An Interview With the Indie Rock Band, GOLDEN DIMES On New Music, Their Musical Influences and Much More!
Posted On 27 Jun 2019
On March 29th, the indie rock band, Golden Dimes released their debut EP, “Uncommon Cents.” This six-song collection was released via Noble Steed Music. It was recorded in the Fall of 2018 at Restoration Sound Studio in Brooklyn, NY and produced by Jason Spiewak (Benjy Davis Project, Pat McGee, Ernie Halter, Chris Volz) and Lorenzo Wolff (Edie Brickell, Steve Forbert, Steve Earle, Randy Newman). The EP was mixed by Nate and Dan Monea of Hey Monea fame at Little C Studios in Canton, OH, and then mastered by Cass Anawaty at Sunbreak Music in Scottsdale, AZ.
Golden Dimes is the collaboration of five suburban dads, all lifetime musicians brought together by fate and a mutual love of great food and drink, philosophical conversation, and positive vibes. On their debut EP, the band offers six songs carrying messages of unity, self-awareness, and responsibility thoughtfully viewed through the lens of generation Xers wishing to do good in the world. The band’s music is contemporary with classic sensibilities, blending keys, guitars and organic drum sounds with vocal harmony.
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Learn more about Golden Dimes in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Just so the readers know, it’s Avi Dimes here speaking on behalf of the full band. It’s looking like work and family obligations for all of us today with a brief band meeting tonight to discuss plans to record our next album. The dad life with a dash of rock n’ roll – it’s where it’s at!
Now that we are into the 6th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
We’re half-way through the year already?? Wow. The first half of 2019 has been really great for us. We released our debut EP on March 29th, we have played a number of great local shows (most recently Stage 2 at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC) and we have continued to develop many new tunes. Our number 1 rule as a band is to “always enjoy the journey” and we can comfortably say that we have strictly adhered to that.
In addition to booking a few more shows, most likely in New York and New Jersey, working on our second EP is on the front burner. 2019 continues to be a very productive year for us!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
The short version of our origin story: Our band consists of five working stiffs with families living in the burbs of Jersey. As is often the case in the burbs, our relationships formed over a number of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” barbecues and birthday parties with our kids. What began in 2015 as “jamming for fun” led to playing a few charity shows and bar gigs as a cover band and eventually, in the summer of 2017, a transition into an original band once Van introduced Kickstand to the group. A band is all about chemistry – shared tastes, mutual respect for each other’s musicality and, like any relationship and perhaps most importantly, ego-less communication. You might say the night we first jammed with Kickstand was when Golden Dimes truly became viable!
Our name: As a cover band, we called ourselves “The Bourbon Achievers,” a play on our mutual love for the movie “The Big Lebowski” as well as our love for brown spirits. The Bourbon Achievers was a decent name for a cover band but we didn’t love it for an original act so we dove back into our mutual loves to find something new. Golden Dimes originated as an homage to Howard Stern who, as fans of the show are aware, played in a band in the 6th grade known as “Electric Comic Book.” They had a song called “Silver Nickels and Golden Dimes.” Thanks to this pretty great website called Google, we learned that gold dimes were actually coins released in the United States in limited quantity as part of an advertising campaign. As we tend to meander on philosophical tangents, we appreciated how the gold dime is paradoxical, in that it is something simultaneously very common and very rare, similar to each and every human. In a sense, while it may sound a bit cheesy, we believe we are all gold dimes and while separately we may not amount to very much, when we come together our value can become immeasurable.
Any surprises? I’m not sure that any of us thought that we would be playing original music again, let alone recording and releasing on a record label, at this point in our lives. I mean, we aren’t THAT old, but our adult lives are certainly very busy. Coupled with how well we get along and play together, we think every next step is a wonderful surprise.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
Collectively, we hail from Jersey, Long Island, Philly and Staten Island. Thanks to an era of FM radio and a bustling local live music scene, we all grew up with access to a very wide array of live and recorded music. Kickstand has a special affinity for the Blues and that might be due in part to his upbringing in Staten Island. I know I get the blues every time I cross the Goethel’s Bridge (just kidding – Staten Island is lovely these days but making fun of it never gets old!). As for the rest of us, our personalities may be a bit “East Coast” but our musical influences definitely span the globe.
