Music News

Dressed to Kill

Sure, Dressy Bessy might wear polka dots and have a song on the Powerpuff Girls soundtrack. But the act's new disc, Electrified, rocks some serious balls. Ventilating its bubbly pop with slashes of new wave, surf, folk and punk, the disc has a dark edge that can be oh-so-sweetly unsettling. After an avalanche of media attention over the past few months (including appearances on Last Call With Carson Daly and Late Night With Conan O'Brien, not to mention an NPR review in which Ken Tucker pitted Electrified triumphantly against Coldplay's X&Y), singer/guitarist Tammy Ealom and guitarist John Hill sat still long enough to chat about the Monkees, Chris Martin's imminent demise and Conan's failed Dressy Bessy audition.

Westword: Electrified feels like a leap for you guys.

Ealom: There's a lot of drive and energy. It's a lot more fun when I can play a show and just blast through the songs, and finish up all sweaty with my eyes popping out of my head.

Are you reacting against people who dismiss you as bubblegum pop?

Hill: Whenever you read a review like that, it's because someone's not paying attention, or they're just going on what they read about us six years ago. But I don't mind being called bubblegum. We listen to the Monkees and shit like that.

But even the Monkees had more going on than some people realize. They had folk songs, pop songs, garage songs.

Ealom: Right, but they still got pigeonholed. I guess we have, too. It's funny, though, because I write every one of our songs when I'm really pissed off. It just comes out happy. Or at least people think it's happy.

Hill: We're not the fucking Care Bears, you know?

So who's cooler: Carson or Conan?

Ealom: Conan, definitely.

Hill: I got the feeling that Carson has a little bit of an inferiority complex. He knows he's not very cool.

Ealom: Conan actually came up and talked to us after the show. The first thing he said was, "What key is your song in? I've been trying to figure it out all day long."

Hill: The funny thing is, I was out in the hall earlier, and I heard someone playing the song on guitar. It turned out it was Conan in his dressing room.

Has the NPR review had a big impact?

Hill: Yeah, it immediately drew people out of the woodwork. Now that we've been on NPR, 10 percent of our crowd is over forty. They're up there with their teenage kids, dancing their asses off. And when we're on tour, every little paper has an article with captions like, "Come see the band that destroyed Coldplay." Like we toppled them. They're done.

Ealom: My favorite was "Dressy Bessy 1, Coldplay 0."

Are you guys going to settle this once and for all with a Coldplay/Dressy Bessy tour?

Hill: Yeah, they'll be opening for us.

They did take Rilo Kiley and Black Mountain on the road with them. They're trying to get the indie crowd.

Ealom: They should have taken us. Fuckers. That's the thing: Ken Tucker did us a favor by reviewing our album, but he might have ruined our chances to ever tour with Coldplay.

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Jason Heller
Contact: Jason Heller