Interview: Chris Kamsch of Dingleberry Dynasty (@ The Fillmore Silver Spring, 3/30/18)

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Dingleberry Dynasty (Photo courtesy Chris Kamsch)

Hey, Dingleberry Dynasty, Baltimore’s best comedy band, performs tonight at The Fillmore Silver Spring, opening Steel Panther! Read our interview with Chris Kamsch of Dingleberry Dynasty, then buy a ticket to go see them.

Toilet paper campaigns featuring cartoon bears have saved you from this specific plight actually happening to you, but they are no match for the band bearing the same name. The “poop punk” rockers who formed together 22 years ago in Annapolis take the stage tonight at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, opening up for Steel Panther. It dawned on us here at Parklife DC, that if we couldn’t find much out there on the band, maybe you might be having the same predicament.

Given that, we seized the opportunity to talk with their co-founding frontman, Chris Kamsch. The singer, comic, and actor told us about everything from making music and movies to pissing off Vanilla Ice and Nelson fans and impressing Corey Feldman. This just might be the opening band you’d be upset you missed. Read all about one of the area’s lesser known local audiovisual treasures before the show starts tonight at 8:30 pm!

Theresa C. Sanchez: Hey Chris, it’s good to see you. How have you been?

Chris Kamsch: I’m good. Excited to talk with you about the band!

TCS: Let’s first talk albums. In my pre-interview research, I came across some sites that reported you releasing three albums last year. That can’t be right can it?

CK: No. So we have no online presence at all.

TCS: Right, I know! You don’t have a website. Your Facebook band page has no real info other than the announcement: “Our new album ‘Does Fecal Matter?‘ Is coming! There will be plenty of brown notes!” It’s already out, so I knew something wasn’t quite right. [both laugh]

CK: We try to keep ourselves secret.

TCS: Why is that?

CK: Well, we just have never updated anything. And then recently, we have replaced guitar players, because the others have moved. And some of these guitar players – like Mudshark – is way more adept with things like the Internet. He went and put all our stuff on the world wide web.  Apparently they won’t let you backdate date items – they only let you date them as you release them. Greatest Hits, which is our first album, came out in 2000. We’ve recorded two songs from that album on each album after we later released.

TCS: So you have three more albums and each of those have at least two tracks from Greatest Hits?

CK: We have Jody, our tragic rock opera, which was released in 2005. It was performed on stage in Baltimore that same year.

TCS: That’s right! That’s with Ruben [Dobbs of Swampcandy].

CK: Yes! [laughs] The other two records are Doodie Calls (2002) and Does Fecal Matter?, which we released December 2017. They all have songs from the first album. We did it backwards. Assuming that those would be the greatest hits.

TCS: I love how the album cover is a parody of one of the Little Golden Books.

CK: That was the idea!

CK: Yes and when we released that, we released all the other ones at the same time. That’s why they all have the same date.

TCS: Aha! Mystery solved. You’ve performed pretty sporadically. Several times last year. Nothing as of yet this year. Why is that?

CK: Some of the band members just couldn’t devote time and I always wanted to [tour], but it’s hard to get so many people together, especially when they have kids and families. Some people have moved to different states, so until we got this lineup, that’s when we started taking [touring] a little bit more seriously and writing a lot more new songs. We’re ready to go in and record a new album soon, which I’m super psyched about. I think we’re going to call it Shits & Giggles.

TCS: That’s definitely one of my go-to phrases. What’s the newest iteration of the band? Again, your Facebook page didn’t list the members.

CK:  I know! We’re mysterious.

TCS: That whole enigmatic identity is nice in theory, but if people don’t know about your group they might not come see you perform live.

CK: Okay. Buttercup is the bass player. I’ve known him since kindergarten. We grew up in the same neighborhood together. He joined in 1998. Then there’s Dr. Tingle; he’s the drummer. I’ve known him for 20+ years. He joined in 1998 as well. We formed the band in 1996 and I’m the only original member. We’ve been through many. Not that many people can deal with me. [laughs]

TCS: That’s a common problem among people with strong personalities! I’ve been told that a few times myself. It’s great for a lead singer though!

CK: The guitar player is Mudshark, and he’s the second to newest member. He’s a kid. He’s like 40. [laughs]

TCS: A kid? How old are you?

CK: 45.

TCS: You don’t look 45.

CK: Alright! Good answer. Then we have Jeremy. [laughs] We’re trying to come up with his name. Maybe we can do an online poll with this Q & A to come up with names.

