Dude York‘s guitarist Peter Richard is wearing a white long-sleeve with a pink-lettered slogan on the front: “RuPaul for President.”
The band—consisting of Richard, vocalist Claire England and drummer Andrew Hall—just finished their performance at the SXSW “She Shreds” showcase in Las Cruxes, an office space with a large backyard. Embroiled in the angst and rebellion that comes with the territory of being a punk rock band, Dude York stands out for leaving as much room for sensitivity as they do badassery—listen to their latest single, break-up anthem “Tonight,” and you’ll see what We mean.
We spoke to the band about their new record Sincerely, and the challenge of being “America’s Band” in the age of Trump.
DUDE YORK INTERVIEW
E.R. (HIGHLARK):You guys are from Seattle—why did you name yourselves Dude York?
PETER RICHARDS (GUITAR + VOCALS // DUDE YORK): It has to do with absurdism, and I think when we were coming up with a band name it was a placeholder that just got bigger than the place itself. And the idea of New York as a city full of dudes sounded like the most depressing thing on this Earth, and we try to be the opposite of that, I guess.
ANDREW HALL (DRUMS // DUDE YORK):Anti-depression rock.
CLAIRE ENGLAND (BASS + VOCALS // DUDE YORK): I hadn’t joined the band yet, so I had no part in that decision. [Laugh]
E.R.: When did you join the band?
CLAIRE: 2012? Yeah, that’s the year.
E.R.: When did the band start?
ANDREW: It started as us banging stuff in a closet. It sounded like a wind tunnel.
E.R.: Who are your influences? I heard a lot of riot grrrl and grunge in your sound. I’m guessing you like Sleater-Kinney?
PETER: I like Janet Weiss as a drummer a lot; she’s a fucking badass. All my favorite drummers have J.W. in their initials: Jon Worster, Janet Weiss, Jim White. [Laugh]
PETER: 25. I like that record a lot, but I also want to acknowledge the Grammy controversy and say I’d side with Beyoncé.
E.R.: I think Adele also sides with Beyoncé.
PETER:[Laugh] I still love that album, though.
CLAIRE: I side with Adele in that she sides with Beyoncé.
PETER: I would also say the present, in terms of time period, is one of the biggest inspirations for me. Everybody working now, just like the motivation that that provides and the solidarity between everybody working hard feels great.
E.R.: Tell me about Sincerely; how long was that gestating?
ANDREW: We made it right before Christmas 2014, and then took a very long time to get it to the world. We made it a while back with Cody Votolato a.k.a. JR Slayer and John Goodmanson, who recorded like every Sleater-Kinney record and was a recording hero of mine from when I was 18. One day, I was like “I wanna make a record with John Goodmanson,” and one day we made a record with John Goodmanson, and it was awesome. I’m talking too much…
E.R.: No I love it! Please talk forever.
ANDREW: I wanna open the floor to everybody else, because I could talk forever and it’s usually embarrassing…
CLAIRE: I think u do a pretty good job of explaining!
ANDREW:Okay! Well, yeah, it just took a really long time to mix it, and one day Hardly Art gave us a call and said “do you wanna put out a record?” and we said “yeah let’s do that.” Now the record’s out. You can buy it at stores everywhere that sell music.
CLAIRE: Well, the story is that it’s a song I wrote a long time ago. It was the first song that I brought in. We were playing new ideas for songs to each other, and that’s the first song I brought to Dude York, and the reaction was very positive so we turned it into a full song.
E.R.: It’s a good one. It’s my favorite.
PETER: Mine too.
CLAIRE: Other than that, it’ fairly self-explanatory: it’s a breakup song. You know, hopefully it’s both very personal and I hope everyone who listens to it is like “yup, me too.” [Laugh]
E.R.: Kind of a heavy question, but I hope you don’t think so: you dubbed yourself “America’s Band,” and I’m wondering what that means to you in the America we’re currently living in.
PETER: I don’t feel reflected by the current power structure, and I want to us to use this platform to validate people who feel marginalized and to let them know that we’re here resisting too, and that when you’re in the corner, we’re in your corner fighting with you.
CLAIRE: We’ve been calling ourselves “America’s Band” for years. That’s kind of like our line, and then we have recently had to examine is that something we should call ourselves.
ANDREW: And we were like “yeah we still have to be that.” If we concede, that means that that fucker won, and we’re not fucking going with that.
PETER: Literally, I think he didn’t win
E.R.: (Pointing to “RuPaul for President” shirt) Well, clearly he didn’t.
ANDREW: No, 45 did not win. You always have to change your behavior in the face of the world around you, but if you change your behavior in the face of a pale sociopath who has a hole inside of themselves that will never be filled no matter what they ruin, they can’t have American’s Band. We’re keeping that for ourselves, and fuck that guy.