Eat Your Words Dwarves: You ARE Coming to SLC

Kevin Kirk founded the Heavy Metal Shop 21 Years ago in 1987. Singer Blag Dahlia (and guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named) founded the Dwarves 22 years ago in 1986. SLUG thought is would be cool to get these two old fuckers on the phone, record their conversation and print it right here—for you to read.
Oh, and one more thing, on August 2nd the Dwarves will be playing an in-store at the Heavy Metal Shop (all-ages) and a 21 & over show at Bar Deluxe.

SLUG: First of all, I have to know if the picture of me handcuffed and in my Dwarves tighty-whities has anything to do with the Dwarves' decision to play Salt Lake City. [ED. NOTE: Kirk's comment is in reference to a Dwarves picture he reenacted and posted on his myspace profile.]
BLAG: Oh, yeah, of course. I mean, the people have spoken. They want to see the pimply guy in the tighty-whities.

SLUG: I only know of one time the Dwarves played in Salt Lake City, I believe it was around1990, and you guys played for about 15 minutes. It was definitely a memorable show. You obviously know quite a bit about the Land of Zion. Any memories about Salt Lake City?
BLAG: That first show, I actually bought acid off some guy, and I got a blow job from some chick in the back of a car.
SLUG: Okay.
BLAG: So it was pretty good— or no, it was in the back of the van, but that wasn't the only time. We actually did go back a second time, but that was a really uneventful show that almost no one went to, and it was some weird shit.

SLUG: It's pretty cool that the Dwarves sing a song about Salt Lake City, a little different take than the Beach Boys' Salt Lake City.
BLAG: Do the Beach Boys have a Salt Lake City song?
SLUG: They do. It's actually a pretty cool song.
BLAG: How does it go? Where's that one?
SLUG: It's kind of rare. They put it out just to promote them coming to town, and they were playing out at this amusement park, called Lagoon.
BLAG: In the '60s, or '70s, or what?
SLUG: It was in the '60s.
BLAG: Wow, amazing.
SLUG: I actually have the record.
BLAG: My Salt Lake City, the story about it, is sort of funny, because people have asked me, like, "Wow, do you really hate Salt Lake City?" And blah, blah. But really what happened was, I was in the airport and this old lady walked up to me, she was kind of confused, and she said she was looking for her gate. And she said, "Are you going to Salt Lake City?" And I said, "No, I'm not going to Salt Lake City." And that was really how that song was born. I got on the plane and I thought, wow, I'm not going to Salt Lake City, that's the song.

SLUG: Well, you're lucky that she asked if you were going to Salt Lake City.
BLAG: Exactly. I mean, if she would have said, you know...
SLUG: "Toledo?"
BLAG: ..."Are you going to San Francisco?" I might have written that song.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: Then, of course, Salt Lake City becomes like a metaphor for boring, religious America, so it worked perfectly.
SLUG: It's great, yeah. A lot of people don't know about the acid and blow jobs in Salt Lake City, so that's great.
BLAG: No, Salt Lake City is a very decadent place. It's funny, towns like that tend to be, because the few people there who are not robots have been so shoved in a can and repressed that they get really crazy, from what I've found.
SLUG: Exactly. That's why places like my shop have done well in Salt Lake.
BLAG: Yeah, exactly. See, that's how you get The Heavy Metal Shop.

SLUG: I love the footage of the Dwarves playing Castle Donnington. Reminds me a bit of The Bad News on Tour movie. How is touring in Europe for the Dwarves?
BLAG: Well, Europe is great, you know. It's kind of the graveyard for American rock 'n' roll, but over there it works a little more like, you can get a cult following. In America, everything's marketing, and then you're here today and then gone later today, so that, a lot of cool shit winds up just taken for granted and then it's gone.
SLUG: It's because they're not aware of other bands too, I think.
BLAG: Yep. Well, marketing is the central evil of our time, and so it is with music.
SLUG: Well, we market the Dwarves in The Heavy Metal Shop.
BLAG: (Laughing.) Well, that's good. Some kinds of marketing are good.
SLUG: Exactly, yep.
BLAG: You know, just the fact that we did it with no management, and with no help from record labels, and with no anything. It's truly independent; yet at the same time, most bands would be running that up the flagpole all the time, trying to be your buddy. And we're still like a strange fucking entity that you can't get your arms around.

SLUG: How long have you known He Who Cannot Be Named?
BLAG: Oh, man, I met him in 1980, '83, so 25 years of me and He Who.
SLUG: Wow. So is he—
BLAG: Yeah, he's a genius; he's an icon.
SLUG: He is. Is he like married with kids, and is he a regular guy, when he's not in the Dwarves?
BLAG: Is he a regular guy? Fuck no.
SLUG: Well, you know. Does he like mow the lawn?
BLAG: No. Very irregular - a weird fucking person.
SLUG: I just thought it would be kind of funny if he just lived in suburbia and had some kids.
BLAG: He does some things that are normal, but he's just a very peculiar person, man, if you can even say that he's a person. I mean, let's face it, he transcended life and death.
SLUG: Yeah, that's right.
BLAG: This is a guy who died and came back to life. I mean, you've got to give him props for that. [In 1993 the Dwarves faked the death of their guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named, and sent out a press release about it. Sub Pop, the band's label at the time, was not amused and immediately dropped them.]
SLUG: Yeah, he is a genius .
BLAG: How many people have been able to pull that off?

SLUG: Has Sub Pop ever forgiven the Dwarves for that?
BLAG: Oh, I don't know. A better question would be, have I forgiven them for putting out a lot of the worst records of the 1990s? And now they put out these fucking mealymouth emo records and— oh, it's sad, dude.
SLUG: Well, you know, we still sell tons of the Dwarves Sub Pop stuff,
BLAG: Yeah. Well, I mean we were the only punk band on Sub Pop. I used to like Nirvana, but of course they left as quickly as they could. And Sub Pop has mostly put out garbage.

SLUG: Your skull and cross-boners logo is one of the most recognizable and misrecognized logos I have ever seen.
BLAG: (Laughing.)
SLUG: I've had hardcore meathead dudes come into my shop and want to buy one of those skull and crossbones pins.
BLAG: (Laughing.)
SLUG: I never correct them, and picture their homophobic friends noticing the penises on their jackets later. Have you had any similar experiences with your logo? BLAG: That happens a lot. People go back and they realize, like three years later, that there's penises on their shirt and they get all freaked out. It's like, come on, dude; it's no big deal. It's not going to make you any gayer than you already are.
SLUG: I have your skull and cross-boners tattooed on my leg.
BLAG: Is that right?
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: That's classic.
SLUG: The local newspaper did a story on my shop, and they took a picture of me sitting in my chair here in some shorts, and they put it on the front page of the newspaper. My skull and cross boners are just real prominent right there in the Salt Lake Tribune.
BLAG: I think that's hilarious. That same joke's been working for 20 years. Some people, it takes them a few years to get it and then it's just separating those that really make independent records and really don't give a fuck from everyone else. Who would be like, "How can we get this in Hot Topic?"
SLUG: (Laughing) Exactly.
BLAG: You know, It's a lonely job being the best, but we do it.

SLUG: I love your writing, whether it be your music or your books. Do you have anything that you're working on at the moment?
BLAG: Well, yeah. I mean, the last book I did was kind of a super sexual book called Nina.
SLUG: Yeah, it's a good book.
BLAG: Which was the story of sort of a dirty 14-year-old girl and the shit she did. But now I'm working on a book that's a little bit different. It's a lot more – I don't know. It's about a guy, like a Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity guy. I'm really fascinated by these conservative commentators and just the fact that they're able to be so wrong so much of the time, and yet say these things that sound convincing, and they're very good at getting sort of middle American people. I come from Illinois, so I consider myself a middle American. They're very good at getting, people to go against their own interests. In other words, like now you've got fourdollar- a-gallon gas, but middle America is not insisting on something back from the oil companies because I guess Bubba is sitting around fantasizing he might run his own oil company someday and then he wouldn't want to get taxed. I don't know. Except we're in a really interesting state now in America where the working class are totally at war with themselves, and all they really care about are their guns and whether somebody else's daughter can get an abortion. But they've sort of given up on getting a fair deal for themselves. SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: So that's sort of what my new book is about, but it's funny (laughing). It's going to take a couple years for that one to be done. But we're in a -- you know, I don't usually go much in the political route in the Dwarves because it really doesn't fit in with what the band is.

