Kissing Party’s Gregg Dolan
The new album doesn’t make a dent in the band’s 1,000-song backlog
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In a local scene where bands seem to break up just when we’re getting to know them, Denver’s Kissing Party are veritable grizzled veterans: With the Oct. 18 release of Waster’s Wall, the act marks its fifth album and roughly its fifth year together as a band. Things still haven’t begun to stagnate for the five-piece, as Wasters, which was recorded by Bryan Feuchtinger at Uneven Studios, pulls the band out of its jangly comfort zone to openly embrace the garage-pop desolation that lurked around its edges. It’s still steeped in the traditions of The Wedding Present, The Smiths, and the classic Sarah Records catalog, but listeners get the feel that singer-guitarist and primary songwriter Gregg Dolan isn’t afraid to break with pop traditions.
Before Waster’s Wall gets a special early release show Friday, Sept. 30 at Hi-Dive, Dolan spoke with The A.V. Club about his band’s massive backlog of songs that need to be recorded and the negligible impact of being named the best indie-pop band in the Mile High City earlier this year.
The A.V. Club: You’ve said at shows that you had 50 or 60 songs written for this album. Was it just a matter of teaching them to the band? Are you usually that prolific?
Gregg Dolan: There’s always songs. It’s just natural. It’s not like anybody’s pressuring us to put this out. It’s technology. I used to record on a little four-track, and would master it down, but that’s kind of a bitch. It’s one of those four-tracks that you have to mix it down to a cassette tape on a stereo. I did that a lot. I’d say that I have, I don’t know, a thousand songs or so. Maybe that might be pushing it. Maybe I have like 950. It’s not like they’re all gems or something. Now, the quickest way I can record (demos) is on my phone. That’s kind of a pain in the ass, too, because you have to transfer them to the computer. There’s always songs.
AVC: When The Hate Album came out in 2009, you talked with The A.V. Club about how everyone in Denver hates Kissing Party. This summer you were voted Westword’s best indie band. How’d you get from point A to point B?
GD: It’s because I said everyone hates us. [Laughs.] I don’t know if I ever said everyone hates us. I don’t know. Did I say that? I guess when you say something like, “Everybody hates Kissing Party,” it translates to, “Nobody is coming to your shows.” I guess it means there are a lot of other local bands that get huge followings and do whatever the fuck they do, tour around the world. Who votes on that anyway? I don’t know who votes on those kind of things.
AVC: You seem to be the predominant lead singer on Waster’s Wall instead of splitting tracks with Deirdre Sage like you did in the past. Was that an intentional move to make you the lead singer?
GD: It’s always been that way. [Laughs.] No, it wasn’t intentional. I don’t know, when we make another one, maybe Deirdre will be on it more. I try to level it out so it’s not just all me or all her. I think she’s on all the tracks but one. She’s actually on them in some capacity. Her voice sounds really better on this one.
AVC: “Racing Alone” opens with the same riff that opens The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.” Other than being an obvious homage to classic indie pop, what’s that all about?
GD: We just did that because The Smiths stole from The Velvet Underground. Johnny Marr said, “I just threw it in there as a nod, and to see if anybody really noticed.” Nobody really noticed. We just kind of did it to see if people would ask us if we did it. I don’t know if people who don’t really know The Smiths would notice that.
AVC: Being a band influenced by classic ’80s indie bands, you’re not really tapping into what’s hip and cool right now in the indie underground. You guys seem to know the sound you want and go for it, whether or not it’s the flavor of the month.
GD: I don’t know what’s in. Then again, I’d heard indie rock wasn’t in. What are people listening to? We won [Westword’s] best indie pop band, so I guess we’re indie pop. It’s funny, because they also had indie rock-pop and indie alt-pop or something. There were three different kinds of alt-pop indie kind of shit. They could have easily been the same. I don’t know. The only thing I don’t agree with is “twee.” I do not think we’re twee at all. I think we get labeled that because we have a girl in the band.
AVC: You think having a girl in the band makes people call you “twee”?
GD: It’s just lazy journalism, basically. Just seeing what people wrote about our last album, people would literally steal shit from other people’s reviews. If one fucking person says it—if one person says you’re Belle And Sebastian, good luck trying to shake that. With the Internet, when people are writing about you, they Google you, and they read you sound like Belle And Sebastian—it invariably goes into every review. I don’t think we sound anything like Belle And Sebastian. I didn’t know what twee was until four years ago when people said that’s what we sound like. That’s definitely not what we’re trying to do. Twee’s cutesy. We’re definitely trying not to be cutesy.