By Ronnie

Ahh, what a way to start a New Year, with a new Dash Rip Rock record, SONIC BOOM! Their albums, like their live shows, NEVER dissapoint. But wait, they aren’t ‘Dash Rip Rock’ anymore…they are now called simply ‘Dash’. A press release said, “The band is shortening their name to hopefully leave behind their chequered, bullet-riddled history.” My first thought was, “oh shit!. Major changes in a successful band are almost never for the better.”

I talked with Bill Davis, leader of DASH, to have him clarify what the name change signifies for the band. Bill set my mind at ease. Don’t worry rock ‘n roll fans, the worlds greatest bar band is back (hell, they never went away!). With a solid line-up and their best studio album ever, they are ready to kick the tires and light the fires. Don’t think of it as a “come-back”…it’s more an acceleration of a high-octane 100-proof vision of how they fit into the current musical universe. There is a need for this music and Dash plans to provide it with fury.

Right: The current lineup of DASH

E.C.: First I want to address the name "change" from Dash Rip Rock to simply DASH. Your web site states that, "With the loss of RIP ROCK, they'll jettison all the weighty baggage collected". What exactly did you want to change? To be taken more seriously? To get rid of the "bar band" moniker?

Bill: I've been batting around this idea for a while. What really convinced me to do it was a reunion show I had with Hoaky and Fred last November. THAT band really felt like the old Dash - insane wild drunken insanity. The current line-up really feels like a whole new animal - new players, new energy, new focus, different personas, and new songwriting direction. I don't want to distance myself from the blazing live reputation and the cool history of DRR - but I do want to try to start anew in the recording sense and also just to see if we can finally get the attention and respect we deserve. I want people to know us for something other than being the south's greatest party band. Losing the RIP ROCK is like Jason and the Nashville Scorchers losing the "nashville" or Puff Daddy becoming P.Diddy or the Silver Beatles becoming the Beatles. It's an attempt go back to square one, but keeping all the good baggage.

E.C.: The press release says, "The new band moniker is mainly to simplify things and lead these solid southern rock legends into a new era." How does this new attitude translate to future plans for the band in regards to albums and live shows?

Bill: Our live shows have sustained this band. It's about time we try to make records and DVD's that also lead to our becoming successful musicians. In the past - we've focused solely on our live reputation. We have since been convinced that we are capable of making good records - and Sonic Boom is the first step in that direction. Live SHows= no change. Recording= big changes. DASH does simplify things. It's much easier to say (than DRR) when you have a mouthful of crawfish, or if you've had too much bourbon. (it usually comes out "Daz-Riirrrah")

E.C.: What happened to Kenny? Was he just a temporary bassist?

Bill: We thought Kenny was gonna be permanent. But he was auditioning for other bands while he was in Dash. He also was in the Scorchers. The last straw was when he did an interview in VA where all he talked about was his audition with Metallicca. What are we - Murf and the Murftones? He is a hired gun and an amazing musician - I didn't feel like he was satisfied with Dash, he was always looking for a way out!

E.C.: Tell me about Andy Songy. Again, your web site said that he had been in Dash before, when was this? As a Dash-phile from way back (1989 to be precise) I can't remember him. Does he live up to the "legend of Hoaky"? Or is he just a straight bass player? I think a BIG attraction of the old Dash was the live experience. Of course the songs are a big part, but Hoaky was in many ways 'the comic' to your 'straight man'.

Bill: Andy is a bad ass. He drinks more than Hoaky and falls down just as much. He first joined our band while on hiatus from his band "Buckshot." He filled in for 1 year after HOaky quit. Then he went back to Buckshot. They've since quit playing - so we wooed him back. It took lots of pork cracklins and all-expense-paid visits to the oriental spa, but we won him back. He's a Cajun mofo who holds down the bass positon with serious rock style. I compare him to Lucky Dog (Chris Luckette) he gets the job done with no flash and no applomb - just a dedicated rocker bustin' through the set. Andy also sings an amazing version of Lovin Touchin Squeezin. No LIE!

