I remember when I picked up “Wicked”, the 1992 Jeff Dahl release on Triple X records! I listened to it in the record shop (something that is harder and harder to do nowadays since the record market sadly collapsed and killed small record shops first!) and it just hit me in the face… This mix of glam and punk rock was exactly what I was looking for at the time! Years have passed, Jeff Dahl recorded many records and played tons of shows since those days… It’s 2009 and his passion for rock’n’roll and music in general is still intact… Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Jeff Dahl!
So, you were a teenage glam fag?
Apparently, yes. I started listening to music before early punk started. In the late 60s & early 70s. So that music is a great influence. And like a lot of the earliest punk rockers, the 70s-era glam rock was a huge influence for me. Alice Cooper, Slade, T-Rex, Silverhead, David Bowie, the New York Dolls, Lou Reed and, most importantly, Mott The Hoople.
For me, there is a direct connection between 70s glam and the early punk movement. So I guess that makes me a glam fag!
You started your career very young in 1976. How different is the way you see music now since those days?
Well, it was after glam had finished and disco was the popular music of that time. Before punk rock had gotten any attention or popularity. So it was completely underground.
I remember seeing the Ramones and Patti Smith when they first were starting out and maybe only 50 people were at these shows! So 1976 was a time for underground music.
We heard that you’re working on new projects, can you tell us more?
I’m finishing up writing the music for a new album and I will begin recording soon. I am always writing new songs so that’s pretty normal for me to be writing or recording. I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about tours or traveling to play some shows but I don’t have any plans for that right now.
My priority is to record a new album.
You hung out and played with many rock’n’roll legends/famous people, which ones had the most impact on you? Do you want to share a few anecdotes with us?
I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to meet, record and play with some of my favorite musicians and musical heroes. Certainly, working with Cheetah Chrome is at the top of the list. He’s the best guitarists I’ve ever played with and he’s a really funny guy. Always making a lot of bad jokes and there’s always laughter with him.
We did 2 shows with Stiv Bators and this was the last time Stiv & Cheetah have played together. So that was an honor.
Recording with Poison Idea was an amazing experience and maybe the best singing I ever did.
And all the tours in Europe that I did with Freddy Lynxx are my favorite experiences on the road. He’s the perfect guitarist for me to play with, our styles compliment each others music perfectly. And he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Freddy & I did an acoustic tour with Nikki Sudden in Europe and that was another great time… I’ve got so many great times over the years. I’ve traveled playing music all over Europe, the USA and Japan…
I’ve been so fortunate. Not just as a musician but also as a fan. Because that’s how I really look at myself, I’m still just a fan of good music.
You lived in Hollywood for 12 years, what were the best and worst things for you there?
The best part is all the music and musicians there. Any night of the week you could go to clubs and see some great bands that are now legendary. Basically, any cool band that played in Los Angeles from 1979 into the mid-80s, I saw.
The worst part was getting too far into the drugs and seeing your friends die.
You are considered as a leading figure in rock’n’roll and an inspiration source for many bands, how does it feel?
It’s a humbling and more than a little puzzling. As I said, I still just think of myself as just a “fan.” So if someone is influenced or enjoys my music, I know what that feels like because I still feel that way about the music I like.
A few years ago, you produced an album for The SLASH CITY DAGGERS, do you think that you’ll produce bands again in the future?
The Daggers was done at my studio in Arizona. I produced a lot of bands at that studio. But I’ve moved to Hawaii now, and I just have a small home studio… so I don’t know.
I suppose if the right band approached me, under the right circumstances, I would consider it. I like to produce and record albums but it has to be a band that I really love. I can’t produce something that is boring just for the money.
You have a song called “Junkies Deserve To Die”, did you write it because of bad experiences with junkie musicians?
Actually, the lyrics are written from a “first person” personal point of view. It’s how I felt about myself when I was using too much drugs. So when I sing:
Let me tell you about the times I gave myself up for dead…
Let me tell you about the visions of Hell I have seen…
This is me speaking for myself. There can be a lot of self-loathing involved when you’re addicted.
