Down with Dum Dum Girls
Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls doesn’t seem to be the excitable type, with her soft monotone speaking voice and often expressionless countenance, but her music betrays a kind of raw, spastic energy that fuels her ambitious creative output. We’d try to describe what it sounds like, but as Penny reminds us, journalists too often get the references wrong. So instead, we’ll have Penny tell you, herself, as she discusses this and her new EP, “End of Daze.”
Press materials for this EP go into a lot of detail about the albums you were listening to while you wrote it. Why do you think it’s important to put your influences out there like that?
I don’t know that it is. … I think it’s honestly born of reading reviews of things that are so far off the mark in terms of what they assume I was thinking or reading or listening to. Sometimes I just get to the point where I’m like, “I’m just gonna tell you because it’s gonna come out better for both of us.” But I never want anything to be that apparent and it’s never something that overt. Like, oh, obviously, I listened to “Viva Hate” during this period and my work is a direct extension of that. It’s just sometimes helpful — especially for a band like mine who has from an early point been pigeonholed or summarized in like, two bands.
Why did these five songs seem to be a unit unto itself rather than part of a full album?
It was pretty similar to when I put out the “He Gets Me High” EP. It felt like this album was maybe not conceptual in the traditional sense, but I felt like it dealt with something specifically and then it was complete at five songs. I’m always writing. I have probably 40 songs I could have put out.
You’ve done some great covers — notably “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths. Are you ever worried that fans will focus more on those and less on your original material?
No. I definitely have made a habit of recording covers. There’s been a cover on every record I’ve done except for “Only in Dreams” and that is very much related to the fact that I am a music fan. I don’t think that overshadows what I do, but I think it brings to light how I approach things. I’ve never done a traditional cover in the sense that it sounds a lot like the original. I’ve always tried to do a personal interpretation of it. … I never think I can improve on the original. I like to take a stab at it from a different direction. I think people appreciate that. People love hearing songs that they love. If it’s a song by somebody else that we play that they love, they’re still going to be really happy about that. It’s like a little gift, especially with The Smiths’ song because The Smiths are such a massive band for so many people. … It’s so many people’s favorite song and for them to not slag us off for covering it, that’s kind of an accomplishment. [laughs]