SLUG: Do you ever see little people, real midgets, or dwarves, at your shows, who feel some connection because of your name and album covers?
BLAG: Every once in a while, a dwarf shows up at the show, and I'm always ecstatic.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: I mean, when I just see one on the street before the show, I feel like it's a good omen.
SLUG: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
BLAG: Every time I see a little person, I feel happy inside.

SLUG: I've seen some live footage of the Dwarves in Japan. It looks like the Dwarves do pretty well there. Is it Dwarves-mania at the airport when you arrive?
BLAG: (Laughing). Oh, man. Yeah, it happens everywhere. Every time we fly into a new town, there's all these girls singing, "We love you, Dwarves, oh, yes, we do."
SLUG: I would have guessed that.
BLAG: (Laughing.)
SLUG: Let's see. I know Gene Simmons brags about all these women he has had. I don't hear you bragging, but I believe you have done just as well, or even better. What do you think?
BLAG: Well, um, it would be a pretty tall order to do better than Gene.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: He's sort of in the Wilt Chamberlain class, you know, fighting pussy off with a stick. But, of course, I do write much better songs than him, so no matter how rich he gets, I'll always be cooler.
SLUG: Exactly.
BLAG: But yeah, I've fucked a lot and I've gotten a fair amount of women, and I've enjoyed it; it's been cool (laughing). I'm not going to complain about it.
SLUG: Yeah
BLAG: What's funny is that in the early days of the Dwarves, the way I would get them would be by acting like I wasn't in a punk band, because nobody cared about punk bands at that time, so you had to have long hair and kind of look like a heavy metal guy.
SLUG: Exactly, yeah.
BLAG: I think how I used to get a girl; I would pride myself on getting it early, before the show.
SLUG: Yeah, and you had the hair, too.
BLAG: Now punk rock is sort of acceptable to everyone, so it's easier for me to actually work it in the old-fashioned, after-the-show way. But, you know, I think people should fuck more and they shouldn't be such crybabies. Perhaps we'd have a happier and better adjusted world, if shame and misery didn't come with the sexual package.

SLUG: Who inspired you to get into music initially?
BLAG: There's different inspirations at different times, I guess. My early influence was probably my dad, because he loved music and would always play a lot of music. He liked stuff like marches and musicals and old songs, and he collected sheet music, and I kind of got into music that way, so I have very eclectic tastes in music. Then my brother turned me on to Frank Zappa when I was about nine or ten years old. That was probably my biggest early influence, Zappa and Monty Python and Saturday Night Live and all that kind of stuff in the '70s, National Lampoon. And then came the early punk scene, which was inspirational too. although I wasn't as into the music, I was into the fact that you could just go out and do it yourself.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: So that was when bands like Black Flag and the Ramones and all that kind of stuff really became a big influence - just people that just went out and did it and weren't exactly waiting for a gold star from the majorlabel record industry, so that was a big influence. And then, in the late '80s, when hip hop got really good, that became a big influence. I was real into that stuff, and there were some years there when hip hop was the most interesting shit coming out.
SLUG: You're pretty good at it, too.
BLAG: Well, you know, I try every once in a while. On the last Dwarves record, I tried to throw in a track, and I think I pulled it off.
SLUG: I think you did great.
BLAG: I mean, I don't know that I could do a whole record of hip hop kind of stuff. I think you'd start to see the cracks in it.
SLUG: I can't imagine you with bling (laughing), but that would be kind of cool.
BLAG: Exactly. But with the song "Massacre," I thought it was interesting to make a hip hop song about how lame rock 'n' roll was.
SLUG: (Laughing.) Exactly.
BLAG: I thought that would be a unique idea, to come in from that perspective.
SLUG: You were right on the money on that song.
BLAG: I think that hip hop in a lot of ways stole rock 'n' roll thunder, and rock 'n' roll has not gotten it back, because rock 'n' roll has these rules and people are afraid to break them. So you're afraid to talk about how much money you got, you're afraid to talk about the pussy you're getting, you're afraid to talk about violence, you're afraid to talk about people you don't like, and so rock 'n' roll becomes a bunch of people doing a third-rate Kurt Cobain diary, or notebook, or something. You get these insanely retarded, abstract lyrics that don't mean anything at all, but people pretend that they do. While hip hop was discovering itself, people like Eddie Vedder were just writing the worst lyrics ever and making music worse and worse with their fucking weak, lily-livered, lame take on lyrics. So hip hop became a big influence. That sort of waned by the time you got to the late '90s; there was a lot of really weak stuff coming up and it was extremely predictable, in the same way that grunge or rock 'n' roll became real predictable. But then these new garage bands came along, which was interesting, because, of course, when the Dwarves started, that's what we were; we were like a paisley garage band with Murphy's organ, playing rockabilly covers and '50s punk covers and shit, and that was really where the band started. So I thought something might happen with that garage thing, but very quickly that ran its course too. I just think those bands couldn't really write songs. Some of the pop-punk bands were kind of lame and wimpy, but at least they could write a cool song, or a hit song. The garage bands were kind of like, "Hey, look at my old Vox guitar," but they couldn't really write a song.

