Preview: Dirty Faces bring 2012 to chaotic finish


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If the Mayans are right, the new album from Dirty Faces won't even see the light of day -- which is a shame because the band has been working on "Underground Economy" for an unusually long time.

"We started recording in January of 2008," says Dirty Faces bassist Mike Bonello, aka Tricky Powers, "but didn't like those versions, so we decided to record again after our tour that summer, figuring everything would be really tight, which is a big change for us."


PREVIEW: DIRTY FACES

  • With:

    The Bumps, The Working Poor.

  • Where:

    Gooski's, Polish Hill.

  • When:

    10 p.m. Saturday.

  • Admission:

    $5.


Well, then a whole bunch of unfortunate things happened. For starters, singer Terry Carroll (aka T. Glitter) got sick and lost his voice, and Mr. Bonello's appendix burst. So they didn't go back into John Purse's Rickety House studio until summer 2009.

The bassist says they "drank a lot of whiskey during Snowmageddon" and finished the mixes in 2010.

"Oh, then," he says, "we had come up with a new song ['Too Big to Fail'] and scratched one of the ones we'd been working on. So we recorded again in 2010."

Then they had to fund the release, which they wanted to be vinyl, knowing that its former label, Brah Records (Oneida's imprint of Jagjaguwar), wasn't going to put it out.

Nearly five years since the first recording, "Underground Economy," the third in a trilogy, is here to shake up the holiday season with a chaotic blast of psychedelic garage punk led by Glitter's raw, Iggy-style vocal antics.

"Musically, it's the most refined batch of songs since our first album -- 'Covered in Lime' in 1998 -- basically because of the approach of not wanting to record until we had essentially a set's worth of material ready to go."

After that debut, Dirty Faces issued three more albums, including two for Brah, and compiled some good national press for its "classic Rust Belt punk."

"We had settled into a consistent lineup for the longest solid stretch of our existence, but it was a six-piece, so we had to be conscious of building a whole out of simple interlocking parts instead of everybody playing the same thing at once and making a blaring mess," Mr. Bonello says. "We worked out the arrangements playing these songs at shows, everybody figuring out the most stripped-down part to play for each song. No matter how many times you practice things, they don't really reach their ultimate form until you play them in front of people -- refined in the crucible of live performance -- distilled to the essence."

The current Faces has a new look. John Purse (aka Easy Powers) left the band but worked on production, and Leah McManigle (Bloody Powers) moved to New York. Rounding out the lineup are Julie Chill (Breakadawn Powers) and drummer Bill Baxter (Sweet Willie Powers), with extra help for Saturday's release show from Ms. McManigle and Ernie Bullard (Dickie Powers).

"A lot of people have been in the Dirty Faces at one time or another," Mr. Bonello says. " 'SuperAmerican' has three different drummers on it, for instance."

The current lineup is stripped down to a guitar, bass, drums and vocals, the way the band started in 1997.

If the wait for "Underground Economy" was a little too long, the bassist will remind you, "This record took as long to make as a decent batch of whiskey."

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. First Published December 20, 2012 5:00 AM


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