Turntable Interview: The Dismemberment Plan
As you may have heard, the Dismemberment Plan, the funky, funny, frenetic DC hardcore band, is back. Uncanney Valley, the band’s fifth album and their first since 2001, is out now and before heading out on tour, the Plan’s frontman Travis Morrison hopped up on Turntable.fm to play some tunes including Nu Shooz and talk about his band of “unstrategic ding dongs.”
Melissa Locker started playing “Here Comes Your Man” by Pixies
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I feel like we are the only people at a show at Shea Stadium. Oh I saw the Pixies the other day
STEREOGUM: I did not see the Pixies and I have very mixed feelings about that
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Were you there?
STEREOGUM: Nope! What did you think of it?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It was fun. it was some grown ass rock and roll. So grown ass that I kind of found the emo stage a relief. This band called Pierce The Veil?
STEREOGUM: I don’t know them!
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: They are like 21-year-old men that can jump really high
STEREOGUM: As high as David Lee Roth? He is my yardstick
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Well they had these maybe 18 inch high platforms for the guys on either sides, which they would leap on and off of. They’d jump up, point at the crowd, mouth along with the singer and then do like a backflip off the little platform while playing
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I can’t lie, it was great. I would, like, gingerly step off the platform
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Shot By Both Sides” by Magazine
STEREOGUM: Now I want to go see Pierce the Veil and see if they measure up to David Lee Roth. Was that at a festival?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: That was at Riot Fest. There was, like, this stage, over on the side where the kids were. The little girls loved this band and if you were to abstract the sound conversation between band and crowd it was like
STEREOGUM: Wow, that sounds hard on your hearing
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Sorry what? Speak up.
STEREOGUM: A friend went and saw One Direction and claims she pretty much went deaf for two days due to all the SQUEEEEEE
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Yes that was probably true squee.
STEREOGUM: How is your hearing after so many years churning out rock?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Miraculously good. Better than an average 40 year old and I was VERY sloppy about earplugs
STEREOGUM: That’s good! So you wouldn’t fire up the Flux Capacitor to tell your younger self to wear more earplugs?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It’s so miraculously good that now I am religious about it because I fear the moment it all goes away. There are other things I would want to address, but if we had time, that might come up
Melissa Locker started playing “Jump” by Van Halen
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It’s Mr. Yardstick
STEREOGUM: So, most important question about Riot Fest: Did you see the Replacements?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: True it is the most important Q. I did. It was excellent. It was not world changing.
STEREOGUM: But excellent nonetheless.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I got home and listened to the records and realized that Chris Mars did actually do something special, but that voice + those songs = what the fuck are you going to do
STEREOGUM: He was a great drummer!
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: He was THE MAN for that band. He was like an over-caffeinated, confused, determined Charlie Watts
STEREOGUM: I know! They are my all time favorite band ever
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: He made 9 wrong decisions in every song and crossed the finish line like a champ.
STEREOGUM: That sounds like an apt description of a lot of bands, but especially the Replacements. Speaking of another band that just got back together: what brought you out of retirement?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Oh the retirement thing… I just didn’t have anything for the marketplace and saying “I’m retired” is fun
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Green Fingers” by Siouxsie And The Banshees
STEREOGUM: Bill Murray famously jokes that he always tells people he’s retired
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It feels so good!
STEREOGUM: He’s retired until something good comes along that he wants to do
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I mean what am I going to say? I’m on sabbatical? I’m on a voyage of discovery?
STEREOGUM: Hiatus? Like a TV show?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: That word is so gross don’t you think? “Anus” is in there.
STEREOGUM: It isn’t actually. Hi-anus is not a word except in certain chatrooms that I wouldn’t enter
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I’m going to spend some time on Uranus. Now THAT I should have said.
STEREOGUM: There you go. People would leave you alone then
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: What’s up Stereogum? Are you ready for another Uranus joke???
STEREOGUM: ALWAYS. Our readers live for them
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It is hard to say no. It’s so good.
STEREOGUM: So, Travis, what made you return from your trip to Uranus?