SLUG: Do you feel that your coming back to Salt Lake City could be construed as some sort of religious gesture?
BLAG: (Laughing.) I hope so. I hope so. I mean, it's funny, because people in Salt Lake City consider themselves very religious, but, of course, their religion is Mormonism, which is sort of an American religion. It doesn't really have anything to do with Jesus much.
BLAG: So it's kind of funny, because I know people there feel like they're really religious, and I just think it's hilarious. I mean, first of all, I'm an atheist, so it's not like I'm pushing one religion over another. But Mormonism is fascinating to me because, first of all, it's based on this transparent lie about gold tablets, angels and shit, so that's ludicrous enough. But then if you look at how they're living, it's like it's a bunch of sort of good-looking, rich American people having babies. It doesn't really seem to have much to do with religion in any form. There doesn't seem to be much talk about charity. There doesn't seem to be much talk about compassion. There doesn't seem to be much talk about understanding. But rather, there's lots of talk about, "Be a good boy, don't drink coffee, and make a lot of money for your cute family." So, I don't know; it's ludicrous. I laugh at it. I think it's funny. Religious people amuse me.

SLUG: I love your label, Greedy; it lets people know that the Dwarves expect to get paid, and rightfully so.
BLAG: (Laughing) that's right. Well, there's a whole story to be told about this, too, because, on the one hand, you've got all these guys in hip hop talking about how rich they are, but they live with their mom and they've got a cell phone that doesn't work, or whatever. Then in rock bands, you've got guys that are rich as fuck, but it's supposed to be totally wrong to talk about money. You're not going to hear Green Day singing about how rich they are, though, really, they should. So again, it's just a lot of that thing - rock 'n' roll is very disconnected from itself. Rock 'n' roll lyrics are very disconnected from talking about rock 'n' roll itself, and I don't know why that is. But, as far as the money thing goes, if you look at America right now, the working class is getting squeezed worse than ever, they've been getting squeezed forever, and musicians are part of the working class, they just don't understand it. So musicians tend to be complete fucking chicken shit babies when it comes to money. They won't ask for their money, they won't insist for their money, they won't talk about their rights to their money. They make a record, and they give it away to a record label and kind of forget about it. They let managers and lawyers understand everything that they don't feel they're capable of understanding. We just threw it out there. It's like, yeah, I want to get paid. I'm not a commercial piece of shit, but I want to get paid for the work that I do; just like if I cut somebody's lawn, I'd want to get paid for it. Musicians are this strange breed where they're too chicken shit to ask for any money or ask for their rights. That's not us.

SLUG: Things seem to get crazy at a Dwarves show. Sometimes the shows don't last very long. What is the shortest show that you have ever played, and what is the longest, too?
BLAG: I think the shortest show, officially, was when Epitaph flew us to New York to play an Epitaph festival, which was nice of them and we appreciated it and we wanted to go. But then when we got there, we were first on the bill, first out of ten bands. And by that time, the Dwarves had been touring for 15 years. I had a fan base in New York, but I've got to open for a bunch of ska bands that aren't going to be here three weeks from now.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: So we came out and we did half of one song, and that was it. I jumped into the drum kit and I was done. Fuck it. Thanks for the hotel room.
SLUG: Well, yeah, by the time you were on Epitaph, you guys had been around a long time, so I understand.
BLAG: I like Epitaph, actually. That was different from the Sub Pop thing. Sub Pop was just like having your money stolen by somebody who you'd beat up in high school.
SLUG: (Laughing) Yeah.
BLAG: And Epitaph was different. I mean, at least Brett's on dope, and he's an amusing guy, and we have fun when we have a conversation, and at least I liked some of the bands that were on there. I felt that it was more of a grassroots label; they weren't just immediately looking to sell out to Warner Brothers. I mean, I like Epitaph. They didn't hold onto us, that's true, and that's their loss. But then again, just like with Sub Pop, I've never been dropped from a label. I only had a two-record deal with Epitaph. I only had a two-record deal with Sub Pop. So, I only try new things in manageable doses. I don't sit around pretending some label is going to take care of me for 20 years. It just doesn't happen.

