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09 Aug 2013

Palm Desert, Brace Yourself: The Dwarves Are Heading for The Hood

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Hide the kids! Hide the wife, and take cover! The Dwarves are coming to The Hood on Friday, Aug. 16.

Formed in 1982 in the suburbs of Chicago, the Dwarves came together playing garage rock. As they crafted their early hardcore-punk sound, they became one of the first bands to use samples and drum loops.

Their live performances later became notorious for onstage acts that included violence, drug use and GG Allin-style self-mutilation. The band’s frontman, Blag Dahlia, had an infamous violent altercation backstage at Los Angeles’ Dragonfly club with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme in 2004. It earned Homme a court-ordered trip to rehab and anger management classes.

When asked whether the violence might be taken too far someday, Blag says the day has already come.

“I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been beaten over the head, and I’ve had my throat slit,” said Blag, during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “All the guys in the band have suffered various violent altercations. We’ve given in to the goodness of God sometimes. It’s all part of what rock n roll is: You don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, and it just goes. The music is very energetic, and it kind of inspires those kinds of responses. Shit happens.”

Blag added that people who say “Blag got his ass kicked at the show” have it all wrong. “Anyone who ever tried to kick my ass got it back just as bad as they thought they were giving it out,” said Blag.

In another controversial episode, the band issued a press release in 1993 that stated their guitar-player, HeWhoCannotBeNamed, was stabbed to death. Turns out that was a hoax, and the incident led to the band being dropped from Sub-Pop Records.

However, Blag has a different point of view on the events.

“(HeWhoCannotBeNamed) is the creature who transcends life and death,” said Blag. “At times, there are those who believed he was no longer among us. He’s like a very material sort of entity, and he’s an icon of rock and roll. So these concepts of life and death sort of have a different meaning for him.”

Through all of the controversy, the band has had a successful recording career. Blag has also produced albums for the Swingin’ Utters, The God Awfuls, and former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri’s group Mondo Generator. (Oliveri is also a member of the Dwarves, playing under the alias of Rex Everything.) He’s written two novels: Armed to the Teeth With Lipstick and Nina.

In what some would call an unexpected move, Blag also recorded “Doing the Sponge” for an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

“One of our former members, Salt Peter, has written a lot of material for SpongeBob,” said Blag. “He wrote a bunch of novelty songs that they do in there. So early on in the first season, he had written a song for them. They wanted somebody who sounded like Lux Interior of The Cramps, and he’s one of my favorite singers; I said, ‘I can go in there and sound like Lux,’ and so I did. It was a lot of fun, and it makes me popular with those in the 8-years-old crowd.”

Blag said he looks back on the band’s musical accomplishments with unapologetic pride.

“We’re undoubtedly more known for the controversy, but that’s not because we haven’t left a bunch of great music behind,” said Blag. “We’re the only punk band that gets better with time, and the only one anyone can conceive of … (that) continues to be great. This is a band that makes classic record after classic record. We just keep pushing the boundaries of genres. We’ve had outstanding musicianship, outstanding production with Top 10 producers, and great studio players. The Dwarves are one of the best-recorded bands in history. The fact that people don’t know that has a lot more to do with marketing (than) the quality of the music.”

What does the future hold for the Dwarves? They’ve been in the studio recording and are hoping to release a new album within the next year. (Their most recent studio album was 2011's The Dwarves Are Born Again.) In the meantime, they’ve booked some shows (including the one at The Hood) to keep them busy. Blag also does a podcast called Radio Like You Want.

They’re also no strangers to the Coachella Valley.

“We played there with Kyuss when they didn’t have a club there, and there was a nudist colony that people used to do shows at,” said Blag. “We just got done doing some recording in Joshua Tree. I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing some of our friends in the desert. We’ve always loved the desert.”

The Dwarves will play with the Hellions, the Atom Age and Hot Beat Acoustic at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 16, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. Admission is $10, and there are no presales. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit thehoodbar.com.

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