The Dangits Come Alive
The Dangits are the wily veteran cage-fighters of the North Texas music scene. Now instead of punching you squarely in the face for an hour or so, frontman Mike Noyes, guitarist Branden Smith, and drummer Russ Genders also want to punch you in the ribs, maybe kick you in the shin, and probably hit you below the belt.
In 2009, when The Dangits first formed (Noyes and Smith are the only remaining members), the bang-bang-bang approach was novel –– Motörhead-inspired rock wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. The Dangits’ first album, 2010’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, is a blistering succession of loud, rowdy, ragged tracks about the low life that are definitely invigorating but not necessarily groundbreaking. Things are different now. We’re not saying The Dangits are doing synth-rock or techno or anything, just that the guys have discovered that there’s more to pulverizing rock ’n’ roll than one tempo (fast) and a couple of barre chords (G Major, D Major).
The Dangits’ sophomore album, Come Alive, which will be released Saturday at Lola’s Saloon, is as propulsive, bombastic, and aggressive as you’d expect, but it’s also incredibly dynamic. “Straight as the Crow Flies” is as weirdly catchy as any Toadies hit. In the carousing proto-punk anthem “In the City,” Noyes and company conjure up The Clash, group vocals and all. The mostly instrumental “Open Road” is 10 minutes and 22 seconds of churning, slow-burning drone. “6 Miles to Mexico” is as amped-up as a meth-fueled sprint to the border in a beat-up ’77 Mustang.
“It’s just more experience writing,” said chief songwriter Noyes of his band’s structural diversity over beers recently. “I didn’t have a whole lot going into it. I could write riffs, but I couldn’t string them together with bridges and all that kind of bullshit … so it was that, and we listen to a wide range of music … ‘I love this song by New Bomb Turks. I wanna do something like that’ or ‘I love this Melvins song. I wanna do something like that.’ ”
Smith credits the North Texas scene with his band’s ability to experiment with different tempos and arrangements: “Being in this band, we’re more exposed to a lot more cool music too, so that kind of rubs off on you. … I love it. And that’s what so cool about this scene. All these bands, like The Phuss, House Harkonnen, The Me-Thinks, everybody — we’re all such good friends. There’s no weird rivalry.”
The change in tack wasn’t exactly calculated. “We’re so used to [our sound], we think it’s a little more dumbed down,” Smith joked.
“But,” Noyes added, “then we try to teach a bass player how to do it, and it is a little more complicated than we thought.”
The Dangits have been through several bassists over the past couple of years, including Marc Davis, who played on the record. For the album release show, former Dangits bassist Benji Silver will perform. Constant lineup changes were what kept the band out of the studio for so long. Family and work commitments have also contributed to the slow pace. Dallas’ Noyes, a 45-year-old married father of one, is a freelance chef; Arlington’s Smith, 38, a jeweler at Cox’s Jewelry in Arlington; and Richland Hills’ Genders, 41, the owner of a security alarm business. In 2012 The Dangits managed to do some recording, at the home studio of Poo Live Crew’s John Davis, as part of a split 7-inch with Fort Worth pop-punks Perdition. In March, The Dangits were finally ready –– financially and personally –– to go back into the studio, this time with producer Dave Willingham at The Echo Lab in Denton.
“Of all the studios, they have the best reputation,” Smith said. “Everything they put out is great,” including –– and especially –– both of Pinkish Black’s Pitchfork-approved albums.
Noyes, Smith, and Genders are psyched about the finished product. “I’m really happy with it,” Noyes said. “Professionally mastered, professionally recorded, so-so players, it’s probably the best we can get. We could have probably paid double and not have it sound any better.”
World domination, though, is not on the horizon. “Once you go to Oklahoma, then I’m gonna want to go to Austin and then Houston,” Noyes said. “I’m not gonna have a job. I’m gonna be divorced, so I made a promise we’re just gonna be a local band. Whatever level of success we hit is totally fine with me. Whether two or 200 people show up, it’s gonna be just as much fun.”