Nina Chabel asked Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls a few questions about their latest album, Too True.
Nina Chabel (NC): How did Dum Dum Girls get their start? How old where you when you started writing music and having an interest in music? Why did you decide to go about it as a band rather than a solo project?
Dee Dee Penny (DDP): I finally learned the guitar so I could start writing proper songs in late 2008. I’d played in other people’s bands prior to that. I’ve felt called to write and perform from a very early, precocious even, age; it’s just in my blood. Dum Dum Girls is still at its core a solo project, in as much as I write and record everything myself. I wanted to perform as a band though; there is just something magical about that. It makes everything feel larger than life for me. The energy the band infuses into the songs and the very visceral experience of touring and playing together for strangers is wild.
NC:Which songs are you especially emotionally attached to on Too True and why?
DDP: All of them, always. I wouldn’t know how else to write.
NC: How do you go about with the writing process? What comes first: lyrics or melody? Does everyone in the band contribute?
DDP: I tend to sit down with a phrase that ends up being the chorus, and just go from there, chords and words all at once. I may not write an entire song like that, but I at least lay out the a verse and chorus. From there I get a little more analytical about it, take a look at what it was that came out subconsciously, and expand on it with more intention. As I said earlier, I write alone.
NC: I think my favorite song from the record has to be “Rimbaud Eyes”, which reminds me of “Bedroom Eyes”, also a favorite from Only in Dreams. Do you write your lyrics based on personal experiences or are there particular things that inspired you for this album? Is there a particular book or movie that inspired you?
DDP: Everything I write is from a very personal place. I was going through a lot of personal revelation prior to writing this record, and some of the things I was reading resonated very deeply. A lot of Anaïs Nin as well as some French stuff, Arthur Rimbaud obviously. “Rimbaud Eyes” was conceptually inspired by a tee shirt my husband has worn nearly every day for two years — a portrait of Rimbaud with his piercing eyes, 24/7. I’m very intrigued by people’s eyes, I’m drawn to them and regard them as very telling, so the idea of writing a song about that was interesting to me. I didn’t really know how to flesh the idea out though, so what I did instead was adapt a few stanzas of a Rimbaud poem (“The Drunken Boat”) to tell a sort of classic desperate love-lust-loss story.
NC:Some magazines compared your new sound to the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Cure, any thoughts on that?
DDP: JAMC isn’t anything new, and I cited The Cure as a major influence on the last EP End Of Daze — I love both bands though I wouldn’t say Too True is overtly them.
NC: What can people expect to be different in your new record Too True? How is it different from your previous records? You can hear that your sound has evolved. What was different during the studio recording?
DDP: The biggest instrumental changes were the incorporation of some new guitar sounds and rhythms, plus and I added a third textural guitar part to almost every song. I wanted this record to sound as big and dark as it felt, so that’s what influenced the production style.
NC:Why did you name the album Too True? Is there some kind of underlined meaning to it? Why didn’t you keep the whole title of the song “Too True to Be Good” as the title track?
DDP:The word “true” appears many times on the record, and the concept of something being “too true” interested me — the full title of the song is a more complete thought and I wanted the album title to imply an openness to interpretation.
NC:What songs are you listening to right now? What upcoming album releases are you looking forward to?
DDP:I am obsessed with Jessica Pratt.
The Dum Dum Girls play at Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon O.) on March 28. 8:00 p.m. 20$.