Interviews:Dag Nasty

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Dag Nasty FAQ

Copy of Dag Nasty FAQ from their official website

01. What does Dag Nasty mean? Dag Nasty is a slang exclamation, usually meaning awful (e.g. "What is that Dag Nasty smell"), but it can be used in a positive sense (e.g. "This pizza is Dag Nasty"). It was also a children's board game in Germany.

02. Where are they now? Brian Baker is living in Washington DC and playing guitar in Bad Religion. Colin Sears is living in Portland, Oregon with his wife, playing drums in Handgun Bravado and working in urban planning and community development. Roger Marbury is married and living in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is a gainfully employed as lighting engineer in the film industry. Sean Brown is living near Washington DC, and is a tattoo artist. Dave Smalley is married with children and living in Virginia. He was singing in Down By Law and The Sharpshooters, but it is unclear what the status is of those two projects. He also does all kinds of writing & editing, and he works with kids. Peter Cortner and his wife live just outside Philadelphia. After practicing law for a few years, he has a new profession as an elementary school teacher. He was most recently in the band The Gerunds, but it is unclear what the state of that band is nowadays. Doug Carrion is living in California, running his record label Suburban Noize. Scott Garrett is now the touring drummer for The Mission UK and God Lives Underwater. He is also playing drums for Colorsound (a space rock band) and Wired All Wrong (with Jeff and Andrew from God Lives Underwater, as well as former Cleanse vocalist Sonny Lujan).

03. Why did Shawn Brown leave Dag Nasty? Shawn was kicked out of the band in January 1986 for personal reasons.

04. Where did the flaming head logo come from? The flaming head logo used for the cover of "Can I Say" came from an idea seen in an American movie from the 1930's. Apparently, at the end of this movie, the main character's hair catches on fire due to all of the pain and anger that was built up inside of him. I, nor any members of the band, know the title of the movie.

05. What is the song "Justification" about? Justification was written about another band from Washington, Marginal Man. Dag Nasty sent their demo tape to them because they had interest in playing shows together. The members of Marginal Man weren't very psyched.

06. Why did Dave Smalley leave Dag Nasty? Dave left Dag Nasty in 1986 because he got a full scholarship for graduate school in Israel. He ended up living in Israel for about a year and a half. The band quickly looked for replacement singers (one being Kevin Seconds — here's proof), but ended up hiring Peter Cortner as Dave's replacement just two weeks after he left the country.

07. What cover songs did Dag Nasty play live? "12xU" by Wire "Lay Down And Die" by U.K. Subs "My Dog Is A Cat" by Bloody Mannequin Orchestra "Staring At The Rude Boys" by The Ruts "Savage Circle" by The Ruts "Murders In The Rue Morgue" by Iron Maiden

...and parts of: MC5's "Looking At You" in "Roger" Descendents "All" during "One to Two" Government Issue's "Here's the Rope" in "I've Heard"

08. Did Dag Nasty ever tour outside of the United States? They played a few shows in Canada in 87 and 88, but never made it anywhere else.

09. Why did Colin Sears leave Dag Nasty? Colin left Dag Nasty in 1987 because he developed a cyst on his hand and was not physically capable of playing drums. This left Dag Nasty in a bind because they had to find a drummer who could tour, and they had to do it quick. In fact, they even tried hiring Government Issue's drummer at the time. They ended up getting London May from Samhain to fill in for about a month and a half, and then hired Scott Garrett permanently. Colin had surgery in late 1987 and recovered fine.

10. What does the symbol on the cover of "Wig Out at Denko's" mean? The Symbol translates as "Al Hamdu lillah" or, "Praise Be to God" in English.

