There is something visceral about an all-female rock group. The sound is very specific and the influences are varied. For Dee Dee Penny both are true. Too True. For her new album she cites Souxsie and The Banshees, Suede, Madonna, and The Stone Roses as inspirations, while the band name Dum Dum Girls is an ode to both Iggy Pop and The Vaselines. Two things are clear to me: she knows her music references and she loves the British. She stated that along with The Vaselines, the Stone Roses were her biggest influence growing up. She heard their album at a very transformative time in her life and the music stuck with her. Listening to a couple of tracks, you wouldn’t think that the source material was there on the surface, but with Dee Dee one must dig deeper.
If those influences weren’t enough, Dee Dee has also recorded covers of Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths and has collaborated with musicians from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Crystal Stilts, Tamaryn and Blank Dogs. “Are You Okay”, the fourth track off of Too True was originally written for Ronnie Spector – formerly of The Ronettes, and ex-wife to infamous producer/murderer Phil Spector – but her producer Richard Goettehrer convinced her to keep it on the album for herself. A decision she says she now agrees with.
She wrote the majority of the album while on break from the tour for End of Daze, the band’s last EP when Dee Dee had realized her voice had been damaged. It came together relatively quickly. “Rimbaud Eyes” is a soft, borderline love song and very poetic; while “Are You Okay” – the second single off the album – reminds me a little of REM. Dee Dee and the band created an 11+ minute music video/mini movie for “Are You Okay” that was scripted by Bret Easton Ellis. The two had previously collaborated on the awful Lindsay Lohan/James Deen flick The Canyons, which was written by Ellis, directed by Paul Schrader and featured “Coming Down”, which was off the Dum Dum Girls’ previous studio album, Only in Dreams.
Fashion too also plays an important role for Dee Dee and the band, although by her own admittance, it didn’t start out that way. When I sat across from Dee Dee for her interview, she was clad in most black leather, and looked more like a goth punk rocker chick from the 80s. I suppose a contemporary comparison would Taylor Momsen or Amy Lee. But it works, it really adds to their whole vibe. And while we are it, no, Dee Dee did not get her name from Dee Dee Ramone. The Dum Dum Girls sound nothing like the Ramones at all. More classic chick indie rock, the club scene punks.
Dum Dum Girls’ latest album Too True was released in January on Sub Pop records.
RIYL: Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Pretty Reckless, The Cure, Stone Roses