The Dt’s: Hard Soul Fix

The Dt's. Photo by Sarah Van Houten

by Amy Kenna

photo by Sarah Van Houten

The Dt’s – Bellingham’s resident Hard Soul Heroes – have toured the world wide since their first show at the forever-missed 3B Tavern in Bellingham 15 years ago. And to mark the decade anniversary of their last studio LP, Filthy Habits, the never-dormant Dt’s are pleased to announce hot new wax on the way.

Soundhouse Studios will herald in the loud and proud release of the 10” single “Fuck It!” as well as two 7” singles, “Just a Little Taste” and “Shocking Blue,” each through separate U.S. labels.

Courtesy of Oakland’s Valley King Records, Fuck It! will feature three rippin’ new originals and a Grand Funk cover, “Mr. Limousine Driver.”

“Just a Little Taste” (released by Hidden Volume of Baltimore) promises a sweet ear-crash mastered by the board expertise of Soundhouse engineer Jack Endino. “Shocking Blue” (from Get Hip Recordings of Pittsburgh) features the organ-clad mod-rock cover “Send Me a Postcard” and B-side stunner “Hello Darkness.”

The unique soul-rock sound of the Dt’s began as the brainchild of lyricist Diana Young-Blanchard (Chanteuse and Madame X) and guitarist David Crider (Mono Men, Watts and founder of Estrus Records) along with drummer Mikey “the Funster” VanBuskirk, bassist Matt “Zed” Zielfelder, and longtime keyboardist Patti Bell.

“We coined the genre hard soul,” Young-Blanchard said. “We wanted to do music that had the 70s hard rock we loved growing up, but also infused soul music.”

Young-Blanchard’s throaty, Joplin-esque vocal power pack developed from her love of soul singers such as Etta James and Tina Turner as a youngster. The Seattle native befriended Crider in high school and eventually the two took their wicked blend of soul-sensibility and classic rock to the City of Subdued Excitement.

Keyboardist Patti Bell joined the mix in 2003, and her jazz and groove background widened the band’s experimental sound. Their album Hard Fixed was picked up by a Spanish label, and then with the addition of Scott Greene on bass, the band sailed overseas. Young-Blanchard was named one of the top vocalists of 2005 by the Barcelona-based rock rag Popular 1.

“The Spanish love their rock, and we really struck a chord,” said Young-Blanchard, who remembers burying her nose in the books for her Master’s in Education during the tour.

“I was in the middle of the program and studying on the bus rides before shows,” Young-Blanchard recalled. As an English teacher by day, Young-Blanchard is now finishing up her second Master’s degree in Literature, with a specialization in rhetoric and the literature of transgression.

“There is value in smut,” Young-Blanchard said with a wise smile.

Since their first Bellingham show in 2001, the Dt’s have toured South America, Spain and the U.K. and rocked countless festivals including SXSW, Parao Do Rock and West Seattle Summerfest.

Greene, who left the band in 2007, succumbed last June after a long battle with a brain tumor. Greene was also the active and founding member of the Scott Greene Band, and played with Confessor in the 80s and Slick Watts and Hard Margaret in the 90s. As well as an accomplished guitarist, he was a craftsman remembered for generously assisting others in home improvement projects.

Before joining the Dt’s, Greene had never played bass, and Young-Blanchard recalled him learning the instrument in the better half of several days before their Spanish tour.

“He was practicing on the bus,” Young Blanchard said. “Scott helped define the Dt’s sound, and was instrumental in helping Dave and I compose and construct songs.”

To juggle the balance of day jobs and night life, the Dt’s have developed a unique songwriting process. Crider will share new riffs with Young-Blanchard online, which then sparks her muse for lyrics and melody.

“What drives the best rock song is a cool riff,” Young-Blanchard said. “I get the melody first before any lyric, and then I will come up with a verse, and then we all come at it in our rehearsal space.”

Like many bands, the Dt’s are adapting to the ever-changing life cycle of the album in today’s world of singles and online streaming.

“The full-length album isn’t as feasible as it was 10 years ago for labels and artists,” Young-Blanchard said. “People who have past history with albums still appreciate music that way, but for many, music just isn’t listened to in that form anymore.”

Catch the Dt’s release show Saturday, April 29 at the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern at 9:30 p.m. The show will also feature Seattle’s Kinski and Bellingham up-and-comers Stereo Donkey. If you miss it, the Dt’s and Kinski will also play Shanti’s Tavern in Seattle on May 12. Follow the band on Facebook at facebook.com/thedts.hardsoul/.