Dump Him Interview

DUMP HIM is a queercore band from Massachusetts, based in Boston and Northampton. Though it would be quick to label their sound as “pop punk,” their influences draw much more from legends like Team Dresch, Dahlia Seed, and Unwound. In their lyrics, the band eloquently conveys insightful sociopolitical and emotive topics alongside catchy riffs while still hitting it all home with a bite and a punch. 

The band released their first full-length album, Dykes to Watch Out For, this past August through Musical Fanzine and Get Better Records and have been gigging and touring seemingly nonstop ever since. Although they write from their own experience, one of queer feeling and queer perspective, DUMP HIM uses their music to create an inclusive space where everyone can learn to feel something.

I had the pleasure of helping DUMP HIM produce and record Dykes to Watch Out For earlier this year at GodCity in Salem, Massachusetts and conducted this interview with them about the recording process and other fun topics.

Interview by Zach Weeks with Larz Brogan, Jac Walsh, Mattie Hamer. Top photo by Jonathan Vahid.

MRR: All right, so quick introduction: my name’s Zach. I work at Godcity Recording Studio in Salem, Massachusetts, kehd. Very happy to be interviewing my BFF best friends DUMP HIM, partially about the album we made together, but more likely, about other things. Yeah?

Larz: Hell yeah.

MRR: First and foremost, I think it’s very important for us to talk about ice cream, which I know is one of DUMP HIM’s collective favorite pastimes. Hit me with some facts about ice cream.

Jac: Umm, Richardson’s Dairy Ice Cream is 16% milkfat. I got that in my brain from the fucking job I worked for a million years in high school.

Larz: Always wash yr scoop in between flavors.

Mattie: Warm up the scoop to make it easier to scoop the ice cream. It won’t ruin it. You don’t have to microwave it. Just run the scoop under hot water!

Jac: Ooh! Something good to know about ice cream is the difference between milkshakes and frappes in some places. They kind of try to fuck you there, on Massachusetts’ north shore, because at some places if you order a milkshake, they just give you milk and syrup. No ice cream. A frappe is with the ice cream. It makes no sense. They literally just give you chocolate milk when you order a milkshake. It’s fucked.

MRR: Wow. I did not know that.

Jac: Yeah, they fuck you at Richardson’s.

MRR: OK, any other last words on this before we move on?

Larz: Can I actually say one more thing about ice cream? On the tour we did with Queer Kevin, we actually ate so much ice cream that Felix [O’Connor, bassist of QK] gave me an ice cream tattoo. And now every time I think of it, I just think of DUMP HIM.

Photo: Omari Spears

MRR: Hell yeah. OK, I wanted to talk about yr record a little bit. We recorded and mixed the record at Godcity, which is a studio known for heavy music. Other than the fact that working here is my full-time job, was there any other reasons why y’all wanted to make a record here instead of going out to a different recording studio?

Jac: I like that heavy shit.

Larz: [laughs]

Mattie: I do like that heavy shit. I don’t remember how the idea got pitched… Jac, were you the one who suggested it as a possibility?

Jac: Yeah, I think I was. I don’t know. I don’t remember. I think I just was like “we should do it with Weeks” and Weeks was like “oh, I have Godcity” and I didn’t know of a lot of not-heavy music that was made there, except maybe that like, one Des Ark album. There’s probably more, but I don’t know of a ton. So are we a huge curveball for the studio, or?

MRR: Um, no not necessarily. I’ve been trying to bring in projects that are different than what would normally have been recorded here, or rather what the studio has been known for. But Kurt’s always also been recording bands that are not heavy for a long time. Like, he was doing that Pygmy Lush stuff. I don’t know. I’d say about half of the projects that came through the studio this year, whether I was doing them or Kurt was doing them, were not hardcore bands or metal bands.

Jac: I heard he recorded the baby shark song, is that right?

MRR: Yes. Correct. Kurt recorded the baby shark song. I hope that this gets published.