Peter Cortner explains how he came across the symbol..."Back when my wife and I lived in D.C., we had a Persian prayer rug decorated with Arabic script (I'm not sure whether the actual language was Arabic or Farsi). One day I noticed a character or series of characters that reminded me of DN's burning head logo. I traced it directly onto a piece of onion-skin paper and drew a little mock-up of an album cover around it using some rub-on letters to spell out the band name and title. I showed it to the rest of the band, and they approved it. I gave the sheet of onion skin to the folks at Dischord. They reproduced it almost exactly, even using the same font I'd used on the mock-up. I hadn't actually intended to use that font - I wanted to use the same font they'd used on Can I Say - but I never bothered to say that to anyone at Dischord. Now, however, I really love that cover, font and all".

11. What, and where, is "Denko's"? Denko was a guy from Washington who used to throw house parties. Peter's friend Hal used to drag him along to the parties. Strangely, none of the other members of Dag Nasty ever attended these parties.

12. Who are the people mentioned in the song "Wig out at Denko's"? Dag Nasty mention several people in that song, Mark, Hal and Yanni. Mark and Yanni were in a band with Peter called Protem, and they were the one's who encouraged Peter to try out for Dag Nasty. Mark also played drums for Beefeater, and Yanni played in Stinking Lizaveta. Hal was a friend of Peter's from high school, and he sang for Body Count (NOT Ice-T's band). Body Count were around from 1982 to 1984, and have one song on the "Bouncing Babies" compilation on Fountain of Youth Records. Not mentioned in the song was the vocalist for Protem, Damon Locks, who was also in Trenchmouth and went on to sing for The Eternals.

13. In the song "Dag Nasty", is the girl crying or laughing? The producer of the record, Ian Mackaye, slipped that sample into the song during the mixdown. He is the only one who knows who the girl is, and exactly what it is she's doing. Ask him, he might tell you.

14. What is the song "Crucial Three" about? Crucial Three refers to the members of a bizarre love triangle. The song is about how one's present day emotional health can be adversely affected by events in the past, even if the events are forgotten or repressed.

15. Why did Dag Nasty leave Dischord Records in 1987? They were not happy with the tour support and thought they could find better distribution somewhere else.

16. What were the "Dag Tags"? Dag Tags were just dog tags that Dag Nasty sold on the Field Day tour and through their fan club in 1988. On the tag itself it says "Dag Nasty - Field Day". They made 1000 of them before the tour, and had 4 special ones made up with each of their names on them. They are long gone and cannot be purchased anymore (unless you get really lucky on Ebay).

17. Who is the person on the cover of "Field Day"? Where were those pictures taken? The person is not Peter, or anyone else from the band. Actually, Dag Nasty had little to no input on the design and layout of the album — so where all the elements are from is a question for Giant record's art department.

18. Who is the song "Matt" about? Peter Cortner wrote "Matt" about Scott Garrett's younger brother.

19. Is Mrs. Touma a real person and is the song a true story? Yes.

20. When and where was Dag Nasty's last show? The last Dag Nasty show was July 3rd, 1988 at The Cubby Bear In Chicago with Rollins Band and Youth Of Today. They broke up the next day.

21. Why did Dag Nasty break up? Dag Nasty broke up for the first time in the winter of 1986 when Brian moved to California do be in Doggy Style. Dag Nasty broke up again in 1988 when Brian decided to join Junkyard.

The following is Doug Carrion's account of the breakup - after the "Field Day" Tour. Peter was back in Washington, Brian, who had his own place, was doing nothing but playing pool. Scott was sleeping on Brian's living room floor, and Doug was more into doing his own thing. He started doing some recordings on his own that later turned up under the group names "Pale" and "Ultrahead", with him playing all of the instruments. They just weren't practicing or anything. Then, one day Brian walked down the street to a 7-Eleven to get a Big Gulp and ran into Chris Gates, former bass player with The Big Boys. Brian hadn't seen Chris since The Big Boys toured with Minor Threat in the early eighties. It turned out Chris was now playing guitar with Junkyard, who were going into the studio in two weeks to record their debut for Geffen. The only problem was that their lead guitar player just quit and moved back home. Brian asked what kind of music Junkyard played, and Chris responded by saying a cross between Motorhead and AC/DC. Brian said "sign me up", learned twelve songs in two weeks and recorded the album. Doug said he tried to persuade Scott to join him in Pale, but that Scott was already hooking up with a group named Neverland. So, that is pretty much how it happened.

