Top Secret Report: There is a group of musicians travelling all over the States, exposing conspiracy theories through their music. Best described as punk and ska, yet labels do nothing to stop the assault. This sound can only be viewed as highly subversive and may provoke people to think for themselves! We recently interrogated vocalist/sax player Pegleg and Aaron the guitarist. They call themselves The Dingees!!! Here is what we learned…
Highwire Daze: Introduce yourselves and tell me what you do in The Dingees.
Pegleg: I'm Pegleg, singer and saxophone.
Aaron: I'm Aaron and I play guitar.
HD: First of all, what is The Crucial Conspiracy?
Pegleg: It's our new album. Thematically, it has a lot to do with and is influenced a lot by conspiracy theories. I just made it the title to try and pull it all together. Some of the lyrics deal with real conspiracy theories, but I just use a lot of the words and key phrases that conspiracy theorists use in describing things in the songs. And it seemed to me after looking at it all that it was the overall theme, and so I made up The Crucial Conspiracy as the title of the album.
HD: Did Gene Eugene work on the album and how far along were you when he passed away?
Pegleg: We had two weeks before we were to begin with him - I think that was in March and then he died. Everything just went on hold over there and we didn't know what we were going to do - whether we were going to record over there or not. We told Ana who co-owned it with him that we still wanted to do it there - if anything just as an honor to Gene. I remember meeting with him a couple of days before he died and we were all excited about recording with him. He really didn't work on it at all, but Ana and Chris and Frank were cool by letting us come in there and do it with no money. Their lives were in shambles because of what happened. But we recorded it over there in May and June.
HD: As usual, your songs have absolutely nothing to do with chicks. Tell me what some of your songs are inspired by.
Pegleg: Well, one of them does have to do with a chick actually. Number five; Christina Fight Back is about a friend of mine who has been recovering from an eating disorder. It's not about a chick in a regular sense, but that one was inspired by her losing her will to live. It's kind of my response to her - telling her to fight back and fight for her life. But I wouldn't call her a "chick."
HD: That's not the typical chick song. What are some of the other songs you want to talk about?
Pegleg: Ronnie Raygun is cool. I have this big book of conspiracy theories and I wrote that about when Ronald Reagan was president, he would make these comments during speeches that hinted in ways that he feared - or would get people thinking about what would happen if we were really threatened if an outside civilization came to earth. And the conspiracy theorists hold that the Star Wars program was like an elaborate intergalactic defense system. There's some stuff in there about that and some stuff about this guy Bill Lazar who worked Area 51. He claimed he worked there and his job was to reverse engineer propulsion systems on crashed UFO's. That one was fun in the sense of writing about all this stuff I was reading about and getting paranoid about it.
HD: What is your opinion on the Green Day and Blink 182 style of punk bands.
Aaron: As far as the style and the sound, I don't really like it. I don't think that really matters. I think what makes a band good is the things they talk about and how well the lyrics are written. I think how a band sounds in style is a product of their upbringing and their little subculture. I don't think you could put a level of quality to that. But as far as those specific bands, I'm not really a big fan. But they're doing something right and they're doing what they want to do.
Pegleg: I don't like that style of music, but that's neither here nor there. I don't really like any modern music. I don't know if I'm a snob or what. I wish that I could have the ability to reach that amount of people. I think that would be a great thing.
HD: With POD and Project 86 going on to bigger labels, is that something The Dingees would like to do?
Pegleg: When you have something to say, you want the biggest loud speaker you could obtain to say it through. I don't know at this point if a major label is an evil thing. I just think labels are evil. It seems like the band or the artists are always getting screwed. But then again, I don't know what else you can do if you want to reach that many people. I don't know what other route you could really go. It's the most important thing to stay pure and don't let any of those things influence you. If you can do that and team up with somebody who has the money and the drive to push your band as big as it can be, I think it's great. But I don't know how deluded things get when you get on that level. But I would go with who I felt comfortable with, who would give us the ability to reach the most people through our music.
HD: At this time, how influential is Christianity on your music and lyrics?
Pegleg: I look at that as, being a Christian and being born again and my worldview - it influences everything I do. There is no way it could not influence the way that I write songs. Writing songs, to me, seems like the thing that comes easiest to do. I protect that ability and do everything I can to become better at doing it. And being a Christian, I can't leave that out of it because that's just who I am. And everything I write about comes from who I am, so I couldn't leave that worldview out of it. I couldn't write a song that wasn't influenced by it because that's the way that I am and the way that I think. I couldn't write something contrary and really believe it because of what I believe.
HD: It seems like with the lyrics on Crucial Conspiracy, you're writing from a more humanistic point of view.
