Stay with your boyfriends

Dump Your Boyfriends takes a walk on the mild side of power pop

The guys from Dump Your Boyfriends name U2, The Beatles and law enforcement as some of their biggest musical influences.

The guys from Dump Your Boyfriends name U2, The Beatles and law enforcement as some of their biggest musical influences.

Photo by David Robert

Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Cream, The Police, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Green Day, TLC and Dump Your Boyfriends all have (at least) one thing in common: an adherence to the simple principles of the power trio. There is no room for the grandstanding of a lead singer or a lead guitarist with mystique. The trio is the home of the original multi-taskers.

A week and a half passed between when I first heard Dump Your Boyfriends and when I actually met the brothers Kevin (bass) and Darrell (guitar) Dunn. (Drummer Larry Cerio wasn’t able to make it to the interview.) Frankly, two things came to my mind about the band prior to our meeting. The first was Kevin’s plaintive requests for someone in the audience to supply him with illicit intoxicants during the Reno Jazz Club show I attended. The second was an apparently (or at least hopefully) alcohol-induced voicemail left for my editor referring to me in unflattering terms for missing (as far as they could tell) their show. Their anger was at least partially understandable, being that I was the third consecutive writer assigned to profile them who had, so it seemed, flaked.

When we met, Kevin explained that the show I’d seen was “like, our worst show since our first show.”

While I would not have condemned their performance in such harsh terms, there was a feeling that the band was having trouble finding its groove. While trying to think of someone relatively famous to compare their sound to, The Dixie Chicks, O-Town, ‘NSync, Britney Spears, Counting Crows, Dead Kennedys and Rick Springfield were just some of the names that came nowhere near my head. Yet they were the first names out of Kevin and Darrell’s mouths when I asked them whom they listened to.

“I hate The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2 and Nirvana,” Darrell said, flashing a smile when I pointed out that he had just listed some of the most influential and successful bands in each of the last four decades. “What I really like,” he continued “is that Top 40, teenage girl stuff.” Kevin and Darren described their music as “power pop,” though I find the term “garage pop” to be more accurate.

After the owner of the downtown bar we were in dropped off our round of Miller High Lifes, we discussed the history of Dump Your Boyfriends. Kevin and Darrell started the band as a quartet in July 2000 and were originally known as the “No-Talent Ass Clowns.” After streamlining the band and enduring a Spinal Tap-esque parade of drummers, they settled on their current lineup. The name Dump Your Boyfriends stuck, though it has occasionally led to some awkward moments with audience members expecting what Kevin referred to as “all-girl lesbian punk rock.”

Today, Dump Your Boyfriends is sponsored by Skull Clothing Company and, in conjunction with other sponsored bands, will be playing two shows in Los Angeles at the end of December. The band’s Web site will be launched in February, and an independent record label will be releasing the band’s album this spring.

Before too long, some of Darrell’s friends showed up; he left with them, but Kevin and I stayed and tried our bartender’s signature shot, the "Silly Purple Jesus." We began to make a list of things that sucked. But some alcohol-induced comments are best left unrecorded.