In 3 short days, I will be flying to Minneapolis to see Dillinger Four play their D4th of July show and it has me thinking a lot about how I discovered Dillinger Four and music discovery in the 90s. I first discovered Dillinger Four how I discovered most new bands in the 90s, by listening to a compilation. This particular compilation was called, “Invasion of the Indie Snatchers” by the influential label, Allied Recordings. I got the compilation as a promo as I was doing Suburban Home fanzine in 1996 when this compilation was released. This compilation had quite a few bands that i had never heard (Cards in Spokes, Hot Water Music, J Church), but it was the Dillinger Four track that blew my mind! I had to find out more about Dillinger Four but in 1996, Google wasn’t a thing (started in 1998). Amazon was around, but I’m pretty sure they only sold books. We of course didn’t have spotify (started in 2006). Your main options in the mid 90s were mailorders and record stores. I’m pretty sure the next thing I found by Dillinger Four was their split 7 inch with the Strike. I’m pretty sure I got it at Wax Trax Boulder who had an incredible punk rock 7 inch selection. It had 2 songs by D4 and one of the songs, “Open and Shut” was on the Allied Recordings compilation. The other song was their cover of the Pogues’ song, “Sally Maclennane”. I was hooked! I found two other 7 inches by them, “Higher Aspirations Tempered And Dismantled” and “The Kids Are All Dead” which collectively had 8 masterpieces on them! A year later, they released “More Songs About Girlfriends And Bubblegum” on the pop-punk label (and mailorder), Mutant Pop Records. Mutant Pop was a very prolific label and if you liked pop punk, you loved their mailorder. At this point, the band had released four 7 inch records and still hadn’t released an album. This was also around the time that I graduated with a molecular biology degree and decided I didn’t want to work in a molecular biology lab. I took a job with Hopeless Records moving from Boulder to Los Angeles. Hopeless in the 90s was one of my favorite punk labels having released records by 88 Fingers Louie, Guttermouth, The Nobodys, Falling Sickness, Digger, and Funeral Oration. It was shortly after I started working at Hopeless that the label signed Dillinger Four and I was fucking ecstatic! We’d hear tidbits about how the recording was going and soon the album was going to mastering and a short time after that I had my hands on an advance cassette of “Midwestern Songs of the Americas”. There was no Ipod in 1998 when Midwestern was released. Cassettes could be duplicated quickly and the technology to rip CDs wasn’t super accessible yet. I played the hell out of that cassette and got more and more excited as I started seeing the digital layout for the vinyl, cd, cassette, poster, t-shirt, and sticker. My car still had a cassette player (and disc changer, yeah, I was bigtime in the late 90s!). I soon had a promo copy of the CD and I don’t think I ever took that album out of my disc changer that entire year. I can’t think of a punk rock album that I love more than Midwestern Songs and I might go so far as to say that it is a perfect record. Years later, I had the opportunity to repress both Midwestern Songs and Versus God on Suburban Home/Vinyl Collective which was a dream! This was at a time when a lot of labels stopped pressing records because they were super expensive to press and you were expected to sell them cheaper than CDs. Because of my relationship with Hopeless, they allowed me to press those records which had gone out of print. My pressings are long out of print and fetch a decent amount of money on discogs and ebay. I only have personal copies. Luckily, Hopeless reissued those albums on vinyl and you can pretty easily get one.
While I love the ease of music discovery in 2019, i miss the process of finding my favorite bands in the 90s. I think that the amount of work that went into finding 7 inch records and discovering bands on compilations or by reading thanks lists is something that people will never have the experience and that’s kind of sad. I’m so thankful I had those experiences!
I’m also thankful that Dillinger Four will be playing Midwestern Songs of the Americas in its entirety this Friday, July 5th! Hopefully I will see some of you there!