Tag Archives: Nolen Strals

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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Double Secret Island Swans @ The Windup Cat Tonight

Well, isn’t this something. It’s already Earth Day and we still haven’t figured out what we’re doing tonight. There are two shows on the Chop’s radar this evening, and unlike we sometimes do we can’t try being in two places at once tonight. It’s a tough call. We’ll give you the facts and let you sort it out.

Double Dagger/ Future Islands/ Ed Schrader Play the Black Cat tonight. 9pm.

Baltimore is taking over DC tonight when Double Dagger invades the Black Cat back stage with Ed Schrader and the superheated Future Islands who are so hot right now you’d think they were the next Joy Division or something. Seriously, they’ve been setting the internet on fire with that Tin Man Video and when In Evening Air comes out on May 4th it’s going to sell about a million copies and they’ll probably end up on Saturday Night Live. (And remember, you heard that prediction here first. SNL. For real.)

This is clearly a great show, and one of the last opportunities to see both these bands before they both undertake a long touring schedule and get rich and world famous and snort caviar off of Suicide Girls. It’s also a very good chance to go down and thumb our nose at DC a little and remind them that we really are cooler than they are at the end of the day.

There are two very compelling reasons to skip it though, cause who wants to drive to DC anyway? Also: We’re planning on seeing both of these bands at Floristree next week.

Secret Mountains, Soft Cat play the Windup Space tonight. 9 pm.

Our other, equally enticing option for tonight is to keep it local and low-key and check out the Earth Day show at the Windup Space headlined by Secret Mountains. We’ve blogged about SM before, and they’re another Baltimore band that we basically cannot get tired of listening to or seeing live.

They’re supported by fellow locals Soft Cat, who seem to have an awful lot of members for such a pared down sound; New Jersey’s European Swans, who sound pretty good, but who’d definitely fit in over at LATFH, and Shaun David Gould.

Like we said, we’re torn. So in an unprecedented and exclusive first ever world premiere, we’re going to let you, the Reader, decide which show we check out tonight. Don’t steer us wrong.

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Double Dagger on the Ed Schrader Show Tonight @ Openspace

Like we said… we love Remington. We love it so much, we’re heading back out there tonight to catch Baltimore’s best band Double Dagger when they appear on the latest installment of the Ed Schrader Show tonight.

Ed Schrader films tonight @ Openspace (2720 Sisson). 9pm.

What’s the Schrader show all about? Well, if you took a sampling of the generalized content from this blog right here, The Baltimore Chop, and mixed it up with David Letterman, and made it like once or twice a year instead of daily, and let the audience drink Natty Boh’s, the result would be Ed Schrader. Past guests have included Cex, Jason Urick, CCRG’s, Food not Bombs, and Dan Deacon, among others.

The show is a Wham City production, and while we think they’re usually way too hipster for their own good (and we don’t say that kind of thing often), they’ve dreamed up a good one this time. We also haven’t yet had a chance to get to Openspace (2720 Sisson Street. The garage right behind the alligator mural.) yet, since that’s another spot that debuted shortly before we went to Europe. We’ve heard good things about both the space and the kids running it, so we’re definitely eager to see for ourselves.

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Authors and Poets and Actors, Oh My!

The Lettering and Type book launch was a smashing success.

Well, as smashing a success as an event can be with no open bar. Tsk Tsk boys. The Chop was also glad for a chance to bump into Justin Sirois, who presented the letter Y, and from whom you can pre-order Adam Robinson’s Adam Robinson and Other Poems from Baltimore’s own Narrow House Press .

It being a weeknight, the chop decided to skip the quasi-official afterparty at Dionysis and duck in instead to our local for a couple of Dogfishheads and a peek at the World Series. We were pleasantly surprised to take a seat at the bar next to Baltimore’s own thespian, professor, and man about town John Astin, along with his wife Valerie just in time for Halloween.

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Astin as Gomez Addams

Astin is best known as Gomez Addams , but is also very well regarded in town for his interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe, which the Chop has seen and for which we can vouch. The Chop is also delighted to report that we met Astin as very much a gentleman and a very knowledgeable baseball fan whose memory stretches back to the arrival of the Orioles and the original Washington Senators. All in all, a swell guy to have in the neighborhood, and a pretty eventful Thursday Night.

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This Post Brought to You by the Letter D.

If you want to find the Chop on the town tonight, then get thee down to Falvey Hall in MICA’s Brown center at 6:30 for the launch party of Lettering and Type, the new book on typographic design by Baltimore’s own Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals. the event kicks off with a reception (Free Booze) at six thirty, which will be followed by a presentation called Fan Letter, in which 26 artists and designers give presentations on their favorite typographic character.

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Lettering and Type by Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals

Some of you out there in town may already know Bruce and Nolen not as book authors but in their other incarnations both as Post Typography and as two thirds of Baltimore powerhouse Double Dagger, which has received much, and much deserved acclaim in its own right. But whether you’re familiar with these two or not, you may be asking yourself “Why should I make a point of going to the art school for some boring-ass lecture on typewriters? I saw ten minutes of Helvetica once and that shit put me straight to sleep.”

Well, aside from the free booze, here’s why you need to be there: this is a historic event, both for the world of design and for the city of Baltimore. The book making its debut here is absolutely going to become the new standard text in this field. Years from now your kids are going to be made to buy this as a textbook when they get into college. And many, many years hence when Nolen and Bruce are a-moulderin’ in their graves, the New York Times is going to publish their obits, with this as one of their signal accomplishments.

(Incidentally, if you want to know what typeface is carved into headstones, you can probably find it in the book.)

Its long been a dilemma that all this city is known for is Hons and Murder and John Waters. Well, these guys are to their field what John Waters is to film, and something else they have in common with Uncle John is that Nolen and Bruce both realize what a good thing they’ve got going in Baltimore. They deserve the admiration of all of us, because here are two people not chasing some flight of fancy to NYC or LA, but making their dreams a reality right here in Baltimore. This book will help to put Balto on the map, not only as a place where fonts are designed, but as a place where passionate people can follow their ambitions and make their dreams a reality.

See you there.

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