Melissa Locker started playing “What’s Going Ahn” by Big Star
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Damn it almost worked. Uh, well, I took a year off, just lived in NYC, went to shows, was doing music things but not really telling anyone, just for fun, then the Plan had a vinyl reissue in 2011 and the label asked us to do shows and we’re kind of unstrategic dingdongs. We just do things request by request and we were like… UHHHH, ok! Then we started jamming more and more during those rehearsals, so we kept that going and I guess then my New York beer rock band got a little more serious / stopped drinking so much beer before practice, The Burlies
STEREOGUM: “Unstrategic Ding Dongs” would be a great name for an album, by the way
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: The unstrategic ding dongs of Uranus
STEREOGUM: There you go
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Oh I forgot to like that song. I love Big Star. My friend calls them the southern Zep and it’s so true. Zep with manners.
STEREOGUM: The Southern Zep? I’ll have to listen with that in mind. So where where we? Oh right The Burlies were taking off
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Well, sobering up, actually BOOKING A SHOW OR TWO. So yes it was a real rocket ship,
but a lot of things kind of came to life at once–things to do in rock venues, records to put out, and now here I am 40 years old with a few bands. This is beautiful country.
Melissa Locker started playing “Waiting Room” by Fugazi
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: OK I am ready to like the shit out of your next song. LOL.
STEREOGUM: And when did D-Plan decide, aw hell let’s get back together and give the people what they want?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Not really ever we just kept playing music for kicks and it turned into songs. We’d play over the years but it was kind of a dry cracker, but for whatever reason the vibe was pretty creative by the end of 2011, who knows why.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: What? This song is awsum!!
STEREOGUM: I’m from Portland, Oregon and this band was the only thing played on the radio for, like, 12 years
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Oh well I can’t help you there. This is a big song in DC because it kind of sounds like go go
I seem to recall seeing an interview with the woman from LCD soundsystem, who grew up in the Pac-NW, and she said this was her first gig, in like a Sears parking lot
STEREOGUM: I guess? Although I spent every summer of my entire life in DC and never heard it
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Oh man
this and “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly. You might have gone into a fugue state every time the song started. Hey what does that line mean? Does she sing “I love you/even when you don’t try?”
STEREOGUM: She’s in love with some guy who’s a dick and she loves him anyway
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Ohhhhhh,
STEREOGUM: It’s what she’s been waiting for. She can’t wait. Baby. She can’t wait.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: All right, hit the fucking thumbs down already. Jesus. Are they FROM … up there?
STEREOGUM: My one complaint about Dismemberment Plan songs is that not enough of the choruses have BABY on repeat
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: There is still time.
Melissa Locker started playing “So Lonely” by The Police
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Vampire Weekend babied the shit out of that one song — Dyan Young.
STEREOGUM: Oh yeah they did. That’s why the ladies love them. Ladies are silly like that
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Is that what it takes? Damn. I like their last record, it’s a good long player.
STEREOGUM: Yeah! I think it was a little underappreciated, but I like it
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It was underappreciated? I felt like it was sitting on my face a few months ago. I guess that was just its media moment.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, underappreciated because no one is talking about it now
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Oh
well, what record lasts longer than 1 week now?
STEREOGUM: Blurred LInes
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Except for ones no one talks about at the time. GOD.
STEREOGUM: Exactly. Anyway: Dismemberment Plan
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: NOOOO
STEREOGUM: Yes, Travis, we must.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I know. SMH.
STEREOGUM: Since you have been a band for so long, how your songwriting changed over the years? How was writing this album different than writing Emergency and I?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: See we were about to talk about the video with the titties and now this… awful. OK uh
I don’t… really know?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Bad Reputation” by Thin Lizzy
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I mean there is the same excruciating effort, reams of notebooks. Total crap, despair
STEREOGUM: I’m sorry do you want to talk about the objectification of women in the “Blurred Lines” video instead?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I’d rather watch old people eat. I CAN DO THIS
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I really don’t want to talk about that either, lol
STEREOGUM: How did you know I was eating
I will… cop to that. I am more interested in whether or not other people could sing the songs. The diaristic edge to our old stuff was extreme
STEREOGUM: Overly so? It seemed appropriate at the time
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Uhhhh…. as self-absorption goes it had perspective. and humor… it was pretty good
STEREOGUM: Do you think it was just a side effect of youth? That you’ve grown out of?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: There’s a few do-overs I would like but it’s not like I sing them on stage now and am like THIS IS A LIE
Melissa Locker started playing “Save It For Later” by The English Beat
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: No actually, most of our old songs, I can get with. THE BEST SONG OF ALL TIME!!!!
