Kickstart Swearing at Motorists
I have never supported a Kickstarter project that didn’t achieve full funding and I’m not going to let that change. Swearing at Motorists recently announced that they would be releasing their first album in 6 or 7 years. To do this, they (read: “Dave Doughman”) opted to fund a new record on Kickstarter, which brings us to the purpose of this post: SUPPORT SWEARING AT MOTORISTS’ KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN!!!
To promote the campaign, I’m including a link to the Kickstarter, video of one of the record’s tracks, some reposted content on the band, and a Spotify playlist. Do the right thing.
And that drinking town is Dayton.
Swearing at Motorists rose from the ashes of Dayton, Ohio to produce a sound that was so Ohio, you’d instantly shit buckeyes upon hearing one of their records or seeing the two piece live. I’ve written before about the band. I once told a story about the band while getting all the details wrong. Frontman Dave Doughman set me straight. Sadly, I thought there would never be an opportunity to do so again as the band called it quits a couple of years back. That is, until they released a download-only collection this week of old singles and rarities called Postcards from a Drinking Town.
Before I get to Postcards…, let me tell you a little bit about Swearing at Motorists. The band was nicknamed “The Two Man Who” and that moniker fit, but it was only half the story. On record, the sound was particularly lo-fi, but like the other Who-like Dayton band Guided By Voices, SaM songs were bigger than bedroom recordings. Live, the band was like an uppercut to the jaw. Sparse instrumentation filled space between Doughman’s tales of breakups, boredom, and too much beer. Swearing at Motorists were so engaging that it was hard not to be drawn into Doughman’s never-ending sagas. If you missed Swearing at Motorists, you missed out on something pretty great.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised Tuesday afternoon when across my Facebook feed came the following post…
This had been on my radar, but I had forgotten all about it. I immediately followed the link and downloaded this fine collection of 7″ and compilation tracks not found on the band’s seven or so proper releases. These tracks are a fine artifact of life in western Ohio in the mid-nineties. I felt everything was lo-fi back in those days. We made what we had work. We were DIY by necessity. A band like Swearing at Motorists could capture that time. Thrift store t-shirts, souvenir ashtrays, shitty tape recordings…Those were the days.
While I recognize that my bias toward anything SaM releases, I also think there’s something here to which you could relate, dear reader. You’ve been drunk once, right? You’ve been dumped and out of work. You’ve surely seen a bar band or two. Somehow, I think you could relate to Doughman’s everyman persona. And that’s all it takes to love a Swearing at Motorist release. This one, in particular, is more raw and authentic than most. These recordings define lo-fi, but the genius behind the songs is unmistakeable.
If you haven’t done so already, head over to Secretly Canadian and download your copy of Postcards from a Drinking Town. And while you’re at it, go here and download the free two-song EP To Gem City with Love. Of course, that’s only the beginning as you’ll surely want to explore more of Swearing at Motorists’ catalog.
Update: It seems, judging by all the activity from Doughman online, that Swearing at Motorists did not call it quits after all. There are reports of new material out there as well as some hints of a tour. This is good news for sure.
1Or horse chestnuts. Whatever you want to call them. Either way, they’re a poisonous nut.
2I use this term lightly as Dave Doughman is really all of Swearing at Motorists. It’s typically him and a guy on drums. I checked the Wikipedia page just to see how many dudes have played drums for Doughman. It looks as if three different guys have played drums. While on Wikipedia, I also found this nice little tidbit…
Doughman mixes trace amounts of his own blood into the ink used in the disc printing process, pioneering the concept of the GrisD. Rumors persist that there was confusion over the term “serious chops” in his contract with Ol’ Scratch, and after some antics over semantics, can now grow sideburns to equal any cartoon samurai at will. Doughman’s documented penchant for sleeping in a topknot may be the source of such speak.
3This is why it’s so great that these tracks were reissued. That and something was said on a Facebook thread about playing in Oregon. Could there be a tour in the works?
4Seriously, our soundtrack was one shitty tape after another. Everything seemed muffled by tape hiss.
I was recently on a long drive from a workshop when I found myself with no new music in the car of which to listen. After searching through piles of CD’s, I stumbled upon a mix of songs by Swearing at Motorists. There were 35 songs on just one CD to be exact, and they filled my need for intensely exposed yet personal indie rock that invites you to sing along while traveling down long stretches of I-70. (I don’t know if this is a genre yet, but it should be.)
I began to sort out in my mind just what made SaM so important to me. Was it that they originated in Dayton before moving to Philly before moving to Berlin? Was it the great name? Was it their beautifully erratic live act? Was it the sudden impact of guitar chords followed by pain and silence only to repeat? Was it that they had opened for U2 in Europe but could barely fill a dive in their hometown? Was it the “average Joe” lyrics of hard times and even harder relationships? As I thought about the reasons why I love this band, I rocked out all the way back to COMO.
Dave Doughman is the primary player in SaM. His lyrics hit hard and mean something to anyone who has ever grown up in Ohio, has probably had too much to drink, and hasn’t always had the best of luck with life in general. His sharp-witted lyrics, deep-throated delivery, and sparse instrumentation make up the SaM sound. Like the White Stripes (whom he’s literally challenged in rocking out), SaM sound primarily involves voice, guitar, and drums. However, unlike his more successful counterparts from up north, the songs often are filled with space, and each instrument takes its turn to make a point.
I remember seeing Doughman for the first time at tOSU’s Springfest. His set was the highlight of the day. A friend-of-a-friend talked me into staying around to check their set. He had the experience of a lifetime being a roady for the band at South By Southwest and convinced me that they were worth the wait. They were. (It should be noted that the headliner of that show was the White Stripes, way before they hit big.)
Doughman came out in a blue corduroy FFA jacket, Welcome Back Kotter mustache, and a bushy ‘fro. In addition to his non-hipster appearance, he spoke so fast and incoherently that you giggled at the sights and sounds before you. His speak consisted of the type of “here-ye, here-ye’s” you’d hear at the circus or from an old-timey traveling medicine man. He was manically selling his band, and then he played. What came out was this deep, suffering wail between aggressive guitar licks and a slow drum beat. The man sold his pain, and I was buying.
My brother told me a story of a Dayton show that only confirmed my feelings of pure delight and intrigue felt that day. Many of Doughman’s songs are about his continuous relationship problems. Apparently, one of those break-ups was rather public in the Dayton scene and eventually carried out at a SaM show.
The Dayton set began as a rival for a certain love interest of Doughman’s walked through the door. Doughman suddenly stopped in mid-song yelling for the guy to turn around and leave (in so many expletive-filled phrases). He then took off his guitar and leaped through the crowd to chase the guy down. After a few punches were thrown and mamas insulted, the guy was given his money back and left, and Doughman returned to the stage to continue his show.
The impulsiveness of Doughman’s actions in the Dayton story best illustrates his general demeanor on-stage and the feel one gets while listening to his songs. You sit back to relax and enjoy some heart-on-the-sleeve poetry with the occasional humorous quip when he abruptly throws you from your chair with a cry for help and intense strike to his guitar strings.
The music is a slower, more mature version of emo. It’s on the blue-collar side of lo-fi and the road-weary side of indie. Conversely, Doughman and co. are considerably more exposed and artistic than the most working-class of the bipster set.
I love this music for its realness. Doughman knows best how to capture the pain of relationships, failure, and the resulting depression. In addition, he can contextualize his message into something that resembles growing up in western Ohio. Oh, and he puts on a great live show.
Photo of Doughman flying stolen from pandora 1251.