DS Interview: Jack Dalrymple talks toyGuitar, songwriting, and what he’ll never tell us about touring

Jack Dalrymple’s music resume runs like a wish list of all the punk bands you’d ever want to be in:  Swingin’ Utters, Dead To Me, One Man Army, Re-Volts, and The US Bombs.  I actually may have missed one or two, but the point is clear:  Jack is punk rock through and through, and he’s also putting out some really cool music in his newest band, toyGuitar. They released their debut full length album, In This Mess, earlier this year (you can read our review of it here), and Jack took some time to talk with us about the new project.

Check out the full interview below.

Dying Scene (Gina Skidz):  Give us a little history of Jack Dalrymple: how did you get into music as a kid? What were your influences?
Jack Dalrymple:  I got into playing music as a kid through my cousin Jeff. He was always this super weird rock and roll dude that I looked up too. He played with Johnny Thunders, had a BC Rich Bich he’d always bring over, wore eyeliner and those Rolling Stone lips earrings. I was stuck in Arizona as a kid, so when he’d come over it was always this breath of fresh air so to speak, in an otherwise really conservative shit hole. He bought me this Les Paul copy and showed me how to hold chords. We’d play stuff from Thunders to the Ramones. There was also skateboarding, which took me into soooo much more punk music.

Why did you form toyGuitar with Miles Peck (also of Swingin’ Utters)? Were you looking to try out a new sound that wouldn’t work in your other bands, or what?
I got Miles to play in toyGuitar because he’s a super awesome friend and an amazing musician. Dude can play anything..any instrument. He’s ma brotha from anotha. He also really had no choice – we are locked in the same van and same side of the stage. If he said no, it woulda been awkward as fuck… haha. I wasn’t really trying like a “new sound” or anything, I just had a bunch of songs piled up. Fleshing them out a little with Miles, Paul and Rosie is the main reason toyGuitar exists.

Describe your process for coming up with the songs on In This Mess. Is there any over-arching theme or message to the album?
There wasn’t really a process that took place. I’d say more of just being a band contributed to In This Mess. We’re all genuinely excited to be playing music together – even at practice, which is weird. And for me, personally, it’s even when we’re all in a room together, not just playing music. If there is an over-arching theme, it would just be for the love and fun of it all.

If some of our readers haven’t checked out toyGuitar or the new album yet (shame on them!), why should they?
They shouldn’t!!! I’d say wait until more of their friends like it or someone says its cool…

I read that your son inspired “Words Between Us” on the toyGuitar debut album in 2013. Did that happen again on this album?
He did, yes! In school they’d ask kids questions and then write their answers down and hang them up throughout the classroom. His was “what is love?” His answer was, “sparkly purple hearts and all kinds of stuff.” Hahaha…I couldn’t have answered such an ambiguous question better myself. I recorded him on my phone singing one day. He was singing, “nothing’s gonna happen to us” and something about earthquakes and meteors never being able to hurt us. I took it all to mean that he felt loved, and safe. That’s the song premise. I didn’t use anything he’s done recently for In This Mess, but he’s got some really, really great stuff. I play his songs for Paul, Rosie and Miles all the time. I could go on and on about how rad he is but nobody really wants to read about someone else’s kid.

In the Utters, it seems like you guys have really collaborated on co-writing songs, does that happen in toyGuitar as well? Describe how the songs get written.
Being a band refers to a group of people so it’s supposed to be a collaborative effort. It’s that process of everyone getting together to make this cool, weird thing happen, that’s either great or not so great… haha. In toyGuitar we all come to the table with stuff and we all call bullshit on stuff. It’s awesome!

“Is It True?” in particular has a bit of a surf-rock sound, where does that come from?
Miles wrote that really cool guitar line and the chords underneath. I think maybe it’s that melody played through clean-sounding Fenders that give it a surf sound? I dunno… we weren’t trying for surf rock or anything. We love the sound Fender guitars make through Fender amps, which is where it all comes from.

Where do you see toyGuitar going? 
We have no idea where it’s going. We are all just enjoying playing music and spending time together. Anything else that happens is a bonus. That being said, there is a very concerted effort being put into toyGuitar at the moment.

Has the success of Swingin’ Utters gotten in the way of this project at all? 
It’s crazy hard finding time with the Utters’ relentless touring schedule.  

How do you divide up your time and how the hell do you keep them all straight?
It’s a juggle for sure.  We (toyGuitar) basically have to do 2-3 week stabs at stuff during Utters down time or attach tours together like we’re doing for this upcoming Europe run in two weeks.

Swingin’ Utters are back at Punk Rock Bowling this year, which is awesome. What other big shows are on the horizon? Do you have any funny stories from the road?
I think there’s a Japan show for Utters in November? I’m not sure.

What do you look forward to most about touring? Least?
What I look forward to the most about touring is the time I get to spend with these people who I look at as my brothers and sisters. What I like the least about touring is being away from my family. I think that’s the dichotomy between the two worlds. I love being on the road, I hate being away from home or vice versa.

Do you have any funny stories from the road?
From tours with OMA, Dead To Me, Swingin’ Utters, Re-Volts, toyGuitar and the US Bombs, I’ve accumulated a lot of stories… haha, but none that I’m willing to share publicly – sorry!

What are you listening to right now? Like, maybe not right this second, but what’s got your attention lately?
Massenger, Massenger, Massenger all the time. Viva L’ American Death Ray Music, anything involving the Marked Men dudes and their many bands. Fidlar, Petty Things, Parquet Courts, Dirty Fences, Ty Segall, Western Addiction, The Widows, No Parents then more Massenger… pretty much all those, all the time.

We also asked Dying Scene fans for any questions they had for you. Darren Z. wants to know if you had any plans to tour or record with Dead to Me?
Hey Darren Z., there are plans in the works to record some Dead to Me stuff. I have no idea when or where yet. There are a lot of factors, mostly other band and scheduling stuff that need to be worked out. I know Ken is busy with Western Addiction stuff and I’m juggling a lot at the moment… Soon, though, my friend, soon.

Dead to Me was kind of a popular topic. Mike T. wants to know if One Man Army and Dead to Me will ever tour together? 
Hahaha… the Dead to Me topic is as pervasive as the One Man Army one, if not more. I don’t think it’s gonna happen, Mike T. It would be awesome, but it’d never work. Thanks for the love though my friend. It truly means a lot!

Mark L. asks: I’d be curious what inspired the change in sound between your first 7″ on Chapter 11 Records and the first TKO 7″. Bands change sounds and all but I’m curious what inspired it for you at the time.
Hey Mark! Uh… I’d say it would mostly be the level of musicianship and wanting to be like the Swingin’ Utters. There were so many awesome bands like The Reducers, The Bodies, Randumbs, Working Stiffs and Mark Rainey – who isn’t a band but could have been – that the Utters started indirectly. Even the Dropkick Murphy’s were an Utters cover band.

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