UTG INTERVIEW: The Dandelion War

We recently had the chance to speak with Oakland, California post-rock outfit The Dandelion War, and the end result is here for you all to enjoy.

We discussed their newest album, their various influences, some future plans, and much more, so read through to get the scoop from The Dandelion War, a talented up-and-coming group from the Bay Area.

To begin, how did The Dandelion War originate, and where does the name come from?

Larry, Mikey, and Mario (former bassist) were in a band together called Thisaeo. When that band broke up, they decided to start a new project that was different than what they’d done in the past. The rest of the guys were found via Craigslist, and in 2008, The Dandelion War was born. The band name was taken from the title of a book by Richard Rosenthal.

I grew up in the Bay Area and seeing as how you guys are stationed in Oakland, I’m curious as to what kind of influence the area and local scene has had on your music.

We wouldn’t say the local scene has significantly influenced the music – that comes from all sorts of different influences from all over the world. But the local scene is hugely important in terms of how we present the band, who we play with, where we play, and who we connect with. To have any kind of success, a band needs to have allies and supporters, and for us most of our biggest allies are local. That includes bands we like to work with and bookers at our favorite venues.

So who/what are some other important influences to you guys that you feel help shape your sound and the end results of your creations?

We’re influenced by all sorts of different things – music, literature, film, bourbon etc. As far as bands/artists are concerned, we like atmospheric, post-rock bands like Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, The Appleseed Cast, and This Will Destroy You. All of these things probably influence our sound. However, we never really talk about who or what we want to sound like. The way we work is simple – someone in the band brings an idea to the table and we work with it until everyone is happy.

So, We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes is your most recent release. Absolutely beautiful album. How would you describe it to someone who’s never heard it, in terms of sound, style, lyrical themes, etc.?

One of our goals with Lost Causes was to create great “sounds.” By using different instruments or effects, we wanted to create soundscapes based on tones that were unusual and hopefully unique. With that said, we don’t strive to be artsy to the point of being inaccessible. So, even though our songs can be long and atmospheric, they’re ultimately still based on the basic rock music building blocks. In terms of tempo and lyrics, this album is a little slower and darker than what we’ve done in the past, although that wasn’t necessarily an intentional move on our part.

Can you expand on how this album differs from your previous releases? Anything specific you focused on differently when setting out to begin writing or recording?

[Like I said], Lost Causes is slower and darker than anything we’ve done in the past. Although we didn’t map out the album, we knew we wanted it to be different than Geometries and Orchids. Jeff, who now plays guitar and keyboards in the band, brought some synth sounds and electronic samples to the songwriting process this time around. We also experimented more with guitar tones and percussion.

Many of the songs on the album were unfinished when we started recording. In the past, we wouldn’t dream of booking studio time if the music wasn’t ready, but we wanted to take a little time to experiment and tweak things in the studio and we’re really happy with the way the album turned out.

Now that the album has been out for some time, what has the band been focusing on? Any new material already in the works?

Absolutely! Some of the songs on the last album are 2-3 years old at this point, so we’re very eager to work on some new stuff. We have a few new songs written and expect to write lots more in the coming months.

I see that you have a couple one-off shows this next week, one of which is at one of my favorite venues ever. Do you have any touring plans for the rest of the year beyond that?

We do have plans to tour up and down the West Coast later this year. Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles have always been good to us. At some point, we would also like to tour the East Coast. But that will have to wait a bit longer.

Who are some local bands from your area that you think we should be keeping an eye out for?

The Soonest, Commissure, The Common Men, In Letter Form, and Foxtails Brigade.

Outside of being in a band, what do you guys have going on in your daily routines?

Mikey is a personal trainer. He’s buff and handsome. The rest of us have boring day jobs and are totally out of shape and ugly.

Do you guys watch a lot of films? Are there any from recent memory that you feel TDW’s music would score perfectly?

We recently had a bunch of songs placed on MTV’s Teen Mom. Does that count as a film? We actually think our music would go great with films, and we’d love to work on a film score project someday. Our bassist, Chris, is a big sci-fi guy and he volunteered Constantine as a film that would have fit our music well.

What are some of your favorite things in general? Anything; a certain beer, mustaches, mixtapes, calzones. Anything!

Maker’s Mark. Taco Trucks. Beer Revolution (Oakland). Golden State Warriors. Star Wars. Friedrich Nietzsche. Coffee. Boston Red Sox. Brennan’s (Berkeley). Carpool lanes.

What is The Dandelion War’s ultimate goal as a band? What do you hope to contribute to the music world and what do you hope to gain from the experience?

We’re not looking to take over the world. We just want each album to be a little better than the one that came before and to reach a few more listeners.


Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter
Photo credit: Kelly Nicolaisen

Listen to “Drifters,” the second track off of We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes below!

Brian Leak
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