INTERVIEW: Duster – 4 Girls and one Sweetheart Snackbar

duster_web.jpgThere’s a wonderful feeling that things have come a full circle when one listens to girls playing caveman-like music. It’s almost like glam-rock that springs from the female mind. And that’s one of the great things about Duster – they carry off the unfussiness and force of the dance punk form with aplomb and, dare I say, a winking nonchalance. But, lo, beware before you pigeonhole them – their first album, Sweetheart Snackbar, released in 2009 and they have moved well on since then. To find out what’s what with the girls, before they grace The Underground at Girls with Guitars #5, we talk to lead guitarist Kris Dancel…

1. Let’s start off with the obvious – being an all-girl band is definitely not the same as being a band of guys. Would you say that that fact has coloured your experiences and progress as a band (positively or negatively)?

A. Definitely. This year alone one of us gave birth, one of us got married, one of us went on a trip halfway around the world with her hubby….which, on the surface, might seem detrimental to our music but is in fact all part and parcel of being in an all-girl band. These experiences and events contribute to our performance and give heart to the songs we play.duster-5_web.jpg

2. Being something of a “supergroup”, where do you think you fit in the Manila music scene?

A. The “supergroup” label came about only because the members of the band were associated with other bands, but really we still have a lot to learn as musicians. In the Manila music scene we’re struggling just like any band with one album release. We’ve played in malls, fiestas, clubs, schools, corporate events, fundraisers, parties. Throw us where we can plug and play and we’ll do it. We’re not divas in the scene, we are not famous, not a household name, but we hold our own.

3. As I understand it, you do not write your own songs, which sounds like a demerit for any band…But, one of you said something very interesting about interpreting male-written songs from a female perspective – could you expand on that?

duster-2_web.jpgA. The first album, in fashionspeak, was RTW. It was ready to wear and we wore it. 90% of the songs were already written before the band had a complete lineup. We wrote/co-wrote 10% of the Sweetheart Snackbar album. For the 2nd album, we’re more actively participating in songwriting. As for interpreting the songs from a female perspective, it’s difficult to measure how we did that. It’s evident when you compare early demos to how the songs ended up sounding during recording…but it’s hard to describe or put a finger on what we did exactly. It’s like Clark Kent, when he removes his glasses he’s suddenly Superman – a totally different persona.

4. I’ve heard your songs, and for a band with a keyboard, your use of it is fairly simple (especially compared to bands that classify themselves in other genres) – seems mostly to be a riffing device. So, do you include “punk” in the band’s moniker because you draw from aspects of the punk sound, or because you draw from its philosophy which focuses primarily on brutal simplicity?

A. For the first album, we used the keyboard synth to mostly occupy the frequency usually assigned to the bass guitar. We like the raw energy and simplicity of the punk genre. I do not see us suddenly becoming Dream Theatre although who knows?

5. This one draws from a highly personal curiosity – what was it like playing the same show with Shonen Knife?duster-3_web.jpg

A. Squeal! That simple.

6. What has the response to Sweetheart Snackbar been like?

A. Pretty good. Touring the album was fun… We’re currently working on our second album, so can’t wait for that to get out!

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Interview with Shashwati Kala

Curious about Duster? Visit them on their Myspace, or Facebook pages…

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