Dig This!

by Janiss Garza

(First appeared in BAM Magazine, 7/12/96)

Dig were going to call their new record Hot Onion Yogurt. But judging from their photo session for that album title, perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all.

"We had these leisure suits on," singer/guitarist Scott Hackwith laughingly recalls. "I don't know what we were thinking! But we bought five gallons of yogurt, and throughout the shoot, we ended up having more and more, and then we had a yogurt fight--it was disgusting! We had yogurt coming out of our ears for weeks!"

Their record label, Radioactive, suggested that maybe it would be better to come up with something else. So, instead, they called the album Defenders of the Universe--and because they'd spent all their art money on the aborted yogurt concept, Scott wound up in his backyard with a friend (unpaid, of course), throwing together an appropriate montage. It was shades of their last record--1993's self-titled debut album--in which the cover art had the same, low-budget approach.

Nevertheless, Defenders of the Universe is light years away from their previous album, dig. Explains Hackwith: "Before, it was more about a sound--'How many guitars can we layer here? How many pedals can we run this through?'" This time, the group--which includes guitarist Jon Morris, bassist Phil Friedmann, and new members guitarist Dix Denney (who you may remember as a former member of both the Wierdos and Thelonious Monster) and drummer Matt Tecu--concentrated on making the songs themselves stand out. Tunes like "Whose Side You On," "Little Pill," and "Bashing in Your Head" have a sharper, hookier edge.

The guys wore themselves out touring nonstop for the last record. Because the single from that one, "Believe," hit MTV's Buzz Bin for 12 weeks, they felt they had something to prove. "We had to show people that this wasn't some corporate bullshit," Hackwith asserts. That proven, the group is ready to do it all over again for Defenders. However, Jon Morris chuckles, "We're gonna pace ourselves a little better this time!"