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INTERVIEW: DIKEMBE

A couple of months ago Dikembe, the band whose name I recently realised that I have no idea how to say out loud, made an emphatic return with their sophomore record, ‘Mediumship’. Their debut record, ‘Broad Shoulders’ got a lot of love from this blog and I’ve been wanting to write about how great their new record is since I first heard it. But instead of listening to me badger on for 700 words about how their subtle grunge influences coupled with the bands innate ability to write moody but very infectious melodies make for one of this years must hear records, I thought it would be a much better idea to get Dikembe to agree to an interview. As luck would have it they did, so here it is. Answering the questions is drummer David Bell.

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Is this thing on? – Hi. You have a new record out, how did you go about writing and recording this time round?

Dikembe – Our last record, Broad Shoulders, was written and recorded on the fly, so much so that there were a couple songs we had to learn to play together after the album was sent for mastering. We wanted to avoid that situation this time around. New songs were pushed into our live set as often as possible so that we could get a sense of how the tracks felt to play. If something felt weird we would bring it up during our next practice and try to make it feel better. When it came time to track the record we decided to track everything live, which saved us a lot of time and reaffirmed for ourselves how comfortable we would be to tour with these new songs.

ITTO? – The songs are recognizably Dikembe but there seems to be a progression in the sound from your previous records, has this evolved naturally or have you made a conscious effort to change your sound?

Dikembe – I would say we made a conscious effort to go with our gut and give little to no thought on the expectations of others. We just focused on writing and recording a group of songs we knew we’d all enjoy playing live and not worry about whether or not elements fit a predetermined genre or sound.

ITTO? – I love this record but found it to be a grower. Sticking with it has paid off really well, how has the reaction been to the record? Have you been nervous about how this record will be received compared to your previous records?

Dikembe– Feedback about the album has seemed pretty positive. I don’t think we were too worried going into the release. We were just excited for people to hear the jams we were having fun with during our live sets, especially since it felt like a lifetime since we finished our first album. I think Steven was the most nervous about Mediumship’s general reception, but we were on tour when it dropped and it wasn’t too hard to distract him from the twitters and such.

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ITTO? – I’ve noticed a grunge influence to the record with some of the riffs used and the loud/quiet/loud pattern on some songs. What have you been listening to recently and what has influenced your writing this time round?

Dikembe – Steven had the sudden realization that Pearl Jam’s Ten is an amazing album about two years ago. He has also been claiming that Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days” is his favorite song ever. Most of the musical elements to Mediumship were developed during practices, so I think this album displays more of the group’s collective tastes than our previous releases. Randy and I grew up heavily influenced by our fathers’ CD collections, which they probably attained through some sort of Columbia House Record Club style subscription. Late 80’s, early 90’s “alternative rock” feels very familiar to our ears, and it probably seeps into our song production style.

ITTO? – Steven Gray’s voice does weird things to me, it melts my heart like an emo Eddie Vedder. What vocalists have this kind of effect on yourselves?

Dikembe – Jeff Buckley’s voice in “Hallelujah” gives me goosebumps every single time. It’s disturbing.

ITTO? – You recently put out a split with veterans the Jazz June, how did that come about? Any other bands you’d love to do splits with?

Dikembe – I believe they contacted us in some way and pitched the idea about a year ago. We were blown away by the idea that they had heard our music, let alone dug it enough to let us be part of their long-awaited return.

Randy says a split with Creepoid would be cool.

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ITTO? – Are you guys able to commit to the band full-time or do you have to fit everything in (touring/recording etc.) around your regular lives?

Dikembe – As much as we would love to commit our full-time to life on the road and in the studio, Steven has a big-boy job teaching middle school kids and Ryan just produced a real-life baby human. We practice maybe once every two or three months because Steven lives in Orlando, a two-hour drive from the rest of us in Gainesville. It’s astonishing how much we’ve been able to do and how often we’ve toured given how little time we commit to this band as a whole.

ITTO? – What would have to happen for you guys to come and tour the uk?

Dikembe – We’ve gotten close, but scheduling issues continue to kill off plans. We would need a UK band to agree to a summer tour, let us squeeze into their van, and allow us to use all of their gear every night. I don’t think we can afford to fly over, rent gear, and rent a vehicle with our own finances.

ITTO? – Bands keep getting robbed on the road, seems to be an everyday occurrence at the mo. Have you had bad experiences yourselves? Does it put you off going on the road? What security tips can you give aspiring bands?

Dikembe – Thankfully, we have not had any bad experiences on the road so far. It helps that we tour in a 2013 Dodge Caravan that features an alarm system, slightly tinted windows, and an overall look that suggests it carries a family of six around instead of hundreds of dollars in musical equipment. Nevertheless, we still are very careful about where we park it. There are only two things I can think to suggest for a band going on the road in a 15-passenger van:

Get an alarm system installed or insurance on your gear. It’s obviously an investment, but you don’t want to have to rely on internet donations if the worst happens. Plus, it would really suck to have to cut a tour short because someone popped a lock off your van door with a screw driver.

If you can’t throw down that kind of money, invest in making your van look like a difficult job. Buy a fake alarm system with a flashing LED light on the dashboard, or get some tint on the back windows so that the value of heist is less defined. Carjackers and thieves look for easy wins, not possibly complicated scenarios.

ITTO? – Since the World Cup, we’re told that America has fallen in love with football (soccer) and football (soccer) is about to surpass regular American sports, such as basketball, as the national sport. can we now expect a Dikembe football (soccer) themed EP?

