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Unearthing a new standard of rock 'n roll

By Paul Keefe
Tribune Staff

dig is a band who plays rock songs. Get used to it.
Their new CD is entitled Defenders of the Universe, and
oh, what enemies they have to protect it from.
There are punks who have never heard the Sex Pistols.
There are alternative shoe-gazers who think a guitar and
a distortion pedal gives them sanction to whine about their lives.
Finally, there are the people who follow these bands.
"It's funny how everybody used to be a punk rocker,
because of the punk rock explosion," Scott Hackwith, singer
and guitar player, said. "You walk up to a 19-year-old kid and
he used to be into punk when he was in junior high."

Punk credentials
Hackwith jokes about having integrity in the punk scene
because their bass player, Dix Denney, used to be in The
Such a claim is unnecessary, because Defenders of the
Universe stands by on its own as a collection of simple,
powerful pop songs, fueled by a triple guitar barrage.
The brilliance of the songs is comparable to The Stone
Roses, but they have a distinctly American spirit and sense of
On the first track, "Whose Side are You On?," Hackwith
becomes an insane person who confesses his wrongdoings to a
telephone operator.
"We did a video and it was me on the phone, but it
looked like an AT&T ad," he said.
One can only imagine Hackwith singing, "I'm a
vagabond/I'm a superbore/I'm an open wound/I'm a crack
whore," to an innocent operator, expecting a discussion of a
long-distance calling plan. Unfortunately, the video may never
be seen.
"The record company really didn't like it because we
kinda did a Who tribute: really slow shots," Hackwith said. "It
wasn't your typical '90s music video where every half second
there's another shot."

A slice of life
The other lyrics on Defenders of the Universe, also
written by Hackwith, are about his life, he said.
Hackwith is also the impetus to the song writing process,
composing rough ideas on home recording equipment. These
are brought into the band, who write their own parts and often
change the songs drastically.
"Our bass player (Phil Freidmann) is amazing," Hackwith
said. "He has great melody lines which definitely change the

Adding by taking away
Such a collaborative effort is what separates a band from
background music, though. Hackwith was influenced by listening
to T-Rex, old David Bowie and the Beatles when writing for the
Defenders of the Universe.
"I was really concentrating on the songs and trying to
have songs that really stand out," Hackwith said. "Our last
record was more about a sound and how many guitars we could
layer. (This record) was taking a lot of things away rather than
adding stuff. The sound is a bit rawer: it's three guitar parts a lot
of the time. It's not doubled guitar parts here and there.
"There's a lot of different types of music coming out:
different blocks of a lot of acoustic stuff or a lot of weird, loud
type stuff," he continued. "It can take different directions, and I
don't mind if it does. It would get kind of boring to play the
same song over and over again."
dig has not toured for a year and a half, due to both
writing for the new album and the acquisition of a new guitar
player and drummer.
"We're really enjoying being out on the road right now,"
Hackwith said. "If we would have went right into another record
and went right back out, this would have seemed like work, and
it shouldn't be."

Working at play
Hackwith may not want music to be a job, but he does
want to make it his career.
"We want to make music a long time," Hackwith said. "It
wasn't about coming out and being a big pop star overnight. We
want to have enough popularity where we can make music.
Going over the top was never really that important."