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Interview Wed Nov 05 2014

Interview: The Dirty Dirty Dollars

Interesting startup story: The Dirty Dirty Dollars began as a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band. Finding that they enjoyed bringing an energized, high-octane rock sound to their audience, they began composing music of their own, and will be showcasing their talents at the beloved venue Martyrs' this Friday evening, where they will also release their latest singles, "An' When I Die" and "Pushin'."


Originally vowing to only create music that revolved around the subjects of "sex, death, beer and our fathers," the Dollars traveled across the United States to gain the inspiration they craved. They spent time at Memphis's revered Ardent Studios, which hosted the recordings of notable rock greats, from ZZ Top, to Big Star and The White Stripes. The group's raunchy personality is what attracts to their sound like a moth to a flame, as their upcoming live show promises to be one full of spontaneity and a bit of notoriety, too.

I was able to interview the group's vocalist and drummer, Jeff Philipe, about the group's identity and where they hope to be in the future. Founded by Philipe, vocalist and guitarist Jed Taylor, and bassist Harley Gingras, the group is sure to put on a show that proves to be an excellent time as well as a wonderful journey into their musical style.

The name is definitely a great precursor for your gritty and energized rock sound. Where does the inspiration for your name come from?

Ha, yes, our name rocks. One "Dirty" just wasn't dirty enough. We make music that's a little rough around the edges -- it has some swagger. That tension is what creates the energy and excitement. The "Dollars" bit is both a celebration and a mockery of what makes America go 'round.

Following with the inspiration theme, what inspires your music? Is there a certain persona your group must emulate, or is your identity more fluid?

We originally started out saying that we'd only write songs about "sex, death, beer, and our fathers," but that's already been kicked to the curb. We're not stuck in one persona, we write both in our own voices and in character voices, though the lines can become blurred. Our show is inspired mostly by soul acts in the '60s and '70s; we don't dress like they dressed, but we appreciate that when they hit the stage, they had a look, and they had moves. They weren't holding anything back from the audience.

I know you recently traveled down to Memphis's Ardent Studios, home to the recordings of many great musical legends. What did you learn there that you have been able to apply to your sound?

We learned that Southerners dig The Dollars. Our show and sound are larger than life, so people around here may wonder if this is some kind of joke or theatrical stunt. We've even been called "wiseguys" by a prominent local DJ. Down in Memphis, everyone was just like "hell yeah, rock n roll!" Chicagoans are coming around -- it's just so different than what they're used to seeing.

You have moved from a CCR cover band to creating your own tunes. What has the process been like in forging your own identity, and where do you hope to take The Dirty Dirty Dollars in the future?

What we really took from the tribute experience was the notion that there's more to playing live than songwriting. We didn't have to write songs, so we spent our time focusing on musicality and performing, on putting together a great show. Most bands spend all their time trying to work up new songs instead of putting together a show, when in reality, the whole package is what really will draw an audience in. You've gotta have great songs, and I'd say that most bands in this city have at least one great song, but the details in the presentation are what gets the audience to notice.

Your show at Martyrs' marks a definitive point in your career -- what would be your dream venue to play in Chicago?

Martyrs' will be great, but we want every show to be better than the next. We don't care what venue we play at, we just want an audience that's with us. The audience is everything: it's the source of our energy.

Out of all of your music, which song do you resonate with most, and why?

We're proud of all of our little tunes, but the song we're most excited about right now is the one we're releasing at this Martyrs' show called "An' When I Die." It was written the week I had three family members hospitalized and is basically my last will and testament in song form. The verses are answered with Jed's heavy blues guitar riffage that makes this whole jam even more dramatic. Just to show that you can't predict people's tastes, it's probably our most popular song.

What do you hope listeners will gain from your music, and what is the main message you hope to create with your sound?

We love rock music. We love the shouting, the sweating, the bendy-notes, the stupid drum rumbling. We love fun. We love sex. We love the sound of the train rolling, of falling down the stairs, of moaning under moonlight. Don't you?


Check out the sound of The Dirty Dirty Dollars for yourself this Friday evening at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. Joining them will be groups Rakunk and Reardon Roark. The show begins at 9:30pm, and tickets are $8. 21+

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
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Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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