Interview with Dash Rip Rock (4-18-04)
By Ronnie

Right: The 2004 lineup of Dash Rip Rock

It's hard to believe that Dash Rip Rock have been around for twenty years! It is no secret about my love of Dash Rip Rock - hell, just look at the number of times we have featured the band in EAR CANDY. It is hard to explain to somebody who hasn't seen them live, and even MTV agreed saying, "Only by seeing them live can you get the true Dash Rip Rock experience". For my money, they are the best live bar band, bar none. So, you could imagine my concern when one of the three members, bassist Hoaky Hickel, retired from music about 4 years ago. To me, Hoaky's onstage antics were such an integral part of the band that I couldn't imagine the band being as good without him. Sure, the band continued making great albums, but with a succession of bass players the live show just wasn't as electric as the glory days.

I recently caught a live show of the band with the new lineup here in Atlanta - and rest assured because that 'classic' Dash is back with a live fury that I haven't seen since the Hoaky years! The new lineup of Dash Rip Rock with founder Bill Davis on guitar & vocals, Jody Smith on drums and Brian Broussard on bass set the stage on fire with a passion that I haven't seen since those legendary days of past. Sure, lots of bands suffer lineup changes and I still miss Hoaky's humor and sheer personality onstage. But Dash Rip Rock has beaten the odds and the current version of the band now proves that lightning does indeed strike twice.

Right: Damn, what a cool guitar!

In Atlanta, Bill even relinquished his standard telecaster to play a golden Gretch guitar on a few songs! And yes, they still play those parody cover songs (just not as many) and they did a hilarious Norah Jones cover. I must have seemed an obvious hardcore Dash fan singing along to all the songs because two Dash fans (Doc and Dana) came up to share a bottle of jagermeister with me (contributing to the delinquency of a major?). I guess this is the replacement for Hoaky's ever-present sacramental bottle of Jack Daniels, which he often shared with the "chosen few" during live shows of his tenure with the band! After the show I hung out with the band and some of the hardcore Dash-holes, including: Doc Brooks, Bobo, Zany Dana, Weavis, Johnny Mac, Glenn and the Cogburns. I also got to play that Gretch guitar, which was owned by Doc. After chatting, the whole crew (minus the band) went to a local eatery for breakfast. I got the entire Dash experience this go around - something I haven't felt in years. Pure adrenalin that took several hours to wear off!

Before the show, I talked with Bill Davis about the new lineup, the band's DVD (reviewed in this issue), their plans for an upcoming new CD, and the longevity of the band (who is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year). Interviewing Bill is always a fun experience as he is down-to-earth, honest, quick-witted and just so damn funny! At one point I complained that I find my Dash CD cases empty because my wife listens to them - Bill responded, "At least she's got good taste. MY wife doesn't even listen to Dash!"


E.C.: Tell me about the Dash Rip Rock DVD?

Bill Davis: 'The Band, the Myth, the Legend' is a Dash movie that I put together. It's clips that were on MTV, and a bunch of old videos that we put together. Like the video for "Christmas in El Paso"…

E.C.: What about the "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot" video?

Bill Davis: No, the "Pot" video isn't on there. There's video for "Eventually Evangeline", which was filmed down in Miami. And there is an interview, "What's the Story" - that's out in San Francisco. And 'Louisiana Jukebox' is a live show.

E.C.: Yeah, talking about you appearance on MTV, that's how I first found out about you guys back in 1989.

Bill Davis: We went to New York to film the interview with MTV, that's on there as well.

E.C.: Kurt Loder?

Bill Davis: No…

E.C.: (laughing) Martha Quinn?

Bill Davis: No…Kurt Loder - he commented on us, he goes, "Hoaky Hickel, there's a pretty funny name for ya…"

E.C.: Hoaky's in Florida now?

Bill Davis: Hoaky's moved to Florida. He married a wealthy…she's a bankruptcy attorney (laughs) . He lives on a yacht in Miami Beach. It's like a million dollar houseboat.

E.C.: I found on the web that Hoaky is like a Marine Inspector?

Bill Davis: If somebody wants to buy a boat, he'll go and check it out for them, and give it an 'O.K.'. But this July, we will be 20 years old. I've been talking to Fred [LaBlanc] and I imagine we'll be getting together with Fred to do some shows this summer. We may do like a tour…Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans.

E.C.: What's it like playing without Hoaky?

Bill Davis: Yeah, it's definitely been very difficult not having him on there, cause he's so funny. The music sounds ok, but the stage personalities took a nosedive.

E.C.: So what's the new lineup now?

Bill Davis: Jody Smith on drums, Brian Broussard on bass.

E.C.: How long has your DVD been out?

Bill Davis: A couple of years now, probably two years.

E.C.: And the new album will be out…

Bill Davis: I've tried to make a new record up in Nashville. I've booked the studio time to try and start it.

E.C.: Will it be a Dash Rip Rock record?

Bill Davis: It's probably gonna be a Dash Rip Rock record. I don't know, I'm kinda toying with the idea of just doing a Bill Davis record. Calling it 'Hey Bill'…(laughs)

E.C.: It just depends on how long these guys wanna keep doing this. We're going over the Europe in August…and New York in July.

Bill Davis: This is a great band…with Kyle we kinda degenerated into playing just tons of covers and these guys just don't like covers. So, we're just doing all Dash.

E.C.: Well, a couple of covers, actually. We're doing a Norah Jones song and the Darkness.

Bill Davis: I saw on the website that you played the Grand Ole Opry?