Jac: I will make sure to transcribe that specifically.

MRR: Fantastic.

Mattie: I was going to say that a lot of my favorite records, or a lot of the records I liked when I was getting into heavy music were recorded at Godcity, so I was sort of a nerd about it, and I was like “fuck yeah, I want to record at Godcity,” but I also didn’t really know Zach. So I was just like yeah, whatever, sounds cool. So I had no strong opinion except for I was down.

Larz: I had kind of the opposite, like, reaction I guess where I like, knew Zach but didn’t really know a ton about Godcity other than it was a studio in Salem. It all just came together.

Photo: Alec Pugliese

MRR: Quick statement: making the record, we got trapped in an ice storm during the recording sessions, we barely booked enough studio time, but somehow making the record was still super low stress, at least for me (which says a lot). I think y’all were extremely well prepared, and honestly one of the easiest bands I’ve had the pleasure of working with. But that might be because we’re friends already. But I dunno, I’ve also worked with friends and had bad times! So, regarding things being low stress, we made a lot of cool creative choices. The question I wanted to ask was what was yr personal favorite part about making the record in terms of something fun you brought to the table, or something that you observed that particularly resonated on you on a personal level?

Mattie: I think for me, tracking the lead guitar parts was really fun, because until that day, I had never really recorded music with anyone besides myself, so I was really nervous but it went really well. And also, we got to fuck around with a bunch of amps I never had used before. I learned that I like Marshalls a lot, from you, Zach. And I learned that flanger is sick. And phaser. Did we use phaser or flanger?

MRR: We used both. Flanger was my necessary one, though.

Mattie: That shit’s crazy. And it records really well when you do that. I think my favorite part was recording the solo for “Trash,” because I barely knew how to play it, so we had to track it literally measure by measure and it sounded ridiculously ignorant, and everyone was down.

MRR: Hell yeah. It came out so sick. Solo of the year.

Mattie: [laughs]

Jac: I don’t think I contributed a lot of really whacky shit, like last minute choices. Probably the only last-minute studio thing I did was that I wrote most of “Frankie and Blinko” while we were recording it. And it came out good! Sometimes I wonder if Zach had to fuck with it at all, but I don’t think he did?

MRR: Yeah, no. I didn’t fuck with the record too much at all. It’s a very accurate, straightforward representation.

Larz: Yeah, that was also one of my favorite things, Jac writing the “Frankie and Blinko” lead line in the studio like, as we all were just eating ice cream and moments before we finished for the night after a really long day. Also, something I really liked was the drum sounds you got, Zach. I’ve played drums on a few records before, and I had never been satisfied with the sound. So it was really cool that the way it came out was exactly the way I like, thought about it and wanted it to sound. And also, my other favorite thing was recording the auxiliary percussion [laughs]. Like, doing tambo and especially the really wild crazy 16th note thing at the end of Judy and I was just like, “is this too much?” and y’all were like “no that’s sick.”

MRR: No, of course not.

Jac: Did you get the shaker… did we get the shaker idea from Tegan and Sara? The sprinkles? Or was that yr idea on yr own?

MRR: We talked about it a lot.

Larz: We talked about it and I remember you one time just mentioned it in passing, like as a “haha” thing. Like “Tegan and Sara used sprinkles on The Con.” And then I was like wait… we could totally do that, I have sprinkles at my house! So I was like “dude we’re Tegan and Sara-ing it!” and we used the sprinkles.

Jac: It sounds just like The Con.

Larz: Oh! I also really loved Zach’s secret acoustic guitar on “Unimportant” and I think “Ache”?

Jac: Wait, I don’t think I knew about that, what the fuck?

Photo: Omari Spears

MRR: Oh, it’s there. OK, so to defer from record and DUMP HIM questions, tell me about yr favorite Stevie Nicks and/or Fleetwood Mac song or material.

