Ewan Atkinson delved deep into the bands of Californian punk duo Dog Party, before their tour with Green Day last autumn about song writing, having to deal with sexism from a young age and growing up with good music.
You two started playing together for a very long time, when and how did it start?
Inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green day, Gwennie (guitar and vocals) asked for a guitar and guitar lessons for her birthday when she was in 4th grade. Inspired by Meg White, Lucy (drums and vocals) asked for a drum kit for her birthday that same year. Lucy was only in second grade at the time. That year, two very happy children got exactly what they asked for on their birthdays. Because Lucy was so young, many teachers would not take her as a student until she was in third grade. That was the year Dog Party was formed. We had been playing individually for a few months until one of our family friends, Zachary Goodin, inquired if we were playing together. Shocked that we were not playing together, he rushed over to our house and set up our first band practice.
When did you start taking it more seriously?
Fortunately, Dog Party always was surrounded by lots of support, and was never taken not seriously by both of us.
You've put out a lot of music for a band so young in age, you were pretty young when you put out your early stuff. Do you still identify with that era of your music? (Do you still play it live etc)
We still identify with that era of music because the drive behind our songwriting remains the same. We’re not really a band that writes silly songs; our songs are packed with lots of emotion.
How do you think being sisters has affected your music?
Being sisters has not only strengthened our music but being in a band together has also strengthened our sisterhood. We are so close and supportive of one another and we feel like that close bond has enabled us to be better musicians.
Growing up, who were the artists that got you playing and kept you inspired?
Luckily, our parents are into cool music, so we grew up with The White Stripes, X, and The Kills playing around the house. In fourth grade Gwennie discovered Green Day, which really blurred the lines between music appreciation and music playing for us. As we started performing more, we were further inspired by the drive and positivity of local (Sacramento) artist, Kepi Ghoulie. Lately we’ve been getting into artists that shook social movements before we were even born like Bikini Kill. We continue to keep our minds and ears open to new music (or new to our ears at least). It’s all so inspiring.
There's still an unbelievable amount of sexism in the world and the music industry, how have you dealt with that?
Absolutely! We’ve also been mistreated due to our young age. We aren’t so young anymore. Lucy is 18 and Gwennie is 20, but we’ve been a band for just about ten years to put things into perspective. It’s hard to deal with sexism at such a young age because everyone at the time was older than us. Therefore they were more experienced than us, knew more than us, and were right (which obviously wasn’t the case). We’ve been in bars at such young ages too, so we’ve been around plenty of older, drunk, men (I think it’s safe to imagine how they didn’t treat us with respect either). We deal with it by focusing on the positive and do what we can to defy stereotypes and make a change.
Is feminism something you consciously thing about when writing music?
Before we even knew what feminism was, we wrote songs that held the same frustrations that the feminist movement is fighting. Now that we know what feminism is, our thought process isn’t so much like “I’m going to write a song about this issue because…” It’s more like “It really irritates me how … is happening”. I don’t know if the difference is easy to decipher, but in short, we write what we are passionate about and not what we think other people might like. That doesn’t mean people won’t like what we are passionate about though.
Who are your favourite bands or artists at the moment?
Shannon and the Clams
anything by Gram Parsons
What is next on the cards for Dog Party?
Something awesome!!!! Keep your eyes and ears open ;)