When: Wed., March 18, 9 p.m. 2015
WED., MARch 18
THE POUR HOUSE, RALEIGH—In February, Islamic extremists from Tunisia hacked the website of the long-running punk band The Dwarves. Frontman Blag Dahlia responded in characteristically offensive fashion: "I just hope our photos somehow aided the masturbation fantasies of young Islamic extremists everywhere," he told Vice.
For The Dwarves, ruffling feathers remains a noble crusade. The Dwarves thrived during the mid-'80s era of the Moral Majority and the Parents' Music Resource Center. The climate of censorship and repression, Dahlia says, is even worse today.
"American society is more repressed sexually than we were 40 years ago," he offers by phone from Denver, where the band recently shared a gig with pop-punk provocateurs Screeching Weasel. "Your grandmother was probably more sexually active than you are. ... The Dwarves have always offended people. I hope we always do."
Their 2014 album, The Dwarves Invented Rock & Roll, did that deed, with naked women on the cover, self-aggrandizing slogans and willfully vile lyrics. Dwarves Invented, which Dahlia produced, shuffles freely among genres, too. "Hate Rock" merges pop-punk and hardcore. "Fun To Try" is bubblegum garage-rock. "Gentleman Blag" is a classic Dwarves punk rager, with Dahlia beginning, "I get around/From town to town/Always got my cock out/Pants down." Whether for substance or style, the Dwarves' long-running avalanche of punk-rock hedonism leaves few parties unoffended.
"We've always caught it from the PC police," says Dahlia, aka Blag Jesus, aka Blag the Ripper, aka Paul Cafaro. "There's always a song that somebody's going to hate on our records, even if they love us."
For Dahlia, though, there seems to be more at work than making people mad. He describes the media's response to the murders at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo as timid. He bemoans people lambasting Meghan Trainor's "All About The Bass" for being "unnecessarily cruel to thin women." Such moral outrage, Dahlia contends, distracts from bigger issues like economic inequality.
"It just makes everybody separate, whereas we could, conceivably, get together and say, 'Let's spend more money making society good. Let's tax super wealthy people that don't even need it more, so that we can make a better society,'" he says. "But those kinds of things get pushed to the side because somebody's real offended that Lena Dunham offended a Republican."
The Dwarves roll on, then, their bacchanalian vision of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll still pissing people off after all these years.—Bryan C. Reed