Larz: Oh my god. I mean, all jokes aside and all seriousness, “Silver Springs” is by far my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Definitely have to say the live 1997 version. That was always my favorite Fleetwood Mac song, and then it became like, a DUMP HIM joke. And I think for Stevie’s solo stuff, “Stand Back” is definitely like, the banger, but I have such a special place for the song “Wild Heart.”

MRR: Of course. One of my all time faves.

Larz: Yes! Just like the bridge, the ending bridge of that where she lets loose and goes crazy is just so fucking cool, and that song is just really nostalgic for me.

Jac: Hmm. So, I got into Fleetwood Mac kind of casually. Like only Rumors, only the Stevie hits until I met Larz Brogan, who was like “bro, check out Silver Springs,’ live 1997.” I think we were driving, it was that fucking January tour that was like, kind of a disaster, kind of not [laughter], before Mattie was in the band, and Ian was with us and Otto. I got into a lot of shit that tour I thought I was too good for. But I wasn’t too good for any of it. Anyway, we listened to “Silver Springs” and that shit changed my life.

Larz: Fuck yeah.

Mattie: I don’t know. I guess I never was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan until I met Larz, either. “Rhiannon” is maybe my favorite Stevie Nicks performance.

MRR: “This is a song about a Welsh witch…”

All: [laughs]

Jac: Dude, do you remember when we were staying at somebody’s house, like got stuck in somebody’s house for days and were just camped out in the living room and just watched fucking Fleetwood Mac documentaries like, on their TV for like, two days straight.

Larz: [laughs] and then one person who lived at that house was like “I fucking hate Fleetwood Mac.”

Jac: [laughs] and we were like “oh, OK” then they left and we kept watching it.

Larz: It was the real townie takeover.

Jac: Truly a hostile townie takeover.

Photo: Omari Spears

MRR: While we’re on it, I guess, cuz we just mentioned the phrase briefly and it comes up a lot with y’all, what does “townie takeover” mean to you?

Larz: Oh, fuck. I mean, it’s obviously us. All of us.

Jac: It means so much about the North Shore for me. It’s very much… I feel like DUMP HIM has always been a labor of love from the North Shore. Even though I live in the west… coast

Larz: The west coast? [laughs]

Mattie: Yr bi-coastal.

Jac: Yeah, the west coast of Massachusetts. Even though I live on the west coast now, I definitely have a like, east coast state of mind due to the north shore of Massachusetts. You know, I just identify with all the fucking freaks constantly pissing on the doorstep of Godcity. That’s what it means to me.

MRR: Yeah, no, that’s a good way of putting it. I can get behind all of that.

Mattie: I feel like I’ve learned so much about the North Shore from y’all, because I’m from Central Mass, so I didn’t really… I didn’t know about Richardson’s, didn’t know about people pissing on Godcity.

MRR: Didn’t know about Richie’s Slush.

Mattie: Didn’t know about Steve’s Quality Market. I’ve learned so much and come so far.

Jac: What does townie takeover mean to you, Zach?

MRR: Townie takeover to me… I’m diehard North Shore. I will probably live and die here. That’s my goal. I want to die on the North Shore.

Jac: Right on Revere Beach.

MRR: Like maybe, actually, though.

All: [laughs]

Photo: Alec Pugliese

MRR: So OK, this one is about the band. So DUMP HIM is definitely constantly grinding with shows and touring. Is there anything that you wish you knew when you started making records and touring, either as like, a band (like a collective group), and as individuals?

Jac: I don’t know. I feel like there’s so much about touring that I don’t know, and I haven’t known, but I don’t care. I’m just doing it. Is that a bad answer?

Mattie: No. Can I expand on it? I feel like it’s fun to not know what the fuck we’re doing because we always learn. We learn together, which is fun. It gives us a lot of content. Touring is just like, spending a lot of time with the same people consistently for, usually, a long period of time in a variety of places, and it keeps things interesting to not know what we’re doing. I hope we never know.

