Lex Pistols gets behind the meaning of a few Dirty Names that needed inclusion to the “urban dictionary” of good ol’ Sex, Drugs n’ Rock n’ Roll. Get a general definition of Dirty Names and check out a laid back interview with classic rock newcomers The Dirty Names.
I drive a certain type of car. This car represents a certain type of music. Those two elements combined might as well be a wikipedia description of “Bitchin’ like FUCK, stupid!” because when you have the growl of 30 agitated Rottweilers coming from a dual exhaust muffler that emits the rich smell of an octane bonfire from a HiPo engine, and your speakers sound like you’re driving around with Arlene’s Grocery in your back seat, your license plate might as well read “Keith Richards co-signs this.”
That right there is the only way I can describe the band you are about to experience in one definitive thought. The band is called Dirty Names, and these boys are a party in the backseat of a fast car, with unlimited rhythm and groove. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Rock n’ Roll used to visually represent. They’re 4 young men from Maryland, USA and these guys take it back to when Rock n’ Roll had ATTITUDE and gratuitous promiscuity conveyed through playfully arrogant guitar licks, coupled with prismatic poeticism overflowing with sexual double-entendre.
As a perfectly straight male, growing up in one of the toughest cities in America, I’m confident enough to say that it almost gave me a boner to see these five young men on stage personify the sound of sexuality so accurately through music. These guys are THAT good at what they do, and they do Rock n’ Roll the way it came to exist here in America: with SOUL, motherfuckers!!!! Nowadays I’m at a Rock n’ Roll show and I feel like I’m at a church bingo night – no, actually that has more shouting and excitement. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it’s like people forgot the two things that precede the words Rock n’ Roll in the phrase “Sex Drugs & Rock n’ Roll.” I mean, I can live without the drugs if I must, but for fuck’s sake DEFINITELY not the sex!!! Personify it through music for us please, ANYBODY!! Please future “Rock Stars” you can be ANYTHING; be intelligent, poetic and profound, righteous, spiritual and progressive, but for the love of humanity DON’T be BORING and soul-less!!! The British perfected that art from us, why can’t WE in America continue our own legacy?
If Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were to die tomorrow (hopefully NOT, I love the Stones), the boys of Dirty Names would have some serious shoes to fill, but they’re easily the ones most qualified to walk the walk (or strut the strut, in Mick’s case haha). First of all, they’re all natural born Southerners, so the “twang” and attitude that the British borrowed from us, comes naturally to them. Secondly, they perform on stage like they are also professional stage show choreographers, like: “NO brother, let me show you. With THAT guitar stroke, your hips have gotta go THAT way, like to the left . . .” etc. When you see these guys on stage, take VERY close observation of Kit, the lead guitarist (usually the man in the stylish hat), and you’ll pick up a few things on how to do the damn thing the right way. Kit Whitacre is pure musical pheromones. People just don’t play guitar like that anymore. They just aren’t willing to charm the pants off the crowd anymore for the sake of an excellent show.
We’ve had artists pop up, unique in their character and identities in Rock n’ Roll’s timeline, such as The Hives, The White Stripes – and more recently Wolfmother and the Black Keys. These artists all show some timeless songwriting proficiency. Its not easy to be in a band, and also writes timeless music. I’m sick of hearing bands that get all sorts of magazine hype and pointless praise, when they sound like me and four of my buddies in a drunk Rockband session after a few six packs. Not every band can write classic, flawless music that just rolls into your ears and makes YOU seem more appealing to your own self after having heard it. These guys have that down to a patent pending at this point. I mean, I play guitar, but I can’t write a song by myself to save my life. THIS is what separates “guys who can play” and ROCK n’ ROLL MUSICIANS. The significant word there is MUSICIAN – and multi-instrumentalist at that. Bands pop up every day; especially in New York. They fade out just as fast as they come in sometimes. I never tell people I play anything, personally. “I play video games,” I say. “I used to play chess a lot. I play with emotions of stupid people, but I don’t play guitar.” THAT’S what I say to people these days, because if you go to any bar or restaurant in New York City, you’ll find some waiter or bartender who think’s he’s the next Joe Perry or Mick Jagger. They might be the next Jared Leto in Fight Club IF anything, but they will more than likely not become the next Aerosmith or Rolling Stones. The band in this particular feature may have changed that. So without any hesitation, I give you a look inside the personal attitudes of the boys behind the sound that’s come to be called Dirty Names.
