The Ills interview with Erika Ebola and Danny Dysentery

July 22, 2013

The Ills interview with Erika Ebola and Danny Dysentery

Every once in a while you need some real
punk in your life.  Not any of that
pretentious emo or goth crap people keep churning out about teenage angst and
calling it punk these days but some real punk blasters.  You know nothing over two-minutes?  Well The Ills have the bill covered.  Their Facebook page sports the slogan, “no
songs over a minute and a half” and they ain’t just whistlin’ dixy.  Their newest EP Get It features six songs
spread over only two sides of 7” wax; I told you.  When I heard the song Total Dick I knew I
would get along with The Ills, I had to get to the bottom of this perfectly
tongue in cheek female-fronted brawl on wax. 
Founding members Erika Ebola and Danny Dysentery were kind enough to
school me on the history of my new favorite blaster band!  Click on the Bandcamp link and get educated,
pick up a copy of the new 7” and see below for all the details you need to get
down with the Ill crowd loyal readers because you don’t wanna miss this one!
What’s the band’s lineup?  Is this
your original lineup?
Our lineup is Erika Ebola – Vox, Danny Dysentery – Guitar, Molly Marburg
– Bass, Tommy 
Tinnitus – Drums.  We had a
different drummer when we started up, but that didn’t work out.
Are any of you in any other bands? 
Have you released any material with anyone else?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Danny Dysentery has some solo stuff up on Bandcamp.  We are thinking of doing a surfy band too,
but we will see.
Where are you originally from?
Different parts of Iowa, Erika also lived in Texas for a while.
Where is the band currently located? 
How would you describe the local music scene there?
Iowa City.  It’s pretty eclectic,
there are some cool bands.
There are also some shitty ones. 
So I guess it’s like most scenes.
Are you very involved with the local music scene?
I’m not sure what that means, I guess probably not.  We play shows here and there.
Has it played a large or influential role in the history of The Ills?
No.  Not at all.
What does the name The Ills refer to or mean and how was it chosen?
I saw a picture of Paul Westerberg with a guitar that had a sticker on
it that said “ill” and I thought the ill would be a good name for a band, but
then I thought the ills would be better. 
We also really liked the idea of what it meant to be labeled as “ill”,
the different meanings, positive, negative and fun.  Also I vomit a lot.
How and when did you all meet?
Key party.
Because Danny and I are both such shut in’s we met through chance, the
internet, and social networking.  Oh
yeah, I guess that key party helped!
What led you to form the Ills and when was that?
Ouija told me to.
I was thinking that there wasn’t anything I wanted to hear in the style
of punk that I liked at the time.  So I
asked Danny to write some songs for me to listen to, but I didn’t like his
voice so I just sang on ‘em.  So for me
it started so I could have something to listen to.
How would you describe The Ills sound to our reads that might not have
heard you before as I’m totally loathe to label or classify music?
Some people say we sound like some of the rip off records style punk and
some people say we sound like early LA punk. 
I think we may also have some 90’s Kill Rock Stars/Olympia influences
popping up here and there.
Someone once said we sound like X mated with The Angry Samoans.  I thought that was pretty cool and
flattering, I like ‘em both too, so yeah, maybe that?
Can you talk a little bit about The Ills songwriting process?  Does one of you approach the band with a more
complete final idea to finish out with the rest of the band or is there a lot
of exploratory jamming?
We never exploratory jam.  Never.
I get loaded and write the songs out with Erika and my 8-track.  Then we get together as a band and finish
them up.
In 2011 you released the I Kill Me 7” via No Front Teeth Records, can
you tell us a little bit about the recording of that album?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?
I recorded that on a little portable digital 8-track in my
apartment.  We recorded the drums with
one mic in a basement and then added everything else.
You just followed up I Kill Me with a new single, also from No Front
Teeth Records but this time in cooperation with Shake! Records, Get It.  What about this record?  Where were these tracks recorded?   Who recorded them?  Was the recording for this release much
different that your previous 7”?

