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Filthy Thieving Bastards.

ALTHOUGH I MADE IT SAFELY HOME FROM THE MAD DOG IN THE FOG THAT January night, the tape of my conversation with Johnny and Darius did not. Johnny says he stole it but I don't believe him. I distinctly remember handing some form of recorded medium to Thrasher's copy queen the next morning but she's in a sort of advanced denial over the whole issue so... Anyway, without further adieu we here at the mag present you with the Filthy Thieving Bastards (usually AKA two-fifths Swingin' Utters), because folk music sounds better when it's punk and drunk. --RH

There have always been a couple quieter, folk-influenced songs on Swingin' Utters records. What brought about the idea to do full albums of these songs?

Darius: I have shitloads of material and a]most all of it's acoustic, mellow stuff. I just want to keep busy playing music, and making as many records as I can. I really enjoy playing this style of music, so it was just a natural progression and an obvious decision we made. Johnny's into that style of stuff also.

Last time we talked you were looking for an accordion player. Have you been able to play any shows yet?

Darius: Not yet. Still looking for the accordion player. The Utters are in the studio in April and May, so hopefully we'll get our shit together soon and start playing some shows in the summertime.

Is the live music scene better or worse here in SF compared to five or 10 years ago?

Johnny: It's worse, but I don't live in SF and I don't go out. Maybe it's worse because I don't get to go out anymore. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Darius: There are always lulls in any scene, and there are really shitty years and really great ones, but there are always good bands around... The dot-commers really fucked things up, closing Downtown Rehearsal was pretty horrible, and the new yuppie lofts South of Market don't help the clubs down there at all.

As practice spaces disappear, lots of former "band" musicians turn to DJ-ing and more electronic forms of music, often with less of an emphasis on the vocal. Is this killing the song as a vessel for telling a story?

Johnny: Of course it is. No singing, no story

Darius: Most of that music is just mindless noise anyways; just absolute crap. I suppose if a song is really great then the music and the melody just tell their own story, but in the "traditional" sense you can't really tell a story without vocals, right? I don't like electronic music. I don't go out dancing, and most of that shit is for tweakers who dance at some flicked up club all night. Not my scene.

Has the internet helped your band?

Darius: Having a website has helped us out, but not in a huge way Maybe we've sold a few more records since they're so easily available, but maybe we've sold less records because of all the downloading from Napster, etc.

Is there a different lyrical approach between the songs you write for the Utters and those for Filthy Thieving Bastards?

Johnny: I keep most of the punkier stuff for he Utters.

Darius: Pretty much any of the FTB songs could be Utters songs anyway

Last thing you stole?

Darius: Probably a riff from somebody's song.

Johnny: The interview tape from Thrasher.

Last filthy thing you did?

Darius: I don't do much filthy shift anymore. I've been too domesticated.

Johnny: Not showering for two weeks is pretty filthy when you have a clean wife and kid.

You guys are originally from Santa Cruz., and when we first did this interview we were sitting in a bar on Haight Street. Where are the hippies worse?

Darius: I'll just go and say Santa Cruz. They're probably less violent and less likely to be on really hard drugs, but their friendly "vibe" is fucking awful. They're nuisance anywhere though.

Last bastard you met?

Darius: I don't meet many bastards, but I come in contact with them every day--just stupid bastard shithead motherfuckers. I work in a retail butcher shop and let me tell you, the general public is filled with a bunch of lousy assholes.

Johnny: I never met a bastard I didn't love.

Talk about working with BYO and TKO.

Johnny: Three letters a label, beautiful.

Darius: For us it's great. We're friends with these guys. Especially at YO, we're pretty good friends with the Sterns and the Utters have played with the Sterns and the Utter have played with Youth Brigade a lot. They're just good people and the label is great and everything's just peachy-keen. They let us do what we want, we have absolute control with our music. It's nice to be trusted in that way.

Back in the Trocadero/Gilman days, how sober were you guys for all those shows?

Darius: We've always drank before a show. And during and after. I almost think we drank more in those days, but I could be wrong. We've never been into sobriety at all, I don't like playing sober. I need a drink to relax.

Johnny: Can't remember I was in a blackout stage. I was hated back then.
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Title Annotation:music
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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