Dash Rip Rock 2001
By Ronnie

Dash Rip Rock in inarguably THE best live bar band in the world. But, after 15 years, the band lost a vital member, the 'soul' of the group as it were. Bassist Hoaky Hickel retired from music to charter fishing boats & serious as a heart attack. This would have spelled the end of your average band. But, Dash Rip Rock is not your average rock band - they have survived setbacks in the past. They took Hoaky's leaving in stride, hiring new bassist Kenny and hitting the road as only Dash can do. And they are recording a new album! I talked to vocalist/guitarist Bill Davis about that indelible spirit of Dash Rip Rock and what keeps them going.

Right: Captain Hoaky?!

E.C.: First, I wanted to ask how Kenny is working out as the new bass player?

Bill: He's doing great, you know, he's been with Jason & the Scorchers for about 4 years. I mean, we're very similar to those guys & you know, he fit right in.

E.C.: Is Kenny still playing with the Scorchers?

Bill: Yeah, he is. They only do maybe two or three shows a year. They've all got day jobs and families and stuff. So, whenever they play, we just give him [Kenny] the night off.

E.C.: If you don't mind me asking, what exactly happened with Hoaky?

Bill: Hoaky just uh, about 2 and ˝ years ago, he just got sick of being on the road. He had a new girlfriend down in Miami that he wanted to be with. And so he just quit and went down there and started fishing & he's like a fishing boat captain, takes everybody fishing. He's definitely got a pretty good life down on Miami Beach.

E.C.: The song that came to mind was "House Boat" [from the DRR album, "Get You Some of Me"]

Bill: (laughs)...that's right, yeah! He's definitely living the life down there. But, I got together with he and Fred [Fred LeBlanc-original Dash Rip Rock drummer] December 22nd, we did a show together in New Orleans. Like the reunion of the original band.

He was fine, we got along great and all that. You know, we toured for like 15 years together, so he was just a little sick of it.

E.C.: Hoaky has been the bass player for 15 years, so Kenny had some pretty big shoes to fill, at least personality wise?

Bill: Yes, absolutely...Kenny isn't nearly as cartoonish and crazy as Hoaky. I mean, Hoaky had his own cult following. It was amazing & I mean, he could drink a bottle of Jack Daniels in one night and smoke a thousand cigarettes through his nose and play the bass backwards and whatever. He was really amazing. But, at the same time, Kenny's a great player and he moves around a lot. So far, everybody seems to like him. Plus, the fact that he's with the Scorchers & all our fans worship the Scorchers. So, that's been the selling point right there.

E.C.: Well, now that you have a new member, did you want to take a new direction with the band?

Bill: We're definitely trying to do something a little different, since both of us live here in Nashville. So, were trying to hit Nashville with the whole Dash idea & which is sort of revved up country music. Everything here is kinda wide open to that. You have the Scorchers, you have Hank III now that's doing really well. There's a cool band called Bear Jr. And Dan Baird from the Georgia Satellites is living here, he and I have talked a few times. There's a cool country rock scene here, you know? Sort of an alternative underground. Since Kenny and I both live here, were kind of injecting Dash into that (laughs).

E.C.: I haven't heard from Dan Baird lately, he hasn't had a new album out in awhile...

Bill: No, he's playing guitar now with a guy named Will Hoge. They do a lot of touring and playing around here. He's mostly happy just being a kind of 'side man', playing lead guitar.

E.C.: Dash is currently recording a new CD?

Bill: Yeah, we've got a record that we've been plugging away here in Nashville. Actually getting with some decent songwriters and just trying to make something that's a little less & you know the old Dash, which would be kind of rowdy frat boy music & and more towards what we originally started as, with Fred LeBlanc and Hoaky in the band & which was more like cool Southern rock, that was a little more respectable.

E.C.: You're publicist described the new record as sort of "roots rock"...

Bill: Yeah, we've always been sort of 'rootsy', just sort of & what we did when we first started the band & we took a lot of stuff like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, just wild man rock and roll. And sort of mixed it with George Jones and Hank Williams, that sort of country stuff. We've been through so many different, I guess, trends and fads with the band, its kind of strange & its hard to even come up with something that describes what we're doing right now. I think being in Nashville has given me a little more of an idea where I want to take the band.

E.C.: Is Fred [LeBlanc-producer of their last album, "Paydirt"] going to be producing again?

Bill: I don't know, it depends. If he has the time, he would definitely come in. He would probably come in and play on it, too. We recorded the show with he and Hoaky last month and I believe Fred's gonna put that out on his own label, a little 'indie' label that the Hootie and the Blowfish guys help him set up.

E.C.: Do y'all have a record label for the new record?

Bill: Right now, we've got a few 'indies' that are wanting it, and were gonna just see what and see what happens. We haven't really chosen anybody yet...

E.C.: Speaking of record labels, that seems to be the curse of Dash Rip Rock...

Bill: Oh, certainly that is! I tell you what, all of our records are pretty much out of print. Even to see Mammoth go out of business was a little horrifying because they were the most successful southern rock label there was. And to see Disneyland try and close them down was pretty disgusting (laughs). But Itchyban in Atlanta...and PC out in San Diego & every body went 'belly up'. It was sort of good for us, because we were able to get the masters back. It reverts & all the records come back to the artists. (laughs) So, were sort of in the process of collecting our catalogue.

E.C.: So does that mean there's going to be a box set?

Bill: (laughs) Yeah, right! That would be just too scary a thought to entertain. Dash is a live band and our calling card is our live show, you know 'you've gotta see them live!' But, I just think a box set of all our records would be focusing in on all our weak points (laughs).