Jac: Wait, I do have a real answer now that you say that. So like, DUMP HIM started as a solo thing, and I decided that I wanted to go on tour, and I kind of just grabbed a bunch of people and was like “OK do you want to be in a band? Yr gonna go on tour, let’s go on tour.” Larz has pretty consistently been in the band, but like a lot of other people have, too. So I toured with different people at lots of points.  And sometimes people are just fucking insufferable, and you can’t just ask them to go on tour with you.

All: Yeah.

Jac: That’s the one thing I wish I knew before.

Larz: I think that’s such an important point. I think something I, and we all, have learned is like, when yr on the road or making a record just being able to voice yr needs and how yr truly feeling about things is ultimately what will allow everything to feel most at ease, and also like, it contributes to the longevity of the band itself when there’s no weird tension or resentment because you can communicate with one another.

Mattie: Another thing I’ve learned is like, just small tips for how to make touring doable for me, cuz I have OCD, and a lot of anxiety stuff. I thought that would make touring impossible, but it didn’t. And I don’t think I would have had such a good experience if it wasn’t with y’all.

Jac: Yeah, I think mental health shit is a big thing that everyone needs to figure out how to deal with. Like, we just did a month-long tour that went pretty well besides me being a fucking crazy person in general. Being able to be like, “oh I would be having a mental breakdown no matter where I was at, let me figure out how to not bring everyone down with me” was important. So I think that’s part of why touring with the right people, or putting in that communication work can be so important. You have to be able to be honest about who you are and what yr going through or else yr going to be like, thrashing around and fucking ruining everything—which I’ve done before!

Photo: Omari Spears

MRR: I’m all about being completely open, honest, transparent about things. Let’s quickly touch upon the Boston music scene, and I guess what is good and bad about it.

All: [laughs]

Larz: I mean! I guess something that has been really good about the Boston music scene that brought me to where I am now, maybe this is corny, but I made so many important friendships through it, personal and musical. So that’s a huge good thing. I mean, depending on where yr at, I guess that’s true of any music scene. One of the downsides of Boston though, is that it can very much feel like a revolving door. Like, people are in for a short, but sometimes long, period of time, but then people are out. And they can come in as quickly as they go out.

Mattie: Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve had a really strange, tumultuous relationship with Boston. I came here sort of late, like 2016. There wasn’t a ton of punk stuff that I could find, there was a lot of indie rock stuff happening, so that’s what I got into first, then I found out punk stuff was happening. I mean, that said, it’s strange how divided Boston is, considering that there aren’t that many fucking people who live here and make music and have like-minded ethics. It can feel like lines are drawn in the sand. I’ve felt very disenchanted by it recently. But there are still parts of it that are really fucking special, like the Democracy Center, which is definitely struggling to have shows, but every other two or three shows are really fucking cool punk shows or really fucking cool weirdo freak shows. There’s even that really cool show tonight that’s Aquashade, Secret Miracle, Squitch, and Pregnancy Mask that’s happening at a new house. There’s people doing cool stuff right now, but I feel like there have been a lot of times where there has just been nothing that excited me. It’s also weird because it revolves around college, and I didn’t go to college at all. And that’s really fucking strange, colleges are dumb. I dunno. It is weird how divided things are.

Jac: I think it’s interesting that you bring up the college thing, Mattie, cuz like, I started going to shows when I was in high school, and didn’t notice that.

MRR: That’s when I met you!

Jac: Yeah! Cuz I’m a baby, I first started going to shows in my friend Ty’s garage in 2010, 2011 which weren’t in Boston. Then I started going to shows in Boston, like at The Democracy Center, and like when What We Talk About was still a thing, and Trouble Ahead was still a thing, and like, I guess I was mostly fucking with heavy shit then. I didn’t really notice the college presence, going to the shows I went to. Maybe because I was in high school, but there was so much going on I was just able to cherry-pick what I engaged with based on what I was into and always have shit to do. Like, I really liked hardcore at the time, and there was hardcore going on, and then I really liked queer punk and bands that were inspired by like, bands and politics that got me into DIY and punk, and there was that, too. But I never really had to interact much with college shows. And then I left for college, I moved out here, and all of a sudden when I started coming back to Boston, almost all that existed were college shows. I mean, I guess, people leave and have left for all sorts of reasons, and things change for all sorts of reasons. Boston’s not really a sustainable city unless yr in college, in a lot of ways now, but it’s interesting to see how the city has become almost nothing but those colleges. 