22. Where there any unfulfilled plans after "Field Day"? They had no concrete plans to record after "Field Day". However, they were supposed to contribute a live version of "Crucial Three" to a compilation that never came out on Giant Records. Giant records put out a compilation CD in 1988 and Dag Nasty does appear on that though, using the remixed version of "Trouble Is". This CD is very hard to track down. "Petty is My Middle Name" was written for the "Field Day" LP by Brian, but never used. Peter had also written the music for "Eternal Week" around the time they were breaking up. These songs appear on the Los Vampiros LP on Selfless Records.

23. Did Dag Nasty have any unreleased songs? Technically, the only "unreleased" song was recorded in December of 2000 when they did the "Incinerate" sessions. It was called "Get Up, Stand Up", and has yet to see the light of day. The song was totally reworked, both lyrically and instrumentally, during the "Minority Of One" sessions and became the song "Wasting Away".

If you count alternate lyrics and variations, then they have several unreleased songs. Originally, "Fall" had very different lyrics and was called "What I Feel Today". "Mule" was originally called "I Wouldn't Cry" and had different lyrics. Two versions of "You're Mine" exist, the one that appeared on "Field Day", and the unreleased "Listen Up, Bitch" version. Other mixes and versions of songs from Field Day differ then the versions that appear on the "All Ages Show" and 'Trouble Is" EPs. For the "Four on the Floor" album, there are demos of songs with significantly different lyrics and song structure that were reworked before making it to the album.

There are also several unreleased recording sessions, including the original demo from 1985 (most of which appear of the "85-86" LP), some demos from 1986 with Peter singing (some of which appear on "85-86" and the "Wig Out" re-release"), and finally the "What If" sessions from the summer of 1991 where Peter sings over 4 songs from the "Can I Say" demo sessions.

24. Who were Los Vampiros? Los Vampiros was a side project of some of the members of Dag Nasty. They released a 7" EP and a full length LP on Selfless Records. When Brian was in California recording the Doggy Style LP In 1986, Peter, Colin and Roger got together with Don Zinzel (Troubled Gardens) and recorded a few songs. Selfless released this seven inch by Los Vampiros in 1991 which features the songs they recorded in 1986. They re-formed in 1990 with Mike Davis from Foundation playing guitar, and Eban Burr playing bass and recorded an LP for Selfless Records called "Less Than A Feeling". This record was released on LP and CD in 1991, but is quite difficult to find. Some of the records came with an additional 12" record which features outtakes from 1986, and a telephone interview with Peter Cortner. If you can find either one of these records, pick it up. It is seriously amazing stuff. They are available on black and clear red vinyl. Los Vampiros also appeared on a compilation in the early 90's, contributing one track, "I Kill Dogs".

25. Did Los Vampiros ever play any shows? Yes. They played only one show. It was in Washington DC, at the 9:30 club, in the summer of 1990.

26. Is there a Dag Nasty tribute record? Was there a new tribute record that was supposed to come out? Yes and yes. In 1997, a Dag Nasty tribute cd was released in Europe on Battle Records / Fools Day Records. It's called "Her Head's On Fire". It was a small run, CD-only pressing and has 25 bands covering Dag Nasty songs. Some of the bands did not even know they were on the record until after it came out, and I don't think it was ever publicly available in America.

