BLURTING WITH… The Dwarves

Wake up, Blaggie, Blurt
has got somethin’ to say to you. (Thanks
for the list.)

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

Nowadays even so-called indie bands received media training
– lessons on controlling an interview, and bigger acts take it to bigger
extremes. So when Blag Dahlia (aka Paul Cafaro), frontguy of notoriously
mischievous punk band the Dwarves, coughs up a list of 25 talking points, he must
be up to something. You know, like self-promotion.

 

It’s shameless-utterly so, the way Dahlia brags. The Dwarves
have been together 25 years; were the first punk band to use samples; co-wrote
songs for Smash Mouth; did coke with Evan Dando in a seedy motel room; poached
Motörhead’s backstage pussy. The sundry quarter-hundy list items range from
common to dubious to mostly – in keeping with the Dwarves’ reputation as
black-belt hellraisers – far out. And that lack of shame or even modesty? If
the Dwarves showed so much as a scrap of either, they’d be poseurs. So tout
away! What better way to celebrate one’s one-dozenth release (The Dwarves Are Born Again)?

 

Blurt yanked Blag
out of bed to go over a few of our favorites from the list and some of our pet
songs on Born Again.

 

***

 

BLURT: The first
thing we have to talk about is how the Dwarves were kicked off the Motörhead
tour for poaching their backstage wildlife?

BLAG DAHLIA: [laughing] Well I think they, like, hired girls to hang out with them
backstage so they’d look more famous. But when they were in San Francisco, some of them showed up with
Dwarves shirts on. I don’t think that made them very happy.

 

And you just took
that as a green light? 

[laughs]

 

Have you found that,
if a woman is wearing a Dwarves shirt, she’s a sure thing?

Well if you’ve hired her to be there, I would say so, yeah.

 

You have to get a
little more detailed – I want to experience the drama of the moment you decided
it was safe to raid Motörhead’s professional groupies.

Well you know it was more like –  You know, when you go out with those Spinal
Tap-type bands they have lots of demands of you; they have their crew chasin’
you around, and people tryin’ to tell you what to do. I don’t think they’ve
really ever encountered a band like us, where we just do what we want. We don’t
really pay much attention to what the crew of the heavy metal band says.
They’re always tryin’ to tell you where you can go, where you’re allowed to pee
backstage, and where you can stand, and what you can do. We just never really went
with that Spinal Tap side of stuff.

 

You’d think that Motörhead
would at least relate to that sort of rebellious debauchery. Of all bands,
wouldn’t they understand?

[laughs] That’s the weird thing about rock ‘n’ roll… People
[sometimes] have their bullshit. Dwarves have kinda always operated in our own
orbit. [Whereas with some bands] it’s important to be famous, we just don’t pay
attention to that. It’s not important.

 

Now let’s hear about the
stabbings caught on tape…

I got stabbed in London,
Ontario. You know those guys that
get real drunk and show up to shows and just give you the finger the whole
time? He had a beer in his hand and somehow it all got broken and his hand got
fucked up and he just reached up raked the bottle right across my throat. Which
was pretty weird, yeah. But fortunately we were in Canada where they have socialized
medicine and they stitched me right up.

 

So at least it
avoided any major vessels?

That’s right. I finished the show.

 

Did you bleed the
whole time or did it clot right up?

I don’t know; I can’t remember exactly. There was some
bleeding, there was some clotting, but we made it through.

 

Okay – pornography
time. What’s the story behind Rocksuckers?

It was a porno and they wanted our music. They were like,
“Hey do you guys wanna comes up and hang out and you know just play in the
background while two chicks fuck each other?” I was like, “Yeah. That sounds
great!” A lot of other bands, their girlfriends told ‘em they couldn’t be in
the porno [but we were].

 

I get the feelin’
that situation’s happened before with Dwarves.

Well yeah, absolutely. You gotta – that’s why got into this
business, so I could watch lesbians have sex with each other. And puke on ‘em,
you know? Yeah. Everybody’s got their somethin’.

 

Now, what does horse
taste like?

That’s a good question. I can’t even really remember it. We
were there in Japan,
and the next minute we’re eating horse. But we had a great time there. It’s a
whole different, exotic land you know?

 

So you had no idea
you were about to be served horse meat?  

Well  I’d told the guy
we were stayin’ with in Japan
that we didn’t wanna go out for American food; we want to eat real Japanese
food. I don’t know, I guess they eat horse.

