The last time DILLINGER FOUR released an album, American Idol premiered its first episode, John Gotti died from cancer and the jokes about R. Kelly allegedly peeing on a 14-year-old girl had only just begun. Ah, we were so young. Six years later, the band have finally come together long enough to lay down a new album for Fat Wreck Chords, the long-anticipated C I V I L W A R. Brian Shultz recently had a chat with vocalist/guitarist Erik Funk about the album, Funk’s Triple Rock club and a follow-up that seems like it’ll be released well before VH1 has time to air I Love The ’00s.
I’ve heard a lot of fans, as well as yourself in past interviews, describe this album as more poppy than the band’s past albums. But to me, it doesn’t sound so much popper as it does just less rambunctious.
I think that’s true. I don’t know if it’s necessarily more pop–it’s just… I guess the production’s a little slicker. We didn’t do as many guitar tracks as we normally do. We just didn’t "noise" it up as much as we normally do. We spent a lot more time working on vocals.
So you would say it’s less energetic–maybe less restrained?
Yeah. It’s definitely got a different flow to it. It’s definitely not as frantic.
Would you say the members got that out of their system in the side projects, or have you just calmed down over the years?
Nah, I wouldn’t say it’s stuff like that. I just think the way the songs were written, it just seemed more right, instead of trying to push that onto it.
Was the album recorded in patches over the last few years?
No, no, no. It was all recorded in the month of July. Well, a little bit in August. [It was] at the same studio [The Terrarium in Minneapolis] that we’ve recorded everything else we’ve ever [done]. I think we started on July 5. We just did it on and off, whenever we weren’t working our regular jobs, and just stretched it out over a month or five weeks. We did a little bit of vocals in a different studio, but other than that, it was basically the same [way] we’ve done all the other stuff.
You’ve also mentioned in other interviews that the album took six years due to family and other band projects. Do you think these things will interfere to the extent that we won’t hear another Dillinger Four album until 2014?
No, no. [Laughs.] I actually think the opposite. The best thing about getting this one done is, we’ve really figured out sort of a system that works as far as when we can practice and how much, and maybe be able to write a little bit more separately. We did kinda change a bit [along the way in our process]. For a lot of years we were trying to do things the same old way when we didn’t have jobs and we didn’t have wives and kids. We figured out a way that works now. So actually, we’re already talking about [a new] EP for next year.
Are there any details or ideas on that yet?
No, not too much. If you listen to the new record, it’s a little bit lighter on [vocalist/bassist] Paddy [Costello]’s songs, and he had a couple that he just didn’t quite have ready. So the only thing we can say about [the EP] is that we can expect it to be a little heavier on Paddy’s songs and a little less on mine.
Was it a challenge for you to take up most of the vocal responsibility on the new album?
It’s actually less [balanced] than Versus God, our second record, which I think was only one Paddy song and 12 of mine. It wasn’t quite as much, but it was a lot. There was even one more song that didn’t make the record that was another one of mine, so, it was a lot to write. But we did have six years to do it. [Laughs.] It wasn’t too bad.
This is probably an obvious answer, but what is Paris Hilton a metaphor for?
Oh. [Laughs.] That would be a bad one for me, because Paddy wrote that song, and who knows what comes out of the mind of that guy. [Laughs.] Sorry.
As a co-owner/manager of the Triple Rock, how did you feel about NOFX’s tribute song to it, "Seeing Double At The Triple Rock"?
It was awesome. We’ve played with them for the last few nights and they actually play it live, which is really cool for me–to see like all these total random strangers who probably don’t even know what they’re singing about. But it’s really cool to see 2,000 people singing about my bar. [Laughs.] I love it. It was great. We were thrilled about it.
Speaking of which, how difficult has it been to balance the management of the bar with the band’s increased activity over this year?
It’s a little bit [difficult], but not too bad. I co-own the bar with my wife and always have. So it’s not like it’s just down to me or anything like that. She’s still there. We’ve had pretty much the same staff for most of the time we’ve been open, so by now everyone pretty much knows what to do and I don’t really need to be there micromanaging it. I’d probably get in the way more than anything.
Does it seem like, because of how sporadically the band have played over the last few years, that you’re more popular than ever now?
You know, some people have been saying that, and I think in some ways, that’s true–and we’re lucky for it. I don’t know if a lot of bands could’ve gotten away with taking as much of as a break as we did. A lot of people still care, so we’re really lucky with that. But at the same time, it probably would’ve just been smarter to… I mean, if we really wanted to increase popularity, we should’ve just broken up two years ago and called this a reunion. That’s a recipe that’s been working for a lot of our friends’ bands.
With all the controversy surrounding C I V I L W A R‘s leak online a few weeks ago, what is your take on it, and the band’s take on it in general?
We were surprised to see it become as big–I mean, the story became way bigger than our part in it. Or it wasn’t really about our record. It was just about that circumstance. For us, none of us have a real strong position against people sharing music. I mean, I think that’s fine. We didn’t feel like we were getting ripped off or anything. Everything else related to it, between that writer and his boss… [Laughs.]… Whatever else happened, I feel like we’re out of it. alt