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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?

Erika:  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?

Erika:  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?

Danny:  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?

Danny:  Iowa City.  It’s pretty eclectic, there are some cool bands.

Erika:  There are also some shitty ones.  So I guess it’s like most scenes.

Are you very involved with the local music scene?

Erika:  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?

Erika:  No.  Not at all.

What does the name The Ills refer to or mean and how was it chosen?

Danny:  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. 

Erika:  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?

Danny:  Key party.

Erika:  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?

Danny:  Ouija told me to.

Erika:  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?

Danny:  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.

Erika:  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?

Erika:  We never exploratory jam.  Never.

Danny:  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?

Erika:  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”?

Erika:  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”.

Danny:  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?

Erika:  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.

Danny:  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!

Erika:  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?

Erika:  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. 

Danny:  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?

Erika:  You can get everything right now from us directly at:  or email us for info at  You can also get the new 7” from Shake! directly at  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,  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

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

Erika:  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?

Erika:  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?

Danny:  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?

Danny:  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.

Erika:  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?

Erika:  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.

Danny:  I’m not of fan digital but it is cool that it’s made things more accessible.

Erika:  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.

I 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?

Erika:  Girl Girl Action.

Danny:  Girl Girl Action.

What about nationally and internationally?

Erika:  The Gaggers, Teledrome, Mascara Nites, Kitten Forever, The Anomalys, Two Tears, Video and Irritones.

Danny:  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?

Danny:  I like horror movies.

(2011)  The Ills – I Kill Me – 7” – No Front Teeth Records
(2013)  The Ills – Get It – 7” – Shake! Reocrds/No Front Teeth Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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