Blag Dahlia is more than just the frontman of the notorious punk rock band the Dwarves. He is an author, actor, music producer and aspiring film producer.
He has two novels under his belt, Armed to the Teeth With Lipstick and Nina, and a follow-up to Nina is in the works. He has scored films—and once did a song for an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. He hosts an online radio program, Radio Like You Want, and has expanded beyond punk to make both bluegrass and pop records. He has produced 15 full-length albums with the Dwarves over a 25 year span—and he has no intention of stopping.
In 2004, the band released The Dwarves Must Die, marking the first time former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri made an appearance with the band. Since then, Oliveri and Dahlia have been musically intimate: Besides recording five Dwarves records together, Dahlia produced several Mondo Generator records, Oliveri’s project that often includes Josh Homme.
Today, Oliveri’s Uncontrollable picks up where Mondo Generator left off. Uncontrollable’s latest release on Schnitzel Records, Leave Me Alone, was recorded at Thunder Underground Recording Studio in Palm Springs.
The Dwarves, with Oliveri in tow, will be playing at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, March 18; tickets are $15. In advance of the show, an email chat with Blag Dahlia seemed to be in order.
Who does the majority of the songwriting?
For the last few records, it’s really been a group effort. That’s been the really fun part of it for me. It’s actually been that way since the beginning of the band, with various guys contributing songs or co-writing stuff. I usually like a band better if it has a more three-dimensional songwriting process like that, but sometimes, you get a really unified vision for a batch of songs, and that can work, too.
What do you think about the music industry today, as opposed to when you started?
The more decentralized it is, the better it works. That’s what allows something new to develop. When the music-making is all concentrated in one place, they make the same thing over and over again. There used to be more money spent making records both big and small. On the other hand, even in today’s dismal musical climate, how can guys pushing 50 get their cocks sucked if not by playing rock ’n’ roll music?
I read that you would like to do a musical someday.
I have always loved musicals; I can’t help it. The older and cornier, the better, but I watched Glee all the time, too. Yeah, it’s pretty fucking gay—but someday, I’ll do it!
Who inspires you musically?
Initially, it was Frank Zappa. He was always so eclectic and funny. Also, (I’m inspired by) great frontmen like Iggy, Lux and Stiv Bators. I like people like Lady Gaga who go from dance-floor queen to the new Barbra Streisand in a couple years. Also, it would be nice to fuck Ariana Grande.
Who have you worked with that really blew you away?
I’ve been really lucky with my band members. Some bands are totally dominated by one guy who writes everything and calls all the shots. We’ve never been like that. Since the earliest days, all the Dwarves write songs, and that makes for a way more interesting body of work. … We even play songs that our drummers write!
How do you like doing the acoustic set live? Did you co-write the Uncontrollable material with Nick?
I like to play acoustic, because it gives me a chance to sing some funny songs I’ve written. The downside is my guitar-playing, which kinda sucks. For Uncontrollable, that was Nick’s name and his thing, but sometimes I get invited along, and he’ll play my songs on guitar, and we’ll sing together. Nick is so incredibly talented. No one sings like him; no one writes lyrics like him; and he’s the best rock bass-player there is, period.
Do you have any musical aspirations apart from what you do with the Dwarves?
I want to write a big hit song just to make my dad happy. He collects sheet music and hasn’t heard a new record in 50 years, but I think he’d love to see my name as a songwriter “on top of the hit parade.”
I know you did that pop album with Angelina Moysov (Candy Now) and a bluegrass record. Are there any other styles or genres you wish to visit as a recording artist?
I love punk rock, and I always will. It’s the most fun thing to play, and I’ve been doing it steadily since the mid-’80s. But I never listen to it—I just play it. When I’m not playing punk, it’s the last thing I want to hear. Candy Now was an international retro pop kind of a thing; the blackgrass record was a dark modern country kind of a thing. I love to get out of my comfort zone and into all kinds of weird music.
What is the live show like today compared to the early shows?
I’m fatter now, but I can actually sing, so that makes up for it. Also, we get paid now!
Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.