Every once in a while, one of our favorite bands from Brooklyn ends up on the wrong coast—namely, mine. When the annual Noise Pop Festival came to San Francisco a few weeks back, I was downright giddy to see that Dirty Dishes were on the ticket.
In the midst of a week filled with as many great shows as weird ones—iLoveMakonnen literally performing on a Tuesday fell squarely into the latter category—I caught up with the New York-based fuzz-rockers at a coffee shop before their killer performance at The Knockout with Wax Idols, Dinosaurs, and Carletta Sue Kay.
We chatted about the band's origins in Boston, the dream that drove lead singer and guitarist Jenny Tuite to pursue a life of grungy music, and when, exactly, Billy Corgan became such a weirdo. And while I own a camera, I'm pretty abysmal when it comes to actually using it, so bear with me on the photos.
ThrdCoast: So you guys are originally from LA?
Jenny Tuite: We spent time in LA, but we’re an East Coast band. We were in LA for a while, and we recorded our record out there.
Alex Molini: Yeah, Boston to LA, then back to Brooklyn.
TC: So how did you all get together in the first place?
AM: We met in Boston, just hanging out and knowing a lot of the same bands. We eventually got sick of the cold weather and moved to LA, and then we got sick of the warm weather and moved back to the East Coast.
TC: I’ve found that LA has a special kind of warm weather that’s pretty easy to get sick of.
AM: Yeah, it’s just the same every day! It gets boring.
Steve Bone: I was there for five years and it felt like one giant month [laughs]. At least you get fog up here.
TC: How did you get involved with Exploding in Sound?
JT: Dan used to live in Boston, and he’s come to pretty much every single show we’ve performed since the beginning.
AM: Back in the day when he was going to school, our band-best friend, Grass is Green, knew him as well and we played a lot together. He was just the guy at every. Single. Show.
JT: He used to just have the blog, Exploding in Sound, and then he started a label from there. He’s the best. He does all this stuff himself.
AM: He pretty much provides for 20 bands. PR, mailings, physical records, advice… Exploding in Sound is Dan Goldin.
TC: What are your individual backgrounds? How did you get into music?
AM: I started playing piano as a kid. One thing led to the next, this instrument and that instrument, and I just found that I wanted to do it all the time. That’s about it [laughs]. I teach music for a living—lessons at the moment, but I’ve taught at schools in the past—and I just do whatever I can to make sure that music is my job in some way or another.
SB: I started playing drums in middle school. I played in a lot of crappy bands over the years, covered a lot of Blink 182 and Green Day [laughs]. That was kind of my jam. I want to emphasize, we were crappy. The music was awesome [laughs]. I ended up going to school for mechanical engineering, and I realized that I couldn’t stand it and really wanted to pursue music. So I quit, and now I’m a recording engineer.
JT: You work at some dope studios.
SB: Yeah, I did the studio thing in LA for a while, but playing drums has always been a steady thing that I love.
JT: I played piano when I was little, and then when I was in sixth grade, I had this, like, half-hallucinatory experience one night when I was falling asleep. I heard all this wonderful, beautiful guitar fuzz, and it felt like it was raining. I woke my parents up in the middle of the night and said, “I need an electric guitar.” They looked at me like, what the fuck are you doing awake right now? [Laughs]. They told me to go back to sleep, but after a while I got one. It took some convincing.
TC: Wow, it literally came to you in a dream.
JT: [Laughs] yeah. I don’t usually tell people that, because they assume I’m joking.
TC: Who would you guys say are some of your biggest influences?
JT: Well, I probably listened to Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins a million times while I was growing up. So definitely that album, especially the guitar. I love that sound. We all like Radiohead a lot.
AM: Just kind of the ‘90s in general.
JT: Alex listened to Unwound a lot.
AM: Yeah, all that ‘90s shit [laughs]. Smashing Pumpkins, a lot of heavier stuff. Soundgarden, STP.
AM: A lot of electronic music, too.
SB: I listened to a lot of the Pumpkins growing up as well, but I was more into Mellon Collie. As I got older, though, I shifted more into the Siamese Dream camp. I mean, it’s just a better album.
TC: I feel like I had the same progression. Mellon Collie was that transitional album between when Billy Corgan was pretty rad and when he became a total nutjob, but it wasn’t as far off the deep end as their later stuff.
SB: Yeah, exactly! That’s the thing, it’s 28 songs, and it only needed to be like 12. There’s a bunch of fluff, but those 12 are great.
AM: In short, we all like fuzz. Various shades of fuzz [laughs].
JT: My Bloody Valentine, too.
TC: What can you guys tell me about your songwriting process? Do you do everything together, or does one of you take point?
AM: Generally, Jenny makes a demo, with all the vocals, melodies, and forms.
JT: People always ask if I just write lyrics, but I do the guitars, too. I feel like I need to point that out [laughs]. I do the words last, and I don’t really like that part.
TC: So lyrics are always the last step?
JT: Yeah, but just because it’s my least favorite part of the process [laughs].
TC: Was the process of recording Guilty any different from your previous albums?
AM: Well, we recorded it all over. Only part was in LA.
JT: We actually recorded the B-side first, up in Chelsea, MA in this big, old masonry building. We were originally going to do to separate releases, because side A and side B were so different. We’d just been doing a lot of rock stuff and getting kind of bored of it, so we wanted to challenge ourselves to do something different. I don’t think the B-side has any fuzz at all, it’s a lot more sparse. The A-side was in our friend’s garage in LA—he’s a really good engineer. We haven’t really recorded in a proper studio before, we usually avoid that.
TC: What are you guys working on now?
JT: We’ve got some new stuff that we play live, but right now we’re really focusing on touring. After that, who knows?