Tony Cummings reports on the Coventry band [DWEEB] and their ever increasing popularity
Leaving worship music out of the equation there have been only a handful of British contemporary artists who've built a sufficient support base to become nationally and internationally known. Such are the limitations of the gigs/festivals/media infrastructure for British CCM that the majority of artists have little choice than to stay in their day jobs and record independently. Now with Delirious? disbanded and thebandwithnoname soon to join them there is a clear void on the British scene and more than one critic has mused as to "who will be the new Delirious?" The answer from several quarters appears to be [dweeb]. Unnoticed by large parts of UK Christian retail this radical funk rock band from Coventry have tirelessly toured the length and breadth of the UK to become firm festival favourites. Now, after the release of independent EPs 'This Is Not Our Shed' (2004) and 'Moose Moose Moose Chicken Moose' (2005) and their debut full length 'It Came From Outer Space' which was highly praised but got minimal retail distribution. [dweeb] are finally in all (or most) of the UK retailers' CD racks with Fierce!/Kingsway releasing the band's 'Feels Like Dynamite' album.
The band - Tim Alford (vocals), Badgerman (guitar), Matt Donald (bass) and Dave Ashworth (drums) - originally met at the Nexus Academy Of Music in Coventry and began gigging in march 2003. Originally intended only as a college project [dweeb] felt God urging them to stay together when their time at Nexus was completed. Today the band are hard at work touring the UK (plus overseas territories) in a multi concert Feels Like Dynamite tour. With their rather unhinged stage act some more conservative Christians may question the sincerity of their spiritual intentions. But such disquiet is soon put to rest in conversation with these hilarious yet spiritually passionate band of young musicianaries.
Tony: You've now embarked on a huge tour supporting 'Feels Like Dynamite'. Are you enjoying gigging the new songs?
Tim: We're loving being back on the road. We had a good time recording but really at heart we're all much preferring the live thing so it's great to be back there. We're really encouraged by how the songs are going down. You tend to bury yourself in the studio and write and record a load of songs, getting out there and gigging them can be kind of quite edgy at first. You never know how they are going to go down but we have been really overjoyed by the response. The album's selling strongly and people really seem to be having a great time at the shows.
Tony: I once tried to describe [dweeb]'s sound and what I said was "a completely deranged version of Rage Against The Machine." Is that close?
Tim: (Laughs) I think it used to be. We used to have those Rage-y riffs, you know, but maybe not so much anymore.
Tony: What new elements have you brought in then?
Tim: Well I guess like 'It Came From Outer Space' was a rock album but it had elements of jazzy funk. But we didn't just want to record 'It Came From Outer Space' again. There's no point just doing mark two of that 'cause people can already buy 'It Came From Outer Space'. We wanted to develop the sound and do something new, give something new to the fans, to a new audience. So gone are the jazzy, funky elements that were in 'It Came From Outer Space' and for 'Feels Like Dynamite' rock is still the centre of it again but this time there are much more electro, dancey elements to the sound.
Tony: 'It Came From Outer Space' was recorded for a very small independent label (the Bournemouth-based Risen Records). It was a great album but I never saw it in any Christian book shops. Wasn't it inevitable that with the new album you'd go with a major Christian label?
Badgerman: The first thing to say is that we could not speak more highly of Risen Records. Their attitude towards the album and their generosity, though they were a smaller label, was just incredible and the way they operate is just. . . you would not find it anywhere else. But, we did want to take 'Feels Like Dynamite' to the next level and so we chatted with Jonathan Brown at Fierce! and he was interested in working with us on the new album and so it just seemed like a natural step to go. We are still in a very, very strong relationship with all of the guys at Risen and though we're not actually on the label anymore we still fell very much like part of that family. But also, we weren't necessarily going to go with a Christian label as we don't want our music to be for Christians only. Absolutely not. And so, it's just that the relationship was there with Jonathan at Fierce and the timing was right and they were excited about working with us, we were excited about working with them and so it just came together.
Tony: Tell me about some of the songs on 'Feels Like Dynamite'. What inspired "Playing In The Snow". Who's going to talk about that?
Badgerman: "Playing In The Snow", as with most of our songs, is very personal but this one even more so for me because it's written about songwriting. I guess in more general terms about conflict. We often find the writing process can be quite hard and whereas we always get along swimmingly on tour and have a laugh and everything's always fun, when we come to write our creative juices are often in conflict and it's a bit of a battle to try to get something we're all happy with and we feel that we can get behind on the road. If you look at some of the lyrics it's Tim penning his frustration of the amount of ideas that we throw away and don't use and how somehow little things that are really little, one chord or one melody, get turned into the biggest deal in the rehearsal room, and so the chorus speaks about that. And that's why we decided to keep in the lyric "we play, play in the snow" because when we write the lyrics tend to come last. It gives Tim time to think about what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. So, in order to test the strength of a melody we usually come up with temporary lyrics and they just depend on what we're feeling. But for most of 'Feels Like Dynamite' the lyrics, in order to try and aide a cheerful mood in the rehearsal room, tended to be about playing in the snow so most of the songs at some point had the lyrics, especially in the chorus, something about playing in the snow and as that song was about songwriting we decided to just keep the bridge the same, "we play, play in the snow".
Tony: So was there any snow around at the time you were recording it?
Badgerman: There was yeah. Because we recorded down in Lewis and it
was very cold and there was snow when we arrived. We did get to play a
little bit when we left
the Travelodge but most of the time in the day, and actually most of the night, we were in the studio.