An interview with California Alt-Grunge Band Dem Bones (questions and visuals by Molly Alexander)

July 9, 2019

I spoke with Gavin Valladares, the drummer of Dem Bones, about the group’s creative influences, redefining their band identity and curating a one of a kind concert experience.

MOLLY ALEXANDER: You mentioned that 3 of the 4 members of Dem Bones used to be in the band Running On Empty. How has this previous experience influenced your current sound and values?

GAVIN: Our previous experience influenced our new sound and values because we love energy. Our energy is infectious and translates through our crowds at shows. We enjoy playing more upbeat type songs, and there's a few songs that we very quickly learned will always be a great song to cover such as “Bulls On Parade.”

Your music is reminiscent of both 90s grunge and early punk. Who are your biggest musical influences and what inspires your band outside of the music world?

Biggest Influences: Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, RHCP, Smashing Pumpkins, and Foo Fighters. 
Our influences outside of the music world tend to be artists. For Gavin, he loves artists like Basquiat and Chihuly. 

Live performances are a big part of your band identity. What is your favorite song to perform and what is something you'd like your fans to take away from your shows?

Our favorite song to perform might have to be “Bulls On Parade” and we want all fans to take away a sense of family and a fun night every time they come to a show. 

(photos from @cristinacasa)
How has your view of music and performance presence shifted since your first concert?

After our first concerts, we were all suddenly aware that there was so much more than just recording and releasing a song. For some bands, the live element is the most important part.

Any crazy performance stories?

At our last show, we had a huge showing specifically for our set and were playing under a little terrace. I'm not sure what song it happened during but a huge mosh pit erupted and there were other people hanging from the terrace while we played. That was crazy. 

What makes up a typical songwriting session? What comes first, the lyrics or the core instrumentals?

Usually one of us will develop a song on our own and bring it to practice, then each person adds their little nuances and the song slowly but surely takes shape.

Lyrically, what themes and thoughts are you typically drawn to?

Lyrically, we like to examine the thoughts inside of all minds and why people think certain things. Other than that, we write about past or current personal experiences. 

Online music streaming sites are highly saturated with an abundance of musicians trying to make their break. How have you distinguished you band apart from other DIY Alt grunge groups?
 We have a passion and energy that combines itself with all of our friends coming to shows to create an awesome environment. Our shows have a super friendly environment where everyone is friends until they're in the pit.

What do u see for the future of DIY music? How can bands thrive in an increasingly produced industry?

DIY bands have to stick together and support one another. That's why we make it such a specific part of our goal to build a community around music. A community is the band, the fans, and anyone who wants to be involved in one big music family. 

What's next for Dem Bones? Any upcoming shows or music fans can look out for?

We are playing a big art collective/swap meet type event on July 12 and playing a festival on July 19. We are looking to release a single soon and then a full length album!

Follow @dembonesband to stay up to date with future shows and song releases.

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