Dikembe – The United States’ love for football is as transient as it’s love for the Olympics. We’re just big fans of the concept of national pride. I’ll believe soccer is reaching the hearts of Americans when I can watch an MLS game on basic cable. I think Steven and I are the only members in the band that have any interest in professional sports, and that is solely reserved for the NBA.

ITTO? – Everyone says the UK is always a year or two behind America. What is the next big thing (TV, music, fad) sweeping America we can expect here in a years time?

TV personalities taking selfies while on the air and constantly mentioning their twitter handles. Be prepared, it’s awful.

ITTO? – Sounds awful. Thanks for talking to us!

You can buy ‘Mediumship’ on vinyl in the UK from Monkey Boy Records HERE

Or you can stream/download it HERE

Thanks for reading. Get in touch: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, @alex_itto on twitter or ittoblog@gmail.com

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The ‘Is this thing on?’ Top 100 EMO Songs of all time (100-91)

Welcome

#emo100

Emo, emocore, screamo, indiemo, post emo. emotional hardcore, post emo hardcore it’s all here!!

This is the first installment of the ‘Is this thing on?’ countdown of the top 100 EMO songs of all time. For some background on why this is happening then read this previous post HERE. I will be posting these 10 songs at a time every few days so bare with me.

Please let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree, either here or on twitter @alextb3

Enjoy x

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

Fictitious, frivolous, novelty or just awesome. Reggie and the full effect, James Dewees of Get up kids/Coalesce fame long term side project had more than their fair share of emo classics. So desperate was I to have some Reggie in my life I had to borrow money to buy their first album, Greatest Hits 1984-1987, money I don’t remember paying back so maybe shouldn’t be bringing that up. But it’s from the 2nd album, Promotional Copy, that my favourite Reggie song comes from. And it boasts one of the best verses you’ll here in this whole countdown

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

Described by many online as a Christian band, they are Christians and were on Tooth and Nail records so fair enough, but to leave it at that would do an injustice. An early form of mathy, angular emocore, members of the band went on to form Unwed Sailor. Track 99 on the countdown ‘Sunken Anchor’ is taken from the bands 2nd album ‘Eight hours away from being a man’.

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

The distinction between whether you could describe some bands as emo or not is sometimes quite blurred making a list like this difficult. No problem here though, Boilermaker made emo music as it should be made, slow and beautiful topped with gorgeous vocals. ‘Leucadia’ was a compilation album of the bands hard to find 3 LPs and ‘Slow Down’ is my personal highlight. After a 10 year battle with cancer, Singer/Bassist Terrin Durfey passed away in 2008, long may he rest in peace.

97 – Hundred Reasons – If I Could

Without doing any research on the subject I will state that Hundred Reasons were the most commercially succesful UK emo band, I am basing this on the fact that I saw them on Top of the Pops once. Having now done a bit of research I see that their debut album ‘Ideas above our station’ got to number 6 in the album charts so I guess that backs up my previous statement. My old band, The Babies Three, were thanked on the sleeve notes because of having played with them in London. Me being the muggins that I am left 2 months before that gig to train to be an actor, foolish on so many levels. Out of the many hits on that first record, ‘If i could’ packs the best punch.

96 – Jets To Brazil – Chinatown

If there is an album cover that can transport me straight back to the late 90’s just by looking at it then ‘Orange Rhyming Dictionary’ is that album cover. I get that warm nostalgic feeling every time I see it and although Jets To Brazil were never one of my favourite bands, you can’t ignore their emo heritage and ‘Chinatown’ is a damn brilliant song.

95 – Coping – F For Now

If there is one reason to be thankful to be alive in 2012 for, and I sure hope there is more than one, then it’s the fact that we are living in the midst of an Emo revival. It’s been wrestled back from those glam goth millionaires that buggered things up in the mid noughties and lets pray it doesn’t get ruined this time around. Coping may not yet have a full length album to their name but ‘F For Now’ taken from the split EP with The Clippers is a song so brilliant it will embed itself in your head and wont leave for quite some time. Awesome!

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

I have my friend Daniel to thank for reminding me about Long Island’s finest, Inside. I shouldn’t have had to be reminded because they are great emo post hardcore boasting members that went on to be in Taking Back Sunday and the Movielife, wowzer! ‘Ray Brower’ is my personal favourite taken from the album ‘Seven inches to wall drug’.

93 – Basement – Grayscale

Hailing from Ipswich, Basement are one of a number of UK bands to be getting excited about at the moment. I saw them play in Margate about a year ago and they completely tore the place apart. Perfectly intense emotional punk rock. ‘Grayscale’ is taken from last years debut album ‘I wish I could stay here’.

92 – The Jazz June – Viva la speed metal

Song titles don’t get much less emo than The Jazz June’s ‘Viva la speed metal’ but that doesn’t stop it from being an emo classic. It opens up the great album ‘The Medicine’ and sets the tone for more of the same, brilliant emo of the second wave variety, whatever that means.

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

Everyone Everywhere Cover Art Songs don’t come much better than ‘I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere’, obviously I’ve chosen 90 that are better on this list alone but that is besides the point. This is emo pop perfection, one of the catchiest and most instantly likeable songs of the last few years. It’s from a brilliant album that has brilliant artwork and is brilliant, now thats what I call a description. Love it!!

Thanks guys, the next instalment in this countdown will be posted in the next few days. Hope you enjoyed it x

UPDATE! Part 2, no’s 90 to 81 is now up, click HERE to read it

If you use Spotify, click the link below to hear most of these songs on a handy playlist

Emo 100 (100-91)

Cheers

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