SLUG: We are extremely excited to have the Dwarves coming back to Salt Lake City. I think that since you wrote a song about Salt Lake City there just might be some fans from far away traveling to Salt Lake just to witness the Second Coming of Christ, so to speak.
BLAG: And the other funny thing is, the other day we were rehearsing Salt Lake City, because we don't usually play it, and I said, "Wow, this is in the wrong key." And when I moved it to a different key, I was able to sing it much better, so you live and learn. The Dwarves come out and just kick ass,straight up, 'til it's over, and then it's over. And we don't fucking do encores because that's just hype and bullshit. Who are you fooling? It's like people applaud for an encore because they've paid 20 dollars for a ticket and they want to feel like they're getting their money's worth. I think it's garbage. Rock 'n' roll is not something you can get by the pound. It fucking is what it is. You come out, you hit it as hard as you can, for as long as you can, and you get out. It's like fucking.
SLUG: Yeah.
BLAG: Would you want to fuck, for an hour and a half, an ugly chick that didn't know how to do it, or would you rather fuck a hot chick for ten minutes? (Laughing.)

SLUG: (Laughing) I love your album covers. Do you come up with the ideas, or is it a collective thing with the whole band?
BLAG: No, I come up with the ideas. And Michael Lavine is a great photographer, so he's helped me execute them over the years. And actually, my idea for The Dwarves Must Die was to have the girls around a coffin, mourning. But he said, "Oh, that's not going to be that cool." And I think he might have suggested the cross, or he might have said, "You've got to come up with something else," or something, and I came up with it, but --
SLUG: That's great.
BLAG: That actually turned out to be a much better idea. And, yeah, he takes great photos. I'm very proud of the covers. Again, this is independent rock 'n' roll at its best. I didn't have an art department come up with that. Now, I've had people help me with the covers and help me with the photos, and much love for that.
SLUG: This isn't in my questions, but I caught a kid stealing something one day, and I called the police and they came to get the kid. And so I'm talking to this cop, and we're in my back room, and I have the Blood, Guts & Pussy poster hanging behind me. I'm not even thinking what's hanging back there. But he keeps looking over, and he just had this look of horror in his eyes and--
BLAG: (Laughing.)
SLUG: He never said anything, but I wondered what the hell it was. And then when he left, I realized it was your poster.
BLAG: Man, we really appreciate you supporting us all this time. I'm sure it's not easy out there in SLC, and that's who we're doing it for. We're doing it for people who care, and for pussy (laughing).

SLUG: Well, great. I've got one other Dwarves story. A guy came in and asked me for the Doors, and I thought he said the Dwarves. I have a Dwarves section, but I don't have a Doors section. So I led him over there and showed him. And he had that same horror look in his eyes that the cop did.
BLAG: (Laughing.) Nowhere near as horrible as listening to the third Doors album. That would be really hard to fathom.
SLUG: It would have been great if I would have sold him one of your albums, but he was -- he was frightened. Anyway --
BLAG: Next time, sell it to his daughter. We're really looking forward to going to Salt Lake City, we're going to show them how it's done.
SLUG: I'm sure you will. And I'll get you a guitar for the in-store and --
BLAG: Oh, yeah, we're going to do that acoustic thing. I've been doing these kind of acousticky-comedy things. But I didn't realize that the Salt Lake City show is not all-ages.
SLUG: Yeah, the bar show isn't all ages, no.
BLAG: Yeah, so I'll get my guys to play some guitar too and we'll do some Dwarves songs.
To read the entire 31 pages of Kirk's interview with Blag, hit up