September 2014 – “Band of the Month” – DALMATIAN
Our “Band of the Month” feature began in January 2012, featuring Savannah-based trio CUSSES in a short interview that gave readers a glimpse of what to expect from one of Georgia’s hardest working bands. We then landed an interview with Of Monsters and Men right before they broke and would then go on to include acts like Ponderosa, Cheap Girls, Swear and Shake, Jonny Fritz, Torres, The Districts, and more over the next two years.
So as we move forward into 2014, our entire staff would like to extend thanks to the artists who have taken the time to speak with us and the readers who have been so dedicated to supporting the site.
“Dalmatian was born December 21st, 2012 at 10:03 PM in Macon, Georgia. Previously known as WoolFolk, Dalmatian is a quintet that grooves by combining psychedelic folk funk freak-outs. Their designer brand of “Southern G-Folk” mimics the fertile Middle Georgia terrain for which they call home.” – Old Mr. Terry
Dalmatian is and will likely always be: Heath Abney, Burgess Brown, John Ewing, Michael Suhr, Sean Williams, and friends..
Their debut EP, Dances with Dalmatian, was released earlier this year and a follow up is planned for late Fall.
Questions are answered as a group..
I think what most people that knew the band as “WoolFolk” are curious about is what event or chain of events prompted the shift in both image and mentality to “Dalmatian”?
We’ve been playing music for around 2 years and for most of that we were going to different schools and living in different towns. So, naturally, the project was pretty casual. As we approached graduation/school hiatus we decided to take some time to give the band thing a real go. That shift in motivation and dedication, compounded with what we consider to be a pretty big sonic shift, prompted the name change. When we started we were playing really folky stuff, but we’ve been slowly moving further and further away from the genre. Obviously having ‘folk’ in your name creates some expectations that we wanted to shed, especially with the wrung out Pop Folk fad still pervading.
A lot of the songs on the debut EP are derivatives of true stories, reflections on time and place & cause and effect.. specifically they seem to be about growing up in Georgia and how formative the last few years were for you all, both individually and as a band..
For sure! We all grew up in and around Macon and we feel like the city has absolutely influenced our sound and lyrics. There is a perverse innocence in the deep South, which I think, mirrors the transition many go through during the latter teenage years. The songs are a product of dealing with precocious excess, like rebellion, underage drinking, and puppy love, all set in the eccentric South.
Going back a few years and then moving forward, how did everyone in the band get to know one another?
Michael was playing around town in high school with our buddy Brantley Macfie. After high school, Michael went to Georgia State in Atlanta where he and Burgess, who was at Tech, bonded over music and getting lost in the city. As things progressed we wanted to fill out the band so we brought in John, who had been in school with all of us in Macon. John and Burgess had been in school with Sean since they were kids so bringing him in on bass was a no-brainer. Then Sean brought in Heath in a move that required even less brains. Thats the play-by-play
Macon has long been a town that’s critically acclaimed for its music heritage, however somewhat resistant to build upon those great stories. That’s changed in recent years, but it’s still very much in the early phases of growing. What are your thoughts on the mentality of cultural, specifically musical, growth in Middle Georgia over the last few years?
It’s really important to us to claim Macon as our home base. The city has shaped us (except Michael who is a proud WarTown warrior but went to highschool in Macon) and it’d be silly to deny that. It was a great, albeit small, music scene for us to come of age in. Several of us frequented the Macon Venue Project shows throughout high school and that scene became pretty seminal in our musical development. We have hope for the future of the music culture but know that it’s dependent on progression. The history in this city is incredible but that history was built on artists that broke the status quo. We’ve got to take what Little Richard, Otis, and the Allmans gave us, love it, and move forward. We may no longer be making traditionally southern music, but our music is still of the south.
I understand there are plans to release a follow up EP to your debut later this year.. What’s the writing and recording process been like thus far? Is it safe to say that these songs will be the actual “debut” of Dalmatian since the songs on the first EP were all previously released?
We’ve (minus Heath) moved into a house together and we’ve got all our recording equipment in the basement so that has made the process incredibly organic. We can just head down stairs and record when inspiration hits. Sean really knows his stuff and has been a fantastic engineer/producer/bassist/pawn star. Living together has also allowed for a more holistic approach to songwriting and arranging- it’s been much more of a team effort. Michael’s song writing success on this EP can be attributed to lazy Summer swims in the Ocmulgee.
We definitely consider that EP to be our debut as Dalmatian. Some of the songs on the album feel like WoolFolk, but many represent the beginning of Dalmatian.
Talking about the tracks on the new album, is there a particular one that stands out to any of you yet, and what can you tell me about it?
The songs are nearly done and we all have our favorites, which we think is a good sign. But honestly, we are psyched on “Fugu”, which is the first song on the album. It really sets the tone of record and was the first song we all worked on in the new house. It’s a good summary of the sonic and lyrical progression that has happened over the last year or so.
I can hear a mesh of different influences when I listen through the EP.. Paul Simon, Sonic Youth, My Morning Jacket, a sound that spans through decades but has an identity of its own at the same time.. As dull of a question as it may be, what have you guys been listening to recently?
Thanks! Funny you mention Paul Simon, we are about to watch the Graceland documentary. Otherwise, a ton of Beck, Grateful Dead, There’s a Riot Goin’On by Sly and the Family Stone, Tame Impala (John maybe too much), Dinosaur Jr., Of Montreal, Herbie Hancock, The Clash, Bowie and Velvet Underground, The Wipers, Moonshake, Helvetica and just so much more. Sorry for the long list.
With the new EP on the horizon, as well as some shows around the Southeast later this year, what are your expectations or goals for the rest of 2014?
Expand our fanbase, eat healthier, and meet Mark Ballard.
How has the experience of living together affected you all? Individually or as a band?
We accidentally adopted a cat named Peter so we’ve become a responsible loving family of fathers. Also, seeing the grime build up from four dudes in one bathroom really takes the mystery and romance away.
What’s the best advice you’ve given and received in the past year?
Recieved: “Don’t quit your day job” – Dads
Given: Passing on the words of a wise man, “Be open to everything and be kind to everyone”.
Sept 11th – Buffington’s – Milledgeville, GA
Sept 12th – Green Room – Athens, GA
Sept 14th – Second Sunday in Washington Park – Macon, GA
October 25th – Macon Octoberfest – Macon, GA
Dalmatian – “Hickies”