LP: Please introduce yourselves boys, what each of you do, and any other particular specialties and duties that come with the band.
Kit Whitacre: 22 – Vocals, Lead Guitar ; The band’s solo master. He will jump into the crowd, play behind his teeth, and play with his back. Or maybe the other way around.
Matt Rose: 25 – Vocals, Drums . We call him Father Time. He’s the timekeeper and knows when to push the band. He started as a guitarist, an instrument he won competitions on. So he understands how the pieces fit together.
Harrison Cofer: 23 – Lead Vocals, and Guitar; the band’s James Brown. He played bass originally, but when Sam Wetterau joined the band, he took the bass so Cofer could focus on lead vocals. He’s the band’s founder and remaining original member.
Sam Wetterau: 25 – Vocals, Bass
The glue that holds it together. . . The guy that hangs back. . . The keeper of the groove- also acts as band manager with his fancy college degree and what have you. We call him Fat Fingers.
We’re constantly touring, playing every night. We work hard, we play hard. We make love good.
LP: Hahaha Your facial expressions in that black and white photo convey that very sentiment. Haha. THESE are the type of answers I wish people I interview would give me. Where did the NAME “Dirty Names” come from? Is there a theme behind it?
Dirty Names: We were simply called The Names. The story goes that we were tossing around possible band names, getting more and more ridiculous, as bands do, until Rose shouted, “I cannot take this anymore! Can we just be all of them? Let’s just be The Names.” (Later, we found out another band in Belgium already had the name, so we just made it a little dirtier.) There isn’t a necessary theme but who doesn’t like to get Dirty?
LP: That’s a cool story. I have a friend we call the Dirty Leppard. Actually, his name’s Jef Leppard (The name is obvious; his name is Jeff, and he will only listen to 80’s hair bands and some metal from the 80’s. HE’S a story in itself). My partner re-named him the Dirty Leppard after observing him in action. Also self explanatory.
This next question will probably be the most obvious musically, after the 1st one. I always tend to favor the bands I interview; we won’t write about a band we don’t like. We’ll let another magazine have their journalists play pretend for sales or whatever. We just love music here. We write about bands who come from a certain rock n’ roll DNA gene pool that we would like to see preserved (and done RIGHT). Its very clear that the Stones, (and related bands) are a powerful influence on your music. I love that you even reference them in Salt Water Jackie “…cocaine eyes…. I’ve had brown sugar….” I LOVE THAT!!!! How do you respond to that when people point that out, or even try to discredit that great influence?
Dirty Names: We definitely get told “you guys sound like the Rolling Stones!” pretty often. But we have a huge variety of influence including the people that influenced The Stones. No one ever discredits us at shows, the usual response is that our music is “refreshing”
LP: Refreshing, amongst other things; entertaining, it looks and sounds good comin’ out of my car, feels sexy and full of energy. It’s good summer music in a car with no roof. It’s really only “Salt Water Jackie,” “Swimming,” and perhaps “I Don’t Care” that are most reminiscent of The Rolling Stones. A lot of the newer stuff is really classic Southern Blues Rock. There’s so much composition involved.
With that said, I remember when The Hives first came out, and I saw the lead singer in the video, I thought “Oh my God, THIS guy wants to be Mick Jagger SO BAD with the “Now it’s all out and YOOOOUUUU knew!” (That’s all Mick and HE knew haha) The Hives have their own sound though, clearly as their track record proves and they’re one of my favorite- and can’t ANYONE say they weren’t influenced by the Stones, or Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Sabbath, Kiss or any of the greats before us if they play Rock n’ Roll today. If anyone plays Rock n’ Roll music, they’re influenced by these bands even if they don’t know it. Your sound is very Southern Classic Rock / Blues Rock; do you think being from Maryland – and your hometown specifically – helped to shape your sound? Or is it all equal musical taste within the band?
