Frenchin’ your fries
Knocking back a few with Dungeons and Drag Queens, a rock ’n’ roll band
Most rock-band members, when pressed for how they’d like to see the future unfold, will detail elaborate game plans for world domination, typically commencing with a seven-figure major-label deal followed by plenty of rock ’n’ roll excess.
Not Dungeons and Drag Queens—at least not on this wickedly hot early evening sitting at a picnic table in the shaded courtyard behind the Streets of London Pub on J Street. Oh, the rock ’n’ roll excess is there, fueled by several pitchers of the pub’s finest nectar, but the game plan doesn’t center on sucking up to peripatetic major-label A&R weasels anytime soon.
“How many local bands do you talk to who say, ‘We have interest from Atlantic or Capitol’?” Dungeons and Drag Queens singer-guitarist Jason T. Dancer asks. “Why are they doing it? Not for fun. We’re doing it for all the right reasons. It’s still a good time.”
Dungeons and Drag Queens settled on a novel approach. Rather than blow its wad on recording a full-length CD, the band decided instead to release a series of limited-edition three- or four-song EPs on CD. The self-titled debut was released on band drummer Eddie Jorgensen’s indie label, The Americans Are Coming, in April 2003; its follow-up, Hammy Sammy, followed in December. A third set, Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer, comes out this week. And a fourth, Bag Rail, will be ready in October. They sell for around $3. According to the band’s Web site, at www.ddqrocks.com, the band will keep going until it has enough material for a 40-song boxed set, which might take a while. “We really want to be like a good singles band and try to bring that back,” said Dancer. “We’d like to put out a great single and a B-side, two songs, every eight to 12 weeks.”
You can get some idea where Dungeons and Drag Queens are coming from, musically, from the song titles: “Alright On,” “Baby Won’t Cha,” “Can I Get Off” and “Gash Ain’t for Me” from the first EP; “Blueball Queen,” “Tonight” and “Meat Is Cheap” from Hammy Sammy; “Hot Lunch,” “Frenchin’ Your Fries” and “A Streetcar Named Zephyr” from the new disc. And slated for Bag Rail are “Creamin’ Your Corn,” “Cooperstown” and “Jonesin’ for a Chesty (Man Up).” Even if Dungeons and Drag Queens sucked, which they don’t, you’d have to give ’em points for real cool song titles straight out of Lester Bangs-era Creem magazine, the Stooges, the MC5 and the Flamin’ Groovies, when smartass posturing masquerading as drunken stupidity mattered in rock.
And that’s exactly how they come off in person. Jorgensen may be a name familiar to SN&R readers, because he has contributed to this paper on occasion. He started the band with Dancer in the fall of 2002; they talked singer-guitarist Justyn Bartles and singer-bassist Dan Taylor, both members of another local band, into moonlighting for them. “Eddie and I had known each other for a while,” Dancer said. “I wanted to form a really good, Cheap Trick group—like, high-energy and melodic.”
Dungeons and Drag Queens strive for what Dancer mispronounced as “spontaneuity.” “Sometimes it’s on purpose that we don’t rehearse a lot,” he added. “We want everything to be kind of raw. We’re just this, uh—the Faces and the Replacements are two of our other blueprints.”
The band has played on a number of bills, both with new and established touring acts—the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Raveonettes and what’s left of Thin Lizzy. “A lot of rock shows,” said Jorgensen. “We play a show a month,” said Dancer. “We don’t want to burn our audience out,” Jorgensen added. “Make it somewhat of an event.”
“Eddie just informed us we got kicked off the tour that we never started,” Dancer said. “We were on the Deep Purple show with Thin Lizzy, at Sleep Train.” Perhaps Deep Purple, or what’s left of it, didn’t want to give a bunch of upstarts from Sacramento a chance to steal its audience.
You know, when you’ve got the dinosaurs running scared, you’re onto a good thing.