I spent an hour or so talking about Wilmington’s music scene just a few months ago on WHQR’s Coastline with L Shape Lot’s Eric Miller. We spoke ad nauseam about the local community and genres covered across past, present and future stages. Admittedly, while punk-rock and metal were touched on, it was easy to gravitate to the broad reach of Americana we often see and hear these days across the Cape Fear.
“Wilmington’s music scene is widely regarded as jam-bandy, Americana-type stuff,” agrees Jamey DuPlanquer, face-melting vocalist of Slomo Dingo. “But it’s had a long-standing punk-rock thing under the surface.”
He remembers one of Wilmington’s first homegrown punk-rock bands, Bad Rabbi and the Heretics, formed back in the early ‘80s. Slomo’s own Anthony Cribb (drums) and Chris Woodson (guitar) knew the high-school pals of Bad Rabbi and found themselves running in the same crowds as other punk-rockers in town, like The Squirrels, The Neons, All Tore Up and more.
“Back then punk was a very fluid genre,” he continues. “There really weren’t the stereotypes that exist as today’s definition of punk. We’ve incorporated that fluidity into the sound of Slomo Dingo, drawing from jam bands, metal, classic-rock and more.”
However, it wasn’t until August 2015 they’d all “knock the rust off” and enter the garage for a new project with Slomo Dingo’s original drummer Chris Haynes (Rural Swine) and original bassist Danny Samppala. DuPlanquer, a US postal carrier by day, got the call to join.
“I’d had no band experience before,” he admits. “I showed up at Chris Haynes’ sweaty garage, still in my mailman uniform, and we banged out a few tunes. We kept it up, week after week, without any regard to what we have to sound like or how to present ourselves. It was a very organic process, and we’ve had a lot of fun riding that wave.”
Slomo Dingo since has picked up bassist Austin Branum, who joins DuPlanquer, Cribb and Woodson on their forthcoming full-length album, “Fever Dream.” They’ll celebrate its release on June 29 at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern, along with Hudson Falcons and Bastard Brigade.
Often drawing from influences, like REM and The Pixies, AC/DC and Pink Floyd, to Van Halen and Hüsker Dü, Slomo Dingo blends traditional punk angst and frustration with lyrical quips and high-energy hooks in “Fever Dream.” While songs like “Everything Is Beautiful” is a sarcastic contemplation about living life in corporate America we’d come to expect from a punk-rock band, once on stage, it’s all about having a good time.
“We’re all old enough that we don’t need to swing our dicks around to prove how tough we are or how angry we are,” DuPlanquer says. “We hit the stage and want to have you forget about work, traffic, your headache, your doctor bills, and just let loose. . . . We’re all in the rat race and putting on airs about success, but it’s all bullshit.”
DuPlanquer says “Fever Dream” is made up of tried-and-true material since recording their last EP with Bennie Powell (Valient Thorr). They entered the studio with engineer Ian Millard about six months ago, specifically with a goal to flesh out their sound and nuance.
“The process of making the album is kinda weird,” he muses, “in that we’re entertainers crammed into a very purposefully controlled environment. As working-class guys, we forked over our cash to try to capture what we do on stage. Without visual cues from your bandmates and an energetic crowd to draw energy from, it’s a little awkward to record.”
For folks more familiar with Slomo Dingo’s individual lives and personalities, it’s fun to pick up on their play on words and inside jokes. “Lick It and Stick It” is a purposeful double entendre of sex and DuPlanquer’s job at the post office. All of their songs start off with the band just noodling around at practice, without lyrics. “Lick It and Stick It” is a product of his playful spirit and a Dr. Seussian, non-sequitur approach to songwriting.
“We jammed [it] out Cramps-style—a driving tune,” he details. “I simply jumped in with some silly, sexually suggestive lyrics. We all had a laugh, but kept going with it. Now it’s recorded!”
Some songs are inherently more lyrically fluid, wherein the words change from show to show. “Forget It” has been about anything on DuPlanquer’s mind: road rage, getting drunk, bad relationships and so on. “When we recorded, I drew from the experience of my 50th birthday weekend,” he tells. “It’s a funny story that you have to hear!”
“Stacey Daisy” has evolved from conception and is close to DuPlanquer’s heart because it originated with women, four-legged fur babies and chance. “I had a romantic interest visit me a few years back, and she brought her dogs, Moxie and Mindy,” he tells. “During the visit there was a pretty bad thunderstorm that freaked the dogs out, and I played a gentle tune for them, addressing them by name. It seemed to help.”
A year later he added lyrics inspired by a girl’s struggle with an abusive relationship. The band took the original song and gave it teeth and grit, but it was a live performance at Reggie’s with Shagwüf, which made a lasting impression on the tune.
“Anthony was still really new to the band and he ended ‘Stacey Daisy’ way earlier than he was supposed to,” DuPlanquer continues. “It turned out Ivan from Shagwüf grabbed my cowbell off of the stage and started keeping a rhythm. I added two-and-two on the fly and had Anthony creep right back in with a beat, and the guys slotted right back in for another round of lyrics. It was such a fun, happy accident that we incorporated that break into ‘Stacey Daisy’ for a long time afterward!”
Slomo Dingo shows are known to be off-the-cuff and unscripted, in song and performance. In fact, DuPlanquer’s sometimes full- and partial- nude antics have landed him in hot water here and there. Read how in a more detailed interview at encorepub.com.