As far as the "newer" Dag Nasty tribute that was supposed to happen — it was started, but was never finisthed. It was supposed to be on Speedball Records, but someone dropped the ball on the project. Here's what would've been on it:

Jeff Caudill (Gameface) - "Things That Make No Sense" Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Justification" Strike Anywhere - "Values Here" Amp176 (ex Dillinger 4, Stereo) - "Never Go Back" Ex Number Five - "Safe" Liars Academy (ex Cross My Heart) - "One to Two" The Story So Far - "Thin Line" Black Brick Kiss - "When I Move" Pollen - "Million Days" Fivespeed - "Crucial Three" Divit - "All Ages Show" Midtown - "Exercise" Scrimmage Heroes (Ex Big Drill Car) - "Fall" Jersey - "Down Time" Sidecar - "Under Your Influence" Stick Figure Suicide - "SFS" Saturday Supercade - "What Now" ... and possibly Grade, Fairweather, and others.

I've made a lot of Dag Nasty covers, including the tracks from "Her Head's on Fire", available for download on this site. They can all be found here.

27. Where can I find Dag Nasty tablature? Hopefully on this site, someday. In the meantime, check here.

28. How did Dag Nasty get back together? When the band reunites to record, it's usuallly a matter of them simply calling each other on the phone and saying, "Hey, let's record". That's basically the story for "Four on the Floor" and "Minority of One".

29. Why didn't Dag Nasty tour to support "Four On The Floor" and "Minority of One"? Dag Nasty recorded "Four on the Floor" during a brief time period in 1991. They had no intention of touring, as all of the members were busy doing other projects at the time. Their primary focus at that time was to record another record with Dave Smalley. The same goes for "Minority of One".

30. Where can I find Dag Nasty merchandise and records online? Try Dischord.com, RevHq.com, Amazon.com. For the hard-to-find stuff, you can always try your luck on Ebay.com.

31. I really like the sound of Dag Nasty, what other bands sound like them? I would say the closest lyrically and musically would be a band from California called Freewill (who later changed their name to Stone Telling). They recorded a demo in 1988, and an LP for Wishingwell records later that year called "Sun Return".

Tons of bands are influenced by Dag Nasty though. Listen to any melodic hardcore music, and you'll find traces of Dag Nasty's sound framework.

32. What other records has __________ played on? Go the Band section of this site, there are lists for each band member of what projects they were involved with, in some form or another.

33. Are Dag Nasty ever going to play live again? It's feasible, but highly unlikely. They do like to go back to the studio every few years - but just don't hold your breath for any actual live shows.

Shawn Brown interview

Copy from VICELAND

WE USED TO BE LIKE BROTHERS... Shawn Brown Spills the Beans on Dag Nasty

To some, Shawn Brown is a legend of hardcore. A one-off. A voice who injected real anger and passion into a genre renowned for crybabies and tough-guy posers. As the original vocalist in Dag Nasty he helped Brian Baker exorcise his post-Minor Threat demons before getting unceremoniously booted out for his trouble. With Swiz, he wrote the book on how progressive hardcore could still retain its aggression and confidence while all around were mellowing and lightening up. With Jesuseater, he kept the literate bile and bite in rock. And as an influential tattoo artist, he’s helped many people immortalise their dreams or ruin their chance of gainful employment. Yet this is a man for whom no one has seen fit to create a Wikipedia page.

I recently spoke to him on the eve of the Dischord Records release of the Dag With Shawn album—the mythical first session of one of the most famous DC hardcore bands—some 25 years after its original recording.

Vice: So Shawn, let’s tackle this chronologically. Did you grow up in DC, or go there for college?

Shawn Brown: I’m from a small place outside Washington, DC.

How did you become part of what was going on?

Well, when I was a kid I was always into different music. I listened to a lot of B-52s, a little bit of Frank Zappa, I was really into the Cars and stuff like that. I didn’t think of it like punk music, more like new-wave. Then there was a kid I met called Matt Ray, and there were these proper punk kids I met—they had like spiked hair and biker jackets and stuff like that. We would cross paths because I had these other friends who had these dances which were like neighbourhood get-togethers where bands would play a couple of songs. You know, a band might play a Black Flag cover or something like that. Outside of that, I was just getting records played to me. Matt Ray was the one who said, “Hey, let’s play up at Wheaton Community Centre,” and after that I was totally hooked. I was like, “I’m totally a punk rocker!”