Coming of age in the shadows of a major metropolitan city lends itself to being on the forefront of what’s happening in entertainment and, in the pre-internet era, the activity of listening to and sharing music was a very popular pastime for the average kid, let alone the passionate musician. When people think of our area, names like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Hall & Oates might come to mind, but with the advent of mass distribution, the ever-expanding radio dial, the emergence of music video channels and increased touring, rock music spread its wings of influence very widely in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – regional influences still existed, sure, but the landscape of exposure was changing. Lately, we seem to be connecting most on a 70’s style Americana (or California) sound with a shared passion for three-part harmonies, but I am sure you can hear other flavors in our music as well. We definitely don’t operate in a box.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Absolutely. It doesn’t hurt that many of our wives and kids are friends! Most of us were friends before we were a band and part of what makes this experience so rewarding is that being in the band almost forces us to hang out more at a point in our lives where free time is a rare, precious commodity.
Congrats on releasing your debut EP, Uncommon Cents! What did that feel like? How did you all celebrate? Did anything surprise you about putting this collection together? How long did it take overall?
Thanks! It felt truly great for all of us and we are incredibly proud of the album. Again, I don’t think that any of us could have imagined this happening only a few years ago so it all still feels like a bit of a surprise. The entire process, save a few delays and hiccups, was a ton of fun. Sonny took the laboring oar, so most of the standard frustration fell on him, but the rest of us were along for the ride. We are extremely pleased with the recording done by Lorenzo Wolff at Restoration Sound Studio in Brooklyn, the mixing done by our friends Nate and Dan Monea of the group “Hey Monea” and the mastering done by Cass Anawaty at Sunbreak Music in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Given our busy schedules, we took our time with it and the entire process took about six months. Our album release show occurred recently, on June 12th at Rockwood Music Hall, which might be the “official” celebration, but our minds tend to always be thinking forward. The feedback on Uncommon Cents has been great but we’re already starting to focus on newer songs and recording our next album.
While it’s hard, can you pick out a few favorite songs on the album and talk about the inspiration for them and how they got to be on this collection?
Ah, the “Sophie’s Choice” question… I think “Ghost Town” holds a very special place in all of our hearts because we started working on it the very first night that Kickstand joined the band. That lead guitar lick you hear in the intro was born that night, so it’s hard not to feel a little nostalgic every time we hear it. Lyrically, it began as a song about fortitude in the face of struggle and was called “Burn the Ships” but Van, who birthed the foundational chord progression, was looking for something a bit less serious to match the groove. In turn, Avi took it back to the drawing board and what came out next was a fantasy romantic encounter in the heavily populated yet socially isolating city of New York, which we think fits the music much better.
“In Retrospect” was very cathartic, from a lyrical standpoint, in that it captures some of the angst we feel as Generation X’ers who feel in many ways betrayed by the corporate greed and governmental mismanagement of the Baby Boomer generation before us. It’s not by accident that it has a 1950’s style swing to it, contrasted by lyrics that may not be quite as optimistic as those written in and around the International Geophysical Year.
“Paper Skin”, an acoustically driven track that attempts to address the sensitive topic of emotional abuse, was our first single. It is written through the eyes of a victim of abuse as a child, now grown, in essence warning parents to handle with care when raising kids. As fathers ourselves to some delicate, impressionable young minds, we fully appreciate how critical the childhood phase of life is upon developing a certain self-esteem necessary for a healthy, well-adjusted adulthood. Perhaps now more than ever, with so many outside voices and images in the ears and eyes of our children, we feel strongly that parents need to be very careful with the words they choose.
Why do you think Noble Steed Music is the right place for this band and your music right now?
With the slogan “Great music will always find an audience,” Noble Steed is a label that is overtly passionate about furthering the careers of its artists. It began based on a genuine love of music creation and remains so to this day, regardless of how the industry continues to change. Noble Steed is all about integrity and so is Golden Dimes. It’s really a perfect fit. Oh, and Sonny owns it, but that’s not important right now…
What is next up for Golden Dimes? Are you working on your debut full-length album?
Continuing to enjoy the journey, wherever it leads. The creative process between us is a real labor of love, so we intend to write and develop new music for as long as the stars remain aligned. As discussed earlier, we are beginning to plan for our next album, though we haven’t decided on length just yet. While we have more than enough unrecorded music to fill a full-length album, it will most likely come down to time and affordability. We will continue to perform locally as opportunities arise but don’t count on a world tour any time soon!