Right: The new lineup of Dash Rip Rock

E.C.: Even with Cowboy Mouth you can see that your type of music would be successful, when you see a label promote something like "Jenny Says" [Cowboy Mouth song], which was originally a Dash Rip Rock song &

Bill: Fred always said, 'that song was before its time, the world wasn't ready for it', or something like that. But, the truth is, MCA is going to do a lot more promotion than Mammoth [label which originally recorded Dash's version of 'Jenny Says'].

E.C.: But, that's gotta be depressing, when you know the stuff can sell...

Bill: Well, we haven't really attempted to do anything since Fred had a big hit with 'Jenny Says', so this will be our first real big studio outing since all that. So, maybe you're right & I think its just a matter of us getting out there and talking to the right people and making the right moves.

E.C.: Well, that kind of kills my next question. Was going to ask if we'll ever see a Bill Davis solo album?

Bill: I'd love to make one, I've been talking about doing it here because as I'm falling in with all the singer/songwriters here, I'm doing a bunch of songs that just wouldn't fit in with Dash Rip Rock. I mean, there probably will be...

E.C.: Isn't your wife in a band, too?

Bill: My wife has a band called the Swinging Haymakers, and we're doing some shows here in Nashville.

E.C.: So, you play with them?

Bill: I play rhythm guitar with them. She's got a CD out, as well. She's like Emmylou Harris, she's got a better chance of doing something great in Nashville than I do. Yeah, I'm definitely working quite a few different angles here in the music city.

E.C.: I noticed something funny on Napster & when you check 'Dash Rip Rock', you see like 150 entries for "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot". I mean, every album you have out has consistently good songs and you are best remembered by some people as "the band that does the 'pot' song".

Bill: I know, that's it & that was sort of our moment of glory, back in like '96 and that song was a radio hit. And forever, you're just gonna get saddled with that image. Another New Orleans band example is Dead Eye Dick, they had "New Age Girl". Even though they put out some cool records and the guy wrote a whole bunch of great songs, they're always gonna be that "New Age Girl" band. We're gonna be the "Smoke Some Pot" band...(laughs) that's the way it is, I guess. I mean, I don't mind being sort of remembered for that. It's better than not being remembered at all.

E.C.: I got a call from a friend a few weeks ago that said, "your gotta hear this 'Pot' song by this band called Dash Rip Rock, its cool!" And I said, "yeah, I heard it a few years ago!"

Bill: You know, we did a video for that and everything for Itchybahn. I think that maybe now that morals are relaxing a little bit & I'm trying to talk the new record label, whoever they might be, into buying that video and releasing it. It was a great video, I mean it was on film and they paid a lot of money for it.

E.C.: Now that they are doing all these 'enhanced' CD's with videos tagged on the music CD's, that would be the perfect vehicle for that video.

Bill: We could put in on there, you're right.

E.C.: You have a background in journalism, right?

Bill: Yep...

E.C.: When all this is said and done, will you ever put out a book your years with Dash?

Bill: You know I probably will, I've been kind of starting it, off and on. On the website, there's a whole lot of archives, like the old newsletters I used to do. What I'll do is probably compile all the old newsletters and build around that and make some sort of wacky book. They're definitely hilarious, the stuff is just outrageous. I will definitely do that, I know I will & as soon as all my fingers fall off and I can't play guitar anymore. That's what I'll do, I'll just get a tape recorder and read into it (laughs). But, I definitely want to do a book.

E.C.: I remember your old newsletter, I received it for awhile. What was it called?

Bill: The Rip Rock Muckracker.

E.C.: Yeah, you could use the title, "Remember when there WERE rock bands?"

Bill: Yeah, right, back in the old days...

E.C.: Will you be satisfied if Dash Rip Rock goes down in rock history as the band who had great songs, possibly the best live bar band, but didn't get widespread attention due to record label problems?

Bill: Yeah, I'm sort of just resigned to the fact that's probably gonna be the case with Dash Rip Rock. But, in my experience, and in the bands I've sort of witnessed & those bands that keep respect and somehow go down as never having had to 'sell out' or never having really to 'kiss ass', I think those are the ones that really make the most historical impact. Like Big Star's and example. Another band would be the dB's. Another band would be the Replacements. I think that somehow Dash & we won't be as highly though of as those bands, but I think that a thousand years from know-somebody's riding in their spaceship, if they want to have a laugh, they'll put in Dash Rip Rock (laughs). I hate to think of it that way, it's probably a little too intellectual way to look at it, but I look at things historically. And you look at N'Sync and 98 Degrees, and Britney Spears and you know that they're just & filler.

I'm definitely satisfied with what we've done, and I think we've made an impact. And that's all I care to do, is for people to listen to us forever and ever and ever. And I think that will happen.

1-13-2001 At Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, Georgia

There is good news and bad news about the Hoaky-less Dash Rip Rock. The good news - Dash Rip Rock is still THE best live bar band in the world, bar none. The bad news is & well, there's no Hoaky! Although new bassist Kenny is just as proficient (and possibly more) on bass, its gonna take awhile to get used to seeing Dash play without Hoaky. They've lost the "comical" element to their band, although they still do "tambourine-girl". But, don't get me wrong, they still rocked! They played all their good stuff, and DRR has quite a back catalogue of songs to chose from. Kyle was in rare form - making Keith Moon and Fred LeBlanc look tame by comparison. But, I do see one good thing coming out of Hoaky's "retirement". Maybe now, with Hoaky gone, people will start looking at the MUSIC more seriously; Bill Davis has written some amazing songs for Dash. Before, when you mentioned the name Dash Rip Rock, your average Joe would say, "aren't they the band that does the 'Pot' song?" Hopefully that will change. The bottom line is the NEW Dash is better than NO Dash! We need bands like Dash Rip Rock, just to prove that rock and roll is still vital.

Click here to visit the official Dash Rip Rock website