Friday, July 3, 2015

Chicago band Dastardly explores new musical horizons on "The Hollow," will play at Lincoln Hall

Chicago band Dastardly is the type of band that believes in exploring new musical horizons.

The band does just that on its new album, "The Hollow," a record which pushes past its folk-based sound. Dastardly will play the album in its entirety during a CD release party July 11 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Gold Web and Oshwa are also on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $10, available by going to

I had the chance to talk to Dastardly frontman Gabe Liebowitz about the new album. 

Q - Great talking to you again. The last time we spoke, the band was releasing its debut album. In sitting down to make "The Hollow," what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? Is there a meaning behind the album's name?

The goal was to make an album without creative compromises, and I think through the course of a couple years we were able to achieve our vision pretty fully. I'll let the listeners get their own meaning from the album title, but it certainly ties together a lot of lyrical themes throughout the album.

Hollows are traditionally backdrops in old American songs where romance and death occur. 

Q - The album veers from your folk-based sound. Are you afraid that you might lose some fans because the band is going in a new direction?

No, we're a constantly evolving band and are going to present ourselves with whatever music excites us the most and best expresses ourselves, regardless of how we may have been previously established. 

Q - I am sure that you will be playing a lot of the new songs at your July 10 show. Do you have any favorite songs off the new album that you enjoy playing live?

We'll be playing the whole album at the show! It's definitely been a challenge to figure out how to perform these songs live since they're such products of the studio, but they've been coming along really nicely. 

We do a really fun version of "So Long Ma," and it's always a visceral experience doing "St. James Infirmary."

Q - I understand you started writing the album in August 2012. What made you want to spend so much time on this album?

I didn't want to set deadlines so that our main goal was making the most amazing music we were capable of making, no matter how long it took. That process involves a lot of trial and error, experimentation and failing until a vision snaps into place, and sometimes for a very involved piece of work, that can take many years. 

Q - What are the pros and cons of being an independent band? Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Everything is in your power. How you sound, how you look, how you present yourself, where you play. However, sometimes it gets exhausting to have to cover all grounds by yourself!

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and where do you think Dastardly fits into the scene?

Chicago has one of the most inspiring art scenes in the country. There are a lot of bands doing what I like to call "art rock" - not overly experimental, but not simple or easy to peg into categories either.

I think Oshwa and The Gold Web are two of the strongest acts in that circuit and we're excited that they're joining us at Lincoln Hall! I also curate a showcase the last Thursday of every month at Cafe Mustache, where 10 artists of various genres do two songs each, and that's been a great way to be involved with a variety of different amazing performers.

Q - The band has six members, which is large for a band. I understand that you recently added a couple of members to better replicate your sound live. How has that been going?

Yea, essentially the core four of us worked on the record (myself, Sarah Morgan, August Sheehy and Andy Taylor), but the songs are so big and have so many parts that we had to enlist two more people to pull them off live! It has been about a year long process to work out the live show.

We're now incorporating Joe Darnaby (from Brighton MA and Bailiff) on electric guitar, and Natalie Turner on clarinet. We've been practicing a ton getting ready for the show and I really feel like it's fallen into place.

It's really a different experience from the record. 

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?

Keep making music! And do another "Total Scene" interview in three years!