How old were you during this?

Erm, senior year in high school. So 17 years old.

And Ian Svenonius was from the same neighbourhood?

Yeah, probably eight or nine blocks away, so we’d see each other every day. He was already going to DC to see shows, he knew the bands, he knew what was up and everything like that and I was still exploring it. Matt knew more about the California scene. So while Ian was giving me stuff like Minor Threat and Bad Brains, I was getting Fear, X, Discharge and stuff like that from Matt. Ian was more on my side of town, whereas Matt was out like a six-to-eight mile drive away. So since me and Ian were closer we hung out a little bit more. Ian was definitely the one who was like, “This is DC.”

Had you not been to DC shows before?

The biggest concert I’d been to was maybe seeing The Police and REM in the seventh grade and my first hardcore show was the Obsessed, Iron Cross and Government Issue!

And that just changed everything?

Yeah, I was like, “I don’t want to be part of the normal world.” I hadn’t thought about doing bands or anything like that but I wanted to be a punk rocker. “Society SUCKS!” You know what I mean?

DC was still pretty wild back then, right?

Yeah, we had one scene which was pretty much Nazi fuckers. Then the other scene who wasn’t about that, but liked to fight! So they clashed every once in a while, and if they couldn’t find each other, they’d fight someone else.

So how did you go from being at shows to being invited to try out for Dag Nasty?

I was just going to the shows, freaking out, grabbing the microphone, being annoying. I knew Colin Sears and he walked up to me one day, like, “Hey, I’m forming this band. We’re practicing in my basement. Do you want to check it out? We could do with a singer.” And I’d go hang over his house and Brian Baker’s sitting there with Roger Marbury and I’m like, “What the fuck?!” I was super intimidated. Sometimes pressure is good for people. And I think that pressure is what helped me. It taught me how to front bands in that way, because there is a lot of pressure, whether you’re skilled at it or not.

I think for me, the real pressure came as they started writing more melodic songs, they wanted more melodic singing and I wasn’t capable of doing that.

Is that why you parted company with them?

Well, I’ll tell you this: Ian MacKaye told me that Minor Threat broke up because Lyle and Brian wanted them to sound more like U2, and Ian didn’t want to do that. So that’s why they started talking to Danzig and taking their opportunities to create Samhain. So when you talk about it, the difference between Minor Threat and Dag Nasty makes a lot of fucking sense. Maybe Brian thought, “Hey, Shawn’s not someone who can front a hardcore band but I can teach him to sing.”

Did that become apparent to you after the recording—like, “That’s not really what we wanted”?

That’s the feeling I got. Like I said, at the time I’m like 19, so I was immature too. It hurt my feelings a little bit. It was a learning experience and I was really thankful I got an opportunity to play with those people.

But it wasn’t an amicable split?

They told me right after we got off stage. I was like, “What the fuck?”

Have you seen that letter where Brian writes to Kevin Seconds asking him to sing in Dag Nasty? It’s on daghouse.com.

Most of that stuff I had to really tune myself out of. There’s probably stuff about Dag Nasty that was probably common knowledge, but it’s news to me.

So when you were being told they were going to try someone else, was Dave Smalley already in at this point?

I thought they must have had someone else. By the time Dave showed up I knew who he was. I was like, “Man... him?”

Is it true that none of Dave’s lyrics are on that first record? The thing I’ve heard is that the only bit he wrote was that little spoken word bit: “I walked down the street one day and you were going the other.” That’s the only thing he contributed.

Right. Some of them were just me, and some of them me and Brian collaborated on.

So Brian didn’t write all the lyrics?

No, no, no, no, no.

So Dave Smalley was singing your words?

Yep. At the end of the day, we know what we wrote, you know what I mean? At this point it’s like 25 years now. But yeah, he didn’t write all that, but that’s just music, man. After, I found out how many times that happened in the history of music and people were in a similar situation.

Change a word, claim a third—the classic!

Exactly!

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