Dirty Names: Our sound comes from Maryland but it doesn’t shape our sound. All four of us have a diverse musical taste but when we get together, we like to play Rock & Roll. We’re playing the music we want to hear, the music we want to listen to. No one’s playing honest Rock & Roll these days.
LP: AMEN brother. AMEN!!!! That’s why we started this magazine; to HIGHLIGHT the kind of stuff we want HEARD and make sure it gets NOTICED. I apologize if this next question appears generic, but I’m genuinely interested, because for example, whoever is in the background, and whoever decided on THIS chorus structuring: “Alright guys, I’m gonna come in on the chorus RIGHT here, but someone come in like a half beat just before me and yell SAAAALT! while I come in with SALT… WATER… JACKIE!!!, so it’s “SAAAAAALT….. SALT WATER JACKIE!!!!” Whoever came up with THAT arrangement takes the prize, man. Its little details like those in the singing that are the cowbell in a song (who doesn’t love gratuitous cowbells??), FUCKIN ROCKIN!!!!!!!!!! The same thing is done on Swimming, sort of. These, obviously my two favorite tracks. Whoever that guy is who’s responsible for that arrangement, I owe you lifetime free rounds anywhere I see you. Who then, is the main composer of the music, and what is the writing process like?
Dirty Names: Somebody comes in band practice with a song and we all arrange it. Swimming was written by Harrison and Salt Water Jackie was written by Harrison and Matt but everyone in the band helps in the arrangement. Until we have a number 1 hit on the radio there is no such thing as a formula.
LP: So I guess Matt is the guy I owe the lifetime free rounds too then. Haha. Overall, I dig your music. All of our buddies and anyone who hears it agrees. Your music is good for two reasons (well two MAIN reasons… there are a million reasons, but for now TWO IMPORTANT reasons): 1)Its great when NEW music bridges time gaps and generations. You guys are NEW guys who help enlighten people who might not know about the Stones, or Zeppelin (yeah believe it or not) but much WORSE, who don’t LIKE them! Then, 2)in doing so, you educate people and preserve the great Rock n’ Roll lineage that sometimes gets diluted from generation to generation. You happen to play the type of Rock n’ Roll I personally enjoy playing. With that said, how do you feel about TODAY’S current Rock n’ Roll scene and its evolution?
Dirty Names: There is a [classic] Rock & Roll scene but it’s underground, you have to get your hands dirty to find it. We are going to bring it to the top of the charts.
LP: PLEASE DO SO, and don’t waste a second getting that done. Many of us miss Rock n’ Roll – especially the presence of it on radio (if you own a car like I do – sometimes you may miss the old unfamiliar idea of the near-extinct radio station). When I was a kid, I said to my best friend at the time “If I ever make an album I want the guy that produced Welcome To The Jungle and made that record sound like you could hear it from the fucking moon to make my album.” Who’s been involved in your past production and the production on your newest work (there’s ALOT going on in the newer material heard on Sweat Box). Also, are there any producers out there you guys would like to work with?
We have produced ourselves, along with Gary Hirstius and Noel White. T-Bone Burnett, Don Was, Mark Ronson, Dan Auerbach. . . call us.
LP: Mark Ronson??!! Dan Auerbach [of Black Keys] . . . interesting . . . I say interesting, because I personally think you guys are better than the Black Keys. I couldn’t stand their earlier work. It’s almost as if with their new album they got together and said, “OK guys, we have to actually sit down and write a SONG once and for all, and not just get together and jam on a record.” That’s rude. I shouldn’t say that, but I just feel as if everything they’ve made in the past sounds like total jam sessions. Their new stuff is right on though; flawless. They’ve really come a long way. They’ve been to NY quite extensively, and they’ve made a huge impact in NY as far as fan base – which reminds me, I checked your tour schedule recently – I DON’T SEE NEW YORK THERE – when do you boys see yourselves comin’ back to NY?
