McGuff and the Dumpster Fires go for the throat at Jimmie’s

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: Emily McGuff (center) and the Dumpster Fires on the cover of their new album, Wolves

They’re part punk, part funk, and all messed up, according to the band. If the Clash hooked up with Janis Joplin, McGuff and the Dumpster Fireswould be the result, they promise.

McGuff and the Dumpster Fires have been called punk, rock, rockabilly, and blues, among other stuff. Audience members have watched past performances, walked out on certain parts, and returned for others, saying, “I wasn’t a fan of most of it, but that ‘one song’ was really good.” The band is used to it, and prefers to keep their audience guessing, changing tunes, styles, and genres during shows. “We’re undeniably unclassifiable,” singer Taylor McGuff says with a smirk. The band prefers an eclectic, always unpredictable set, blending songs that draw some people in and send others on a smoke break. Whether you like one song or just part of a song, they’re better remembered as a band you can’t figure out.

The current lineup of Taylor McGuff (guitar/vocals), Emily McGuff (vocals), Phil Doncaster (drums), and Keith Klein (bass) have been together for roughly two years, with the band starting about four ago. This year, they’re releasing their second record, the new seven-song LP Wolves, and are planning to celebrate at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 Saturday, Dec. 3, with their fangs out.

They’re pushing the title track. “That song, particularly, is about the end of a relationship that one member keeps dragging out and its impact on the other member,” Taylor explains.

“I wrote it when I was watching the show Teen Wolf,” Emily says. “There’s a line that wolves usually go for the throat, dragging it out, so it was go for the throat, straight for the kill.”

“It’s drawing parallels to that relationship,” Taylor explains.

“We went with a red riding hood theme, blood red,” Klein adds.

The LP will hit iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, all streaming platforms and digital outlets.

They’re doing a few upcoming shows including Peach’s, in Yellow Springs, and playing live on Kaleidoscope, Wednesday Nov. 30 from 8–11 p.m. on WYSO.

They say the album is heavy and funky with big breakdown sections and funky guitar grooves. Taylor explains the moniker, saying, “It’s the idea of being something you can’t look away from.”

“Like a train wreck, it’s the same thing, terrible and kinda gross. A beautiful, compelling accident,” Emily adds.

They’ve stayed fairly local so far but will venture off when called upon. They’ve played around 60 gigs so far.

Labeling their sound is a challenge with its constant moving, changing machine of parts. “We make jokes, if there’s nothing you’ve liked so far, you’re in luck, we’re playing something different next. We lack a genre,” Taylor says. “We play songs that sound like punk, indie, funk, country, rockabilly, and a few blues tunes. We’re all over the place, [with] something for everybody. If you don’t like the song we’re playing, go out and smoke then come back or you’ll hate everything. It allows us to hop around, we can fit in everything, play a heavier set or dial it back a little,” Taylor says.

“We’ve heard, ‘I like this one, but not anything else,’ or ‘I liked the part that sounded like this’ and it’s never the same. It’s very patchwork, but I feel we pull a diverse crowd when we play,” Emily says.

They had a blast opening for Here Come The Mummies at Oddbody’s earlier this year. “We’re always happy to open for our Dayton friends. That’s our bread and butter, opening up for friends we know and love. It’s such a collaborative, interconnected scene, always a good time,” Klein says.

“Our diversity allows us to swing in a lot of different musical scenes,” Taylor adds. Taylor grew up listening to alt country, indie music, and underground hip-hop: “I got into punk in a big way after I started this band. The Clash and the Dead Kennedys were big influences. I came up in the ’90s and was sort of the grunge guy,” Klein says. “I’m all over the map too, with blues and industrial. My first high school band was like a Nine Inch Nails band. Originally, it was gonna be an alt country band, then thought we could do a punky ska thing.”

The McGuff’s variety of influences may contribute to their eclectic sound. They even played acoustic shows for a while as a duo. “I have a big country base,” Emily says. “I love me some Regina Spektor; her style is just awesomel. She’s got some mad skills.”

“If Frank Zappa was still around, I’d love to chat with him and just kinda ask, ‘Where did those ideas come from? I want them,”’ Taylor adds. Recently, Klein got to have dinner with one of his idols, Glen Phillips from ’90s alt-rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket.

The CD release party for Wolves will also be McGuff’s debut at Jimmie’s Ladder: “I’ve never played there, but I’ve heard good things,” Taylor says.

“Come to the show, buy the album, and stream it. Give us band money, but more importantly listen to it,” the whole band says with a grin.

McGuff and the Dumpster Fires will play Saturday, Dec. 3 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St. in Dayton. Sam at Eleven and A Shade of Red on also on the bill. Tickets are $5 at the door, show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit McGuffAndTheDumpsterFires.Bandcamp.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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