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Interview by Josh Rutledge
Five years of relative obscurity have done little to cool the Dimestore
Haloes’ raging sonic fire.
Pelado Records will release “Long Ride To Nowhere”, the band’s third compact disc, this December. Pelado, a popular punk rock label based out of Costa Mesa, California, also released the Haloes’ “Revolt Into Style” CD and “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead” EP. But while both titles are among the best-selling releases on the label’s roster, the band remains virtually unknown in its hometown.
“It's damn tough to make a go of it in Boston,” says Haloes drummer Jimmy Reject. “Unless you have a mohawk and sing about anarchy or have a shaved head and sing about the working class. Lack of creativity generally pays off in this town. That and connections. If you're friends with the Dropkick Murphys, you'll go places. That's what happened to the Boston bands that got big in the ‘street punk’ boom of the late 90's.”
Reject is pleased with the response the Haloes have received from crowds when they’ve gone on the road to play out-of-town gigs. But in Boston, the band has seen very little on-stage action.
“We've played about ten Boston shows,” says Reject. “And we've been around since 1995! People say we don't play out because we think we're ‘too good for the scene’. But then when a slot opens up, the kids never book us because they think we're arrogant dicks. Even when we do play, kids generally don't dance like they do when we play out of state.”
Singer/guitarist Chaz Matthews (the self-proclaimed “Morrissey of punk”) formed the Haloes five years ago. Reject joined shortly afterwards. And although a host of lineup changes have forced the band to regroup several times, Matthews and Reject have persevered. Guitarist Nick Fitt and bass player Kevin Mess currently fill out the band’s lineup.
The release of 1997’s “Thrill City Crime Control” (VML Records) LP put the Haloes on the international punk rock map. The band’s spirited blend of '70's punk (Clash, New York Dolls) and roots rock and roll (Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry) influences appealed to punk rock fans young and old. And last year’s “Revolt Into Style” demonstrated that Matthews had finally hit his stride as a songwriter.
“Long Ride To Nowhere”, an 8-song CD EP, carries the band’s musical evolution to its logical next step. It’s a strong collection of tough, catchy, intelligent rock and roll tunes that affirm the undeniable staying power of classic punk rock.
Reject points out that the Haloes’ songwriting and production values have hit an all-time high. This is one band that certainly doesn’t believe that punk rock songs have to be crude, sloppy, and grating.
“We're about tight, well-played pop songs filtered through classic punk inclinations,” says Reject. “I think you can explore melody, harmonies, and tasteful arrangements and still be a punk band. The people who insist that ‘punk’ means simple, amateurish, and bad don't listen to a lot of it, anyway. Chaz just demo-ed some songs for the next CD that are the dopest shit I've ever heard in my life. They’re kind of like a cross between Psychedelic Furs and Hank Williams, Sr.”
Reject notes that the recent emergence of some new local blood has rekindled his interest in Boston punk rock.
“For years,” he says, “The only local band I took an interest in was Uppercrust. But I've been catching some pretty cool new local bands with a more rock 'n' roll feel like us----namely the Lost City Angels, Sinners and Saints, and the Dead City Rockers.”
While Reject doesn’t see the punk underground as a stepping-stone to mainstream success, he has no objections to the idea of punk rock reaching the masses. Bands like the Dimestore Haloes exist for the purpose of making music that they believe in, but Reject finds it troubling that such bands are often intensely pressured to remain out of the limelight.
“Punk ethics,” says Reject, “were established in the early 80's in order to keep the movement going without the commercial interest of earlier years. But now the commercial interest is back and punk role models are still warning bands not to get popular. Now there's no middle ground between the integral bands and the lightweight, purposely-commercial punk bands on the radio. You have to have a balance between your artistic integrity and your career goals. They feed off each other; they are a symbiosis. Bands shouldn't cancel one or the other out. I'm dying to hear some real punk on the radio; I don't want the SR-71’s of the world to take over.”