God God Dammit Dammit: “Un-tie Rosie”
If you are reading this in the northern hemisphere, and it’s anytime before noon, chances are you’re missing the party of your life in South Adelaide, Australia. At the helm of the chaos is God God Dammit Dammit, a ferocious ensemble, comprised of some of the town’s most distinguished hardcore, experimental, and punk musicians, that has earned a reputation for being one of the town’s best live acts.
“When you’re playing a show, you want it to be a show,” lead vocalist Steve Pitkin says. “Everyone dances. The heat in the room is incredible. It gets messy.”
Melding genres from grindcore, funk, jazz, and rock, the band already boasts 13 members and shows no sign of slowing down. “If anything, it continuously gets larger,” Pitkin says.
Adelaide, located in the state of South Australia, is the country’s smallest major city, with a population just smaller than San Diego. Although Adelaide possesses an active arts community, Pitkin and guitarist Dave Gibson found themselves dissatisfied with the city’s musical landscape in the mid-2000s. “I’ve been a part of the Adelaide music scene for 10–15 years,” Pitkin says. “It’s genre-based, and I get bored quite quickly, and wanted to do something different. We talked about having this band that would increase the instruments and some of the elements. We wanted to start a band where we could have no boundaries, have a big canvas.”
Although the project started out as a simple punk band, the group gradually added horn players and percussionists. “We discovered that our friends grew up trying all of these different horns; they had to go back into the closet and dust off the cobwebs,” Pitkin says. Baritone-sax player Matt Smith adds, “We’ve all played in bands, or supported each other’s band, in some form or another before this incarnation, so it’s easy being in [God God Dammit Dammit] because everyone is so familiar with each other.”
“When you’re playing a show, you want it to be a show. Everyone dances. The heat in the room is incredible. It gets messy.”
Though the legions have grown, God God Dammit Dammit remains very much a democracy, with each member contributing to the writing process. “Everyone is involved,” Pitkin says. “We all relate through whatever instrument we’re using. Everyone is doing their own thing and has their own style, and Dave is a genius at bringing it all together.”
Likewise, each member is included in the business of putting out the music on member-run Noise Brigade Records. In less than three years, God God Dammit Dammit has released two EPs (including an all-dub side project titled God God Dubbit Dubbit), and planned to release its second full-length in the spring of 2010.
The recording process, like everything else the band does, expands its group-friendly dynamic. “We did get a bit excited,” Pitkin admits. “‘Who else do we know that plays something?’ We have a lot of creative friends who are not afraid to do whatever. It’s going to get even better.”
The diversity of its sound — and a spectacular live show that matches the aggression and vitality of the members’ punk and grindcore roots with the soulful swagger of classic funk and mayhem fueled from Zappa-heavy jazz — has helped God God Dammit Dammit achieve its goal of crossing genre and audience lines. “We’re seeing new faces and playing for new audiences all the time,” Pitkin says. “We’ve created a community here, in the smallest town in Australia.”
“We’ve tried to play nearly every venue in our city, so as to expand the people who hear us; [there are] only about a handful to cross off before we’ve played every one,” Smith jokes.
Equipped with two huge vans — and overlooking the complexities of touring with a large group and the difficulties that it faces with its remote geographic location — God God Dammit Dammit has taken its show on the road in Australia and has aspirations to tour the world.
“I live for playing live shows,” Pitkin says. “We all do. We can’t live without it. Everyone who thinks that rock ‘n’ roll is dead is bitter and in denial. That’s what I don’t want to be. That’s what we all don’t want to be. I want to feel pain from touring so much — in the best way. In a way, we’re still a pretty young band, still trying to blossom.”