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By Tom Murphy
The Kissing Party is a band masterful in the writing of upbeat, melancholy pop songs and wry wit. Although the lyrics reveal the romantic and sentimental outlook of the group's primary songwriters, Gregg Dolan and Deidre Sage, it is the rhythm section of Lee Evans and Shane Reid, coupled with the delicate yet assured guitar leads of Joe Hansen, that take relatively simple songs and give them a drive and color that isn't otherwise obvious.
Fresh off a northeast tour with the Jim Jims, the Kissing Party is releasing The Hate Album. The title was partly inspired by Sage's dislike of the final product of the act's previous album, Rediscover Lovers. But the title may well have stemmed from the band's collective love of dry, sardonic humor. In spite of this, the quintet's music, akin to that of '60s girl groups and guitar-driven indie pop, is surprisingly sincere, emotionally engaging and fun without a hint of irony. We recently had a chat with Dolan, Hansen and Sage and asked about the new album and Dolan's cryptic musical endgame.
Westword: Why does "Melania Reprise" come before "Melania" on the album?
Gregg Dolan: It's from Oasis; it's trying to rip off (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, kind of. Actually, they do have a reprise on Be Here Now where a reprise should be. We had a more of a "preprise."
Tell me about the Bob Dylan connection with your cover art.
Joe Hansen: The photo — Gregg has been wanting to use it for a while — is from a book of photos on the '50s. Then Bob Dylan's album [Together Through Life] has the exact same photo, but we had the idea first. But we Photoshopped it.
Why do you pass out tambourines at all your shows?
Deidre Sage: I think an important part of music is that the audience feels part of it and engaged. I always feel better at a rock show when I feel the music is interactive a little — it makes me dance or do something other than just watch. It's fun to have something to have in your hand. The other reason is because I can't play the tambourine and sing at the same time. One day we were spray-painting T-shirts and I thought, "Why don't we spray paint the tambourines, too?"
What are those quasi-hidden words on the artwork opposite the inside liner notes about?
GD: On the previous album there's some, too. I think Prince did this with Purple Rain. The last album we make, those songs will all be on there. They're already kind of written. It's just some lyrics from one of those songs. Those other smaller letters are a code — like The DaVinci Code. It's for people who like albums. Most people don't give a shit about albums anymore. If you come to the show, maybe I'll tell you what those letters are.