Exclusive interview with DISHWALLA drummer George Pendergast- George talks “Juniper Road”, the future of the band, and more

Dishwalla’s most recent album “Juniper Road” has some one major change from all their other albums.  Since their break in 2005, original vocalist JR Richards went on to pursue a solo career and left the band.  The band came back in 2008 with a special guest vocalist Justin Fox who was the singer of Santa Barbara band “Tripdavon.”  The band then announced in 2012 while promoting a benefit for drummer George Pendergast’s youth music program that Justin Fox has become the permanent replacement of original singer JR Richards.  As said before, “Juniper Road” is the first album with new singer Justin Fox which they didn’t put out until last year.

“Juniper Road” features a brand new set of songs that sound similar to the old Dishwalla but with a new singer.  They show the band in their 2017 state of mind being authentic and putting out the music they want to rather than trying to fit into a particular trend that a lot of modern artists do these days.  It is an emotional album from start to finish with meaningful lyrics.  The album contains some upbeat songs, mid tempo ones, and some slow burners as well.  One song that most fans should resonate with is “Give Me A Sign” which has that classic Dishwalla sound.

In addition to having a new singer for the first time on a Dishwalla album, it also marks the return of drummer George Pendergast since he left the band in 1998.  George mentions in the interview how at one time he never thought he would make a new album so this a good thing for him personally as well as for the band.  George talks a lot about “Juniper Road” since it was a big step for the band being their first with a new singer and their first album since 2005.  He also talks about how their new singer Justin Fox has impacted the band, how they will release music in the future, whether they have new music in the works, and how they will tour in the future.

About George: Aside from being a founding member of Dishwalla, George also runs youth music program called Rockshop Academy  in Santa Barbara where you can find info about it HERE.

To stream their “Juniper Road on Spotify, go HERE

To buy “Juniper Road” on iTunes, go HERE

AR: The band released “Juniper Road” last year.  How do you feel about the album as a whole?  Since there was a big change within the band since your album before that, do you think it pleased a lot of your fanbase?

GEORGE: I probably have a more personal answer then some of the other guys. I hadn’t played in the band for several years and started playing again with them about 10 years ago. There was a time I never thought I’d make another dishwalla album. To be able to write with these guys again as the team that we were creating what we have as our sound over the years was awesome. Everything that dishwalla has ever released has been a huge collaborative effort. It almost works against a song idea in this band if one person develops it too much. The songs come in as basic ideas, sometimes maybe just a verse. We then add subtract chop and change parts until we’re all happy. This record more than some because we don’t live in the same area so ideas were in their infancy before we hit the studio. In answer to the third part of your first question, the fans have been responding very well. It’s some of the best press we’ve ever received as well.

AR: “Give me A Sign” seems like a classic Dishwalla song and seems to stand out on the album.  It seems to remind me of “Somewhere in The Middle.”  How was it recording that song and how did you get it to have such that classic Dishwalla sound?

GEORGE: I think a lot of credit needs to go to Jim on both of those. As far as that classic Dishwalla sound, a lot of it goes back to as far as that classic dishwalla sound, a lot of it goes back to the type of parts with the instrumentation we use and us playing thus creating the sound.

AR: The lyrical theme of a lot of the songs on “Juniper Road” seem to be similar and seems to be dealing with a hard relationship.  It seems to be very emotional for Justin.  Can you give some insight about that and like what was going on if that’s not too personal?

GEORGE: I’m not going to speak specifically to the lyrics for a song mostly because they should mean what they mean to you. Whether it’s our music or anybody else’s. Hard times make for great songs and we’ve all had those times. However, with a song like Now I Know, it’s entirely about only one thing and is interpreted by some as a drug trip song! It’s not! Ok, now make your own meanings haha!

AR: “Sirens” is an interesting opener for the album.  It takes me back to an opener of an album that one would most likely hear on an album that came out in the 90s.  It is almost 5 minutes long and seems pretty authentic.  What made you guys go with a song like that to open the album?  It seems like a lot of the bands go with a safe opener these days that may not be as long.  Did you think that was a risky move?

GEORGE: I love the reference to the openers of 90s albums! Well it certainly wasn’t front of mind to pay tribute to an era where that was a very common thing to do with the beginning of an album, we knew we could do whatever we wanted with this album without the constraints of somebody overseeing it telling us it had to fit into this time space or had to be this style. In many ways it feels like it did to make a record in the 90s where bands got to make the albums they wanted to make and if they needed a song for radio they edit it. There’s not much of a reason for Dishwalla to be safe these days. We know who we are, our fans know who we are and we’re making music and records for ourselves and for a fan base  as opposed to if it’s going to fit into whatever can easily be promoted by somebody. And for your final question in this question four, did I think it was a risky move? Rock is a risky move.

AR: Another song that seems to stand out on the album is “Don’t Fade Away.”  It is one of the more upbeats tracks on the album.  There are some other ones too but this one seems to stand out more and seems to have crossover appeal as it has some pop influences but is a rock song as well.  Do you think this one was popular among your fans?

GEORGE: Don’t fade away was heavily influenced by our new singer. I say new even though he’s been playing with us for over a decade ha ha! He just wanted to have us have something that was a more up-tempo not midtempo style of song since that seem to have been kind of played out with the band. The song does seem to be popular with the fans and was one of the first songs that was being played when we released the record.

AR: Justin Fox is a great new addition as lead singer.  What do you think changed since the addition of him as lead singer?  

GEORGE: Quite honestly the whole vibe of the band has changed since adding Justin as the lead singer. He’s a very welcoming front man and the crowd is very involved in the show and there’s a lot of fun being had by everyone on stage and everyone at the venue. So much time was spent being so serious before, it took a lot of the fun out of playing. With Justin on vocals  we’re still playing at the highest level only it feels more fun now. He’s also an incredible recording engineer and so is Jim the keyboardist so with the addition of Justin recording and mixing that has completely changed as well.

AR: The band used Pledge Music for the recording of Juniper Road to help out with the costs.  Did it help out a lot and do you think a lot of the fans were happy about this route?  Do you plan to use it in the future?

GEORGE: I think the fans enjoy the pledge campaign and it was effective with getting the word out and started the campaign overall.

AR: The landscape of the music industry has obviously been changing with the whole digital revolution.  How do you think that will impact how the band releases music in the future?  I am glad that bands like you still release albums as a whole but do you think you might release music in different ways like maybe EP’s or just throwing singles out alone at times since that might be a good way to keep your fans engaged at times?

GEORGE: I think that’s the next logical step for Dishwalla is to start releasing songs individually. We’re starting to have all of the information to know where we have fans and how to get it to them and where to play for them. In many ways the landscape of the music industry changing has been a fantastic thing for the artist.

AR: The band was on a pretty big tour last summer but hasn’t been playing that many shows since then.  Do you plan to tour more for Juniper Road?

GEORGE: We’re doing one off shows and weekend dates. The tour was great last year but we were out for awhile so we’re easing back into it but we will be out there, we’ve got more dates coming.

AR: Juniper Road is not even a year old yet but do you guys plan to record any new material anytime soon?  Hopefully there won’t be as long of a wait till the next album.

GEORGE: I think every guy has a few songs in the hopper as we speak so it definitely won’t be a very long time. We are all looking forward to releasing new material whether we have a full albums worth or not.

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