JUNO Spotlight: Dilly Dally
Alternative Album Of The Year
Taking almost six years since forming to put out their debut record Sore, you'd be hard-pressed to admit the time wasn't worth it for the Toronto rockers. With guitarists Katie Monks and Liz Ball teaming up after high school, it took years of writing, and scrapping material to reach what they wanted. Bringing back a 90's sense of guitar rock, that manages to tie-in all the pop sensibilities that have slowly moved out of the genre, the band's breakout album, along with their live show is a distorted fire to behold, one that feels long missed and made anew as well.
Ottawa Life: How did the fkkt remixes come about?
Katie Monks: It was just kinda fun and natural, when you're on tour you don't have as much time to work on new music. So it was a fun thing to do when we were on the road, I could reach out to friends and get them to do something fun with it. We meet tons of wonderful artists on the road and miss our buds back home so it was a fun way of sharing that with everyone.
How does it feel to be nominated for Alternative Album Of The Year? Was it cool to see label-mates and fellow Torontonians Weaves nominated alongside you?
A lot of friends reached out so it was really nice, everyone's stocked about it. I woke up to text messages from Jasmyn from Weaves, "WE WERE NOMINATED" and I didn't even know what for at the time. We all went out for drinks to celebrate, any excuse for our two bands to hang out is good enough for me. We went on a tour in September so it was fun to catch up.
What's the story behind your original debut album that got scrapped?
It was just a timing thing. By the time we'd assembled a team of people to work with, we had new songs and we wanted to make a clearer statement. The vision was more clear by the time we had people helping us release our shit.
With the marked amount of pop hidden under all the heavy guitars, do you usually set out to write a pop song and have the guitars as an aesthetic or is it guitar rock with pop influence?
We definitely don't listen to alt-rock (laughs) we listen to a lot of rap, 80s power ballads and karaoke, but we also listen to our friends stuff. I definitely feel all of our songs structurally are usually hook-verse-chorus (laughs) there's no mystery to it, or any tricks to the songs. I grew up listening to the Beatles so it's kind of like chess to me. You're given these tools, two guitars, bass and drums, and a basic pop song structure, and it's the basic pen and paper I write with. It still has to be really genuine though and come from a real place?
What was it about the music you'd been hearing that made you want to do something different?
I've never thought too much about genre, it's just the most fluid language for us, just plugging in guitars and using the tools we had, the producers we love. Me as a person I just wanted to say something, be listened to and be part of the conversation. I just grew up listening to records, idolizing rock stars, so I wanted to throw my own two cents in and continue to do so.
You and Liz clicked pretty quickly with your music but what about Ben and Jimmy pushed things forward even more?
We've had tons of bassists and drummers, but the live show felt fresh again, it was new friendships and new vibes. In terms of the record, we wrote half the songs on the record with our old drummer and bassist and we still love those guys and value that time a lot. Our live show got more exciting and everyone felt it more. We asked them to be in the band for a reason, we had a vision and it was all part of it. There's a balance between letting things happen naturally, and wanting to put together your dream band.
With so many noisy guitar bands sprouting up in Toronto right now, what do you think sets you apart? Is it the positive pop nature or something else?
I don't notice the pop thing with other bands that much at all, other than Weaves. Most of the music happening here, it's the pop music that people hear. You have to dig deeper to find a lot of the real noise music coming out of here. It's there but people don't talk about it as much as band like us, Weaves and Greys, which are much more poppy than other bands we grew up with and play with here. Something that sets us apart from all that is we're not afraid of being cheesy and silly sometimes.
Did your brothers success in the music industry (David Monks of Tokyo Police Club) influence your decision to make a go of it?
That's pretty much it. I mean he wasn't around a lot when I starting to play music and play in bands, because he was on tour and living his life. Not to say we're not good friends. When I was 16 my big brother was playing big shows and I looked up at him and said "Yeah, I can do it too." But I think as well I get to see times where he trips so I get to learn from his mistakes as well.
Do you find your angrier and sadder music is a therapeutic way to keep those emotions from staying inside you?
I never really think about it before it happens, all those songs it's just something happens or I want to help a friend by writing a song for them. There's these landmarks in your life like falling in love or your friend leaves the band, people's mental health, being angry at your boss at your shitty restaurant job. I wouldn't say it's getting it out of my system as much as locking it down. I'm reading this book right now, that says that anger is like a map that can show you where you boundaries are as a person, so it's like that.
Does it ever feel too personal or do you ever feel exposed trying to get there?
No, everyone can take it all. I don't care about that.
Do you see yourselves really changing things up for the next record as you've suggested throwing people for a loop or will it more be an evolution of your heavy sound?
I think we're just going to be true to ourselves. Our first record is true to us, so our second record won't have people saying "What the f*ck is this." I don't think people will be pissed or anything but I don't know how to talk about the new record right now since it's still a little baby.
Is there something you try to do live you can't do on record?
The songs are band songs, we wrote them in a room and recorded them in 11 days. Coming from Toronto too, you have to have a good live show, that's the way it is. It's just the song's are made for it and we just go up and read the script, and the script is us freaking out. It's just out-of-body.