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“I’d like to think we’re the best looking band in show business!” joked Blag Dahlia (aka Blag the Ripper), the insouciant frontman of legendary punk/thrash outfit Dwarves. “It’s a teenage girl thing – they’re attracted to the pin-up pictures of the Dwarves,” his voice dripped with sarcasm. (Those who own a Dwarves album will know that their covers and shelves are always controversial and often crude.) “We also try to deliver some hardcore punk rock for people to enjoy – that’s part of the game as well.”
As Blag sets the scene for what we can expect for their triumphant return to our shores this month, his energy, vitality and overt cheekiness is abundantly clear. Truth be told, it’s hard to believe that Blag and his merry band of Dwarves released their first LP back when I was still watching Play School. “I feel fabulous,” he smiled. “Australia’s a great spot to go … admittedly, we haven’t been there for five years so I think the people are ready!”
No doubt Dwarves fans around the country will attest to that – and Blag is proud to announce that they’ve had to add another show. “We’ve added a fifth show right at the beginning of the tour, on the Wednesday [Oct 15 at The Old Bar, Fitzroy]. It’s going to be an acoustic Dwarves show – those are particularly good because you can show up and request songs. We’ll do all kinds of weird old songs and we’ll be crazy jetlagged, which will be fun,” Blag laughed.
The latest addition to their impressive back catalogue is The Dwarves Invented Rock ’n Roll (August 2014) – a must have for any self-respecting old-skool punk.
“Really, what is cool about this record is that basically everybody threw in a song. Fresh Prince of Darkness [guitar] wrote ‘Anything You Want’ and Chip Fracture [bass] offered ‘Dead on the Floor’. We all had different songs to give which makes for a good variety when you’re making a record, rather than them all coming from one guy, Captain Blag!” (Which as it happens is the name of a track on the album, written by Dwarves sometimes drummer Greg Saenz.)
“I really like our single ‘Trailer Trash’ – it’s written by our old bass player Salt Peter. He came back after twenty years and wrote a great song for us, so that was kinda cool … and on the b-side of that single is our cover song, ‘Unpredictable’. I like that one because we’re fucking with people’s publishing money – you know what I mean? Just outright stealing people’s songs – that’s good fun!”
It seems that after all these years the Dwarves are still whistling a happy tune and continue to produce short, sharp, high quality punk rock. “Isn’t that weird!? Every other band gets worse!” Blag alleged. “Every other band makes one good record right at the beginning of their career and then they sit there and spin out a whole pathetic twenty or thirty year career off of that one record you like by them!
“The fucking Dwarves – we’ve put a great one out every time. At this point we’re ten records deep with great music. I don’t know… (he paused dramatically). Maybe at some point somebody will notice.”
“And call your bluff?” I asked. “Yes, exactly!” he replied, and we both burst into laughter.
When&Where: The Barwon Club, Geelong – October 16
By Natalie Rogers