MRR: Yeah.

Jac: But there are still a bunch of people doing cool shit right now. Like punk shows are happening. There’s a ton of cool shit going on in Salem, there’s still the DC, there’s stuff popping up at the Hong Kong. I don’t live in Boston anymore, so I’m not as well versed. But it is amazing how large of a volume of shows on any given night are just like: you walk in and like, somebody’s fucking Spotify band is playing and they’re all dressed the fuck up, and there’s some nerd to yr left smoking three cigarettes at the same time inside, and everyone either (more reasonably) ignores you or wants to talk to you about fucking god knows what bullshit.

Mattie: Yup. [laughs]

Jac: It’s weird. The ebb and flow has been weird. Cuz I’m young but there’s been a lot. It’s just interesting, Mattie, that you feel separate from what’s going on because you didn’t go to college. I just never saw that as the dominant thing in the way it is now. Boston colleges have always had sort of a looming influence, but I think that there was a point that shows were mostly like… in spite of that. Not to be college frat parties.

MRR: Yeah, for sure I agree.

Jac: I think a lot of it has to do with the socioeconomic place that Boston is in right now. Which is super gentrified and super unsustainable for people who aren’t in school, so.

Mattie: Yeah, it’s like there’s this weird thing where houses that have popped up in the past year, year and a half have really had this like, “post-“ Boston is dead, DIY is dead sort of mentality where it’s been like “we’re gonna start a house and we’re gonna take a cut of the door, and we’re going to have a fucking VIP section, and…”

MRR: Wait, seriously?

Larz: Yeah, dude.

Mattie: That shit is like about consumption. Like, it’s just people buying an experience but not actually doing any community building. And it’s like, the same couple of bands play the same shows. It feels like there’s no ethical DIY component to a lot of the things that are being labeled as DIY shows here right now, and it gives people a really weird impression of what DIY shows are, if they’re here for college and want to do DIY shit. Like, I didn’t realize how much better shit could function and does function elsewhere until I went on tour with DUMP HIM that first time. I mean, Boston’s really fucked and gentrification is a big problem, and people are forced to move out of here after college all the time, or they just can’t really do music stuff. But it’s also really weird how people interact with the music venues here, still, as if they have any sort of gravitas. Like, when bands are so stoked on playing a capital-v Venue and it’s like, dude you can fit that amount of people in some of the basements here, and yr not going to fit that many people in the venue, why do you fucking care? There’s a touring band that’s not going to make any money. There’s an alternative, but people just accept things as they are without building any sort of community or anything that extends beyond the time people are here.

MRR: True. OK, last question. What’s next? We gonna make another record together or what!?

Mattie: I want to make another record. We haven’t even had a group conversation about this, it’s perfect, we can talk about it now.

Jac: I would love to make another record. I want to go back to the west coast. I can’t stop thinking about the west coast. Those are my two things that I want to do.

Larz: I definitely want to make another record. I’m very interested to hear how we’re going to develop. I’m excited to figure that out.

Mattie: I could see us going in like, an infinite number of directions. We’ve gotten into a lot of music together, and I want to try making music that’s a little bit different. But I also want to take the songs to an extreme.

Jac: Like, you want to make a powerviolence record?

Mattie: Yeah [laughs]. We could also just be an obnoxiously faster version of a pop punk band.

Jac: I think the next step is actually to make covers of all of the whole Dykes album, but we have to do it at Godcity cuz they’re all going to be heavier. I’m thinking we could go really doomy. Like some sort of slow motion blast beat going on. That’s what’s next.

Mattie: Sounds good, let’s do it.