Pegleg: For me, that comes from being a Christian. I don't think I would care about people overall if I wasn't a Christian - I don't think I'd have a reason to. I would think more about myself. Most of the people who buy our records are Christian kids and they're really closed minded and they're ignorant towards the world. And I think that's doing harm as far as relationships between people who are Christians and think they shouldn't have anything to do with the world. Jesus said to his people "You are in the world but you are not of the world." I think Christians use that as an excuse to disengage themselves from the world completely and not be a part of it. And in turn, they don't do anything. They do nothing - just stay in their little subculture and feed off of each other. But I think that being Christian, you have to be an active part of society. You have to make your voice heard and you have to say what it is you want to say. I write the songs with that in mind, so that anybody who doesn't believe will listen to what we have to say. I don't necessarily write for Christians or non or Buddhist or Hindu. I just write for people.
HD: What do you think of Bush being our president and the whole election process?
Aaron: I heard on the news today, some newscaster just said, "President Bush duh duh duh" and I just jumped. It just sounded so creepy to me.
Pegleg: Oh, it is!
Aaron: I wasn't a big fan of Clinton, but I just got so use to him being the president. I was like 12 or 13 when he was elected. It's just weird. I've heard some people say that they're excited about him because (Bush) is a man of God and he's a Christian. I don't know all the facts, but it doesn't put a good taste in my mouth I guess.
Pegleg: I don't have much of an opinion on it. Out of the two who had a chance, I don't think the smarter one was elected. I'm so paranoid and deeply involved in conspiracy theories, I don't think it matters who the president is. I think there's somebody else who's controlling the strings.
HD: What do you think about Pat Buchanan?
Pegleg: I don't know that much about him. But I don't think it's the responsibility of Christians to try and reach the world with the gospel through politics. I think that's a mistake.
HD: Do you feel bands that have anti-Christian viewpoints and bands with names like Rotting Christ should be censored or banned?
Pegleg: No, there's no way. For the same reason, they could ban what would say or what a Christian would say. Just because I disagree with something and think that it's wrong - I wouldn't censor anybody.
Aaron: I agree. I don't think that anybody should be censored in what they are saying. I agree with putting a warning label on an album - on the packaging but not on the actual artwork. It's not going to cure anything, but I think it will at least help and set certain things apart.
Pegleg: It's just like a movie. If you don't know what you're getting into, you should be warned.
Aaron: It's so broad. But I don't think anyone should be censored just because they have a band name or have lyrics that just happen to be that.
HD: Do you feel that since you're a Christian band, you're not getting played on the radio?
Pegleg: No, I think because we're not a major and no one is paying them. All the bands that are on the radio, their labels pay for them to be on the radio - and that's just the way that it is. There's promoters for radio stations just like there are promoters for shows. If we were on a major, then they would pay for our song to be on and we would be on. It's just business, you know.
HD: Do you feel that's what happened with POD?
Pegleg: I don't know. I never really listen to the radio. I saw them on MTV. But I think they got signed because their style of music is becoming very popular and that was their label's version of Limp Biscuit or Korn or whatever.
Aaron: Plus I think they realized that the Christian market is a huge ballooning market for more money. Money that wouldn't be spent elsewhere. There's a bunch of kids who will only listen to Christian music and they wanted to capitalize on that. And financially it seems like it was a great decision. The reason why I don't really like it is because it's based on their trendy style and their outspoken beliefs. It's great that they're outspoken, but all it does is earmark them for being noticed and labeled a Christian band.
HD: What do you think about bands like Project 86 who are trying to distance themselves from the Christian band label?
Pegleg: I think that sometimes, as a Christian in a band, you start to realize that just being that, whether you talk about it or not - even with us like you said you don't really find those things in our albums. We run up against walls all the time. We tell somebody we're on Tooth & Nail and they say, "OH? You're a Christian band?" What they mean by using that term isn't what we are. I think we have a little bit more respect for people that when they come to our shows, we don't try to spend the time speaking to them about what they should believe before we even know who they are. I don't think that's right. I think that's what Project 86 is doing to get to reach more people. I really don't know, because I don't pay attention. But if that's what they're doing, then it's all for the better because their just going to get to reach more people. For them, they're not headlining their own tours unless it's in the Christian scene. Like POD, if they got to the point where they gained enough fans where they could headline their own tour, then I think you could say whatever you want to say from the stage of your headlining tour. But if you're just an opening band and you're just starting up like I guess where Project 86 would be, you got to show the respect to the people in the audience and to the bands after you. You don't have the right to get up there and say what you want - especially if it´s something that stirs people off and gets them pissed off like that, because it reflects on the bands that go on after you. There are these young kids in Christian bands that just go out there and they're all fired up - which is good. And they've been taught to preach the gospel to every living creature - which is all true. But they let that overpower actually caring and respecting people. They get in their face because they think it's this righteous crusade - (they think) no matter what they say is right and no matter how they do it is right. But if you really think about it and you really pray about it, that you'll understand that it's not right in every situation to get up there and say what you have to say no matter what anybody thinks about it. Because sometimes you're causing more confusion and disruption then you would if you would have just got up there, played your thing, earned those people´s respect - and then you've got the ability to talk to them. The approach that we take is to present our band for what we are. Of course what we believe comes through. When you come and see us play, it's just a show - we're just a band just like anybody else. I know we're not at the level where we could sit and talk. I don't think people even want to hear what we have to say right now. But I think it's disrespectful and it's counter-active to what you're trying to do in the long run - and that is to open up people's thinking to some degree about something they've never thought about before.
