This Sunday (2/13) sees Rhode Island’s B. Dolan bringing a huge Valentine’s Day weekend tour he’s calling “The Church Of Love & Ruin” to SPACE Gallery. He was nice enough to answer some questions in the week leading up to this special string of shows to help shed some light on what he’s got planned for the SPACE show.
How did you hook up with What Cheer? Brigade? It seems like a lot of mc’s team up with bands to fill out their live sound, but a 16 piece marching band is just insane. How do you control the sound, and what was the process like getting your songs to work with their instruments – or did you write new material for them to play?
I first became aware of the What Cheer? Brigade at a Providence hardcore show, and followed them as a fan for years. I can remember sitting in the crowd at numerous shows of theirs and rapping quietly to myself while they played, figuring out how to interact with what they were doing and wondering how to approach them.
In literally the first conversation Alias & I had about Fallen House, Sunken City, I told him I was going to get him on a track with a marching band. The combination of his huge drums with the What Cheer’s grandiose sound made perfect sense to me… after that it was just a matter of stalking people, making demos, and presenting all the musicians involved with a vision that they could start working on together. I’ve somehow developed an ability to do that, though I have a very limited musical ability & vocabulary myself.
The live sound isn’t “controlled” in any special way, except that I’m mic’d and they’re not. After that I just push myself to the absolute maximum volume and energy I am physically capable of, and try not to drown them out with the massive sound of my lyrical miracles.
At these upcoming shows I’ll be doing 4 songs with the What Cheer? Brigade. Two are original songs I’ve composed with them, one is their interpretation of a song of mine, and the fourth is a cover that is going to melt people’s faces off.
It seems like some of what’s involved in The Church Of Love & Ruin might be a bit more thought-provoking or confrontational than what people usually expect at a concert, and that’s something that’s exciting to see. You’ve been going to great lengths (including on your blog) to introduce your audience to some of the performers you’ve chosen for this show – how do you anticipate they will respond/react to what you put in front of them, and have you already gotten any indication from what you’ve already put out there?
There’s been a variety of responses, all of which have been very interesting.
By and large, people are losing their shit. Fans are flying in from as far as Arizona to come to these shows, and it’s looking like there’s a lot of super excited crowds ahead of us.
At the same time, I’ve sensed a certain amount of static from some fans for involving a drag queen and openly gay performers in my show. Nothing overt has been said yet, because I think people probably know the response they’ll get from me and prefer not to open their mouth…
We’ll see how it goes though. I’m very happy to draw a line in the sand on the matter. As far as I’m concerned there’s no room at my show for people that want to be about ignorant or discriminatory shit, so we might as well separate the wheat from the chafe at this early point in my career.
My hope is that we’ll avoid confrontation, practice some mutual respect, and knock down some walls for people in a positive way though. If I can love hip hop and love a drag performance and love a freakout marching band, then there’s a commonality there that other people can realize too.
Will each of the four shows on the tour be the same, or do you have wildly different surprises up your sleeve for each one?
The shows will have certain things in common, but there will be very different things going on from night to night. Jamie & Sissy DeWolf have different games planned for different nights, and I’ll be swapping some songs around as will the other musical acts.
We’ll also be joined by a few different acts in different cities. The Metermaids, Strange Famous Records’ newest signee, will be opening for us in New York City, and the Dirty Dishes Burlesque Revue will be joining us and performing throughout the night in Portland.
Obviously this isn’t one of those nights when you just stop in for a bit – people should be showing up early, with tickets in hand, and not miss a minute of the night, right?
Absolutely. I cannot overstate how much you will miss if you treat this like a regular hip hop concert. This show will be absolutely insane from the minute the first performer goes on, and this show is a cohesive presentation. Get there EARLY.
Are there any other guests we may not already know about who’ll be joining you that you’re willing to share? Will Alias be playing along with you (since you’re coming to his town and all) and What Cheer? like in that video you guys made?
It’s always possible that I will shame Alias onto a stage, and I do know that he’ll be in attendance in Portland. Sage Francis has also said that he intends to be at as many of these shows as possible, and there’s a high probability he’ll find his way to stage if he makes it out that night.
You’re known for being unconventional and challenging audiences while putting on an incredible show, and this is no different. The only question left is what comes next? Are you already working on a scheme for the next big show?
I’ve been in talks with a group of performers who could take the Church of Love & Ruin to incredible new heights next year, provided these shows work out and don’t bankrupt me. For now though I’m going to concentrate on laying the foundation, and moving these 30 people up and down the northeast for the next week.
Once you jump over 10 school buses, all you can do is try to jump over 20. I intend to keep moving in that direction until they scrape me off the pavement.
Finally, what’s your recording/release schedule looking like now? When do we get the followup to Fallen House, Sunken City?
I’ve been recording steadily since releasing “Fallen House,” and am working on a number of projects at once with a lot of exciting musicians. My demo folder has got upwards of 30 songs in various stages of completion at this point, and I’ll be previewing some of the new material at these shows.
There’ll certainly be a release in 2011, though I’m not adhering to any strict deadline just yet. My only concern is keeping the quality consistent at this point, and that’ll take as long as it takes.
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