Rockbrat Chat: The Jeff Dahl Interview

Below is another re-print of an old interview – this time with the legendary Jeff Dahl. This interview was conducted with Jeff in 1998 and was originally published that year. Since that time, Jeff has left his place of residence at Cave Creek, Arizona and has recently relocated to his native Hawaii.  View his MySpace page.


Jeff Dahl has been cranking out ear-splitting punk for over two decades and is rock in it’s purest form. 3 chords and a bad attitude – you’d better believe it !! This issue, Vicious Kitten speaks to Jeff and gets the dirt on all that’s been happening in the land of Dahl. Strap yourself in and read on ! (interview conducted March, 1998)

Rockbrat: Let’s start with your most recent release ‘Heart Full Of Snot’. The overall sound is raw and aggressive and reminds me a lot of your first album ‘I Kill Me’. Was this intentional ? 
Jeff Dahl: Yeah, it is really aggressive and abrasive. I pretty much knew when I got ready to begin recording that it was going to be a raver. But I can’t really say that I planned it as such. You’re about the fourth person who’s said it reminds them of ‘I Kill Me’. 

RB: You staged the inaugural Desert Trash Blast late last year in Phoenix, headlined by the Lazy Cowgirls. What was the response like ?
JD: The Trash Blast was a ripping success. We’re already working on the next one for November. The first night, which the Cowgirls headed, was packed – and the second night, which I headlined with the US Bombs was sold out. We got a lot of press coverage and there were no problems. I’m looking forward to the next. I’d love to try to get Deniz Tek out for it. 

RB: Your mag Sonic Iguana is shit hot. What inspired Jeff Dahl to print his own publication ?   
JD: Thanks. I just enjoy writing about music and bands that turn me on. That would have to be the primary motivation. It’s fun. 

RB: Can we expect a third release of the ‘Trash On Demand’ compilations ? When’s your album of glam covers comin’ out ?!
JD: I expect TOD Vol III to be out in July, I’m still waiting on a couple of tapes from ‘key’ groups to stroll in. The thing with comps is that they are impossible to keep on any schedule. When you’re dealing with 25 bands there’s too many variables. As for the glam cover record, it’s all recorded and could be out in the next month before I start my European tour in May. I covered that Skyhooks tune, ‘Living In The Seventies’, that you sent me the chord book on. Thanks ! 

RB: What are your plans for 1998 ? Touring ?
JD: I’ll be in Europe in May and after that I’ll play in the US through the summer. I’ve got a new album to record as well at some point – and there’s a lot of possible ideas for later in the year. I might go back to Europe for another acoustic tour or I might go to Japan. 

RB: You released some long lost tracks a while ago (‘Satisfaction’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’) – are there any other gems from this period hidden away in the Dahl vaults ?    
JD: Yeah, there are some unreleased things buried away, dunno if I’d call ’em ‘gems’, though ! I tend to release whatever I deem of releasable quality. 

RB: You’ve been on the scene for twenty odd years now and your music knows no bounds – punk, blues, trash, glam, acoustic, country etc. What motivates you to continually re-invent your sound?
JD: Really, I just do whatever strikes my fancy. If it feels good, I do it. 

RB: From the So-Cal hardcore days with the Angry Samoans and Powertrip – to recording acoustic tunes with Nikki Sudden and Freddy Lynxx – to tours of Europe, America and Japan. Can you name some fond memories/highlights from your career ?    
JD: Certainly, meeting, knowing and playing with people like Cheetah Chrome, Stiv Bators, Poison Idea, Antiseen, The Lazy Cowgirls, L7, GG Allin and Nikki Sudden (there’s a savory group !) would be highlights. But also on rare nights you’ll play a show and really connect with the audience. I’ve seen videos of Birdman where they and the crowd are one. Totally inseparable. That’s the best. 

RB: I remember you saying that you saw the Runaways and that you were once a drinking buddy of Joan Jett’s !!! (my dream of a Jett/Dahl recording continues to this day – wouldn’t that be rock n fucking roll !!)……this leads me to ask you who your fave all-girl bands are on the scene today ?  
JD: Since Fluffy are reported to have packed it in I can’t really say there’s any all-girl outfits who’re killing me. I think the Besttias and the Pussycats, both from Spain are hot, but both would benefit from a solid producer and some serious touring to get their chops up. I’ve been told the Donnas are amazing, but I haven’t heard them yet. 

RB: Ray Ahn from the Hard-Ons did the cover art for your ‘Scratch Up Some Action’ LP from a few years back – how did that all come about ?
JD: Well, I loved all the Hard-Ons stuff and Ray’s artwork was a big part of the whole package. We just asked him and he was kind enough to whip something up. 

RB: Can you name some of your favourite Australian bands (past and present) ? I know that you’ve played with the Cosmic Psychos and also the Onyas, and that you really dig Birdman…….  
JD: Skyhooks and Rose Tattoo from the past are bands that I’ve been into for ages. I just heard some Voodoo Lovecats stuff that was great, and Asteroid B-612 are very cool. Of course, anything remotely Birdman related I tend to love, from New Christs to Hitmen to… 

RB: You appeared on a recent Japanese Saints tribute LP doing ‘Messin’ With The Kid’. Ever thought of doing a Birdman tune ? Something like ‘What Gives’ springs to mind……
JD: Is that Saints thing out ? I haven’t seen a copy yet. Birdman? Naw, I wouldn’t touch that without a backing band in the same league as they were, and if I did I’d probably wanna do ‘Love Kills’ or ‘Snake’. 

RB: Here’s a tough one for an unashamed Dead Boys nut ! Who do you consider to be THE best punk band ever ?  
JD: Jeez, that’s like asking if I prefer my mother or my father ! But if I had to pick I’d probably site Little Richard as the proto-punk. 

RB: I’ve short listed ‘Lab Animal’, ‘Lisa’s World’, ‘Elks Lodge Riot’ and ‘No Apologies’ as songs which I think define the Dahl sound. Would you agree ?
JD: Those are as good as any. But one thing I’ve found, is that everyone who is into my stuff has a different favourite record and a different set of favourite tunes. Some prefer the acoustic material, some like the glampunk stuff and some are into the harder tunes. I think that’s healthy. 

RB: What’s your all-time favourite Jeff Dahl song/album and why ?
JD: That would change on any given day – and I don’t really listen to my old records. Because I’m usually busy working on the next one. I do like ’em all, usually for different reasons. Sorry, you’ve stumped me. 

RB: Any plans for a tour down under ?
JD: I’d love to. It’s one of the few places that I haven’t been to and I’ve always wanted to go there. But no plans. 

RB: What was the first concert you attended ?
JD: I think it was the Animals with a bunch of other English groups. This would have been in Hawaii, where I grew up, in about 1966 or 1967. I remember the screaming girls were louder than the bands. 

RB: Name your five ‘desert island discs’ ?
JD: Mott The Hoople – ‘Brain Capers’, Stooges – ‘Funhouse’, MC5 – ‘Back In The USA’, Chuck Berry – ‘Great 28’, and Steve Earle – ‘Feel Alright’. But this would probably change next week. 

RB: A message for the Vicious Kitten readers/Jeff Dahl fans out there…
JD: Stay scary !

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