E.C.: I played the Opry, that was me. I played with a country band up in Nashville with Trent Summer. And he had got a gig at the Opry and 'Dash by proxy' got to play the Opry. But of course, Dash Rip Rock would never be invited to the Opry.

Bill Davis: Just getting on the stage for me was an amazing thrill.

E.C.: So did everybody ask about your boots?

Bill Davis: Yeah, I spray painted my boots gold. Everybody thought like I went to this real expensive…because everybody gets their boots and Nudie suits done by the same people. They go like, "Man, who did those boots! Did Jim Bob Spin do those boots, of Jim Bob boots exteriors?" And I go, "No, no no. I'll tell you the truth. I got these boots at Wal-Mart and that's exactly where I bought the gold paint I painted with, too!" I only told a couple…like Porter Wagner commented on my boots. They were like, "Nice boots!" There was this younger guy, his name is Steve Azar, and he was saying, "Nice boots, where can I get me some like that?" I go, "Dude…Wal-Mart". And when I told him that, he was just shattered.

E.C.: What about the book you are putting together?

Bill Davis: Yeah, I was. We were gonna try and get Dash fans to write a book for us, be we got like 10 entries and that was it. And they were all indecipherable. Actually, we have enough material to do it, but we didn't get the response we wanted to. Because most people are embarrassed to speak out about Dash Rip Rock. It's kinda like telling people you are gay or something. (laughs). We've got plenty of stuff to make a book. It's just a matter of me putting it all together.

E.C.: Well, you had the old newsletter for Dash, what was that called? The Muckraker?

Bill Davis: Yeah, and I have all those. And that would make a cool book, they are hilarious.

E.C.: What happened to Kyle [old drummer] - why did he leave?

Bill Davis: His wife got pregnant again, they're on baby number 2, so he can't tour. He's gotta stay home and take care of the kids. Take care of the family.

E.C.: He'd been with the band for a while…

Bill Davis: He was the longest running drummer we had. Nine or ten years I guess.

E.C.: So, is the new bass player [Brian Broussard] as wild as Hoaky?

Bill Davis: No, he's not. He's not as…nobody is as wild as Hoaky. Hoaky's not as wild as Hoaky. We're talking circa 1995 and there's no person on this planet that will ever touch him. Past, present OR future.

E.C.: So, ya'll don't do the old songs that Hoaky sang?

Bill Davis: Every once in a while I sing 'em. I like doing some of those old songs. But nobody even comes close to Hoaky.

E.C.: On your website I saw the downloadable parody of REM's "The One I Love" called "The One I Fuck". All the covers that ya'll have done would make a great bootleg album!

Right: Parody cover for "Dash's Greatest Shits"

Bill Davis: Fred has a CD that he put together called, "Dash's Greatest Shits" and its all horrible cover songs. And that's where I'm getting all the songs that you hear on the web.

We've always wanted to put out a 'Worst of Dash', cause we used to do like "Trailer Park City" - and that's on the DVD. We used to do Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and I used to sing it like Donald Duck.

E.C.: So, are you guys gonna be like the Rolling Stones of 'cow punk' and be around forever?

Bill Davis: I'm just trying to last 20 years, if I can make it last until July. [the 20th anniversary of the band] When we were first starting out, we used to tour with this band called, Colorfinger. The leader fired his whole band and went and hired these two young guys and changed the name to Everclear and they became huge. And he was so smart, he went a hired these two young, good looking guys who can rock behind him and he's 40 years old. I go, "Why don't I fucking do that?"

E.C.: For awhile you had changed the name from "Dash Rip Rock" to just "Dash". And now it is back to "Dash Rip Rock". Why the change back?

Bill Davis: We got sick of the confusion - the possibilities of legal conflict subsided.

E.C.: It seems that the one 'curse' that has followed Dash Rip Rock has been the record labels.

Bill Davis: It's horrible, really, truly terrible.

E.C.: You have great material, you sign with a new label and they go out.

Bill Davis: Our new saying is, "you think it's hard breaking into mainstream, wait until you try and break into the underground." Cause the underground guys are like just 'too-hip' and the mainstream guys are clueless. So we are kinda stuck in the middle, always been in limbo.

E.C.: It would be hard to put together a box set with all your different record labels…

Bill Davis: Truth is, we own everything except for the Mammoth Records. And they probably would give us those for pretty cheap. So, we own everything after "Boiled Alive". The first 4 records we do not own.

E.C.: When you do the next Dash CD, who is going to produce?

Bill Davis: I'm gonna do it in Nashville and already I've got a buddy of mine who wants to do it. His name is Adam Landry. He's playing guitar with Allison Moore now. They wanna do a Dash record, so we're gonna put it together…or a Bill Davis solo project.

E.C.: Has there been a highlight with Dash that comes to mind…

Bill Davis: I'd say there are two gigs, my biggest one was when we played with Jerry Lee Lewis and James Burton was his guitar player. So I got to hang out with James Burton, he signed my tele and we hung out with Jerry Lee Lewis. That was at a festival down in Pensacola. We were all in the dressing room . You know, a bunch of Louisiana guys hanging out. They just accepted us. Just to be a part of that was amazing. Just gigs like that, when you get to hang out with legends. Carl Perkins, hanging out with him up in Milwaukee.

The pinnacle of my whole music career is just the people that I have been able to meet. It's not so much my own achievements.

E.C.: What keeps Dash going?

Bill Davis: I just don't have another outlet that gives me this kind of satisfaction. Country music doesn't. Playing the Opry doesn't. It doesn't give me the enjoyment that Dash does, and it's still incredible fun and I tell everybody, "When it stops being fun then I'll stop doing it."

Over the past years we have had many articles about Dash Rip Rock. Here is a list of them: