At the tail end of 2019, Real Gone received an email requesting coverage from a band calling themselves Get The Fuck Outta Dodge. We had no idea what to expect. Within about thirty seconds of hitting the play button, it became clear that Dodge were one of the best bands we’d heard all year. Their lo-fi garage punk was never less than furious and in terms of a DIY set up, their then current EP, ‘We Make The Future Here’ raised the bar for independent noise making. We’ve followed their progress very closely ever since. In 2022, having survived a couple of years in a Covid ridden world, they found themselves in the studio with renowned Sheffield based producer Alan Smyth. In June 2022, James (bass/shouting) and Ren (drums/more shouting) dropped into Real Gone to talk about their whirlwind of work…
Hey lads, thanks for joining us today.
Ren: Not a problem. We’re always up for talking nonsense…
We appreciate you making time for us. At Real Gone, we’ve followed your progress keenly since ‘We Make The Future Here’ came out at the end of 2019, so we’re long overdue a chat.
James: Cheers for asking us! We’re always up for talking, it’s just normally nobody listens, and your ace reviews warm our cockles!
Thanks James. That’s really kind… Okay then… From the beginning… The band first emerged in 2019. What made you decide the time was right to start a new project?
Ren: The intention was never really to form a band. Seriously, I just wanted to learn the drums! We are just a bi-product of that, but I’m pretty damn sure I never planned on drumming and shouting in a fucking noise band and playing full songs in under 90 seconds [laughs]… I mean that just happened – we just happened.
James: Both Ren and I had been involved in the Sheffield music scene in various capacities in the mid 2000’s. I used to play guitar in a band called the Ape Drape Escape and Ren was in Commercial Dual Purpose and also ran a label called the Laundrette Recording Company. Then adult life, kids and mortgages got in the way, so our dreams of rock stardom waned. That itch to make music never left us though, so when Ren suggested making some noise, I was on board straight away.
How did you get together?
James: We’ve known each other for about 25 years – yes, we’re that old. We met via the gift of nepotism when our mums got us jobs at a local hospital and we just naturally gravitated to each other. We’ve been besties ever since. We’ve grown up together and Ren was in a band when we first met. I told him his singing was shit and he should let me sing. I tried out and was even shitter, so nothing ever came of it. We both ended up in different bands and Ren’s label put out a couple of 7”s for my band.
Ren: I asked James if he wanted to play bass in a band called Get The Fuck Outta Dodge and he said yes. He bought a Thunderbird, we booked a room and basically wrote ‘Theme Song’ off the bat. The first thing we played ended up being the first song on our first album.
Was the garage punk sound an obvious route for you, or did you experiment with other styles first?
James: We had absolutely no preconceptions about what our sound was going to be. It was just a case of getting in a practice room and seeing what happened. By the virtue of neither of us being particularly proficient at our instruments it just happened. I’d never really played bass and Ren had never played drums, and our sound just emerged. I’m a big fan of punk and hardcore, so I think we were always going to be playing something loud and dirty.
Ren: I love a bit of Death From Above so I kinda knew what could be possible with just bass and drums but we never set out to sound like anything. I think with James being a guitarist kinda helped form the sound, writing riffs rather than basslines. I had only been drumming for few months so had no clue with what I was doing so I just hit the things in the way I thought they should sound and that’s really how our sound came about. There is defo a progression from the first LP to now. Damn, the first album is so slow!
It’s definitely not as sharp as the stuff that followed. Is there anything on it you like, still?
James: We’re still including ‘Good vs Evil’, ‘Hex Marks the Spot’ and ‘Snitches Get Stitches’ in the set, but playing them faster…[laughs]. When we rerecorded ‘Snitches’ for the ‘Buzzkill’ album, it was nearly twenty five seconds quicker that than the demo from the first record… Whoops!
Ren: I mean, that was then, and now is different, but I don’t have much beef with those songs as it was only a matter of months between forming and recording that LP. ‘And Don’t Forget To Tip Your Waiter’ was one of those songs that just didn’t work no matter how many times I tried it. We totally over thought that one. I still love the riff and the verse but the chorus is just shit…no two ways about it. So much so, that I have renamed it to “And Don’t Forget To Tip Your Waiter (or you’ll end up with a chorus like this)’… [laughs]
You first landed in Real Gone’s inbox during the pandemic lockdown of 2020. Admittedly, we went in with no real expectations. There was a sweary band name and a similarly sweary email, but we were really taken with the ‘We Make The Future Here’ EP. It’s hard to believe some of those tracks were leftovers from the soon to be released ‘Buzzkill’ LP.
James: Cheers! We didn’t have any expectations either [laughs]. We’d recorded our first album [‘Climbing Higher, Hitting Harder Than King Kong’] within 3 months of us starting the band, not expecting anyone to give a shit. It was more a mid-life crisis vanity project for Ren before he turned 40. Then we got cracking working on album number two, and due to lockdown we couldn’t get in the studio, so we thought fuck it, lets record something ourselves in the meantime. At the beginning of lockdown, my work had given me an iPad to work from home on until I got a laptop and I banged GarageBand on it and wiled away the hours recording riffs and sending them to Ren. So they weren’t really leftovers, more like a stop gap to keep us entertained. I think we’d finished the whole thing in about a week.
Ren: I keep trying to convince myself otherwise but always come back to that EP being the best collection of songs that have put out. I don’t know whether its because it was just supposed to be some throw away moment with no care or thought, but I really really like all the songs on there… Well, apart from ‘The Art Of A Good Put Down’, but we recorded that during the ‘Buzzkill’ sessions so it doesn’t count.
…And at that point, ‘Buzzkill’ wasn’t even out…
Ren: All the songs on ‘We Make The Future’ are super quick but totally fully formed, and the choruses are fucking amazing. You can tell that it was written after Buzzkill – although released before – and it defo shows a progression in our song writing. God, how pretentious does that sound? [laughs]
Not at all! [laughs] It’s still our favourite Dodge release so far…
Ren: Glad its not just me then, I am currently kicking James’ ass to practice singing and playing on the chorus of Physical so we can play it live!
The stuff from those sessions has a similarity to the Beastie Boys’ ‘Aglio E Olio’ EP of low budget hardcore punk tunes. Would you say that’s what you were aiming for, or was the material just approached organically to see what would come out?
James: It was totally organic, and to be honest, I don’t think either of us were that aware of the ‘Aglio E Olio’ EP, although it’s funny ‘cuz quite a few people have made the Beasties comparison.
Since others have mentioned it, have you gone back and listened to the Beastie Boys EP since then?
James: I’ve gone back and listened to it and I can see why people could make that comparison. The Beasties were about 16/17 when they put that out, so hopefully in another 40 years or so, we’ll have achieved what they have [laughs].
Actually, you’ve confused it with their earlier hardcore EP. ‘Aglio’ was recorded in September ’95, as an unexpected follow up to the best selling ‘Ill Communication’. It’s very much in the spirit of the first Beasties EP from 1982, though.
James: My bad… [laughs]… I should have known this cuz I only watched the Beasties doc the other week. That was ‘Pollywog Stew’, right?
Yes. ‘Aglio’ reverts to that raw, garage punk sound, but sort of improves on it.
Ren: I had no clue what they were on about when they said we were “like Beastie Boys if they were still a hardcore band”! Everyone’s ears work different don’t they, and in this case I was sure that the chap who said it didn’t know what he was going on about….but having now heard it, I was totally wrong. I can totally see the comparison.
James: That sound wasn’t really about influence, though. It was more the fact that we were recording remotely via tin cans attached with string. From a bass point of view, I’d record maybe a verse and chorus, or just a riff, and send it to Ren and he’d piece something together.
Ren: I think I was still using GarageBand when we recorded this, as I was still very green behind the ears and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, so it does sound really raw. But in all honesty, that’s the kind of sound that suits us best. We wouldn’t be us if it wasn’t. Recording remotely is really fucking weird, though. When you’re in the same room you just work through shit out together, but when it’s remote its totally different. As James said, he just sent a couple of riffs and I got to do whatever the hell I wanted to do with them, so James really had no idea what the songs were gonna sound like until I sent it back to him. I mean, in that sense, I don’t think we could have ever planned what the EP would sound like, because even though we have similar musical tastes, we totally don’t have the same tastes
The pandemic sidelined a lot of bands, but for you guys working in a small DIY bubble, it obviously kicked the band up a gear…
Ren: We had only just started to get into the swing of things and then Corona hit, so there was all this excitement and we had to do something with it.
James: I think it was also born out of us not wanting to go insane. There was only so many times you could go for a walk, and there was fuck all else to do, so to save our sanity and relationships, we decided to spend our free time creating. We’ve always been DIY in our other ventures, so it just came naturally.
Ren: Added to this I’m really impatient and can’t hold my own shit at times, if we’ve written a song that we think is pretty rad I want to show people, I cant be dealing with sitting on it until the LP is ready before I put it out there. I mean, its not just about the music is it, really? We come from the pre-digital age where you had cassettes, CDs and vinyl, and you had to get hold of an album to see the artwork. You didn’t know if the sleeve would have cool pictures or even the lyrics inside. It just takes the whole thing to a new level. If someone is willing to give us money for something we made then we might as well put the effort in to make them think they got a good deal out of it.
You cranked out several releases in under a year, including a brilliant cassette of cover tunes [‘These Songs Aren’t Ours’]. How did you decide what to tackle for that?
James: We basically had a list and kept adding songs to it, with the intention of picking the best songs to put out. The list kept getting longer and we just decided to do them all [laughs]… I love a cover. Plus, it gave me a chance to do some lead vocals. I struggle to play and sing at the same time, which is why Ren handles the lions share of the singing on our own stuff. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ version of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ is fucking amazing.
Ren: Yeah, James had a list that he kept adding to! [laughs].We had nothing better to do, I suppose. We would just message song names back and forth and either do them or not, not even counting how many there were. I suppose most bands would ditch the ones that sounded shit and boy, there are a few [laughs]…but we didn’t give a fuck really. It is what it is!
Obviously, the first covers cassette features a lot of punky and hardcore stuff, but there are a couple of curveballs. Like the Supergrass hit ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, and Fuzzbox’s ‘Pink Sunshine’. How did those come about? Were you not worried that Fuzzbox might stick out too much?
James: We didn’t want to limit ourselves to specific genres. Between us, we’ve got a really varied taste in music. There’s no such thing as guilty pleasures. Good songs are good songs and if we can Dodge it up a bit and make it our own, then why the hell not. I actually got in touch with Fuzzbox on Facebook cuz I was struggling to work part of the bass line out and they sent me a breakdown of all the parts [laughs]. They loved our version. Same with the Chats, I’d sent them the cheap ass video we made and they were stoked that we’d covered them.
Ren: He’s right, a tune is a tune no matter what genre it fits into. That “True Love” bit and the Pre-chorus drums/vocals bit in Pink Sunshine is fucking amazing!
We were surprised to find out that some of those recordings were put together with a lot of bass looping and studio trickery. Most of ’em really sound as if you bashed them out live in your rehearsal space…
James: I think that’s the beauty of GarageBand and logic…and Ren being a clever git. I have no technical recording ability at all, so GarageBand is perfect for me because it’s essentially a fancy 4 track.
Ren: That’s kinda half true, but just to big myself up, but the nearly all of the drum tracks were laid down live. I mean I’m not gonna take all the credit because there was some tweaking with the midi notes and all the home recordings were recorded with electric drums. But, yeah, we defo cheated massively on ‘Sonic Reducer’. I hardly ever use a tom but there is plenty on that track!
That cassette really captures your DIY ethic, with its blank C-30 cassette housed in cardboard. Was that a deliberate choice, or a necessity to keep costs down?
James: We’re tight buggers and think why pay someone else to do something we can do ourselves. As fans we always appreciate it when bands make the extra effort with packaging and what have you, so it’s a no brainer for us to make stuff ourselves. My partner is an art teacher and we’ve got a little art studio in our shed, so we got her to show us how to make lino prints and set up a production line. With our previous band stuff we always liked to DIY the packaging. My old band made a 7” cover with stencilled flock wallpaper, and Ren had put stuff out on the Laundrette in printed paper bags or with 3D artwork, including 3D glasses.
Ren: In total honesty, I am a proper shit customer. I don’t know what I want and change my mind constantly and never happy, so making stuff ourselves makes total sense to me. Plus, when you can make it yourself you can just present anything that you want. I mean, anyone can pay someone to make a cassette from them, but then your kinda constrained to what they offer and usually the cooler they get, the more expensive it becomes. When we did ‘These Songs Aren’t Ours’ I just picked up a box of shitty old used cassettes from this lady off Facebook marketplace, bought and cut up some fucking trashy 65p Take a Break magazines and collaged the hell outta of the slip cases and made some proper amazing art. Just because we could.
More recently, you’ve worked with Arctic Monkeys’ producer Alan Smyth. How did you get him on board?
James: Via the gift of payment! [laughs]
Ren: He was the go-to person that all the cool bands in the scene went to when we where playing in our other bands. If you wanted to record your best stuff you would go to Alan. I had recorded with him 20 years or so ago with Stunt Team and the recordings were that hot, we spilt up about 6 months later [laughs]. Incidentally, he remembered one of my old songs and reckoned he still plays it to this day. I obviously refused to believe him!
James: Alan is brilliant. He’s recorded so many bands over the years from Pulp to 65 Days of Static, and he is one of the unsung heroes of the Sheffield music scene.
James: As with all our previous studio recordings, we recorded it live and added the vocals after. I don’t know how he got us to sound that good, to be honest [laughs]. We told him that we wanted to record twelve songs in eight hours and he didn’t bat an eyelid. Most of the songs were one or two takes at most.
It’s got a bigger sound, but still sounds like classic Dodge.
Ren: It sounds fucking massive doesn’t it?! The intro the ‘Holy Moses’ is so fucking filthy. I feel that because there are only two of us, we must be harder to record from a sound point of view. Everything else with us is a piece of piss. I don’t close my hats at all and if I’m not smashing them, I’m smashing the crash, so to make us not sound like extras in ‘Stomp: The Musical’ takes some skill.
James: I think although it’s more of the same as our previous releases, it shows a progression in our song writing and playing, without losing any of the spirit.
Ren: When I heard the lathe cut for the first time it totally blew my mind! It’s the bassiest – is that even a word? [laughs]… It’s the bassiest record I have ever heard. I was really worried that the mix would just blow the speakers, but it just sounds perfect. It’s had some really good reviews and you know and we know we are rad – we are just waiting for everyone else to catch up. [laughs]
Lyrically, it works the same way as previous Dodge works, in that everything sounds like shouty slogans. Where do you pull your lyric inspirations from?
James: That’s Ren’s area. I just chuck in the odd line here and there or change my backing vocals to make it easier for me to sing.
Ren: I get them from all over the place, sometimes from my head and sometimes from the heads of others. I’m a bit of a lyrical magpie – if I see or hear anything that I think makes a good line then I note it down. I’ll then mash them up or add to them and fit them to how I think the syllable beat should go with the rest of the noise. There are some pretty fucking rad lines hidden in them songs, even if on the whole they make zero sense.
That sort of makes sense. On the album, there’s a song called ‘Quick Get To The Yacht’. The whole thing conjures the idea of some kind of need for a speedy getaway. You wouldn’t necessarily choose a yacht for that!
James: I dunno, some of those super yachts are a bit nippy. That said I’ve not got great sea legs, so I’d probably try to find an alternative mode of sea worthy transport. “Quick get to the pedaloe” doesn’t have the same ring to it though does it?! [laughs]
Ren: [laughs] Truth is, I kinda lifted that line from The Fun Lovin’ Criminals “Scooby Snacks”. Huey says something like “On the way to the yacht” but I thought “quick get to the yacht” sounded well better. I’d ignore the rest of the lyrics on that one to be honest, I mean “still riding my hi-tops” what the fuck’s that all about?… [laughs]
Well, if you don’t know, nobody does! So…Moving on, you played a gig recently opening for Power Drill. How’d that go?
James: We actually ended up having to follow them, which was pretty mad. They were fucking ace. Really brutal. I’d no idea what [extreme punk subgenre] Powerviolence was before we played with them. On their last song they dragged the drums into the crowd and just went batshit. I love bands that don’t just stand there and give you something to look at. They were lovely young chaps too. I’m looking forward to catching them again soon.
Ren: Power Drill are more my bag than punk is really, just fast, guttural, with awesome breakdowns that just give you whiplash. I really enjoyed it. But following them, though… Geez… But I got to have my drums at the front of the stage, which was an added bonus!
The pandemic meant you haven’t had much opportunity to sharpen your live chops…
James: No, we’ve been severely lacking on the gig front. We’ve had a few gigs in Sheffield with mates bands and stuff. There’s still a “scene” here but it’s been that long since we’ve been a part of it that we’re out of touch. It’s certainly not for the want of trying. I think since the pandemic, there’s such a backlog of people wanting gigs, that we’re at the back of that backlog. That, or people don’t want to promote a band with “fuck” in their name [laughs]
In all seriousness, do you think the band name might hamper your chances of bigger success?
