Dengue Fever is currently on their West Coast tour. The band has been together for over 15 years and has traveled the world, started their own record company and overcome a language barrier. Senon Williams, who plays bass for the outfit took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me and discuss what it’s like to be apart of this band and his excitement to be featured in Burger’s femme centric tour Burger A Go GO.
Rose Blanton: Dengue Fever have been around for a while, you even have your record company so how did the Burger a Go Go tour happen?
Senon Williams: Our manager was in touch with Burger records and it probably had something to do with his insane record collection. He asked Burger if they wanted to put out some of our cassettes. We did a compilation of our whole career, even some unheard tracks and after that the two albums we put out via Tuk Tuk (our record company) we licensed the tapes to Burger.
RB: Tapes are having a resurgence right now
SW: Yeah, people want something physical and people just don’t like CDs so vinyl and cassettes just make more sense. It feels like music lives on those mediums.
RB: There’s also this obsession with nostalgia for the 70s and the 80s. Especially in my generation. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 years from now people have some weird obsession with CDS.
SW: Having a cassette or a record kind of forces you to listen to the whole album. Random play can be distracting. You can get into a groove and then the random play or shuffle can go wrong.
RB: I also like the ritual behind picking a record out. Alright let me segue here, Burger a go go is female/femme centric tour. What does that feel like for you as a guy and in this current political climate?
SW: I’m excited and I like the idea of it being a feminist tour and a feminist voice. I like the idea of hopefully this tour will show normalcy of women in rock. It bothers me when someone is like “oh it’s a girl bands” or the fact of a single women in your band is a novelty. I hope it inspires women to get more involved. The playing and performing of music is universal and I hope this tour makes it more normal. We need a conscious effort to shift. It’s a whole culture that needs to shift, not the individual.
RB: DF re-released your first two albums last year? What was the purpose behind that?
SW: Well when we made those back in the day we licensed them and those licenses finally expired so we re issued them on our album label. We could do it ourselves so we did. We launched our own label for that purpose and then we started putting our new stuff on it as well. The label is really run by ourselves and our managers and we just divide and conquer between the band. It’s a vehicle to do our thing.
RB: I know when DF first started you guys where doing covers and then you started writing original stuff, how hard of a transition was that?
SW: The first album we did, which was all Cambodian covers, we never really wanted to make that album. The boys in the band, we were used to performing original material. When we got Nimol, she had only ever done Cambodian songs, she had never been with anyone who wanted to write and when we first started, she couldn’t speak english. We were eager to record so we just did covers and them from there were started creating.
RB: That must have been a difficult hurdle, her not speaking english.
SW: In the beginning, she had a friend come with her to all our rehearsals, she was like Nimol’s translator. Nimol’s friend was very religious and we played a show were a punk band played and there was some nudity on stage and it freaked her friend out. She questioned what Nimol was doing so that was the end of the translator. It was hard in the beginning to explain what was going on. It just took a little while. She didn’t really start speaking english until about 8 years ago and we’ve been a band for 15 years.
RB: I’m really impressed that you guys strived and made it work, I feel like a lot of people would have given up
SW: It can still be difficult but I think what has kept us a band is personally we all love each other. Whatever happens we don’t take it to personal. We want to enjoy it and enjoy each other and cool shit keeps happening. It’s been a fun ride.
RB: It sounds like you guys have a really strong friendship which is definitely a theme with the Burger a Go Go tour, a lot of these bands have toured together or live together, do you know any of the bands on tour?
SW: Were not really homies with any of the bands but I’m looking forward to the bands! I’ve checked them out via youtube once I saw the bill. I’m actually excited because a lot of the bands on the bill are younger. It’s going be fun, it’s going be a mixed crowd. I’m excited !
RB: What’s next for DF?
SW: We’re working on a new album and I think it’s going to be a really beautifully, sentimental album. I want it to be this atmospheric song of hope that stretches across this new album.