Prior to the launch of their brand new single and video for Commitment Is A Dirty Word – released today – we caught an interview with punk-rockers Dumpweed to find out more about the band’s journey so far, their creative process, their thoughts on modern rock, and their plans for the future. Here’s how it went.
* * *
Hi guys – great to chat with you, congrats on the new video! For those who don’t know, what are Dumpweed all about, and is the name a simple ode to the legendary blink 182, or is there more to it?
Eric Palermo (Vocals): Thank you! To be honest I didn’t think this would be a serious band at first. We just wanted to play punk, so I knew I wanted to name it after a song. When I was a kid I listened to Enema of the State while playing Skate 3 all day long. I hadn’t heard the album in years but something told me to just give it a listen. Once it started and I heard the opening note I was like BOOM, we’re Dumpweed.
When the band first got started I was going through a pretty rough breakup, and we looked up what “dumpweed” meant. The real definition is, “A person who can’t get over a breakup and annoys all of their friends about it.” It was a pretty good fit, so we stuck with it.
Commitment is a Dirty Word – love the nostalgic punk-rock and heavy vibes you bring through with this track. How did the song come to be – music first, concept second, or vice-versa?
Eric: It’s a little blurred which came first, but the chorus and the main riff probably came about at the same time. The original version was written when we were a 3-piece and before our first full-length called Age Of Consent came out. We didn’t feel it was a good fit at the time so we put it on the back burner. We’re pretty happy we waited 2 years to get it perfect.
How does making music help you to deal with the emotional battles and issues that your songs explore, and what do you hope listeners take away from a song like this?
Eric: Making music sometimes is the only thing that makes sense in our lives. Not to get too personal but while I was in the hospital earlier this year, the lyrics for Lucky Ain’t So Lucky started coming about as if it was meant to happen that way. I hope the take-away from this song is that, despite the hardships and battles, in life there is hope and sometimes that starts with ending relationships, finding solace in yourself, and finding a support system. “I can see the sun seeping through the rain” is one of my favorite lines from “Commitment Is A Dirty Word”. Kinda like how they say in the movie “The Crow”, “It can’t rain all the time.” Some of our topics are dark, but there’re a lot of PMA/Hardcore roots like Badbrains, H2O, and Gorilla Biscuits buried in there to brighten it up.
Julian Worden (Guitar & Vocals): Well first of all, like many musicians say, I can’t imagine my life without music. Throughout my life I’ve always kept to myself a lot and had an extremely small friend circle, and because of that music has always felt like that one best friend that’s consistently been there to keep me busy. As far as this song in particular goes, although I wasn’t yet a part of the band when it was written, I hope people make up their own meaning(s) for it and connect with it in their own respective ways.
Johnny Snyder (Drums): Making music is definitely just an amazing outlet to have. Whether it’s pouring your heart out on some paper in the form of lyrics regardless if they get used or not, getting to create some light from darkness and share it with the world, or just getting to take what you’ve worked so hard on and showcase it on stage and go nuts and have fun, you know? I’d hope that our listeners can take away from our music whatever they want to take away from it, so long as it resonates with them like it resonates with us.
You balance hints of metal with a brilliant use of melody and a punk-pop accessibility in your sound, which works awesomely. What would you say is the most unexpected or unusual influence of yours?
Eric: Thank you! The most unusual influences might be The Doors, The Cure, New Order, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins, and Madball. We listen to just about everything.
Julian: The first one that comes to mind is Knocked Loose. You can’t really hear that influence on any song except Lucky Ain’t So Lucky, though. I find it funny how similar Eric’s scream is to Bryan Garris’ because I could never imagine a voice like that fitting in with our music, but I think he makes it work! I still remember the day we started tracking vocals for the demo for that song. I looked at him like, “Dude you sound so much like Bryan, what the hell, haha.”
What’s the live scene like for this kind of music where you are, and do you think we’re on the verge of something big happening for rock, like it once did back in the nineties?
