Interview: Dime Store Hustlers

I recently reviewed the EP, Ground & Pound, by hard rock band Dime Store Hustlers. The band have a retro rock sound straight out of the 70s, that just demands to be heard! If you liked the EP, then make sure you read the interview below!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released an EP titled Ground & Pound, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the EP and where can it be purchased?

Ground & Pound, and really all of our releases for that matter, is hard driving rock & roll where guitar is still king. Plenty of riffs, solos, and hearty choruses you can sing along to. Ground & Pound is available on all major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, but fans can also purchase it for download on BandCamp for a modest fee of $4, if they’d like to make a donation to the band.

Grab a beer, crank the volume, and let loose for a while!

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Absolutely. The lockdown, as well as personnel changes, essentially shut down the band for a few years. Mike and I (Andrew) first had to rebuild Dime Store Hustlers itself, then figure out a way to write and record almost entirely remotely. It was a steep challenge, but it also forced us to rethink the kinds of songs we write, how we write them, and even the sound of the band a bit. Some of the songs on Ground & Pound are much more personal and honest then any we’ve done before. For example, I don’t think you’d find a song like Last Daylight on one of our previous records. But that change was actually quite refreshing.

What is the writing and recording process like for you? Have you started writing for the next EP/album?

We normally prefer to write songs together during practices, but given this was largely written during the Covid lockdown, we weren’t able to jam in the same room to cook up ideas. Hence, the songs for Ground & Pound are a much more individual affair than usual. Mike and I each had song ideas we liked, so we traded them back and forth on-line until we’d honed them down and were ready to record. We recorded in my home studio, Electric Funkeland, and would typically do the tracking individually, with Erik’s drums first, then layering tracks on top of that until finished. This was all done as our schedules permitted, so it could take months to get all the tracks recorded for one song, especially if we were writing parts of the arrangement as we recorded them. I then finished the post-production work, with plenty of counsel from Mike and Erik as to how it all sounded.

Right now we’re focused on the release and marketing of Ground & Pound, so we haven’t started writing for the next album beyond some basic ideas. We definitely plan on releasing more music, but it might be a bit due to competing priorities.

Spirit of 76′ was released as a single. How was the reception and why did you pick that song as the lead single from the EP?

The reception was solid and encouraging. We hadn’t released any new music in almost two years and our social media presence isn’t typically very active, so news of the EP and the single came about unexpectedly. We suddenly resurfaced and fired off the single, much to everyone’s pleasant surprise. I picked the song as the lead single primarily because it’s got a ton of energy and comes blasting out of the speakers. I felt it’d grab people’s attention. It’s also about some people very close to me and I wanted them to hear it before the EP dropped. Kind of a pre-celebration of sorts.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Not likely now that the EP is out. It’s only five songs, clocking in around 22 minutes, so you might as well listen to the whole thing together. We also like the idea of releasing a minimal amount of singles. They certainly have their uses, but I’m very much a fan of the vinyl LP format and the concept from back in the day of listening to an album as a whole entity that’s tied together somehow, as opposed to a collection of disjointed singles.

You’re based in Indianapolis – what is the local music scene like?

Indy’s scene is smaller compared to a lot of other US cities and is very much dominated by the public’s desire to hear cover songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely an original music scene here and a strong desire in certain circles to hear that music. However, there’s little appetite among the general public to go to a club on a Tuesday night solely to hear a local act playing brand new songs. People will definitely venture out to the right club or event, though, especially on weekends, and can be very, very supportive, but you have to get them familiar with your music. All that said, Indy’s music scene is filled with very dedicated, supportive artists who are passionate about playing in and around the city. Hip hop, rock, country, jazz, you name it – truly, there’s some top notch talent here that’ll make your head spin, and often these people aren’t making music for a living. Like DSH, it’s a side gig they’re almost compelled to do.

Your music is reminiscent of the 70s hard rock scene. What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

That’s a tough one! There are always the classic rock heavy hitters like Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Sabbath, and Skynyrd, but there are so many others who influence us such as the MC5, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Humble Pie, Foreigner, Thin Lizzy, Boston, The Faces, REO Speedwagon… the list could go on and on. But it’s not just hard rock, we listen to a lot of classic country such as Waylon Jennings and George Jones, pop-rock like Phil Collins’ solo albums, and the jazz-fusion of Billy Cobham and Jeff Beck. It’s a giant mishmash of things but it’s all fantastic.

I’ve also been really impressed by some of the newer hard rock coming out of Europe and, to a lesser degree, the US the past 10 years or so – albums by Kadavar, Ruby the Hatchet, Svvamp, Graveyard, Uncle Acid, Travelin’ Jack, Lucifer, The Atomic Bitchwax, and Thundermother, to name a few. Some seriously great stuff.

Do you have any tour dates lined up in the UK?

No tour dates on the calendar at all, at least for now. Each of us has day jobs and families, so we’re basically a studio project at this point, but we might try to play a show or two around Indy sometime soon. It’ll depend on our schedules.

What can fans expect from a Dime Store Hustlers gig?

When we do play live, it’s all-out pedal-to-the-floor rock & roll start to finish. What you hear on the record is what we give you in person. It’ll be loud, but worth the headache the next morning.

Any last words for the fans?

The primary goal of DSH is to have fun. We feel if we’re having a great time making our music, that’ll translate into the songs themselves and, hopefully, cause listeners to have a great time, too. Even if it’s a slower song with sad lyrics, you can identify with it, sing along to the chorus, pump your fist to the guitar solos, and maybe feel a little better by the end. If we’ve done that for anyone listening to our songs, our mission is accomplished.