TCS: Okay. You’d have to give me a list of ones you were thinking of to fill in.

CK: We have a bunch and he doesn’t like any of them. He doesn’t really get a choice in the matter though. I don’t like them and I can’t even remember all of them.

TCS: You don’t like them or him?

CK: Oh, he’s really nice. I just don’t like his names.

TCS: So is he the rhythm guitarist then?

CK: He and Mudshark kind of switch back and forth.

TCS: Do these people have “real” names? Or are they not supposed to have them officially listed because of your mysterious factor?

CK: Mark Colegrove is Mudshark. Buttercup would probably just want to be listed as that, but I guess you can list his initials, K.S.  Dr. Tingle is Tim Dugan. You should list Jeremy and then Jeremy Reichwein listed underneath it. It’s kind of funny that we just keep him as Jeremy, when everyone else has cool nicknames.

TCS: Okay. Cool. Switching gears. Let’s say people have never heard of you. I hadn’t seen you perform prior to your opening gig with Corey Feldman at Rams Head Live last July. How would you describe your band and their sound to people?

CK:Zappa is a huge influence. Some Rocky Horror Picture Show and then it’s just like – we try to hit all genres (depending on what the song asks for), but it has kind of a punk feel to it. Like our new album we have coming out, there’s a reggae song called, “Don’t Leave the Resort.” It’s a white boy reggae song.

TCS: Yeah, that’s definitely something you don’t want to do. I remember being told that when I was in the Bahamas.

CK: See? We wrote a song about that.

TCS:  You’re shows are pretty far out there. Do you think you pair well with Steel Panther?

CK: We don’t pair well with anybody. Steel Panther is probably the first band since we started playing that we have actually paired well with. Promoters put us on because they don’t know who to book. We’ve played with Corey Feldman. We’ve played with Vanilla Ice.

TCS: Wait – you played with Vanilla Ice a.k.a. Rob Van Winkle? [laughter] How was that?

CK: Yeah. Well, we kind of played with Vanilla Ice in 2000 at a club that went in and out by the Verizon Center [now Capital One Arena] in Washington, D.C. We were sponsored by Winston cigarettes. Not many artists would sign up for that. They gave us like a thousand bucks and they paid bigger money for performers [like him]. We were friends with one of the guys who booked it. He thought it would be funny to put us with Vanilla Ice. Vanilla Ice didn’t think it was funny and he tried to sabotage the whole show from the time we got there.

TCS: Really? I know he was born on Halloween, so it must have been a nightmare, but  like what exactly did he do?

CK: Well, he walked in after the backline was set up, and he [pointed out everything he didn’t approve] going like, “Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. You’ve got an hour to fix it or I’m canceling.” So we brought all our new gear too – he borrowed all our gear. Then he proceeded to soundcheck.  He almost blew through the rig three different times. The line was situated in front of a large window on the second level, so everyone could look down and see what was going on. We had like over 200 people who came to see us there. He didn’t even have hardly any people show up and we know this because the club used a hash mark system for entry. We think he had like ten people when they counted at the end.

TCS: He’s a rapper though, right? Is he even that loud?

CK: No — but he was trying to soundcheck himself and he didn’t know what he was doing. [Makes a couple of loud grinding sounds].

TCS: So Vanilla Ice was just pushing buttons.

CK: Yeah. It was like he was purposely trying to fuck it up. He wasted so much time and we ended up going like an hour past doors and this club had another event after us, so he cut the one opener completely. Then he tried to cut us and the promoter told him most of the people were there to see Dingleberry Dynasty, so he gave us 15 minutes to play.

TCS: Oh my god, that’s brutal!

CK: So we kind of went up [on stage] and let him know how we felt by mocking him. [laughs] That didn’t go over too well and when I looked to the side of the stage he went like this [made cut motion across his neck with his hand] and grabbed the rest of his bandmates and they all hauled out. I think they got paid $10K. They took five of it and never came back, because the club got the deposit.

TCS: So that’s what you meant by “kind of playing” with him.

CK: He never performed. [laughing] He left.

TCS: Mr. Van Winkle. Gosh. What a jerk. Is he a big guy?

CK: Yeah. Well, he started pounding on the door, because he got locked out in a fire exit and he was trying to get back in. When they opened the door he started screaming at one of the bouncers. One of the club’s security crew yoinked him up against the wall to set him straight. Just like that, he changed his tune saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

TCS: That’s insane. What a tale!