Dirty Names: We will be at Piano’s on the LES on Saturday July 21st. It’s the thing to do in Manhattan that night so be there.
LP: Haha you guys are the BEST. I will certainly be there . . . with a cowbell on. When I saw you guys for the first time at Mercury Lounge I thought, “Man these guys have a GREAT look, and a great sound and amazing chemistry . . .” ANYTIME I see or hear a band I’m not as good as, or I would like to sound like, naturally as a musician and meticulous critic, I say “OK, but how do they sound LIVE- or what do their RECORDINGS sound like??” You guys REALLY do the job. I mean on stage it SOUNDS good, LOOKS good- it’s almost heartbreaking to see that its THAT good. It looks so NATURAL – Your lead guitarist should give “Rock Star Aura” seminars. It couldn’t GET more perfectly “choreographed” on stage with you guys, but you can tell its all natural. I mean it’s partly natural, it shows, because the video seems a bit more subdued- you guys let the motors rev on stage full blast. How much time goes into rehearsal and stuff on an average?
Dirty Names: We look at shows like this: No matter how many people, they’re getting the best show of their lives. We always have a good time. With that being said we hate it when they don’t have a handicap bathroom.
LP: Oh yeah, New York is definitely the worst offender for that. Hell, you’re lucky if in some places you can open the door fully, and close it behind you and not trip and fall into the toilet. I think sometimes some of the architecture in this place was built as a grade-school kid’s model diorama, or like in Zoolander: “How can we be expected to teach children how to learn how to read if they can’t even fit inside the building!” etc.
Anyway, enough NYC architecture criticism. So you guys have only been around since 2010, or is that just RECORDED material as Dirty Names?
Dirty Names: Matt and Harrison started a band called The Names in 2006. Kit then joined in 2008 followed by Sam in late 2009. Shortly thereafter we became the Dirty Names and have released 2 EP’s since then.
LP: Oh yeah, about Kit . . . you guys DEFINITELY need to keep an iron grip on that guy . . . That guy is LEGENDARY!!!! Your new EP JUST came out I see [Sweat Box] Released in February? What are the plans for the future from that point on?
Dirty Names: Yeah, our most recent EP, titled “SWEAT BOX”, was released a few months ago in February. Right now we are finishing up a tour and figuring out times to record over the rest of the summer. Stay tuned!
LP: I loved that when I was at your show by coincidence at Mercury Lounge in NY, there was almost nothing but GIRLS there. ROCK ON!! Which city that you’ve played has the best GIRLS? You can say ANY city . . . I’m from New York but there’s just something about a Southern girl that’s like no other . . . but then there’s Cali girls . . . and then Europe is a whole other story . . . This is turning into many different songs by many Rock groups . . . Some Girls . . . Girls Girls Girls . . . “I wish they all could be . . .” Haha . . .
Dirty Names: Every city has “the best girls!” We’ve toured all over the country and no matter what city we’re in, there’s always a group of girls in front of the stage. I guess we are living the dream after all!!
LP: Oh you’re not lying about that. I was there. Its a Rock n’ Roll dream. It’s the dream of nearly every boy who’s heard a Stones record, or an Aerosmith record, or whatever Rock n’ Roll record you may identify with. Music is powerful stuff. Its a language that sometimes can’t be taught. You have to already be born with this in your blood, and you can only learn to do it BETTER. You guys are naturals, and you’ll only go further with time. I hope I live long enough to see you guys look like Keith and Mick do today. If not, at least I’ll leave a pretty corpse. Haha. I thank you boys for your time, making my car look so loveable and pretty when I’m ridin’ around, and I’ll see you at Piano’s – along with all of New York City, if they know what’s good for them!! “Rock n’ Roll is just Rock n’ Roll!”
CHECK FOR MUSIC FROM THE DIRTY NAMES ON ITUNES AND AMAZON. THEY CAN ALSO BE FOUND ON SPOTIFY. THE PHYSICAL CD (RARE THESE DAYS) IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON