Smile Politely

Dianogah Brings the Rock (Not Post Rock) to Highdive Saturday

If your Saturday night is lacking some low-end punch, head on down to the Highdive and check out the two-bass, one-drummer assault of veteran Chicago rockers Dianogah. Doors open at 7 p.m., opening act Pinebender comes on at 8 p.m., and Dianogah takes the stage at 9 p.m. so they can finish up in time for DJ Tim Williams to spin at 10:30 p.m. The cover is just $7, so how can you lose?

After the jump, check out our interview with Dianogah bassist and singer Jay Ryan.

Smile Politely: How did the two-bass lineup come about? What do you think it does for your sound?

Jay Ryan: The line-up was not specifically premeditated. The two basses were simply the only instruments Jason [Harvey] and I knew how to play when we started playing together seriously in early ‘95. Kip could have played pump organ, but we finally figured out that we had a better chance of being able to load drums into a van than a pump organ.

SP: What does “post rock” mean to you?

JR: No idea. We have never considered ourselves anything but a rock band — there’s nothing remarkably unusual about our song structures or our songwriting process. At least, I don’t think we’ve moved beyond rock music.

SP: So, you’re heading to Europe in early October for a whirlwind week-long tour. Since it’s your fourth Euro tour, is it pretty much old hat? What countries have your largest following?

JR: It’s never old hat — any tour is exciting, and touring Europe is especially exciting, with the charming old-world tradition of changing street names every two blocks. We drive ourselves around in Europe, without a European driver, and often sleep at the homes of other bands, so we see things many Americans traveling abroad might not see. It’s the old cliché — we go over far better in Verona, Italy, than we do in Milwaukee or Baltimore. Italy might be the country I’d pick for “best reception,” though almost every European show we’ve played has been remarkable for some reason, even if there were only a couple dozen people there. We also appreciate the centuries-old European tradition of “arrival snacks,” which may be a nice plate of cheese and/or fruit, with a bottle of wine, waiting for us when we pull up to a club. We eat, then load in, sound check, and then are fed a good meal. This is not the way things work in America, except when dealing with Champaign’s own Ward Gollings, who always cooks for us.

SP: You’ve played Champaign before, but I don’t see any Highdive shows listed. What are you looking forward to about the gig, venue, town, etc.?

JR: Jupiter’s Pizza. We’ll eat there. Jason and I went to school in Champaign, so we still have some friends in town who won’t come to see us since they have kids and won’t check the paper to see who’s playing this weekend. We love them anyway. We saw all these friends back in may at the “1993 revisited” event at the Highdive.

SP: What do you guys do for side jobs? Have you been full-time musicians in the past?

JR: We have side-jobs. I draw bears and turtles and chairs full-time, seriously. This is what I got with my BFA from U of I.

SP: How did the title come about for your latest album [qhnnnl]? How’s the new material been received?

JR: We are filming a documentary on this subject right now. It’s a vulgar small-town Montana colloquialism, which we finally agreed on, after almost calling the album The White Russian.

SP: You have some pretty awesome song titles. How important is the title to a song?

JR: If the song doesn’t have any words, then the title lets the listener know what the song is about.

SP: What was your favorite band/artist when you were twelve?

JR: Twelve? I was twelve in 1984, so the answer is… Duran Duran.

SP: It looks like this is your first couple of shows with Pinebender. What can you tell us about them?

JR: We’re old friends — our bands have been around forever, together, and we’ve played together a ton [ed. note: good research, Joel]. We were on the same label for a while. as we get older, fewer of our friends are in bands, so it’s fun to play with another that something something I don’t know what.

SP: What’s the band that you’ve been compared to that you feel is the least representative?

JR: Ooof, great question. Didn’t someone say “Tool” once in an article?

Related Articles