Dag Nasty may be one of the founding bands for melodic hardcore. Nearly thirty years ago they combined their love for melodic songs with the intensity of American hardcore in the '80's.
Founding members Brian Baker and Shawn Brown have returned to their original lineup and are playing shows together again as if it was 1985 in Georgetown D.C. Time to sit down with Brian and Shawn and see what the future holds for Dag Nasty.
Welcome to Groezrock. First time here?
I've been here a bunch of times with Bad Religion. Which is why i have the rain boots. I'm a veteran at Groezrock. This is the first time that Dag Nasty has been here, even Europe.
I don't have the rain boot experience, this is my first time. I'm wearing my fly kicks today, especially for the trip.
Dag Nasty has been playing shows for some time. And almost thirty years after playing in this lineup, Shawn is back at vocal duties. How has it been?
It's been great. Just the fact that we're together and doing this. To me it's fun, it's amazing. I have a great time singing the songs. I don't have anything to say more than that. It's awesome.
You're also releasing a new single in a few days. A 7” featuring two new tracks. I've heard snippets and sounds promising. What may we expect?
We thought it would be appropriate. The band is finally doing some shows, doing some work. Kind of the whole idea of the experience to see what happens in the future. Part of that is making new music. That's really fun for me. We're going to keep writing music. Fortunately Dischord was cool enough to put it out. And we're going to write a record as soon as we write some more songs.
Dag Nasty has been quite influential to many bands. It seems there are a ton of cover songs around by plenty of bands. How does it feel to have your music covered by friends and fans?
I'm incredibly greatfull and somewhat amazed actually. I think it's really nice. There are so many bands that are so influential to me; like when i play a Ruts cover or a Damned cover, it brings me so such joy too. Hopefully that's what people are feeling when they play Dag Nasty stuff.
Shawn: It's nice that people like the music that you've done or are infuenced by it. To me it's like a dream come true. It's amazing that people still care about it. You write music or create things, they are what they are and you see time go by. Wow, someone did did like this, it did inspire somebody. That's cool to me. I make me think of following a tradition that other people have done for me.
The monniker Dag Nasty is actually proclaiming that something is awful. Pretty negative claiming your band sucks. You never regretted the band name?
I've been in a lot of bands with bad names. It's too late for regret. You want to know a bad band name. Bad Religion is a bad band name. And honestly, Minor Threat is not that good of a name either.
What? I love that name.
You could have had a band called Sweet Belly Freakdown. But then once again i think that's a cool name.
Brian: I don't thinks it's that good.
The point of the names is that they come right at the beginning. That name to me reminds me of walking with my friends when i was 19 down the streets in Georgetown D.C. And we were trying to think of bandnames. We just went, that's it. I see like a photographic representation of that day. I wish it was something cool like Black Sabbath but that was taken.
You were one of the first bands playing melodic hardcore. Being an innovator also attracts a lot of disdain. Did Dag Nasty receive much criticism in the beginning?
People seemed to like it from the get go. We weren't super hardcore, but at the time the scene was so small. It's before factions developed in styles of punkrock. There was basically British and American. And we weren't British. But we weren't really like Black Flag either. I was really into The Damned, and you can kind of tell. Playing guitarsolo's and not every song being fast. But maybe that's why it was cool. No one was thinking long term. Just making up songs. I don't really know what a song was, i didn't know a chorus or a verse. I just thought of songs as things that went on for a couple of minutes. When you are at that kind of caveman level of understanding songwriting you're not really like 'my influences are…'.
It's more like, hey we like this. We want to sound like. Like in the case of Swiz, The Damned, Metallica and the Bad Brains. We wanted to have a mix of that. Those were the bands that we liked.
Instead of we are going to do it this way because they do it this way. It's more like a stew.
Brian has been a key element to the band and also to many other bands such as Minor Threat and Bad Religion. He has a distintive guitar style that many envy. Where does this type of playing come from?
I don't know, the only thing i know is i only know how to do one thing. That's it. It's just ripping of Captian Sensible, Angus Young and a little Billy Gibbons.
That's a good mix.
Even in Junkyard, my metal band, i still play the same as i play in Dag Nasty and Bad Religion. Whatever.
Any last words or advice you want to share?
We' tour when we can. Because everyone has life and work and stuff. Which is awesome. We're playing a couple of Punkrock Bowling shows in The States. And we're coming back over the pond to do a UK tour at the beginning of August. Maybe five or six shows. And we're trying to get a record together. Slow and steady.
So next year a new record?
I would like to. Just got to make sure the songs are really good. Sometimes that happens quick, sometimes it takes for fucking ever.
There's no rush.
The only thing i have to say i you should check out the Dag Nasty single that is on Dischord Records. And you should also check out the Red Hare single that's on Dischord Records. That's another band that i play with. It has members of Swiz, Bluetip and Garden Variety. I think people will enjoy that as well.