Dialtone sounds like a punk band, that has the personality of a rock band, and has hooks and choruses like a pop band. In their third album, Wind Me Up, they sing about vices, conformity, rebellion, and of course, love. Their lyrics shout with empowerment, but they sometimes cry with a punk lyricism. A highlight for me was their creative and original background vocals, which added harmony and sound effects in the form of bouncing consonants and vowels.
Sometimes, their songs go outside of the cookie-cutter verse, bridge, chorus structure, and they take us to unexpected places, which I liked. I had the opportunity to talk to Paul (Vocals / Guitar), George (Bass), and Mike (Drums). I asked them a few questions about they’re latest album Wind Me Up.
PPLA: My favorite song on the album is the title track Wind Me Up. To me, it’s about a man who is in over his head, stuck, and has all these things winding him up… doing drugs, making mistakes, getting girls pregnant. There’s a bridge toward the end where he says, “could use my touch.. days go by without love” that sounds like he is helpless, and needs this love, but he’s all wound up. Was I way off? Can you tell me about this song?
DIALTONE (Paul): Pretty accurate, kind of what we were going for, but it’s really up to interpretation. I think that was the intent of it, but however the individual relates to it, you know, that is what it is to them. You know, personally, I work at a corporation, so one of the lines is like, “Wind me up like a toy, you corporate boy,” and it reminds me of wanting to play music full time, while dealing with the stresses of being in a band.
PPLA: How did this song come together?
DIALTONE (George): It was really an organic process. No one in the band comes in with something written. It’s more, sort of, free form. And then from there, we take what we put out, and build around that. There’s a lot of freedom and that’s really the goal, that everyone gets to express themselves individually, and it creates one song.
PPLA: How does this band reflect who you are?
DIALTONE (Paul): We put out stuff that is fun, and more interesting that I am personally as an individual! (laughs) For me, playing is the one place where I can just act like a character, and I’ll bring out something that I wouldn’t in my normal life. If you come and sit with us, we’re boring guys. We hang out and watch TV. But when we play together, it’s much more… interesting.
PPLA: What are your influences?
DIALTONE (Paul): I love Roxy Music, Television, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, the Punk Rock movement, early REM, Oingo Boingo, Pavement. These might sound cliché, but f&$k it.. The Police, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, Cheap Trick.
PPLA: What were you trying to do with this album? Have you changed or grown individually, or as a band because of it?
DIALTONE (Paul): It’s just Rock ‘n Roll. We wanted an anolog sound like a record from the 1970s. We also did a lot of new techniques. Some new vocal techniques, some things out of the blue.. like calypso music or reggae. I feel like now in Rock n Roll, there’s no real midrange Rock ‘n Roll. Like everything’s either folky, you know, doesn’t have any balls, or it’s extremely garage trying to sound like they’re from the 60’s. There’s not that sort of modern middle of the road rock. I think the Black Keys are close to it! I think Foo Fighters are close to it, but they’re still treading close to that power-pop sound going on in the late 90s. People have come up to us at shows and said something like, “I’ve heard this before, but it’s still new.” Everything is such a specific genre, and no one is just doing generic rock. It’s like a bad word, but that’s what we’re doing. It’s just Rock ‘n Roll. I think this album was meant to be. For one, I was doing a lot of guitar work on this album. At that time, it was just a three-piece band. Thomas (the second guitarist) came in the band by about October. We’d been working on Wind Me Up before that. We finished it actually. I happened to add a lot of guitar tracks, and I felt we needed to hear that played out live. Thomas and I work together at this market research company. He heard the album, and he wanted to join. After a couple of months we jammed, and got it together, and it worked. I think the album was the catalyst to get a new member, being him. I think he was the right piece, and I feel like our live shows and our new material…well you’re going to love this stuff! It was like the beginnings of a new outcome.
You can see Dialtone play live next on March 14th at Skinny’s Lounge in Noho or April 18th at House of Blues in Weho. For more information and show dates visit Dialtonetheband.com