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Dead Kenny Gs

Theres nothing smooth about the subversive jazzy punk funk these cats play.

Plenty of jazz musicians and aficionados think Kenny G is the Antichrist. Still, there are millions of people who think he's a godsend. Those same people would hate the Dead Kenny G's, whose music is a far cry from the sappy drivel dished out by its namesake. Skerik and Mike Dillon, who formed the act, essentially approach jazz with a punk attitude and a funk groove. Skerik runs his saxes through pitch-transposition effects so he can play chords or have the effect of multiple horn parts, while Dillon plays a massive hybrid drum kit with xylophone, vibraphone and tablas attached so he can have access to everything at once. We caught up with Skerik and asked him if he and Dillon were really haters of the curly-maned smooth-jazz purveyor, or if they just dug the name.

Westword: So what do you have against Kenny G?

Skerik: Well, he symbolizes a lot of things. There are a lot of things he does directly that are just so meaningless, it's hard to describe. It's just like why someone would want to watch commercials all day on TV instead of, like, some content. It's not really my pleasure to be dissing on individuals. I mean, we're fans of punk rock and of jazz. It's like the Dead Kennedys and Kenny G, and blending those names together — it's just a great platform. The focus of the band is not to bash Kenny G, because no one really cares about him; he's not worth the energy. I mean, he's pathetic and he knows it, and he's just in it for the money. Anyone who buys into that is just playing themselves. Charles Mingus always said he wanted to make music that makes people less submissive. That's one of my favorite Mingus quotes. Punk rock is a great thing for that. Jazz is also a great thing for that. And not the commercial forms of those two genres — the real versions.

Besides Mingus, who are some other cats you guys dig?

We study everyone from Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Wayne Shorter, all these kinds of people. John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix. But we also check out Bad Brains, Minutemen and bands like that. We check that stuff out equally as much. Punk rock and jazz, they share a lot of similarities sociologically, and they're both real revolutionary kinds of music. We're definitely trying to bring that kind of spirit to this band.

 
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