By Ashley Thompson
It’s Halloween at the Old Broadway Club, 702 E. Broadway in Joplin, and there are several people waiting for a show. On this spooky night, three bands are scheduled to play at the small bar, but two remain, one having canceled their set. Now we are left with local bands Bassett Hound and Space Dingus. I sat at the bar where I could see the bands themselves, but also the reactions of the people watching. It is always interesting to see how several different people can react to the same show. That’s the pure joy of music, that it is subject to each person’s perception.
First to take the stage is Bassett Hound. Having seen them once before, I was already familiar with their style and imagery. They are a floating gem in the area, if only at a fledgling status. But when their set was complete, it was time for a new group for me to hear. While speaking to other people in the Joplin music scene, I had briefly heard chatter about a group named Space Dingus, and yet they seemed to evade my ability to catch them live. Up until this time, I had settled for their Bandcamp site, a library of their previous work, in preparation. I was finally ready to see the band people across Joplin had been telling me about.
The sound that they offered was the same as their past works, a surf-punk mixer. It is a style that many groups in Joplin have not attempted, a breath of fresh air to say the least. The four members remained very laid back and mellow throughout the show, and it was just a comfortable experience to have. After the show, I sat down with one member, Daniel Kissel, a guitarist and vocalist for the group to ask him a few questions about what Space Dingus is all about.
Q: This is more for me and not so much for the story, but what does Space Dingus mean?
A: Okay, so, yeah, it’s like kind of the idea is that it’s mysterious, cause a dingus means – it’s Dutch for ‘thing.’ Dingus things, like you can kind of tell. So, you know, it’s supposed to mean something that’s unidentifiable, like a UFO. The thing that really sold me on it was, I really like the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and you know there’s the big black (monolith) in it, and you don’t know what it is. It’s just there and it’s ominous. So that’s kind of what was going with it. But it could be slang for male genitalia or whatever, but that’s not the intention.
Q: Right, well I just looked it up on Urban Dictionary, because I didn’t know really what it meant, and it said goof. A goofy person.
A: Yeah, and that’s kind of cool with us too, we call each other a dingus, like ‘Oh, you’re being a dingus.’
Q: On Bandbamp the album cover for the demo was the astronaut, so I thought like ‘goofy astronaut.’
Q: That’s awesome, I really like that. So, how would you self-define your genre, I get a sort of surf-punk type thing.
A: Surf-punk, Psych. We’re definitely influenced by Psych rock, and well we really like the 60’s and early 70’s rock music, and just trying to do our own thing too. You know, try to capture, without being too much of a revivalism…
Q: Keep the past alive?
A: Yes, and kind of try and do our own thing too, but yeah, surf-psych-punk rock.
Q: That’s definitely what I got from it. How long have you guys been touring the area?
A: We’ve been a band for three years, and we had just Jason, Jared and I for a year or two, and Patrick has been with us a year-and-a-half, maybe two years. I’m not sure. We haven’t been a fourpiece as long but we went on our first official tour this summer to Colorado.
Q: Oh, I love Colorado.
A: Yes! And tomorrow we’re going to leave for Michigan.
Q: That’s exciting! Well, you’ve only been working on this for three or four years so any thoughts on getting with a label or staying independent?
A: We would like to, there are several labels we’re interested in and we’re about to release an album, so, hopefully we’ll get that out, send that to them if anyone is interested. We’re only interested in labels that help with distribution. It’s not the kind of deal you hear in movies and stuff.
Q: Like you get a deal and everything’s made?
A: Yeah, or they try to control you and stuff; and they help you distribute and it’s pretty cool. We’d like to do that. But I don’t know, I like being DIY it’s….
Q: Kind of keeps a punk aspect to it.
A: Yes and it’s no pressure and I can do what I want. I don’t know, I don’t really like popular music so it’s like if I became popular then I’d have to think ‘What am I doing wrong?’
Q: A lot of punk, or I guess rock, artists are afraid of that. Like if you’re too popular, you’re immediately a sellout!
Q: So are you guys working on a full length album, is that what you’re releasing?
A: Yeah, it’ll be nine songs, and it’s finished. It’s just getting finished up right now. It’s probably just going to be digitally released and we’re gonna move on to the next thing and do another one hopefully. It was all DIY, I recorded it at our house. Previously our other recordings were done DIY and our EP was done professionally. It’s just that we didn’t really have the money to do a full length. Also I wanted to learn to do it to have more control on the process. It’s different, and maybe not as good quality as the EP, but I had more time to work on it, so it’s more what I wanted. There are advantages to doing it DIY, and hopefully we just get better over time.
Q: Well, when I said I want to cover a band, you were the first band anyone mentioned for me to write about, so you’re definitely known in the area.
A: That’s cool.
Q: Who is the primary song writer? Is it collaborative?
A: It is collaborative in a lot of respects, we jam a lot. Jared will come up with a bass line and we’ll start jamming, elaborate on that, and it’ll become a song. I’m the primary song writer in the fact that I finish the songs. We’ll start that way and I’ll put words to it. Patrick is up and coming, he’s a lot younger than the rest of us. He has one song that he wrote on this album and it’s maybe the best song on the album. There are songs I write entirely, but most are written collaboratively.
Q: I think it’s interesting to hear the process. Some start with instrumentals and some with lyrics. It can be really hard.
A: Oh, yeah, I still don’t know what I’m doing. We kind of just play where we can find people to play with us and people that will take us, honestly.
Q: Are you guys relatively tight with Bassett Hound?
A: Yeah, we are. We played with them one of the first shows, we’ve been playing with them for a long time. It’s been really cool to see them advance and change, evolve. Cause they are pretty similar to us.
Q: I see that, yeah, and I see you guys have a lot booked. Do you like to stay booked most of the time?
A: That’s basically because we’re about to go on tour, we went on tour this summer then we played a few shows here or there, but kind of trying to finish the album. We kind of changed gears for that. Mostly we try not to play locally too much, because you can only expect people to come out so often and when they see you once, you know, we don’t really change it up that much. You can’t ask people to come out every week to see you play the same songs.
Q: But speaking of touring, what is your most and least favorite part of touring?
A: Favorite part, I guess, is just being able to travel and see the parts of cities that you wouldn’t being tourists. At the same time you don’t get to stay that long either. This tour, especially, it’s one show every night for the first few nights then we do get a break, so that’ll be fun.
Q: You’ll probably be too exhausted to really get out to see anything, though.
Q: And your least favorite? Or it’s all glorious?
A: It’s all glorious, yeah. Uh, no. It’s just exhausting, I guess, but that’s traveling in general.
Q: And lastly, what are your thoughts on the Joplin music scene in general? I’ve heard several different opinions from many different people.
A: I don’t know. I think it’s fine. It’s developing.
Q: Right, and where do you see yourselves in a year from now? Touring more, or doing another album?
A: Both of those things. Hopefully having another album out and then having a spring or summer tour, maybe both.
Now the early hours of November loomed, so the bar began to empty out to another night. This was truly a great show and experience for a noob to the Joplin music scene. I highly recommend you check out Space Dingus on Bandcamp (https://spacedingus.bandcamp.com/) and catch them live when they’re around again.