CK: So then we played with The Little Kingz. They’re a heavy metal band comprised of all little people.

TCS: That’s amazing. How have I not of heard of them before?

CK: They were in Zoolander. [It’s true, Hansel (played by Owen Wilson) points out the group to Derek Zoolander (played by Ben Stiller). He says: “Oh this is this fantastic little band named The Little Kingz who I met when I was ice sailing in Finland.”] I carried drummer’s kit down myself. It was all put together as one unit. They complained to the promoters, because they thought that we were a “joke band” and they didn’t consider themselves a joke.

TCS: Oh no, that couldn’t have been good.

CK: Many acts that we’ve played with have said that, except for Cory Feldman. For some weird reason, he absolutely loves it. We’ve played with him [and his angels] three times.

TCS: I get it. I know why he would like you. He’s got more confidence in his craft than almost anybody I’ve ever seen perform live.

CK: We’ve played with him three times! I don’t even think he gets that they are funny songs. I think he’s just like –

TCS: Yeah. [laughs] He is an interesting dude.

CK: We were worried about playing “Sheen” (a song about Charlie Sheen, set to the tune of the 1958 Everly Brothers track “All I Have to Do Is Dream“) because of that controversy of Corey Haim and all that stuff.

TCS: That’s understandable.

CK: I’m like, “Only we have to deal with stuff like this, like cutting a song because Cory Feldman might get upset.”

TCS: You played it?

CK: We did.

TCS: Oh that’s right. Because I remember commenting on it to a friend when I saw you play it again when you played with GROVES and Electric Six at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore last year.  That was a strange set up too.

CK: We’ve played with Electric Six twice. They are really cool dudes. They actually had us back to play with them again, which was weird. That’s another one. So we’ve played with Cory Feldman (3x) and Electric Six (2x). Because we play every genre of music, we play with all different kinds of bands.

TCS: Who else thinks you’re a joke? [laughs] What has been the feedback you’ve received over the years? Since you have confirmed there is really no online presence for the band, I can’t really see what comments people have made.

CK: I’m not sure. It’s that Baltimore sense of humor. It’s John Waters and Zappa (who was also born in Glen Burnie).

TCS: Yes! On a couple of the Maryland rest stops on I-95 you can pay $0.51 and press your own Zappa penny.

CK: His mom was a librarian. They put a monument up to Zappa and they didn’t know where to put it and Dweezil [his son] asked to put it in front of a public library. So right on Eastern Avenue in front of the Southeast Anchor Library in Highlandtown, there’s an avan-tgarde bust of Frank Zappa. It’s pretty cool. I think that comedy is regional, so I think that it kind of runs in the water. [laughing]

TCS: Right, along with the funny accents. [laughs]

CK: And I think it’s more shocking outside of the region. That’s when people are like, “What?!” It’s more to make us laugh than anybody else. We’re in it for ourselves first. And the funny thing is, after we’ve been playing for so long, I forget even what we’re even saying. I don’t even think they’re funny anymore. I just like singing songs and rockin’ out. I think after three times I miss the joke, and I’m just like “Oooh, I like this one!”

TCS: I can see that. It’s impressive how well you’ve perfected the art of the rockstar power stance.

CK: It’s because I’m not listening to the lyrics! It’s all about that pose!

TCS: So are the lyrics different every single time?

CK: I’m saying I’m not paying attention because it’s not funny to me anymore. I’m just like power stancing!

TCS: How long do you think your set’s going to be?

CK: I hope 45 minutes – because that’s what we prepared for. If it’s less than that, we’ll see how we’re going to do that.

TCS: Because it’s choreographed in a way, right? You have the video component added and a skit or two.

CK: Yeah it’s multimedia. The lighting guy knows. Each song is kind of done like a PowerPoint.  Each song is it’s own little unit, so we can kick through any changes hopefully.

TCS: What do you hope people will get from witnessing you perform live?

CK: I just want everybody to laugh and not be so uptight, because life is just so blah [at times].  With all this shit going on, I think people need to just let go and not be so – you know? Just go out and have a good time and not be so uptight. Listen to some songs about poop! Actually, we don’t sing any songs about poop. [laughs] So I came up with the name Dingleberry Dynasty –

TCS: Yes I was just going to ask you about that.

CK: I don’t know we were just using alliteration.

TCS: It can definitely be a fun and useful poetic device.

