Jeff Kelley and Eric Ridder of Dick Wolf!
The math-rock band on its Law & Order name, B.D. Wong, and Tim Kinsella
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The whole “ironic band name” ship sailed, for the most part, a couple of years ago. Wolves, horses, beaches, whatever. We get it, okay?
There’s one exception to that rule, though: Chicago’s Dick Wolf!, named after exclamation-less Law & Order creator Dick Wolf. The group’s math-pop sound is fresh and fun, and should be raging in full effect at the group’s show and seven-inch release party this Wednesday at Schubas. The A.V. Club caught up with drummer Eric Ridder and guitarist Jeff Kelley to talk about the name’s origin, B.D. Wong, and total, unrelenting sensationalism.
The A.V. Club: How did you decide on your band’s name?
Jeff Kelley: We had a really hard time coming up with a name. We went through a couple dozen before we settled on this one. We thought it was funny, not only because it’s the creator of Law & Order, but because there are about a million wolf bands.
Eric Ridder: Everyone has animal names now for their band.
JK: We settled on it knowing that it would be kind of a joke. That “hipster” word gets tossed around a lot because it’s a reference to pop culture and everything.
AVC: You’re totally not a Law & Order cover band or anything, though.
ER: We haven’t covered the theme yet.
AVC: But you like the show, obviously, right?
JK: One of my roommates in college was a big fan of SVU, and so that was constantly playing in the background of our apartment. I saw a lot of episodes. I can get into the characters, but the stories are pretty ridiculous. Everything’s really simplified in them, like every time they talk about personality disorders or the internet, it ends up seeming really silly. That campiness is something that I got into, though.
AVC: Why was your roommate into SVU and not regular Law & Order? It seems a little macabre.
JK: He was really into horror movies too. Maybe that’s a crossover.
AVC: If you guys were going to be, individually or as a group, any of the characters or any of the settings of the show, who or which would you be?
JK: I think we would all be B.D. Wong’s character. Whenever he’s in an episode, he just pops up and knows exactly what’s up. Though, I guess we could be the detectives, too, because we’re not afraid of getting our hands dirty. With this new seven-inch, we’re involved in literally every aspect, from recording and mixing to screen-printing the sleeve.
AVC: How do you feel abut the cancellation of the original Law & Order?
ER: I didn’t know the original was canceled until just recently.
JK: We did get a slightly distressed e-mail from a Law & Order fan looking for Dick Wolf without the exclamation point. He or she was upset about the show getting canceled, but was “looking forward to LOLA,” which it took me about a week to figure out was Law & Order: L.A.
AVC: Who would you say are your big influences, musically or beyond?
JK: We have pretty disparate influences. Eric and I agree on a couple of bands, but not a whole lot. We both get down and come together over the Kinsellas, particularly over Owls and Cap’n Jazz. They were a big part of what we were listening to when we were first writing songs. We’ve moved away from that a little bit, but that brought us together. We like Brian Wilson. Kevin [Claxton, guitars and bass] and I are Talking Heads fans, and that comes through a little bit. I’m into Sonic Youth, and that comes out in some of the noisier stuff we do.
AVC: So what’s next for you guys after this seven-inch party?
ER: We’re promoting an upcoming in-store at Saki.
JK: We’ve done some short, weekend tours around the Midwest, and we’re looking to do longer ones with a band we know and are friends with. We’re also working on an EP or full-length, we think.
AVC: What band do you want to tour with?
JK: There are two. We met this band Wishbook in Minneapolis, and they were cool. We’ve e-mailed with them to see if they’d want to do a long tour. We’re also friends with a band name Fahri from Milwaukee.
AVC: How did the members of Dick Wolf! meet?
ER: High school. Grayslake Community High School. It’s kind of near Six Flags and Gurnee Mills.
AVC: You guys have only really released six songs. How much material do you have, overall?
JK: We have nine songs. We have a handful of covers, including “Naïve Melody” by the Talking Heads. When we did the seven-inch funding through Kickstarter, one of the incentives was, if you gave us $50, you could get the record, a poster, a credit in the liner notes, and pick out a song for us to cover, and you could sing it. One of our friends, Jordan, did that incentive and wants us to cover Beck’s “Hot Wax.” It will be the first time someone’s played with Dick Wolf! on stage.
AVC: How did Kickstarter go for you?
JK: I’m super grateful that people are into it enough to help us out. It gave us the encouragement to go and do it. It’s an interesting way to circumvent having a label fund you. It’s basically impossible to do it yourself, plus a lot scarier. We’re releasing this record, and we already have 40 people who have pre-bought it. If we put up the money ourselves, we’d have this record, and hopefully people would be interested.