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Dag Nasty.

"IT WAS NEVER 'FIRE UP THE JET, get the reunion tour out,"' asserts Brian Baker, talking about his super high profile reunion effort by a certain legendary Washington DC punk/hardcore band. No, not that legendary DC hardcore band. After more than 10 years since its last effort together, the Can I Say lineup of Dag Nasty--guitarist Brian Baker, singer Dave Smalley, drummer Colin Sears, and bassist Roger Marbury--have re-formed once again. At least for now. No one is quitting their day jobs, with Smalley still fronting Down By Law, Baker and the Bad Religion guys putting out a new record, Marbury working in film production in Boston, and Sears an urban planner in Portland, Oregon. But, the band members have been involved in some of the most critical hardcore/punk bands over the last 20 years-Minor Threat, DYS, ALL, Government Issue, and Fugazi (as well as DBL and Bad Religion)--and, as a unit, have been as influential as nearly anyone in the evolution of the genre.

Recording brand new songs at Arlington's Inner Ear studios (where Can I Say was recorded) for a spring release, we caught up with Baker and Smalley at Brian's Adams Morgan apartment.

So how did this all happen?

Brian Baker: We are all friends and have actually maintained a relationship. I was talking to Colin about a year ago and he was like, 'You know what, we should do another record,' And I am like, 'OK. Cool.' So time went by and eventually Colin calls and says, 'Do you want to do this or not because if you do, Revelation will put it out.' It's really that simple. So I set about the arduous process of writing music. But unlike the reunion effort which became Four on the Floor, I didn't write all the songs the day that we were supposed to go into the studio. So the songs are good. Let's just say that Four on the Floor...well, 'complete piece of shit' is too strong, maybe just 'not that good.' This is an entirely different animal...I was able to provide demos of the finished songs to the guys so that they could learn the songs on their own. We plugged in and everyone knew everything. It was like we were a band, for God's sake.

It has been a while since you've been together. How have things changed between the four of you?

Baker: The dynamic is exactly the same. It is like going back into a time capsule. All of the little "special" things about all of our personalities immediately rear themselves and start butting against each other the same way they did when we were kids. The difference is than being adults, we just think its funny. It doesn't turn into actual adversity. But we're stilt finishing each other's sentences and listening to the same....we were cranking Marginal Man the other day. 'Dude. I've got Double. Image.' It's like being a fucking kid, it's awesome. 'You remember the time that Roger painted his mom's car flat black without telling her?' It's these stories...that totally happened.

What happened to the car?

Baker: She was really, really, really pissed. Fortunately, the spray painting coincided with a large mechanical failure and his mother decided to wash her hands of the entire project, leaving Roger the sole owner of a flat black '83 [Roger: '74] '74 Honda Civic. That's the sort of shit we've been talking about.

People, don't like to stay stagnant, much less musicians. Are you finding that Dag Nasty has evolved given the time and given the varied experiences you've had over the years?

Dave Smalley: We're not going to do a Spinal Tap kind of thing, "Hope you like our new direction" [with British accent]. I think it sounds like Dag Nasty, but more grown up than Can I Say and Wig Out. lam also screaming again on some of the songs, which is really, really fun and invigorating and makes me feel like I'm back in 1986.

As the guy who kind of sets the agenda, what do you see as the differences between what you are talking about now relative to the issues you were contending with on Can I Say?

Smalley: It is a little more mature, but the angst that Dag Nasty always conveyed is still there. Maybe it's a more mature angst. There is a song on here called "Ghost" about a particular person in my life and I wouldn't have had this perspective when I was 21 and in Dag Nasty. I've lived all over the place and all that, but there is one person who has affected me very, very deeply and is no longer in my life. I can't shake the picture, no matter what I do. So this is about coming to terms with that ghost. And that is something that time and years of a certain kind of pain can give you.

Are there discussions about a tour?

Baker: Tours are tough. I wouldn't do it unless we were going to put in the type of effort that we put into the record. We couldn't just decide that we were going to go around and do some shows. There are logistical issues, and obviously, I have a pretty significant one. We are about to start a Bad Religion juggernaut and this record is about to come out and I have touring commitments certainly through the year and into next year. Some members of the band don't play music anymore and are doing it just for this. Everyone but me is married. Everyone but me has a real job that they enjoy. Also, I am a little loathe to offer the reunion thing in a live environment. Except for the Descendents, I have never seen a reunion that I thought was worth the trouble. What are reunions? It is members of a band wanting to relive their past glory and be compensated for it. That is a reunion. I am not trying to get any past glory back.

"Never Go Back" on Can I Say--you are "going back" for the second time. Can it ever be the same?

Smalley: There is a line in one of the new songs that says 'I guess I'm getting older. I still don't relate. 'I think the tenants of that song are still as valid as they ever were about the longing, and knowing that it's futile. We are not going back. I really think we are a good band that clicks well together and that's what are doing. We are not trying to re-live anything, just make a record that matters.
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Title Annotation:music group
Author:Epstein, Joseph
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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