one person in them, but I would keep the same space around each figure. I think it would create interesting tensions and make the viewer look at the individuals, but wonder about the relationships.”

Jenny Andrzejewski

Chop:

    Thanks so much! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Fitz: “Nope. You asked good questions. I got to talk about the ideas that I’ve been planning in my head while drawing the pieces for my up-coming show. Also, I’m always thinking about individuals and groups who I could draw, so if you have any good ideas for me…”

If you’ve got any good ideas for Erin, you can let her know at tonight’s opening, or at www.fitzbomb.com. The current installation of Baltimore Portrait opens tonight with a reception from 7- 9 pm in the Hilda and Michael Bogomolny Room on the 5th floor, and will remain on view until August 27th in the 5th Floor Gallery.

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UB’s Student Center is at 21 W. Mount Royal Ave in Mount Vernon. See their website for gallery hours and additional information.

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