In Kevin K’s new zine Thunderpop, you say you don’t like the way modern albums sound, but you also admit that Protools and computers are quite practical. Do you think that you can have an old-school sound/production using modern technology?
Well, I am hoping so. I much prefer analog tape for recording but where I live is the most humid, rainy area of America so tape machines will not work properly out here. I’m just learning protools and I’m am mainly concentrating on the most basic, simple functions and applications.
My plan is to use it as closely to an analog 16 track recording rig as possible. I’m not interesting in advanced editing features, beat mapping, auto tuning, or midi. I want to just mic up my guitar, bass, voice or drums and record it straight in. And not manipulate things further.
Basically, using it just like in my old tape based studio. It’s just a different technology for capturing sounds. And so far, the sound quality is pretty good. Protools is clean but accurate so far as what it records. In the end, the computer and protools are just a tool and it’s how I choose to use it that should matter most.
So if I keep it simple it should be fine.
Many people found out about the best of glam and punk rock reading your fanzine Sonic Iguana, have you ever thought about bringing this amazing fanzine back to life?
I loved making that magazine but unfortunately now printed magazines are almost impossible to sell in stores these days. So many of the cool, small record shops that would sell this are closed and now gone, the same for distribution.. and the cost of shipping and printing are now much, much more expensive.
So from an economic standpoint, it’s can’t be done. I’m glad that so many people enjoyed that magazine… I still have people asking me to buy old copies but I have sold-out of everything now. Now, I guess, it’s a collectors item! Ha ha…
You’ve always written many acoustic songs, what is your approach when dealing with this kind of songs? What makes you want to write an acoustic song?
For me music is just music… you can call it punk, glam, rock n roll, blues, acoustic… if it’s good, then it’s good. I just enjoy making music. I just write songs. If someone wants to label it a certain genre… punk, hard rock, whatever… then that’s fine with me. It’s doesn’t matter. I just write and record songs.
One thing I can tell you is that a “good” song can be played in a lot of different styles… you could make a slow blues version, a fast punk version… a good song will translate itself into a lot of cool styles. When I play solo acoustic shows I might take a faster punk song like Goin’ Underground or I’m In Love With the GTOs and play it as an acoustic blues or in a folk rock style. It’s fun to do things a little different from what people might expect from me.
In Kevin K’s autobiography, we learn that Freddy Lynxx escaped from the music world, what do you think about that? Any news from him?
No, I’m afraid I don’t have any news from Freddy in some time now. I know he had some health problems and he was concentrating on raising his children. I’m sure he still loves music but I think his priorities are now his children and family. And, of course, I wish him all the best. I hope one day well make some good music together again.
I read somewhere that your drumming technique improved when working on the JET BOYS album…
I never played or worked on the Jet Boys album. That was recorded before I first met Freddy. But I started playing music as a drummer when I was in school and the style then was that bands wanted me to play like Ginger Baker or Mitch Mitchell… Basically, jazz drummers playing a lot of crazy stuff in a rock style.
But I much prefer drummers like Jerry Nolan, Charlie Watts, Buddy Miles and Ringo Starr… simple drummers. So that’s how my own drumming has evolved over the years. I’ve gotten more simple.
What about your French connection nowadays?
I still have so many good friends all over Europe. With myspace and facebook I try to keep contact. So in that respect, I’m still connected all over the world.
You got back to your family lands about one year ago. How is your life in Hawaii?
My wife and I grew up in Hawaii and it’s where our families live. We wanted to be closer to our family and Arizona got too crowded. So it seemed like a good time to make a move back home. Life here is in a small town on one of the less populated outer islands. It’s very quiet, the ocean is beautiful and there is a lot of nature.
There is not too much of a rock music scene here but there are a couple of good punk bands. So it’s a different life but we’re enjoying it a lot.
Imagine your house is being flooded, which guitar are you going to save first?
Well, first I would save my wife and my cats! But for guitars… probably my Les Paul that used to belong to Ron Asheton.
Will you tour again in Europe in the future?
I hope so… There are no plans at this time… it’s a long, expensive plane trip from Hawaii. But if the right offer were to be presented to me I would consider it. And if the opportunity to play with Freddy Lynxx or Cheetah Chrome came up again I would probably do it.