E.C.: About the new album, SONIC BOOM, was there a new attitude in recording and writing? Why didn' t you use Fred LeBlanc as producer this time around?

Bill: Fred was our production coach. He walked us through this whole record. He has a lot of interest in what we do and always has a zillion ideas - we used about half of them. The new attitude was mostly in the songwriting. I co-wrote many of the songs with pals around Nashville. This is the first record we've ever made in Baton Rouge (the birthplace of DRR) so that felt like a spiritual pilgrimage. Plus - the overdubs were done mostly here in Nashville - so we had access to amazing digital equipment and incredible players. I think all this together makes for the best record we've ever released. It's out 11th record. That’s why we have the X1 on the cover. (Roman numeral XI) and it's the first plane to break the sonic barrier and it's the whole "right stuff" tie-in. This record feels right to all of us. It's the first record we've been proud to promote - we have no reservations about this one.

E.C.: On first listen, SONIC BOOM seems to be a sort of 'renaissance Dash' record. To me it sounds the strongest the band has been since GET YOU SOME OF ME. You have some classic 'Dash sounding' tunes, but also a few surprises! I also noticed the emmergence of the acoustic guitar on alot of the tracks. Was there a conscious effort to experiment?

Bill: See above response. It's an attempt to mature - believe it or not. Yes - lots of acoustic, mandolin, accordion, we even used one of those goofy egg shaker things! It wasn't so much experimentation. I think all of our previous producers thought that Dash records needed to be stripped down like our live shows. But that's bull hockey - I mean, shit - listen to ZZ Top! Their records are incredibly complicated and over-produced - but they carry that shit live just by being awesome players. We now are convinced that records should be made to sound the best possible - we are beyond the whole roots rock image thing.

Right: Bill with his ground-breaking guitar technique

E.C.: When were the songs written? I think I recognize one of them from your live performances, "Please Don't Hold My Hand".

Bill: PDHMH was the bonus track on PAy Dirt. Half of the songs were written recently here in Nashville. The other half came from as far back as 1988. Silver Moonlit Rail was from the first album out-takes from 688 Records.

E.C.: The inclusion of a Beatles cover is GREAT, I love the Dash treatment! You have to be really confident to cover the Beatles. I've lost count of how many cool covers I've seen Dash do over the years. Have you ever thought of putting out a 'covers only' album from your live performances? [Ed- The Replacements did a covers-only cassette called "Shit Hits the Fans" which was a fan club only release.]

Bill: We should do a cover record - but it'll be bootleg - we can't afford the royalties. AS for the Beatles - they were the greatest country band in the world during the "Beatles For Sale" era. They loved Carl Perkins and Buck Owens. I bet they picked it up while doing the 6-hr. marathons in Hamburg. Country is so simple and easy to play - but it requires emotion and melody - J,P & G had that in spades. They mimicked the most amazing country licks and melodies with "Baby's In Black" and "Spoil the Party." I am heartened by the fact that the world's greatest band respected country music (decent country music).

E.C.: Finally, what is in the immediate future of Dash? I imagine lots of touring and promotion!

Bill: We are really excited about the new disc. We feel like we've finally produced something we shouldn't be ashamed to promote. We've got a video and DVD in the works. We'll be at SXSW on March 14. Also the New Orleans Jazzfest on May 3. We're rolling again big-time - but now we're focused - a little more organized - and we fall asleep less onstage.

Quick, Dash discography:
1987 Dash Rip Rock (688 Records)
1989 Ace of Clubs (Mammoth Records)
1991 Boiled Alive (Mammoth Records)
1993 Tiger Town (Doctor Dream Records)
1995 Get You Some of Me (Sector 2 Records)
1997 Dash Rip Rock's Gold Record (Naked Language-Ichiban)
1998 Paydirt (P.C. Records)
2002 Sonic Boom (Write On Records)

Click here to visit the official DASH web site