WHO SAYS YOU need an entire group of musicians to write infectious garage rock? Kristin Gundred writes and records under the name Dum Dum Girls and uses the stage name Dee Dee, which makes the entire project that much more confusing, as the band consists of mainly just Gundred.
Pluralizing the band name wasn’t part of an elaborate joke, though, Gundred knew from the beginning that the band was going to just be her.
“I dunno, I just needed a name and that was it,” Gundred answers aloofly when I ask how she came up with Dum Dum Girls. “My husband actually came up with it—it’s from an Iggy Pop song. I stole it from him.”
While it’s just Gundred writing and recording the music, when she hits the road—she made the CMJ rounds, playing and DJing, and will be at Bowery Ballroom on Oct. 30—she cherry picks the rest of the band from friends and acquaintances that she likes to play with. At an early show, Dum Dum Girls was Gundred, Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs and her husband, Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles, along with their current drummer, former Crystal Stilt and Vivian Girl Frankie Rose.
If the live version of Dum Dum Girls sounds like a who’s who of the indie rock scene right now, it’s because Gundred has an excellent rapport with a few of the more well-known bands in lo-fi rock.This isn’t to say that she knew them before a few months ago, however.
“I met most of them at the Captured Tracks Festival,” remembers Gundred. “Everyone is super nice. Blanks Dogs are my best friends as far as other bands go.”
She also doesn’t think the lo-fi “scene” is particularly a scene anyway.
“I think it more than anything reflects that people are doing things on their own,” explains Gundred. “I think it’s easy to look from New York over to the West Coast and see these bands [but] I don’t think of it so much as a scene.”
She also doesn’t think her husband’s band Crocodiles fits in with the Woodsist/Captured Tracks bunch.
“Crocodiles gets lumped in, but I don’t feel they fit in [with that],” explains Gundred. “They are noisy, they record in a studio.They aren’t trying to sound like K Records.”
If Dum Dum Girls sounds just like it belongs on a label like K Records, home to jangly indie-pop bands like Beat Happening and Tiger Trap, it’s because it shares a common influence with the influential, Pacific Northwestern bands of yore: Phil Spector.
Despite Spector’s personal life, which was riddled with controversy even before actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in his house, Gundred looks up to the musical side of the infamous producer.
“That period of music is easy to idealize,” says Gundred. “I thought his whole approach to production is great.”
Production, which is usually in the hands of Gundred when it comes to Dum Dum Girls, is an important factor to consider now that she signed with Sup Pop.
When I ask Gundred the difference between her upcoming album on Sub Pop and her earlier records on tiny labels like Captured Tracks and Hozack, she expresses that she doesn’t really see a departure in her approach to recording.
“There’s a larger budget,” Gundred explains, but don’t fear, fans of lo-fi, fuzzed-out rock ’n’ roll—she’s recording it herself.The major-indie-label debut of Dum Dum Girls might sound bigger and better, but it will still boast the DIY aesthetics that any follower of the band will recognize. “I anticipate it will just be [for sale] in more places,” finishes Gundred.
Her relationship with the seminal label, most famous for making Nirvana famous, is as casual as casual gets, which can be rare for musicians making the big leap to a record company that presumably does much higher volume than say her other label, Art Fag Recordings.
“I’m working with one guy, basically,” details Gundred. “He’d be my friend even if we weren’t working together.”
She also finds comfort in differing, yet similar influences. “I love the Sangri-Las,” continues Gundred. “It’s a very casual, fun thing.”
Dum Dum Girls isn’t a pastiche of earlier genres, though. Gundred makes it clear to me that the band comes from a creative place that simply looks to her influences to gain perspective.
“I’m not duplicating the past,” says Gundred, “but that sound is something I like to think in mind when I think about what I want my stuff to sound like.”
> Dum Dum Girls
Oct. 30, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw. Bowery & Chrystie St.), 212-533-2111; 8:30, $15. Also Oct. 31 at Bell House.