The Dum Dum Girl Explains Why There's Now a Dum Dum Boy

Cohesion is the name of the game for Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny nowadays.

Though you might know the band because of its highly acclaimed first album, I Will Be, the band's sound has morphed four years later from a lo-fi, surf vibe heavy on female vocal harmonies to a style that showcases Penny's solo vocals, backed by darker, yet more polished '80s and '90s 

"In the beginning, I was kind of hiding behind a wall of sound," Penny says.

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This year's Too True strips all that away and builds it back up, as she puts it, with "a lot more textural guitar work to support the skeletal framework of songs."

While the band's live lineup has remained relatively stable the past three years, it's interesting to note that Dum Dum Girls' production team -- Richard Gottehrer and the Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner -- has remained a constant throughout.

"There's two faces to the band, and one is how it exists in the studio and one is how it exists on tour," Penny says. "It all fit really well. There's a really natural chemistry, so why force any kind of change on that? They're willing to follow me wherever I feel like going."

Penny says that from the beginning, Gottehrer has been interested in taking the band in the more pop direction it's gone in now, though it wasn't until recently that she felt ready to step out from behind that wall of sound and showcase her voice.

"I finally had the time to process some of the shit that I had been bogged down with -- the things that made it impossible to write about anything other than these traumatic issues that I had experienced," she says.

Penny says she's particularly excited for this tour because she's chosen to play the album from start to finish, adding in older songs and even some songs she's never played live. She's also brought on a "Dum Dum Boy" for the first time on tour to add another layer to the live sound.

"It took me a really long time to form a band that was all-female, which was something that I really wanted for no other reason than I had never played music with all women before and I was curious about the differences that might exist," she says.

"I toyed with the idea of trying to find somebody that fit more what people would expect, but at a certain point, I decided it was more important to serve the songs versus the shtick," Penny says. "I just wanted to play the album well."

While Dum Dum Girls have been known for the all-female live lineup for years, Penny explains that even when she was signed to Sub Pop, a label known for signing female-centric bands, her recording project was still anonymous, as it was just her and not even a picture of her attached to the band. She says that in the end she likes playing with her band because of who they are without it being about what gender they are.

"When we started playing together, the experience was pretty immediately different and cool," she says. "It's not that I like my band because they're women. I like my band because they're really talented women who are easy to get along with and easy to live with, which is really what it's about when you're touring."

Dum Dum Girls are scheduled to perform Thursday, November 13, at Crescent Ballroom.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch