Baltimore indie-punks

Double Dagger are the latest independent rock talent to course from the home of The Wire, Baltimore. The trio are a knife to the face of numerous ‘art school’ bands that solely kicked it at college for slacker kudos and plentiful chicks.

Singer Nolen Strals and bassist Bruce Willen, both Maryland Institute College Of Art graduates, run distinctive graphic design/visual art venture Post Typography. And though just-unleashed album ‘More’, the threesome’s debut offering for cult Chicago label Thrill Jockey, doesn’t outwardly trumpet educative inspirations, in formative days the influence ran deeper into Double Dagger’s fabric.

“The art and design references started to work their way out of the lyrics a while ago,” explains Strals. “But it was never songs directly about typefaces. That stuff was used as a metaphorical device to talk about other issues.”

“Most of the bands I love have an art/design sensibility that compliments the music,” considers Willen. “Whether it’s DIY photocopied artwork, beautiful photography, cool illustrations or a strong design sensibility, it really adds a lot when you feel the band spent as much time considering their album packaging or website as they do their music and performance.”

Not that Double Dagger - completed by drummer Denny Bowen - are (set) squares purely obsessed with layouts and designs. Strals and Willen have enjoyed their fair share of “crazy art school girlfriends”, too.

“Art school seems to be magnet for weird personalities,” marvels Willen. “You may meet an incredibly attractive art school girl and you’re surprised and flattered that she’s really into you.You’re willing to overlook her stranger habits. Then when she dumps you for a female Russian literature professor or a sixteen-year-old high school student - true story - you realise you should have seen it coming!”

With angular edges that cut like razors Sellotaped to boxing gloves, Double Dagger are a more abrasive racket than most of their new colleagues on Thrill Jockey, an imprint more commonly characterised by brain-busting experimentation from the likes of Tortoise and Mouse On Mars. Their skeletal rock voyages variously throw up to the tune of Shellac, Les Savy Fav, latter day Fugazi and muchmissed James Murphy-produced proto disco-punkers Six Finger Satellite. Sharing tireless touring ethics, having shared stages with The Buzzcocks, No Age and, erm, Boyz II Men, they will, almost literally, play anywhere.

“A couple of years ago we played inside a giant silver inflatable tube at Harvard University,” Willen recalls. “The architecture program at Harvard has this awesome Inflatables Club. They created the tube specifically for this concert. Within a minute the entire inside was dripping with evaporated sweat”.

Expect to see Double Dagger in a flat-out bizarre venue near you soon.

Words by Adam Anonymous
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