May 22nd at South Park Tavern
By W.C. Ruffnel
As I was stumbling drunkenly through an alley the other morning shirtless and covered in dog hair, I had a self realization: The Summer Pledge is a kick-ass band. At a time when every shitty kid with a guitar, a delay pedal and a dream is trying to make the next Loveless (you won’t), Detroit’s The Summer Pledge is doing something different: they’re doing something different. The group creates a dreamy blend of swirling guitars, wild-ass drum beats and vocal harmonies that recall today’s top hits with yesterday’s top cool. Their new album Vessels is an exercise in pop hooks soaring over a musically muscular group of radicality. Dayton City Paper had a chance to ask them some questions, and the only problem with that is that I didn’t get to hear their wonderful voices over the telephone.
Who are your band members & what do they do?
Dustin McLaughlin – Vocals/Guitar, Jeremy Damaske – Guitar, Andrew Davis – Bass, Rob Wilson – Drums
Have you been to Dayton before & if so, how did it treat you?
We’ve never been to Dayton but we’ve heard the treats are good.
How has your tour been thus far?
We’re writing to you from the Gas Lamp in Des Moines, Iowa. So far the tour has been super awesome. We’ve played some really eclectic shows from a punk rock night at a bowling alley in Minneapolis to a rip-roaring house show in Milwaukee and everything in between. We’ve gotten to hang out with a lot of old friends from the road and new friends alike! We have a new record called Vessels that people have seemed to be really receptive to.
What music inspires you to play?
The Summer Pledge is mostly a comedy troupe first and foremost. It just so happens that we are unbelievable musicians on the side. We’ve had a lot of support from our hometown of Detroit and have made a lot of really great friendships from touring. Seeing how other communities connect and work together is inspiring to us. We try to take a little bit of what other places are doing and to bring pieces of that home and apply it to our community.
Most bands get accused of ripping off someone or another – who is that for your band?
Let me ask you a question or two: How does a genre come to be? Where did the term New Wave come from? Someone, somewhere had a musical thought, acted on it, and movement developed gradually and naturally. We had a musical thought and started this band. Our thoughts mingled, morphed, and transmuted into something tangible called Time Groove. Yeah, I would say we are a Time Groove band. If you’ve taken more than five minutes to spend some quality time with our music, it will make perfect sense.
The writer responds: A genre comes to be when someone decides to put a shitty label on it.
Does it upset you to think that the Internet lets bands like Jet live forever?
I would blame not the technology, but the users of the technology for that one.
Ruffnel responds: I’m upset.
What’s the scene like up in Detroit & how does it compare to other cities?
Wow dude, that’s a big question. Detroit has always been a strong music city and currently there is an enormous amount of musicians (talented and otherwise). Just like everywhere else, there’s a lot of great bands doing interesting things and a lot of bands doing the same old song and dance. There’s a growing sense of “community” but it’s not where it should be just yet. Detroit as a city has been rising from its ashes for some time now and it’s exciting to see how it unfolds and to be a part of it in some way. There is somewhat of a lack of decent venues – ones that are there to support and glorify the music scene, rather than exploit it. And, of course, there is a lack of GOOD, informative, local newspapers and community-based websites
(see next question).
I saw a review that described you guys as “emo” & I wasn’t so sure that was the case. Is that the case?
Hey, thanks for picking up on that. Of course we’re always inclined to agree with the good reviews, with the ones that confirm our own thoughts about ourselves, while panning the ones that aren’t favorable or call us something stupid like “emo” which would seem to indicate that the reviewer either didn’t really listen to our record, or has no idea what “emo” is… but we’re just here to make the music we want and music reviewers are there to write whatever they want. That’s the way it all works. Once the music is out there, we naturally have to step back as creators and let the creation affect the audience however it will, or however they will let it.
George Clinton or Stephen Malkmus?
Ruffnel responds: Hey, that doesn’t count.
Favorite fast food?
Hondo’s Stoop (for the spicy dog leg).
Ruffnel responds: I want to eat that.
The Summer Pledge will appear May 22nd at South Park Tavern with instruments (to play) along with Gathering Mercury and the Cut and the Clare. Visit thesummerpledge.com for dates or thesummerpledge.bandcamp.com to preview the wonderful new album Vessels.
Reach DCP freelance writer W.C. Ruffnel at WCRuffnel@DaytonCityPaper.com.