Monday, December 17, 2012

Can you say 'Dag Nasty gig'? Yes, it's on the way

Vintage Brian Baker, six-string freestyle. (Courtesy photo)
By Andy

From four strings to six -- a solid move.

Back in 1982 when Minor Threat went the five-piece route and Brian Baker switched from bass to second guitar, the band unleashed a fuller sound with more intricate guitar passages on the "Out of Step" EP. I was stoked to no end. It was a stellar slab of vinyl, to the say the least, and the band kicked it up a notch in the live setting, as well.

"Brian's a very rock 'n rolly guitarist, and if he keeps it up we're either going to go back to him on bass or just call it quits. Who knows? Maybe we'll add a brass and woodwinds section, too!" Minor Threat drummer Jeff Nelson wrote to me in a letter around that time.

Baker, who also handled axe duties in Government Issue in the early '80s, took the reins of his own band -- the formidable Dag Nasty -- in '85. His guitaristry was finesse galore -- equal parts chunky, melody and power -- and gave fire to the band's debut album, "Can I Say." The group's career spanned from '85-'88 and also featured the "Wig Out at Denko's" and "Field Day" albums; two more records, "Four on the Floor" and "Minority of One," were released in '92 and '02, respectively.

They'll be part of the "Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution" documentary party in the nation's capitol on Dec. 28-29, playing a short set along with Youth Brigade, Black Market Baby, Kingface, Scream and GI.

Dag Nasty's 25-minute set will feature Baker and original members Shawn Brown on vocals, Roger Marbury on bass and Colin Sears on drums.

Baker stresses that there's no reunion tour in the works--- it's a gig for the here and now.

Dag Nasty, 2012: From left, Baker, Marbury, Brown and Sears. (Courtesy photo)

Here's a quick email interview with Baker:

**How did the "Salad Days" show come about?

An old friend of the band is making the movie, and when he asked us if we would help raise money to complete the film by playing a benefit, we said yes.

**How are things going with rehearsals-- dusting off those old tunes?

We have only hung out once, and that was a few months ago.... everyone is just playing along with the Dag with Shawn record at home (or singing along in Shawn's case.....) We're planning to get together a few days before the show and see what's what.

**The band's last show was in 1988 and the last one with Shawn singing was in 1985... did you ever think you'd get this band back together -- if just for one night -- again?

It's not something I gave too much thought to, to be honest, but I was always open to the possibility, and I'm really excited about the show.

**Dag Nasty fans have been wondering why it's Shawn on vocals for this show and not Dave (Smalley) or Peter (Cortner) or even all three trading off vocals. What's the lowdown on the singer choice?

It's Shawn's turn. His record came out last. (The "Dag With Shawn" Dischord release in '10, which consists of the original "Can I Say" recording session.)

**You've been involved with many bands, which means there are many songs you've had in your brain over time ... where do Dag Nasty songs stand amongst all of them?

Solidly in the middle.

**Was it easy or tough guitar-wise getting the songs happening again? Did they bring back memories from the old days while relearning them?

Strangely, the songs were pretty easy to remember, but a lot of them are a little too fast for my hands these days. I've been working on ways to cheat without anyone noticing.

**Each era of the band had solid songs-- will there be equal representation at the gig or just "Can I Say" tunes?

We're going to try to play everything from Shawn's era we can. Basically, it'll be like seeing us in 1985, only fatter.

**Have you written any new Dag Nasty guitar riffs since "Minority of One" came out 10 years ago? Any new songs on the horizon?

I've got some songs. 

Dag Nasty in '85. (Bert Queiroz photo)

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