 

What was the
presentation like? Give me the whole Top
Chef
description.

Wow, I wish I could remember. You’re really gettin’ deep
into the list, here. The big thing was we played on NHK and we did this whole
hour-long Dwarves retrospective on this big public network in Japan. And then
afterward, they took us out for a nice dinner and we were served all kinds of
delicacies and someone said, “This is horse.” And I thought, ‘Wow. I’m so
hungry I’m eating a horse.”

 

Dwarves attacked over
a rock ‘n’ roll battle tape? What was that about? Josh Homme?

[laughs] Yeah, that’s right! People get disturbed when you
say things. You know? That’s always been one of the interesting things about
the Dwarves. Most punk bands wouldn’t do a hip-hop [dis]-track and if they did,
they wouldn’t  name names. It was sort of
an experiment.

            We made a
record called Massacre, and the song
was called “Massacre.” The idea was basically, ‘What happens if you do a
hip-hop dis record and you just make fun of commercialized rock bands?” And we
made it with [producer/engineer] Eric Valentine. It was sort of constructed
like a hip-hop track where we went in and played rock music over it. And as far
as I know it’s the first rock ‘n’ roll song where you make fun of other rock
bands.

 

So which dis set him
off?

It was like, “You slept on my floor and now I’m sleeping through
your motherfucking records.” [laughs] Which I thought was pretty great, you
know?

 

That’s how you win snap
battles.

That’s the thing – in rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t even think
anyone else would try. That’s the point. I guess the Dwarves remain alone in
that realm.       

 

“Do the HeWhoCannotBeNamed”
– the song about your partner in crime-slash-lead guitarist? What are the
steps, exactly? Is this gonna be the new dance craze like the Electric Slide?

Yeah [laughs] it’s like the electric boogaloo: It’s the
dance sensation sweepin’ the nation. “Here’s a little dance/I do it every
chance I get/you wave you arms around like you’re retarded/and you’ve got
Tourette’s/and you strip your clothes off/beat your head with your fist/stomp
around, jerk and slip and twist.” The next thing you know, you’re doin’ the
HeWhoCannotBeNamed.

 

Is “Zip Zero” the best
Saturday morning cartoon never made?

That’s exactly what I was trying to achieve. I remembered
that voice from when I was a kid. It was Gary Owens. He was the voice of Laugh-In, the TV show, and he would do Space Ghost and other cartoons. I had to
get him on the record, so I was so thrilled that he did “Zip Zero.” And yeah, I
hope to have a Saturday morning cartoon someday of the Dwarves. Zip Zero will
be our superhero.

 

Why haven’t you
gotten in bed with Adult Swim yet? You guys are a match made in heaven.

[laughs] We do have a bobblehead, so that’s the first step.
Once you’ve got a bobblehead, you’re pretty close to bein’ a cartoon. I think
someday I will be a Saturday morning cartoon. That’s my dream.

 

What is this no cunnilingus
clause mentioned in the intro to “You’ll Never Take Us Alive”?

[laughs] You know, that was Spike, who sings all the backups
in the Dwarves. He’s from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and the Revolts… We
explained to him that cunnilingus was against the rules and he wanted a note
from the band excusing him.

 

And you’re serious
about this?

I’m not really totally serious about anything. I guess
that’s part of the beauty of the Dwarves.

 

I think one of the
more touching sentiments I’ve ever heard is “I just wanna get high and fuck
some sluts.”

That was why I got into rock ‘n’ roll in the first place. I
thought it was a good way to bring it back full circle 25 years later and say,
“Look – we might be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. We might’ve
evolved to a point where we can play everything from punk to industrial and
hip-hop and hardcore and everything else, but we still just wanna get high and
fuck some sluts.” That’s the basis of our message.

 

You guys actually
throw a cherry on top of that ethos, or rather you sprinkle in some real
dwarves.

That’s right. Little Bobby Faust has been with us for close
to 25 years and he’s been on most of the album covers. He’s a hero of mine,
just watchin’ him stand around with those naked girls is a great thrill for me.

 

They say every job,
even the cool ones, has a downside – but I’m hard pressed to come up with one
for playing rock ‘n’ roll while surrounded by naked chicks and a dwarf. Is
there one?  

Of course not. It’s the life. It’s the great fantasy, is to
play rock ‘n’ roll, to fuck, and to be able to run around and say what you
want. I’ve been privileged, you know.

 

[Photo Credit: Randy Harward]

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