Strictly Rude (Side One Dummy)
An interview with singer David McWane
By Kelly Lydon
photos by Alison Krick
Let’s talk about the kick ass album you just made. What’s the difference between this album and your previous releases?
For a while, we had an attitude like “Yeah! We’re in a band and we’re gonna get on Fat Wreck Chords!” Year after year of that not happening, we started changing our gears and realizing the reality of who we were. This record was us wanting to write songs, impress, and challenge each other. It has a different tempo and a different feel. We’ve been on the road for so long that the friendship, the brotherhood, got stronger. Mostly, it was because no one really likes us. We’re the ugly high school kids.
What’s the band’s name mean?
My friend told us to name the band that when we weren’t really in a band. We were just messing around when we were too young to buy beer or go to the bars so we would just play. No one cared when I asked if we could name it Big D and the Kid’s Table.
Will Big D be on the Warped Tour again this year?
We’re doing the whole tour. We’re not on a shitty stage, so that’s going to be quite weird. It’s kind of nerve wrecking, especially for me. I was the kid who went to camp and didn’t make friends until the fifth day because I was weirder than everyone.
There are two types of dudes that go on Warped tour. There are the kind that are like “What’s up!? My name is Brad! And I can do it!” And that’s not me. I get a little nervous. I love the Warped Tour, but it’s fucking scary. You’re back with your lunch tray at the cafeteria and you don’t know who you’re allowed to sit with and who you’re not allowed to sit with.
You feel like underdogs. I can see the irony of the band name now.
We didn’t realize we were underdogs until after years and years of other bands passung us. Bands that formed six months earlier would get signed to Victory. We’d think “What’s wrong with us?” If we played a show that was all ska bands, the chances of people liking us are much higher, because they all like ska. If we go to Jersey and play an emo festival or go to Germany with the Dropkick Murphys, which is a tough crowd, those are more fun, because you have to prove yourself, and that’s what you get when you first form a band. I think we’re lucky that we still get to play shows like that ’cause those are the shows when our band really comes together and we prove ourselves. We really put our all into showing why you should think we’re great. If we just played ska shows all the time, we’d still be great, but there wouldn’t be that boost.
It sounds like getting noticed as a band is a lot like getting notice by the pretty girl.
Yeah, it’s like a first date. You walk away going “I think I did okay.”
What bands do you hang out with on the Warped Tour? Does it separate into genres?
All the popular, cool bands all hang out together. All the fans would hate to know this goes down, but with a lot of the bands, it doesn’t matter what type of music it is. It comes down to: Are you a shit or are you a good kid? You could have the guitarist of a super emo band as your best friend, but his music makes you sick.
You guys signed to Side One Dummy recently. Is that life changing?
I have a high school friend who was like “So, dude, you get a nice car?” I’m like, “Oh my god, man!” That’s the last thing I have. On the 2005 Warped Tour, we’d make like a hundred fliers with the time we were playing because we weren’t on the big sign or anything. We’d stick them everywhere. Someone told me “Dude, if you keep doing that and Kevin notices, he might sign you.” I turned to him and said “Yeah, that’s great, but if you know our history, he’ll sign every other band and not us.” I mean, you know that kind of stuff never happens. Then, a year later, we get a call from Side One and they were impressed that we’d been around for ten years and we were still busting our asses. We must’ve had the energy of a new band. Usually, when labels sign bands, the band thinks that they can just kick back. And, just for the record, we got an offer from a different label which will remain nameless which was, like, three or four times the amount that Side One offered us. We turned it down because we think Side One is just so kick ass!
That’s awesome that you guys aren’t in it for money.
It’s not even money for the pocket. It’s money for us to make a quality record. We wanted to make a real quality record. Sometimes, having more money can really help. We were thinking that the amount that we did get was not going to be enough, and that was bullshit. We’ve just been playing for so long that we just went in there and we were so ready. So yeah, we turned down the big money. For all the kids that tally punk rock points…
Total scene points right there.
Yeah man, we’ve got so many scenester points. Literally, four times the amount of scenester points than money. Take that!
Any crazy stories from Warped Tour or elsewhere? I’m a big fan of trading crazy, drunken stories.
The craziest story ever was somewhere in Germany. It was like two or three in the morning and we were drinking with this other band we were opening for and the bass player was singing this song where you swing your pint glasses out from under the table and one of them smashed open and the bassist split his hand open. There was so much blood. Like a quart of it. And everyone’s like “Oh my God.” So, we grabbed the kid and took him to another part of the squat and they called an ambulance. I’m wasted in the room everyone just left with blood everywhere. I have this mentality that I felt bad that no one was cleaning up the mess. I figured I’d just clean it up. The blood pooled around his butt on his stool. I grabbed the beer I just finished and I tilted the seat forward and filled a pint glass with this poor Denmarkian’s blood. I was pretty proud of my new pint of blood, so I ran into the other room where they’re trying to calm the bassist down. And I go “Hey, man look, you bled a perfect pint.” And Steve, our vegetarian bass player, was drunk and took a huge gulp of it and spent the whole night throwing up.
What do you say to the statement “Ska is Dead”?
That’s a question I’ve been getting for 10 or 11 years. It goes with the territory. We’re just in our band. When ska was popular, it was a business fluke and a shame when the clowny colorfulness of the popular bands really messed up the overall conclusion of what ska really is. In the ’90s, it turned into Disneyland. Once that happened, I said, fuck it, dude. I’m just gonna do what I know and like what I like.
Any pressure to keep it alive?
We do keep it alive. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t care.
You’re touring all over the place, and your fan base has been primarily in Boston. Is it weird playing in the ass crack of Germany?
Kind of. We’ve played in Europe so much now that I have more friends in Austria then Austin, Texas. When we tour, we play squats and crappy clubs. When we come to Boston, the way it works with scheduling, we end up playing huge clubs. We feel bad because Boston isn’t seeing the reality of the band. We don’t usually get to play with cool bands in big clubs.
What else coming up for Big D?
We have a DVD called A Gispy Mile coming out. We’ve been filming since ’96, and it’s like a D.I.Y. handbook. We wanted to tell kids the little secrets of how to swindle a promoter and sneak into a hotel. If you’re 14-20 years old, you can really cut some corners! It’s just little things. Like, don’t keep the bank of your money in the tour van. It sounds obvious, but everyone puts it under the seat in a little hiding spot and they think the robbers don’t know where it is and it always gets stolen. It’s never happened to us. And I have a book out. It’s all the lyrics from 1996 to 2007, witty tour observations, if I dare say so, and prose. We look at life and society on the outside and we just have a different look on everything.