CK: Yes! So years later, we came up with band shirt that had the definition of Dingleberry Dynasty. We were just going to make up something, but I looked it up in the dictionary and dingleberry says what you think it is [excrement] hanging off of a hair. The second meaning was a goofy or silly person. Dynasty means “regime that reins supreme.” So, without even knowing it has made sense.   It’s a silly regime and it has been that for over 20 years. But it was done by mistake!

TCS: A happy accident.

CK: Yeah. I just thought it would be really funny one day to see it in print and know that somewhere there’s an editor that had to write that down. That was like my main goal and recently I just saw it on the marquis lit up outside The Fillmore in Silver Spring for the show.

TCS: I saw your Instgram post about that.

CK: Yeah – that just brought it all back together and full circle for me. Kind of like Greatest Hits, because that joke wasn’t funny 20 years ago because it was our first album.  But now, knowing that it’s our first album and we’ve recorded songs since, it’s just a joke that took 18 years to come true. [laughs].

TCS:  Yeah, that makes a whole lot more sense now, because given all this time, you could legit have a compilation of hits. That’s very clever. How excited are you about playing on the same bill as Steel Panther?

CK: I can’t wait. It’s going to be great. I think it will be the first time we’ll be playing in front of an audience that will be more accepting than shocked.

TCS: Do you think it might be the largest audience you’ve had too?

CK: Well, we’ve played Merriweather [Post Pavilion]. In 2010 we even played main stage  at the annual M3 Rock Festival at eleven o’clock in the morning. [Steel Panther played in 2013]

TCS: Wow.

CK: The Scorpions were on the bill with Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot. We played three times on their “Freak Stage” and then the last time we played on the main stage. People weren’t too happy about that.

TCS: That stage is alarmingly large. I was shocked. I danced on it during a Belle and Sebastian show last summer.

CK: The show I guess, was supposed to start at 12, but they put us on at 11, so all these diehard M3 hair metal fans from across the country see us on the main stage and notices that Nelson were headlining the side stage. So people thought we bumped Nelson. [laughs] So there was all this kind of animosity. People were saying, “These guys are horrible!” I loved it! And Nelson was the first concert I ever saw. The second one was The Ramones. It was senior week and I was standing next to the convention center in Ocean City and that’s where they played.

TCS: That’s rad! I saw them perform at the 1995 HFStival at RFK Stadium. What other information about the band do you think potential fans

CK: Our guitar player Mudshark – he’s a director who’s shot low-budget Troma-style horror movies.

TCS: Troma?

CK: Like The Toxic Avenger. We’ve worked with Troma Entertainment before and our music is on a couple of their movie soundtracks. We’re on “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” (2006) – it’s about a demonic chicken – and “Tales From the Crapper” (2004) as well. And then our movie, which was “Driven to Succeed” [Dire Wit Films] – where I play driving instructor Rod Feelings – came out in 2015. We went to the Cannes Film Festival for that and screened it there. The soundtrack has songs from Clutch, The Meatmen, and Dingleberry Dynasty.

TCS: Wow that’s a really big deal.

CK: Yeah it was pretty cool. That movie got released on Amazon. You can also grab one at the show. We just give those DVDs away.  We’ll also have shirts and CDs.

TCS: So I guess, what it comes down to is people will just have to show up with an open mind and an eagerness to laugh.

CK: Yeah. [laughs]. We’re filming the whole thing too.

TCS: What for specifically?

CK: To be able to have material to provide promoters with that will better explain what our live experience is like, instead of just hearing it.

TCS: So are some of the audience going to be in it?

CK: I would hope so. I’m going to brush some of their teeth [which is part of their “P.S.A.” performance].

TCS: Yeah that was quite a memorable and interactive portion of your show for sure. What part would you say is the wildest?

CK: I don’t know anymore. I’ve been doing it for so long that I don’t know what’s wild or offensive anymore. I know people were shocked when we used to professional wrestle in thongs. That was Ruben’s gig. He was Big Gay Ben and I was Brownstar Defender of Uranus and he was in prison with my sidekick. It turned into a fight that just resulted in us with thongs on.  Everybody would just pour their beers on the ground and I would spin Ruben around on his back.

TCS: And now you’re all grown up. [laughs]

CK: Sort of…

**
Dingleberry Dynasty
Opening Steel Panther
The Fillmore Silver Spring
Friday, March 30
Doors @ 8pm
$29.50
All ages

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