STEREOGUM: Right? I think I’ve listened to this every day for the last ten years
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It’s silly how good it is. They were a BAND. Such good songs
STEREOGUM: You say that like you aren’t a 40 year old in several bands. What makes the English Beat a BAND in all caps?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Just, really good. Really really good. This is tough to follow
STEREOGUM: When in doubt there’s always more Nu Shooz
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Yeah yr used to that.
STEREOGUM: I was innoculated at an early age
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: lotta controversy about that nu shooz vaccine.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Moral Kiosk” by R.E.M.
STEREOGUM: Oh nice choice
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Another BAND
STEREOGUM: REM is so REM now, but back in the day they were really amazing.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: They just never replaced the great drummer.
STEREOGUM: Is that the secret to success?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: They never replaced the great drummer and they never made another quantum leap songwriting-wise. They made one with Out of Time and Automatic For The People, how many do you have to fucking make
STEREOGUM: Right. I love the fact that they stopped. I respect it
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Yeah I didn’t actually have a problem with them continuing
STEREOGUM: I hope they get back together though and make one last AMAZING record
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It’s true that their godfather status has faded a bit. It was hella strong through the 90s
STEREOGUM: I agree!
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: That’s an interesting… why did that happen?
STEREOGUM started playing “Actual Condition” by Husker Du
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Crazy, this sounds like the Replacements.
STEREOGUM: It really does. Do you think the DC scene in the 90s sounded as much alike as the Minneapolis scene in the 80s?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN started playing “Mary Won’t You Call My Name?” by Morphine
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Ah, there was definitely tropes and then variations. You could tell there were common elements, even to Unrest and other outliers. But does Shudder to Think sound like Nation of Ulysses, not too much.
STEREOGUM: Nope! I love the anthropology of scenes.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: It can be pretty obsessive.
STEREOGUM: I think I forgot Morphine existed.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I did not
Cure For Pain = perfect record, which isn’t always want to listen to, doesn’t equal “best”
STEREOGUM: Oh right! There aren’t that many bands who have a horn section
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: but it is perfect.
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN:started playing “Deeper Than Inside” by Rites of Spring
STEREOGUM: So are you ready to go on tour?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Sure!
STEREOGUM: Do you like touring?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I have realized that I really like being on stage and getting attention.
Melissa Locker started playing “Marquee Moon (Remastered LP Version)” by Television
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I do. I needed a break from it, but I love the search for breakfast the next day, I love the beer at sound check, old friends showing up, seeing a town from the underside
STEREOGUM: So you’re an attention seeker? (JK!)
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Sure, I sing in a band
STEREOGUM: And you’re a breakfast seeker?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: I am a serious breakfast seeker
STEREOGUM: What’s your best discovery?
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Grit!
Athens, GA. Although now that I left DC, it has a really strong breakfast at Meredian Pint, so that’s the best of both worlds–in your hometown like a tourist eating French toast
STEREOGUM: I will have to check it out! Well, I have taken up an hour of your time
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: That is really true, you have.
STEREOGUM: … and we are only three minutes into the ten minute song, so that’ll do! Thanks so much for chatting with me!
DISMEMBERMENT PLAN: Sure thing, thanks!
The Dismemberment Plan’s Uncanney Valley is out now on Partisan Records
10/18 New York, NY – Terminal 5 (w/ Wild Cub)
10/19 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club (w/ Deleted Scenes)
10/20 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club (w/ Paint Branch)
11/02 Boston, MA – Paradise (w/ Yellow Ostrich)
11/03 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer (w/ Yellow Ostrich)
11/09 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade (w/ Wild Cub)
11/10 Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
12/07 Seattle, WA – The Neptune Theatre (w/ Telekinesis)
12/08 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom (w/ Telekinesis)
12/10 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore (w/ Telekinesis)
12/12 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre (w/ Telekinesis)