Yeah this EP is different.  We
recorded with Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios here in Iowa City.  Luke is pretty amazing.  It was a lot of fun and sounds way better
than that first 7”.
Luke’s great at making the sounds sound nice.
You went into Flat Black Studios in April of 2012 to record a
full-length album Tuning Out that was to be released by Big Neck Records, is
there any news on that release?  What has
the delay with release been?
We did record that full record, mix and master it all in one day.  Big Neck is still planning on releasing that
this summer.  Very soon, keep
watching.  Small record labels have
delays, it happens.  You can still listen
to it online while waiting to get a hard copy. 
Good things come to those who wait, right?
Do you enjoy recording?  There’s a
good deal of early demos and home recordings posted on the Facebook and MySpace
pages dating back to 2010.  Are those
still available?  Are there any plans to
compile and or release any of those early recordings?  Can you tell us just a little bit about how
some of those were recorded?
Erika: Wait, what?  I hope there are no early recordings still
out there?!  We’re not going to release
those they were for potential band members when it was just Danny and I.  If you spot one that’s still up let us know
so we can delete it!  I love recording
though, much more than performing.
We are not going to release that crap. 
Anything from that time period that we haven’t already recorded we have
ditched for new material.
Both of your singles have been released through No Front Teeth
Records.  How is your relationship?  Do you plan to continue to work with them on
future releases?
Erika & Danny:  If they’ll have us!
No Front Teeth is great to work with, very supportive.  No Front Teeth, Shake! and Big Neck never
tried to control or reshape us.  They
support our vision totally.  You might
think “how could it be any other way”? 
Well let me tell you!  Some people
have different ideas about label roles.  
We were talking once with this label and they got all uppity about how
we didn’t belong on certain formats and they didn’t believe in our concepts as
they were presented.  They demanded to
select the songs they wanted, sequence them then name and package it the way
they envisioned it.  This guy who ran the
label told us that our band was not suitable for certain types of vinyl and I
told that guy to fuck off.  I don’t ever
want to work with a person or label like that. 
If someone is trying to control your vision, kick ‘em to the curb!  But I digress…
Both of your singles featured multiple covers, do you give a lot of
thought to the artwork that represents the band?
I love packaging.  I got to design
the black and white packaging for the new EP. 
Most importantly we were able to work with Marco from No Front Teeth on
both the 7” and the upcoming LP; he’s fucking awesome.  He’s such a great artist and really dedicated
to the spirit of art, punk and DIY. 
In the age of the disposable, The Ills support the tangible.
Where’s the best place for our readers to purchase copies of your
music?  With recent international postal
rate increases where’s the best place for our international and overseas
readers to get copies?
You can get everything right now from us directly at: https://sites.google.com/site/theillsrock/home/stuff  or email us for info at
theillsrock@gmail.com.  You can also get
the new 7” from Shake! directly at http://www.experienceshake.com.  People in Europe might be able to save on
shipping by ordering from No Front Teeth for the new record, but the first one
is out of print in Europe, http://www.nofrontteeth.co.uk/merch.html.  Keep an eye out for more info and other
releases coming up.  Right now our
facebook page is an okay place to check for news www.facebook.com/theillsrock.
What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the
We are likely going to do a couple short tours.
Do you have any interesting or funny stories from live shows that you’d
like to share with our readers?
I set up a big festival show and gave our band a good slot.  Danny got so wasted he couldn’t remember the
songs, Molly’s bass was unplugged half of the set and she didn’t even know,
Tommy had a horrible flu, and I had no idea what was going on because I
couldn’t hear shit through the monitors. 
We couldn’t play anything really, but the crowd thought it was all part
of the show, and I guess, because it’s us, it is…  We are known for sucking!
There’s something inescapably captivating about physical releases to
me.  Having something to hold in your
hands, liner notes to read and artwork to look at.  It makes the whole experience more complete,
at least to me.  Do you have any such
connection with physical releases?
I agree with you one hundred percent, I love the physical release.  I always like the little jokes or bits of
personality that you can learn about a band from a physical release that you
can’t from another form, you know what I mean? 
‘Cause like, you can’t get Kathleen Hanna scratching out her face on the
internet, you gotta buy the Pussy Whipped album, you can’t get the little
pictures that come in Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey or Jawbreakers 24 Hour
Revenge Therapy unless you get the tangible item.
Erika:  I like the full package.  It’s almost like mixed media, you get the
sound, the record (or cassette or whatever) words, pictures, and the sculptural
aspect of how it’s assembled.
Do you have a music collection? 
If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
I don’t have that big of a collection but I probably have six to seven
hundred CD’s and around three hundred or so records.  It has a lot of different styles for lack of a
better term, including all kinds of punk, classic rock, post punk, hip-hop,
power pop, alt country, garage, surf, rock and roll.  There’s all kinds of shit.
Tommy has a huge collection with boxes and stacks of records in his
basement plus walls of CD’s and records. 
It’s pretty amazing.
With all the various mediums of release available to musicians these
days I’m always interested to hear why musicians choose the particular ones
that they do. Both of your releases so far have been on vinyl, why vinyl over
CD or even cassette these days?
CD’s are lame as an exclusive release. 
There’s no point in doing a CD it’s just a collection of Mp3s, just
release mp3’s then I think!  I like CD’s
in conjunction with another format.  I
like the unique way that vinyl changes the sound of music.  I’m a fan of the crackles and pops.  I like that it’s fragile too.  Cassettes are alright, they’re winning me
over as I like the noises that plastic cases make.  I like the sound effects that the different
stuff makes when you touch it.  I’m weird
like that.  Like, I always love a new
keyboard because it sounds different when you hit the keys…  I’m way off topic.
Danny: There’s always been something about
punk rock on vinyl that seemed cool to me; or something like that.  Our songs are short so we can cram a lot on
there too.  It would be cool to release
an album that’s like a double 7” album someday.
How do you feel about digital music and distribution?  I’m always curious what musicians opinions on
the subject are as it’s wreaking a lot of havoc on the established industry,
but it seems to be leveling the playing field somewhat for those bands willing
to work that hard themselves.
I’m not of fan digital but it is cool that it’s made things more
I think punks and collectors will always support the physical
release.  It seems like technology has
created more stuff that you have to wade through to get to something you might
actually like and I think a lot of people are not willing to give anything a
chance beyond a quick sound clip sample because even the experience is
disposable to some people.  It’s okay
though, I don’t care about those people.
ask everyone that I talk to this question in hopes of keeping up with the never
ending onslaught of amazing musicians out there, who should I be listening to
from your local area or scene that I might not have heard of?
Girl Girl Action.
Girl Girl Action.
What about nationally and internationally?
The Gaggers, Teledrome, Mascara Nites, Kitten Forever, The Anomalys, Two
Tears, Video and Irritones.
Piss Test, Giuda, Neighborhood Brats, No Tomorrow Boys, Cyanide Pills
and Barreracudas.
Is there anything that I missed or that you’d like to discuss?
I like horror movies.
The Ills – I Kill Me – 7” – No Front Teeth Records
The Ills – Get It – 7” – Shake! Reocrds/No Front Teeth Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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