HD: Alright, so we're at the big question here. Who's better - Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?
Aaron: Britney Spears!
Pegleg: Yeah, Britney Spears!
Aaron: She's homegrown…
Pegleg: ...and she's from the South.
Aaron: I've heard Christina Aguilera talk, and for what's she's doing, she's just horrible.
Pegleg: Well, I've heard Britney Spears talk and it's horrible too, but I don't care.
Aaron: But when Britney Spears talks, the way she talks fits what's she's doing. It is horrible and she's going to say dumb stuff. But Christina Aguilera tries to make herself into this huge artist and this ocean of creativity. And she's freaking out if everything doesn't go right. I've heard stories from this one guy who did a show with her and plus that she's ugly. And Britney is just so much prettier.
Pegleg: Well I don't think she's ugly. But I think Aguilera looks like a 12 year old little league boy and Britney Spears looks like a woman.
Aaron: She looks like a 14-year-old girl!
Pegleg: That's alright, at least it's not a 12-year-old boy! Aguilera is too skinny. She needs to eat something.
Aaron: I hope that answers your question.
Pegleg: I hope that hooks us up with Britney.
HD: While on tour, if someone offered you $100 to play "Oops, I Did It Again," would you do it?
Aaron: $100 bucks? Yeah.
Pegleg: Yeah, for sure, totally! $100, especially on tour, that is totally a lot.
Aaron: Even fifty bucks!
Pegleg: Yeah, for five bucks I'd do it! (Pegleg starts humming the song at this point.)
Aaron: We'd play any number of her songs.
Pegleg: Her two songs that everybody knows.
HD: Ultimately, what would you like a listener to get out of hearing your music?
Pegleg: Anytime somebody asks that, I think about when I was in high school and how I was confused and didn't know what was going on. Just being a high school kid, you don't know about life, and that's how I felt. I just remember the things that got me through and got me excited was the music that I loved. It was a lot of the LA bands like Mary's Danish and Jane's Addiction and Fishbone. We get e-mails or talk to kids at shows and they say "Your music inspired me" or "encouraged me" and that's so awesome, because it's just that circle. It's the same thing that happened to me when I was in high school. People are reacting that way to our music, and that's so incredible. Because I know how that feels when you feel like nothing's good and you're so confused about life - and you just listen to a song and it makes it all better. That's just such an incredible thing to actually do. I know that God uses us to do that. I know that God works through us to do those things. That's just what I think of. I don't really have a one-liner or actual answer to that question, but I just always think about that when somebody asks that question.
HD: What are the future plans fort The Dingees?
Pegleg: We're going on tour in March and April with a band on our label. Hopefully we'll go on tour as much as we can. It's the only way for people to find out about us and try to make money to pay for our band. And when we get to point when we have enough songs, we'll record. One thing we were talking about doing is making a double record, like Songs In The Key Of Life or Sandinista. I wasn´t even thinking about Stevie or even The Clash, but on that 100 greatest things on VH1, they were talking about Prince's album 1999 - that was a double one and at that time no one knew who he was. And for him to come out with a double album was like such a ballsy thing to do. I know we could totally do it and it would totally be great. It would be cool, that no matter what happened to us, people would look back and say, "They did a double album at that time? What were they thinking?" It's such a 70's thing in my mind.
HD: Any final comments?
Pegleg: Just that Crucial Conspiracy is the best thing we ever did and you should own it. And anybody who ever reads our interview should own it. Don't you agree Ken?
The Crucial Conspiracy by The Dingees is now available from Tooth & Nail Records. It's one of the best albums of the year so far, so fans of fun yet inspiring alternative music must check it out! So yes Pegleg, I agree…
THE FIRST HIGHWIRE DAZE INTERVIEW WITH THE DINGEES: Right after the release of Sundown to Midnight.
TOOTH & NAIL RECORDS: Record label for The Dingees!
THE DINGEES: Their official Homepage!
THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page!