Generally, how do you go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Typically, one band member brings a starting point to the table. From a simple riff to a fully assembled verse/chorus/bridge structure with melody and lyrics, there are no rules in how it starts. We call these starting points “eggs”. Once an egg is presented, the other band members add and discuss and add and discuss, etc., until it either develops into a healthy zygote or, as sometimes happens, it dies. He who delivers the egg retains ultimate decision making rights, so as to avoid any stalemates. We continue to nurture the song through infancy and toddlerhood until it can stand on its own. Can you tell we’re parents? However, we never stop developing them, as we treat them like living things with plenty of room to grow.
How has your sound grown or changed over the years? What has remained the same?
With only a few years together as a band under our belts, you might say that we are still finding our sound. That said, the roots have remained singer/songwriter driven, with a focus on verse/chorus contrast, musical simplicity or complexity (depending on what is called for) and an element of depth in lyrical content. We aren’t trying to sound like anybody in particular. A big part of what makes being in this band great is that we write based on what we feel and like, not based on what may be airing on various channels. Would we welcome appreciation by tons of people and outlets? Of course, but that isn’t what drives our bus. For us, it’s making music that we love, period.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
In Kickstand’s basement, for sure. That’s where we practice and it is really our “womb”. The fun, creatively and just as dudes hanging out, is unparalleled. Though don’t get us wrong – performing live and recording is always a blast too!
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal show for this group? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past?
We would suggest that people find us on social media for updates on performances. At the moment, we are discussing a few possible shows in New Jersey though I would expect that we will be appearing at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC again relatively soon.
An ideal show is one where the audience is engaged. The more fun the audience is having, the more fun we are having. To us, that’s what live music is all about – the symbiotic, sometimes spiritual experience shared between the audience and the band. Live music brings people of different ages, genders, religious and political beliefs, etc. together to enjoy a common experience. It can be a reminder that we are all human, first and foremost, and that can be magical.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans?
We are honestly pretty terrible at it! We post updates on Facebook and Instagram but we probably need to be better about making an effort to amass an online following. Interacting with fans, online or in the real world, is awesome and we’re always up for a chat! We love and crave feedback – positive or negative, it’s part of what helps us grow!
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
This is probably my favorite question. While we don’t pride ourselves on being political, much of our music attempts to call attention to topics of the day and this is not just an attempt to be “current”. We are very troubled and frustrated by the state of the world today, despite the fact that we optimistically believe that there has never been a better time to be alive. Our music, at least lyrically, is a form of therapy for us. For example, in addition to the obvious messages of In Retrospect and One that appear on our EP, we touch on topics such as income inequality (“Hello Sun”), environmental negligence (“The Tide”), equal rights (“Veteran”), emotional abuse (“Paper Skin”) and many others. Sure, we have our “lighter fare” tunes as well that we love, but we tend to gravitate towards songs with deeper meaning. Throughout time, music has demonstrated an immense power to influence and shape the future. Take the protest music of the 1960’s, for instance. In 2019, we think the world is starving for more music that takes on the issues of the day. We certainly don’t shy away from them.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Wow. So many artists have inspired us but I would say many of the bands and singer/songwriters of the 1960’s and 70’s have had the biggest collective influence on us. If we had to pick a few contemporaries that are out there today, Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Nightsweats is one band that we all really dig these days. If you ask Van, he would add Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. Sonny would throw in Dawes. For me, I’ll say Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, for Kickstand it’s David Gilmour and Eric Clapton and for Jo it’s Bob Dylan and Julia Jacklin.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
It’s all about the future and we can’t do anything until we start putting our differences aside and start working together. Step away from the infotainment networks, please! Trying to shout the other side into submission has proven to be fruitless, divisive and downright harmful. The world is far from perfect, and in many ways in dire straits, but not altogether an unfixable place. We owe it to future generations, our children, to do everything in our power to move the needle in the right direction. A unified front of rational, open-minded adults is of the utmost importance, now more than ever.
Oh, with a splash of remembering to live in the minute and have some genuine fun– let’s not forget that, while songs have the potential to influence and shape social attitudes, we are musicians and not politicians!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this interview with us. And thank you All Access Music for the opportunity to tell our story a bit! Please check out our tunes (available wherever music can be streamed) and follow us on Facebook (/goldendimes) and Instagram (@golden.dimes) for updates on future albums, show dates, etc. However, even if you don’t, or our sound just doesn’t suit your tastes, please please please just make a continued effort to be a decent person. As fathers, there is nothing more important to us than our children – and the future of their world depends on it.