THERE’S footage of a Dwarves interview in which the guitarist – HeWhoCannotBeNamed – spits a ball of phlegm at an interviewer. “He’s got body Tourette’s,” says frontman Blag Dahlia. Videos of live shows show a naked, gimp-mask clad HeWhoCannotBeNamed smashing his guitar into a crowd after an audience member starts a fight. The band then walks off stage.
To say that The Dwarves’ reputation precedes them would be a colossal understatement but then, The Dwarves’ reputation is itself an understatement. Whether a well-executed act or genuine unadulterated debauchery, it is, without a doubt, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most feral acts.
“It’s a proud tradition of the band that we don’t give a f**k,” says Blag Dahlia. “That’s why The Dwarves are more important than ever right now. We don’t believe in self-censorship. We’re still around after 25 years when good bands have fallen by the wayside.”
A quick scan of the lyrics testifies Blag Dahlia’s point. Their sleeve notes are plastered with brutally honest, tongue-in-cheek lines alluding to ‘getting high’ and sleeping with women – albeit more explicitly-worded.
But The Dwarves’ behaviour and lack of censorship is not just a side-product of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, it also represents freedom in an increasingly corporate-controlled society, according to Blag Dahlia. “The more politically correct speech is, the less political people are. This politeness in society means that nobody says anything. We have a right to free speech as long as we don’t say anything. But this band is not afraid to say where it’s at.”
He’s not exaggerating. The Dwarves’ antics include on stage mutilation, on stage fornication, violent attacks from audience members and – perhaps most audacious of all – the faked death of HeWhoCannotBeNamed who, according to the band, was stabbed to death in Philadelphia. The band even released a tribute to HeWhoCannotBeNamed on Sub Pop in 1993. This would be the last release on Sub Pop – which allegedly severed relations with the band following the hoax.
“The media records that Sub Pop dropped us then, but they didn’t drop us because we only had a one-record deal anyway,” says Blag Dahlia, who claims that Sub Pop knew about the hoax all along.
But Blag Dahlia is proud of The Dwarves’ outrageous mishaps. “Pride comes before a fall but we can’t fall any further. We are the last rock and roll band. The 80s and 90s was all about the studio and music video – bands didn’t care about live shows and now you just get a guy sat at a computer on Facebook.”
The Dwarves’ self-confidence and comedy immodesty is well documented in track titles such as The Dwarves Are Still the Best Band Ever, The Band That Wouldn’t Die and album names like The Dwarves are Young and Good Looking.
And, rather fittingly, for their UK tour, The Dwarves are supported by South Yorkshire dirt punk outfit Girl Spit, whose live shows are also renowned for being wild and thrashy. “We were randomly introduced to them at one of our shows,” says Blag Dahlia. “They liked us and they seemed like nice guys. They also lent us their gear, which is also good.”
The Dwarves play at Corporation this Saturday. The set is likely to be short and sweet – but very entertaining. “We used to play shows that would last as little as 15 minutes but now we have to get paid so we play for about 45 minutes. Really we play for as long as the intensity lasts. And we do want to entertain people – we learnt how to do that playing clubs in Chicago in the Eighties.”
The band met in unlikely circumstances. “I was on probation and if I gave blood I got time off my community service,” explains Blag Dahlia. “I was in Chicago and about to drive home but this friend said I could stay at her place until I was fit enough to drive, because I had given so much blood, and HeWhoCouldNotBeNamed was at her place.”
Several pints of blood and two and half decades later, The Dwarves are still going strong.
Expect a set of unadulterated wildness at Corporation, Milton Street, on Saturday.