Riding Dirty

Dirty Socialites Maintain DIY Ethos

By Tim Anderl

In 2012, it is becoming common place for independent bands to leverage social networking sites like Facebook in creating and communicating with their fanbase, and donation sites like Kickstarter to supplement recording and pressing their latest output.  For Dayton’s Dirty Socialites, a group of musicians with decades of experience performing in bands (as part of Accidentally On Purpose and Gem City Saints, to name a few), the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach they latched onto years ago, and lessons learned from Anarchists’ Cookbook and Book Your Own Fucking Life remain their guiding lights.

Rather than concentrating on inundating Facebook “fans” with show invites, or pleading for donations to put their music to tape, Dirty Socialites prefer networking with like-minded bands nationally and locally, calling in and returning favors, establishing distribution at and supporting locally owned businesses, fliering for shows and saving their gig money, selling gear (and the guitar of friend Mitch Mitchell) until they have enough to record and press their songs to vinyl.

“This is how we’ve always done things,” explained Derek Gullett, the band’s bassist/guitarist/vocalist.  “And right now, with gas prices the way they are, the fact that we can do some out of town shows and come home even is a plus.”

Fresh from some one-off weekend jaunts south of the border in Kentucky, Dirty Socialites will perform their brand of punk and indie influenced rocking locally every Tuesday this April as the resident artists at South Park Tavern’s NTRO/XPO.  Those venturing out to the NTRO/XPO shows will see a trio that takes major cues from Sonic Youth and The Pixies, and who pour every ounce of energy into their quirky bursts of edgy pop.

“We’re also major Brainiac fans,” added Angi Abnett, the band’s soft-spoken drummer.  In addition to playing songs from their 2011 release, Amor or Armor, the band will dust off covers by Brainiac, The Breeders and Guided By Voices that they learned for this year’s Dayton Does Dayton Tribute concert, and preview songs they’re recording from their next effort.

Despite seeing some of their kindred spirits migrate west or to larger cities, Dirty Socialites remain committed to keeping their trailers hitched in The Gem City.  “This is a great location for us.  It is cheap to live here and we can travel to almost any big city where we’d ever want to play in around 13 hours,” said Gretta Smak, the band’s vocalist/guitarist.

Maintaining their Dayton homestead paid off in 2011.  Not only did they squirrel away enough cash to release their Amor or Armor LP, a record based largely on a pair of relationship bust ups in April, just a month before that they were performing as support for the reunited Bee Thousand-era Guided By Voices line-up at the Dublin Pub.

Lately, members of the DS machine have continued firing on all cylinders: the trio is booking a week-long tour that is set to kick off in coming months continuing to support last year’s release, and they are recording the follow up to Amor or Armor at Canal Street Tavern with Brian Hoops for a full-length 10” vinyl release that the band is paying for out-of-pocket.

“We are recording the album in Canal Street while it is closed,” explained Gullett.  “We’re hoping to capture our ‘live’ sound since we’ll be recording the songs live with minimal over dubs.”

“The new record will be more up tempo, and there is definitely a strange sort of Flaming Lips influence going on there,” said Gullet about their latest songs.  “And, [Derek] is playing guitar on the new songs instead of playing bass exclusively,” added Smak.

The band also recently launched www.dirtysocialites .com, which was designed by Gullet who taught himself web development skills.  Created as their own social networking site, the band hopes to use the site to create more intimate relationships with their friends, fans and contemporaries, and offer previews of songs, demos, live recordings, and to allow visitors to upload their own videos of the band.

Though the band would love to pursue Dirty Socialites full-time, and they take their craft very seriously, they also understand that being in the right place at the right time, and having the right sound at the right time, is ultimately more of a factor in success than any other catalyst.

“We would love for this to be a career, but we have jobs and responsibilities here that keep us from really diving into water that is over our heads.  But, we still take this very seriously and try to spend as much time playing shows as possible,” said Gullett.  “All we can do for now is keep putting ourselves out there as much as we can, and hope good things happen.”

“We’re really trying not to let a week go by without doing something,” added Smak.

“Fortunately, for being a smaller city, Dayton is spoiled in that we have seven venues doing shows four nights a week so there are lots of opportunities here,” said Gullett.  “Just last night there were five amazing shows within a ten mile radius, which is pretty incredible.”

(For more information about The Dirty Socialites, visit http://www.dirtysocialites.com.  The band will be performing at South Park Tavern’s NTRO/XPO every Tuesday in April.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Photo Credit: Amanda Barbosa

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