James: At our ripe old ages, I think it would be unrealistic to think about “making it”. Not that I’d turn down the chance if it was offered to me.
Ren: Yeah, I mean if we cared enough then we could have gone with another name, but it totally just fits us.
James: We knew going into this that a band called Get The Fuck Outta Dodge was going to limit our opportunities somewhat, but if bands like Fucked Up can have successful careers, then the sky’s the limit. Plus, cursing is fun.
Ren: I mean if someone really likes us then the name shouldn’t really be an issue. There are totally at least 3 ways of getting round it. We played a session recently with a chap Called Doc Mason on Peterborough Community Radio, where swears are not allowed, and he just called us Get The F Outta Dodge. That works for us, as well as GTFOD or Get The Heck Outta Dodge…or whatever. To go back to the original point, on the live front, I think we have just done five shows. I mean, that doesn’t feel like it makes sense, but it’s right. I’ve just started to use a head worn microphone made out of an old telephone, which once you get over the whole Phil Collins thing, actually, is pretty rad. Now I can move when I drum so the stage doesn’t look too boring when James likes to wander…like he does. We have a couple of gigs booked for outside of Sheffield coming up so that’s pretty cool, and the added benefit of being a two piece is that all our stuff fits in the back of a Volkswagen Golf!
Proper touring economy!
James: Yeah, if we can do stuff on a shoestring budget then mores the better. It’s not like gigging in a band our size pays very well, if at all.
Your appearance on the Das Kapichat podcast was really entertaining. Are you friendly with Das Kapitans and other guys from the Socks On label?
James: Ren got chatting with Das Kapitans on the interweb and we have a similar sort of mindset and work ethic, although their work ethic puts ours to shame. We just hit it off and they included us on the Socks On benefit for Ukraine. They are super inclusive and community minded, and added us to a Whatsapp group with bands/promoters in their neck of the woods. They are putting a double all dayer on in Peterborough called “East Angrier” on the 16th and 17th of July and invited us to go down and play, and we’ve got a few other bits and pieces in the pipeline with them too. Hopefully we can return the favour and get them up to Sheffield to gig, ’cuz they are ace.
Ren: You know that scene in Shaun Of The Dead when Shaun’s lot walk past Yvonne’s lot and they are just the same characters but different? That’s what I think about us and Das Kapitans. We just do the same kinda shit. It makes me sick just how good they are at making tunes. I mean, check this: the other day Simon [the band’s guitarist/vocalist] said “I’m gonna write a song in a bit, what should it be about?” I suggested a song about how Brian May now looks like a badger because he likes badgers so much. The song that appeared was fucking amazing and he just said…”Enjoyed that. Never to be heard again.”
That’s really funny! I think the world needs a decent song about Brian and badgers. Since Das Kapitans released twelve DIY album length downloads during 2021 we’ll probably get to hear it when Simon gets bored…
Ren: Well, we’ve had a cheeky sneak peek of their new LP and its gonna be immense!
Aside from the Das Kapitans fest, what else is on the Dodge calendar?
Ren: We have a project we are working on with Thomas Imposter Records which features some totally mind-blowing Japanese remixes of a few tracks from ‘It’s Not Our Fault…’ and we’re plotting some stuff with Das Kapitans as well.
James: We’re also at Dina at Tramlines in Sheffield on the 22nd, then back down to Peterborough in August for the Das Kapitans album launch. Any promoters reading this who need a couple of noisy idiots to play, then hit us up. Recording wise, we’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline and we’re looking to start work on the third covers album.
We’ll look forward to that. The previous covers collections have been fantastic fun.
Ren: I have tasked James with writing a new Dodge riff for every cover that he does!
Sounds great to us. In the meantime, thanks for joining us for the chat. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to check out your back catalogue and other DIY ventures.
Ren: Thanks for having us matey! …And people: do listen! You never know, you might actually enjoy it!
James: Yeah, cheers for giving a shit, and thanks for bigging us up. It makes our heads swell. My missus isn’t pleased though, ‘cuz I’m getting ideas above my station… [laughs].
Get The Fuck Outta Dodge’s 2022 album ‘Its Not Our Fault Your Boyfriend’s Stupid’ is available from their Bandcamp store here.
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