Posted On 18 Oct 2017
Meet the rowdy, genre-bending quintet, The Dull Blue Lights! The band recently released their self-titled debut album, which you can listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/tdblsfthjbv1a2/sets/mastered-sequence-do-not-share/s-XeSd6
The Dull Blue Lights are a band in between. Drawing from influences as varied as Motown soul, Nuggets psychedelia, and Jamaican rock-steady, the Philadelphia-based group’s definitive blend of cascading harmonies, screaming guitars and relentlessly grooving rhythms lives somewhere between each one. The band calls this in-between sound Basement Soul.
“We acknowledge that genre exists, but have no interest in confining ourselves to being just a soul band, or a mod band, or a reggae band, and on and on,” lead vocalist/guitarist, Todd Fausnacht, explains. For the band, any type of music they enjoy can become part of the Dull Blue Lights Sound. “For us personally, coming from a scene full of vintage throwback bands, it’s a refreshing change.”
Formerly known as The Snails, The Dull Blue Lights transformed immensely during the writing of their debut album. “When we started writing this record, we were one band, but by the time we finished recording, we were a different band entirely,” Fausnacht elaborates. “We unintentionally told a story of transformation and metamorphosis, which ultimately ended with us becoming The Dull Blue Lights.”
Featuring all-analog recording, The Dull Blue Lights was tracked live in five consecutive 12-hour-long sessions at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN with producer Andrija Tokic. With songs nodding to rockabilly, soul, reggae, garage and more, The Dull Blue Lights is an album with a little bit of everything.
Connect With The Dull Blue Lights Here:
Learn more about The Dull Blue Lights in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
DBL: Thanks for chatting with us! We’re on a little break at the moment, actually, working on some new tunes and waiting for our keys-man Matt to get back from a tour with Bad Manners so we can get started on some new recordings. Funny you should ask about the music we’re listening to though. On the first Tuesday of every month, we all pitch in songs and put together a little playlist to share with anyone who feels like listening, so we’re giving that a last listen before it goes out. We’re doing novelty songs this month, and Louis Armstrong’s “Spooks” is rattling around over here. You see, even when it looks like we’re just relaxing and listening to tunes, there are gears turning somewhere.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? Did you all approach this year differently then you did 2016?
DBL: Wow, 2017 has been a whirlwind. We spent most of last year trying to figure out the best way to get our record out. This time around, we stopped worrying about “best” and just did what worked. Now here we are, record out, and finally some time to put an honest effort into the next one. We don’t like to dwell on the past though. Time to start thinking about the next go-’round.
Can you recall the moment you all realized that you could really make music together and be this band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create?
DBL: This lineup has actually taken a very long time to get together. We’ve all known each other for many years, and we’ve been playing music together that whole time. There was never a question of whether or not this would work. It’s mostly been a matter of figuring out how we wanted to do it. As far as how the name represents the group, the honest answer is that it probably doesn’t. The naming process got a bit contentious, and we eventually decided that what we were called didn’t really matter so long as we were making music we liked. We don’t know if that’s an old-fashioned or a new-fashioned approach to a band name, but it’s where we landed.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think your hometown of Philadelphia has affected you?
DBL: This is a tricky one for us to answer. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like Philadelphia has much of an effect on the music we make. But it’s entirely possible folks will listen to us and say, “Oh yeah, that’s a Philly band,” especially with all the music blowing up out of Philly these days. One thing we can say, though, is that there are a lot of cities out there with music scenes that feel like echo chambers, and we haven’t felt much of that in this city. Maybe Philly’s effect on us is that it hasn’t put any expectations on us, and it lets us be the band we want to be.
Can you elaborate on your sound and what you call Basement Soul? Where did your sound first come from or rather what has inspired it to develop to what it is today?
DBL: We’ve had a long and complicated relationship with genre. As a younger band, we took a lot of cues from punk and blues music, and then we dabbled in Jamaican music for a while. We’ve been leaning toward soul music for the last couple of years, but we’re working on introducing a heavier psychedelic element to our music at the moment. As you can see, it can take a while to explain why our set is so all over the place, so we adopted a shorthand, Basement Soul, to just mean “whatever the band sounds like in this moment.”
What was it like making your recently released self-titled album? Did anything surprise or challenge you all in the studio? Why did you decide to record it in five consecutive 12-hour long sessions?
DBL: We’d booked five days in Andrija Tokic’s Bomb Shelter studio in Nashville, and then booked a month-long tour around it. We played a festival in Virginia on Sunday, went into the studio Monday through Friday, and then were off to Texas or wherever on Saturday. Not finishing the record in that time wasn’t an option, so the 12-hour sessions were kind of a necessity. That was probably the biggest challenge, and the most surprising thing was probably that we pulled it off. We were a well-oiled, coffee-fueled machine that week. Working like that in Nashville of all places, with Andrija of all people, was a pretty crazy experience.
I am curious to know about how you started recording this collection as one band and completely transformed into another by the end of it?
DBL: That ties into our long and complicated relationship with genre. We took a little break from playing together after we’d written a few of these tunes, and when we got together to write again, we realized we were in a very different place than we were when we’d started working on this record. We used the process of writing to figure out what kind of band we wanted to become, and that culminated in those five days in Nashville where all these ideas that had been floating around in our heads coalesced and became a real record with a real band playing it. We became the kind of band that would make this record.
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording new music or elsewhere? Where do you think you all learn the most about becoming better musicians?
DBL: Wow, that’s a tough one. The answer’s probably a little different for each of us. We’re all gearheads, and we love making songs with the tools and knowledge we have. Writing songs is a blast, and recording them is a trip, but then you can’t compare either of those experiences to the instant gratification and rush of playing songs for people. Even rehearsing tunes is its own little euphoria. We just love creating, and each of the places you mentioned is a different venue to create in with its own perks.
With the summer being just about over, what was your favorite part about it? What was something fun that this group did or tried?
DBL: We had a pretty wild summer, and while we don’t want to belittle any of the amazing shows we played or people we met, there’s really nothing as exciting as putting out a record we’ve been waiting two years for people to hear. Releasing this record and everything that happened to us around it were the last steps in a years-long effort to become the band we wanted to be. It was fun, it was tough, and it was absolutely worth it.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
DBL: Like we said, we just love creating, and we love sharing what we make with people. There’s some sentiment among the band that, if we’re going to consider ourselves artists, then we’re going to have an obligation to create and put things into the world that can make people feel, or think, or just generally have an experience of something. We don’t shy away from making music you have to think about, and we don’t think we’re alone in feeling that there’s a great deal of value in music that makes you go, “Huh.”
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
DBL: We all grew up listening to folks like The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Dylan, you know, the easy answers. We’ve currently got a Daniel Romano record on repeat in the van, and we’ve maybe fantasized a bit about working with him some day. There are also tons of great bands in Philly who we love working with, like Satellite Hearts, The Retinas, Posers, Matt Kelly, and seriously too many others to list. We’re pretty excited to see what else comes out of Philly in the next few years.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
DBL: Well, despite all that nice stuff we said about the value of music and loving to share it with people, the honest truth is that we mostly do this for ourselves. We just need to create, and we don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have an outlet for that compulsion. But if there must be a message, we’d probably like it to be this: “DO something!” Whether it’s writing a song, or having a new experience, or just thinking a nice thought, go ahead and make something out of it!
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
DBL: It’s a simple answer, but a method that’s worked pretty well for us. Listen to music. Allow yourself become obsessed. Go see shows, find records, listen closely. Every new sound you hear is an opportunity to learn something. What a shame it would be to miss your chance to make something great because you forgot to learn what greatness looks like.