Dash Rip Rock has gotten into a few scrapes playing “Stairway to Freebird”



By Steve Newton

It’s strange how rumours get started, sometimes. Like the one that keeps cropping up in Dash Rip Rock’s press kit, about R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills being a mortal enemy of the Louisiana-based roots-rock band. Supposedly, Mills was spotted at a particularly crazed DRR concert, giving the band the finger and storming away. But when Dash Rip Rock singer/guitarist Bill Davis ran into Mills while R.E.M. was recording its upcoming album in New Orleans, the real story came out.

“They were at our show about two nights ago,” says Davis, “and when I asked him about [giving us the finger], he said he was actually thrusting his fist in the air, doing the heavy-metal hand salute. He said he was rockin’ out to us! So that’s what I get for trusting word of mouth.”

Then there’s the tale about Dash Rip Rock bassist Ned “Hoaky” Hickel’s amplifier bursting into flames in front of 15,000 fans at last year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. As it turns out, that was no lie. But the band milked the whole episode for all it was worth.

“We’ve blown speakers before,” says Davis, “but that was the first time one actually caught fire. It burned the whole cabinet and the audience was just so impressed. And, of course, we made a big deal out of it. It was like, ‘This happens to us all the time.’ ”

Dash Rip Rock’s incendiary live show is well represented on the band’s latest release, Boiled Alive, which sports a blistering cover of the Dogmatics’ “Pussywhipped” and a Ramones-style version of Helen Reddy’s “Delta Dawn”, among other gems. The band’s hilarious concert fave, “Stairway to Freebird”, doesn’t show up on the live disc, but Davis points out that if enough people scream out “Skynyrd!” when they open for the Cramps at the Commodore this Wednesday (March 18), they’ll be obliged to give it a run-through.

“It’s incredible,” says Davis of the comical tribute to ’70s rock. “When we were playing clubs, it was mostly college kids into alternative/progressive stuff, but then when we started doing the bigger gigs, we noticed that there were rednecks out there waving the Confederate flag and drinkin’ Jack Daniels-and-coke and yelling ‘Skynyrd!’—your typical South Florida white trash. So we adopted ‘Stairway to Freebird’ as a way of showin’ em that we could do Skynyrd, but we were gonna do it tongue-in-cheek if we were gonna do it.

“It’s gotten us into a few scrapes,” adds Davis, “but if it comes down to where the guys are up there about to kill us, we’ll launch into ‘Gimme Three Steps’ just to get ’em out of our hair.”

For Dash Rip Rock—which takes its name from Ellie Mae Clampett’s would-be boyfriend/wannabe actor on The Beverly Hillbillies—the closest they’ve ever gotten to performing in Vancouver has been San Francisco, but Davis figures the odds are pretty good that their local debut will be a memorable one.

“Sometimes when we play different and new cities, we feel like we have to tone it down, because we never can tell when we’re gonna get run outta town on a rail. But with the Cramps, it’s gotten to where people have expected a really wild opening act, so it’s been perfect.”

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