Friday, October 18, 2013

Dumpster Hunter bringing fresh sound to Chicago


To say that Jeff Taylor is busy this month is an understatement.

The New Jersey-born, Brookylyn-based Taylor will be part of Los Angeles Philharmonic's world premiere of Frank Zappa's rock opera "200 Motels" on Oct. 23. He then will bring his band Dumpster Hunter,, on Oct. 27 to Reggies, 2105 S. State St., Chicago, as part of the "Get Off The Couch" music series.

Blow Wind Blow, Blackfoot Gypsies and Sam Wahl also are part of the bill. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are available at

I had the chance to talk to Taylor about the upcoming show.

Q - Great talking to you. You seem to have a busy month. Before you come to Chicago, you will be part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's world premiere of Frank Zappa's rock opera "200 Motels." What made you want to be part of the production? Were you a fan of the film?

I couldn't have foreseen my being involved with "200 Motels," or the Zappa family, let alone the LA Philharmonic and their beautiful home at Walt Disney Theater. This whole thing just fell out of the sky and into my grateful lap. 

I've never acted, and didn't have a vast knowledge of Zappa's music. Chris Haynes, the engineer who recorded my high school band's first demo tape, played us a 33 of Frank's record "Apostrophe," when I was 12 years old.

Hearing Frank singing "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow," was at once liberating and confusing as a budding writer. Later on I bought "Weasels Ripped My Flesh," which reaffirmed for me that he was a brilliant writer and a ripping guitar player whose lyrics made me smile a lot.

Q - Of course, you will be playing Larry the Dwarf in the production, the role that Ringo Starr played in the film. Are those big shoes to fill? What are you looking to bring to the role?

It's an honor to inherit the role of Larry The Dwarf from a Beatle. I think they may have asked Ringo to join for this production, so I'm grateful he demurred.

Q - Your band, Dumpster Hunter, will be coming to Chicago a few days after that production. The band's first album, "Frustration In Time Travel," is pretty eclectic. Would you say that the band's music is influenced by Frank Zappa at all? In sitting down to record the album, what were your goals?

When we were recording our first record, life was more predictable. We had constant access to a studio space, lots of time on our hands, and a budget.

The only goal was to finish, master, press, that kind of stuff. My mini dream was to simply finish something at all.

With that first one behind us, our personal lives turned completely on their heads, and no built-in budget to "worry" about, I'm actually feeling very liberated and fired up to finish the next project, which will be released very soon. It's a four song EP which we're making with producer Thomas Bartlett.

Q - There is a lot of eye-popping imagery in the video "Heart Hard." Your spastic moves in the video remind me a lot of David Byrne when he was in The Talking Heads. What were your goals for the video?

The "Heart Hard" video was a lot of fun to make. It was made many moons ago. Kneeon, a great film production team in Brooklyn, are responsible for that clip from start to finish. 

They made everything save the song, from scratch.

Q - What is the story behind the band's name? What kind of experience have you gained in opening for the likes of Trixie Whitley?

The name Dumpster Hunter is the punch line of an unfunny alcohol-fueled inside joke involving a young high school janitor and his academically challenged girlfriend. She’s 19 and struggling to bring up her GPA. 

The two of them enjoy mostly-harmless games of hide and seek on school grounds after her field hockey practices. One particular day, she hides in a school parking lot dumpster and he discovers her in the waste receptacle.

Touring with Trixie opened my mind to new levels of feeling in listening to and playing music. She has a wildly acute sense of meaningfulness and depth of art and writing which you have to experience first hand to truly understand. 

Go see Trixie Whitley live if you have the chance.

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