Friday, January 04, 2008

The Dudes: Online Interview With Calgary's Dan Vacon By: Christine Albrecht

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I happened upon The Dudes last September (2007) while I was at the Commodore Ballroom to review Hot Hot Heat’s latest gig. The Dudes opened for HHH and their high energy set immediately got my attention, as well as their stage antics and both their serious and hilarious (yet rockin’) song selections.

The Dudes are: Dan Vacon - frontman, Bob Quashnick - guitarist, Jon Hopkins - bassist and Scott Ross - Drummer. Scott Ross’s drumming and Dan’s entertaining observations and solid performance had me taking notes in order to write a quick observation which you can read here

I asked swanktrendz contributor, Shane Christensen, to quickly jot down some ‘fun, tongue-in-cheek’ questions for me to forward to The Dudes for answers. Then I proceeded to to dutifully nag/stalk the dear fellows to answer our online questions while they were busy on tour overseas. Being ever the good sport, Dan Vacon took the time to offer up some answers. Enjoy!

Dan/The Dudes: All right let’s do this thing, (finally).

Swanktrendz: You’ve made great use of the internet and seem to have garnered a loyal fan base using this medium. So my first question is borrowed/stolen from a fan who asked it on your site... What would you prefer, a great song or a great gal?

Dan/The Dudes: Strange question. A ‘perfect gal’ I suppose. Falling in love is good for about 2 perfect songs and also some medium songs. The subsequent break-up will spawn some musical gems, too.

Swanktrendz: Staying in that context, I noticed you have a lot of loyal female fans.on your myspace. Did you guys take any cues from recent (ahem) ‘boy bands’ in attracting the gals, or is your animal magnetism too much for the fairer sex to withstand?

(Also, Dan mentioned in the Vancouver show that there are no ugly girls here. True, or just major ass kissing on his part?)

Dan/The Dudes: I didn't notice we had all that many girl fans. It’s funny considering we’re ugly as sin. Girls are into moustaches I think. It’s like some sort of reverse oedipus thing. Maybe we remind our fans of that one cool uncle they had. The one that was always sneaking them highballs at family get-togethers. And yeah, I was kissing ass. I saw some ugly girls in Vancouver, but none of them were The Dudes fans.

Swanktrendz: Do you enjoy the interaction the internet allows you to have with your fans, and how do you follow up that interaction while on tour?

Dan/The Dudes: I love talking to fans on the net. I don't know what onerous means, but if it means too much trouble then no effing way. Tour diaries are getting hard to keep up with, though. I'm constantly trying to keep up, pay attention to everyone's jokes and write songs on the road and feel my different feelings at the same time. I have a few I'm sitting on. Yeah it’s hard.

Swanktrendz: You’re website is impressive both for the sheer volume of info available and for the individual band members’ input. During your live shows, the band has great interaction with the audience (as Christine had the pleasure of witnessing in Vancouver recently). Are internet/live interactions something the band naturally enjoys, (as it appears), or is it something you look at as a promotion necessity?

Dan/The Dudes:Yes ma'am (to Christine), we have a helper that takes care of our website. He can be a bit of a wanker but he's super helpful. We just got back from our first UK trip yesterday, so I'll be saying things like wanker for a while.

Rock shows are sort of like giant group dates. You can't just tuck your shirt in, bring a gal flowers and hope she'll sleep with you. You have to show her you're a real person with emotions and opinions and jokes. At first, talking to the crowd was hard. It reminded me of leaving a message on someone's answering machine. Whatever you say counts immediately and you can never take it back. Unless of course, you break into her apartment and steal the tape. But that's illegal and difficult. Just like rock and roll?...

Swanktrendz: This latest tour is taking you literally across the entire nation and overseas, and it’s very ambitious in the amount of shows played. Is this something the band encourages, or do you have the manager from hell?

Dan/The Dudes:It’s just the reality of being in a rock band. Like it or not, you've got to spread the music around. You can only be the local hero for so long before it’s like, Damn... is this all there is? We like it though. Every rock show is a gift... except the ones in Winnipeg.

Swanktrendz: You’ve been around since ’96, and toured the country extensively during the last 11 years. Do you find you have favourite parts of the country to play now and (if so) expand on that a bit if you can. (How’s the reception in the East, as opposed to the West?)

Dan/The Dudes:The Dudes do really well on the coasts and not so well in the middle. I can't really explain it. Victoria, Vancouver, Halifax are amazing. Winnipeg is a major bummer. Actually, everywhere is great... except Winnipeg. Winnipeg is an idiot. I hate Winnipeg. My favourites are Victoria, and Halifax, and home... And Toronto... and Spain... and Bayfield.

Swanktrendz: How’s the internal band chemistry during such exhaustive tours? Do you get on each other’s nerves being stuck together in cramped quarters for thousands of miles?

Dan/The Dudes: Yeah. We're pretty manic on the road. It’s all, "I love you, man" then later, "I hate your face." Rock keeps us together though generally. I could tell you 3 things I can't stand about every dude, but also 25 things I love about them. We're a good crew.

Swanktrendz: : How about egos? Scott recently won his Bucky from CBC Radio 3 for the best facial hair. Does that create any competitive ‘stache dynamic in the band, and/or is that a good thing?

Dan/The Dudes: I hate Scott for having a way more kick ass 'stache than mine. Bob, too. But my 'stache has a special message. It’s like getting a gift from an orphan who spent all his vitamin money for it. It means way more than a diamond ring or a bread maker or something from someone who can afford it. Do you know what I mean? My moustache is worth an orphans’ vitamin money.

Swanktrendz: You all seem to have a wicked sense of humour, whether it’s in the videos or at the live shows. On the longer tours, do the guys pull pranks on each other as a means of dealing with the monotony of touring great distances? Any you can share, or is that privileged info?

Dan/The Dudes: We've never been prank pullers really. We just make jokes. You get up early, half drunk still and start looking for the comedy. That's how to stay sane.

Swanktrendz: The videos for Do The Right Thing and Drop-kick Queen of the Weekend have a Foo Fighters kind of humour to them. Would you credit the Foos with having an influence on the band (musically/videos) or is it a mere coincidence? (Bob even looks like Dave Grohl).

Dan/The Dudes: Scott really likes the Foos. I think they're pretty effing good. I don't think they influenced our videos though. comedy is just important to us. to life in general. I like Richard Pryor.

Bob and I learned guitars together in high school, and we just played and played. Eventually it sounded all right. Scott cut his teeth on teen emo/punk things. I sang in the Calgary Boys Choir. That formal sort of stuff. I write the lyrics (Dan). I consult the boys, though. I say stuff like, "Is this retarded?" or, "What's funnier, she shoved bread in my face, or got red in the face?" That sort of thing.

I hope this answers everything, Christine. thanks for being patient and interested.


The Dudes latest offering is entitled Brain. Heart. Guitar.It is available in Canada and is due out in early 2008 for Europe. Click this Link to check out their music and tour schedule.

One Four Seven Recordswill be handling their UK and European release/ gigs. Swanktrendz wishes The Dudes success with the upcoming European introduction to Brain. Heart. Guitar. I am sure The Dudes will quickly attract a devote following with their entertaining show.

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