Eric: The live scene for hardcore, punk, and indie music is booming in our area. I think the key to a scene and good shows is a sense of purpose. It’s bigger than the bands, it’s the nostalgic feeling you get, feeling good about yourself, and being happy to see your friends. You don’t want to lose that. We have a little spot like that in Philly called The Snake Pit where it’s always good times and community. As far as the future goes it’s going to be pretty exciting to see what happens, and I think we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
Julian: I think we’re always on the verge of something big happening for anything. Some band or artist could come along at any moment and completely change how we think about a certain genre, and I think that’s super exciting. Eric mentioned community in his answer and that’s incredibly important, because we’re just trying to be members of the community that we both want to see develop around us and help develop.
Johnny: Going off of what Eric said, our local scene is really just like this big melting-pot of music genres and people from different walks of life. It’s pretty cool because you can go to a hardcore show at one place, and then take a walk down the street and there’s something completely different going on with just as big of a crowd. And I couldn’t agree with Julian more on how we’re really just always on the verge of something big happening, all it takes is the right spark for something to just blow up and become huge.
You’ve already shared the stage with some impressive names – what’s been your most memorable experience to date, and how does the stage compare to the studio for you?
Julian: The only well-known band we’ve played with since I’ve joined was Black Flag, so I’ll have to say them. That was incredibly cool because before that I had never played in a bigger venue in front of more people, I’d say there were around 200 by the time we played that day. As far as stage vs. studio goes, I’ve been very obsessed with music production for around 5 years now so, although I love playing for a good crowd, I definitely feel most in my comfort zone when we’re tracking new music.
Johnny: Black Flag is definitely the biggest band we’ve played with, but since I’ve joined we’ve shared a stage with Madball which was pretty cool. As for the stage vs. the studio, I love the stage so much more, that’s where all the energy is and that’s where I have most of my fun, but in order to get there we all have to put in our time in the studio to make music and to make sure everything’s tight. It’s time-consuming, it can get repetitive, and even boring sometimes if you can’t get whatever it is you’re trying to play within the first few takes while recording. Regardless, it is necessary for us to keep doing what we’re doing so both the stage and the studio have a big place in my heart.
If you could perform at any venue or event in the world, which would it be, and why?
Eric: Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. I think we want to play everywhere we can in the whole world but Starland has always been a temple growing up, and it’s always been a dream to play there.
Julian: I would also love to play at Starland! The first time I went to a show that had a mosh pit was when Black Veil Brides played there back in 2014, so that place will always have a special place in my heart, haha. Just for the sake of throwing out a couple reach venues, though, I’ll say either Wembley Arena or Royal Albert Hall. There are some crazy videos of Bring Me The Horizon, who I’m a big fan of, playing there and to be able to re-create that in a way would be absolutely mind-boggling.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be, and why?
Julian: Something that I think a lot of people don’t know is that The United States is one of only a few countries in the world that doesn’t pay recording artists royalties for terrestrial radio play. Terrestrial meaning the radio you listen to in your car, and not Pandora, iHeart Radio, etc. Songwriters do make royalties from terrestrial radio, but an artist that doesn’t write their own music who gets a lot of radio play makes $0 from having their music played on-air. I think that’s pretty messed up and I’d definitely change that if I could.
I’d also like to see streaming services pay artists more money per stream but that’s quite a bit more unrealistic. For the most part, I like to take the music industry for what it is rather than complain about things that it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to change. Every industry has its flaws, and I’m grateful to be a part of music.
What do you have planned for throughout 2020?
Eric: I can’t give too much away, but we’re looking to play even more shows and travel around the US.
Johnny: No spoilers YET.
Is there anything else we should know?
Eric: Kindness is free, let’s spread it.
Julian: Aside from mastering and drum recording, this EP is totally self-produced! We even shot and edited the Commitment Is A Dirty Word video ourselves. We’re all really proud of that.
Johnny: Everything they just said, haha.
* * *