Blues-inflected rock can be a horrible, inappropriate thing. There are countless moments in modern music history where ill-advised white boys try to riff like their porch is flooded from the Mississippi’s waters, all from a Nashville or New York studio. This behavior is indeed offensive.
What’s important if you bring the blues into your rock band is that you appropriate riffs with clear, unique style; avoid playing blues scales with a distortion pedal, for instance. The Glasspack is far and away Louisville’s in-the-gutbucket band. They’ve been around for years, and have humped pavement across the States and Canada. Their music is a nasty concoction of angled blues riffage in a thicket of bass and drums, complemented by singer-songwriter-guitarist “Dirty” Dave Johnson’s scorched throat. It’s punk-informed blues-rock with a healthy absence of bullshit. And booty for you, they’re recording a new album right now.
“Dirty” opened a vein recently on LEO’s Five Important Questions.
LEO: If you were Mayor, what would you do to help promote people like you in this city?
Dirty Dave: First off, I would lift the ban on hanging flyers on telephone poles in the Highlands. How come that rich old snooty lady gets to hang up flyers of her ugly missing dog, but I’ve been surrounded by six Highlands police cars for hanging one flyer for a rock show? And note to police: Don’t you have something better to do, like finding your grandmother’s missing dog or eating a magical donut? Does it really take 12 of you, two in each car, to restrain me from putting a staple in a piece of wood that I paid for?
Next, I would do away with this stupid-ass noise ordinance that the people with more money and influence decided on so they could keep their so-called peaceful lives peaceful for the next 10 or 15 years they’ll be alive, if they’re lucky. Run to the hills, assholes: This is a city, not a rest home. Maybe if you made it OK to play music around here, kids would have something to do instead of stealing your lawnmowers to finance demo tapes.
LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
DD: Matt Jaha of Nixon. This guy is a walking testimonial to the power of rock ’n’ roll — times a trillion. He has played drums, bass and guitar for many of the bands around here, and is better than most of the people he shared the bands with on any instrument. He is rather quiet, but creativity and technical talent boil in his blood like no one else around here. He recently came to The Glasspack recording session at Downtown Studios and did a couple lead-guitar and Moog tracks on our longer jam songs. His first takes were so brilliant that I wouldn’t give him the second chance at a take. He’s a thinker and good at it, but is completely unaware of his raw brainstorming blues talent. Extremely young, this guy has the world of rock ’n’ roll in the palm of his hands.
LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
DD: That’s easy, it would be a magical donut that turns policemen and politicians into pigs. Then we can have The Other White Meat buffet.
LEO: Tell me about one of your favorite works of art aside from your medium.
DD: One of my favorite works of art is the art, architecture and landscape of Pompeii. I have books and photos of this place, its mosaics, murals, paintings and coliseum. It’s all too much for me. I do color pastels of Greek mythology and architecture. I have been into it since I was a kid. I am absolutely obsessed with Pompeii. I definitely will go there one day and walk among the art, buildings and volcanoes. Hell, I’d make it my home if I could sustain my life there.
LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
DD: Several of the guys from bands who were invited to be a part of the Dischord scene report video on Louisville (“Burn to Shine”) actually admitted to me that The Glasspack should have been invited before their bands, if not the first band to be invited, to represent our scene. I don’t really care that much — never was really into the whole Dischord thing or the music released. It would have at least been nice to get invited so I could get the satisfaction of telling them no because my bong was calling. But an even better reason would have been to decline because it was filmed in Indiana, or the local musician chosen to help pick the Louisville bands doesn’t even have Kentucky blood. ’Nuff said.
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