THE DWARVES, with BOUNCING SOULS, DROPKICK MURPHYS and DISTILLERS, at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Wednesday (June 28). $15. 323-1251. Rating: NNNNN
It's nice to know that some things never change. NWhile the emergence of a relatively polished, 21-minute-long (!) recording by scandalous punk threat the Dwarves may suggest that the band widely known for nudity, chaos, gigs you could measure with an egg timer and other calculated misdeeds is going soft with age, in reality they're just following their naughty black hearts like always.
So proclaims Dwarves yelper Blag Dahlia, who, while sounding the horn for teenage girls -- "They're the only perk of playing rock music! There's no other reason to get into it!" -- boldly suggests that Come Clean, his group's new Epitaph release, will be hailed as a punk-rock classic on a par with their 1990 15-minute punk-rock classic Blood Guts And Pussy. Once the rest of the world catches up to him, that is.
So that explains the return presence of two naked girls and a dwarf on the cover, this time bathed in soap suds instead of plasma.
"This record encompasses the old nastiness level. There's certainly some truly offensive material on there," Dahlia proudly purrs into the phone. "And it's also produced by me with a big pop producer (Eric Valentine, see Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind) and it's got a lot of those overtones, which is something I always liked but never had a chance to do.
Demanding Pussy "It's just funny. Every time I do something, people just can't understand it, and then they'll tell me, 'Why don't you do what you did 10 years ago?' back when they weren't understanding Blood Guts And Pussy. Why didn't they buy it when it came out? And in 10 years I'll be hearing, 'Why not make a record like Come Clean?' But I'll be making a different record then.
"These days, punk rock is the most conservative form of music. It's basically about buying people's T-shirts and shorts. The whole DJ scene and the hiphop scene are more revolutionary art forms. Punk rock is dinosaur music. It's dead. And if it wasn't for the Dwarves, the final nail would be driven in the coffin. Fortunately, we're here to keep things interesting."
That's hardly a boast coming from a band that Dahlia admits "has a reputation as insane monsters who eat children." Or, in reality, a band for whom no publicity stunt is too outrageous to consider, up to and including staging the death of perennially masked and frequently nude guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed, a misstep that got them promptly bounced from Sub Pop.
At least no one will accuse the Dwarves of being either contrite or content to follow convention. And Dahlia's right -- there is weird shit on the new album, including what may be an actual phone message from a girl who complains that Dahlia is both a lousy lay and a creep for not calling her on her birthday. Her 14th birthday.
With the Dwarves, separating fact from fiction is a surefire way of spoiling the fun. So it follows that inquiries into the whereabouts of drummer Vadge Amoral on this go-round are met with tall tales.
Something about a chainsaw accident?
Tree accident "Vadge is some sort of a weird chainsaw accident," Dahlia howls. "You know how they've got those church-burner bands in Norway? Well, for Vadge, it's Christmas trees. He just goes around slicing them down wherever he sees them. I guess it was his karma. He lost both his arms and his sense of humour. And Kim, I never joke around. I'm deadly serious."