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July 27, 1995 * Vol. 5, No. 19

Do the Doo

With the past behind them, Dinky Doo aren't afraid to be the underdogs

by Shelly Ridenour

Anybody who remembers the late, great Pegclimber no doubt expects guitarist/vocalist/all-around frontman Stewart Pack's new band, Dinky Doo, to be just as powerful and headstrong and macho. Another round of "heavy alternative." Another "power trio."


"That was the furthest from my intention with this band, because I was in the power trio. I'm content with not being so powerful," Pack reveals. "We want a small sound ... a dinky sound!"

"It's anti-Pegclimber," proclaims drummer Morrie Rothstein, Pegclimber's original drummer and the man who sat behind the kit for the 1-900$, Pack's other local legend.

"I hate to say that. But my goal is to do anything but be like Pegclimber," Pack reveals. "I felt trapped playing with Larry [Brady, Pegclimber bassist], who was Mr. Powerbass, and Shayne [Ivy, Pegclimber's second drummer], who was Mr. Powerdrummer. As soon as I got in with them both, I was outnumbered. I felt like I didn't fit the band anymore. I could play it, but it wasn't me. It was like a tool in the wrong hands."

So now, along with Rothstein ("Stewart brought me out of retirement"), bassist Gregg Dunn (a former scholarship tuba player who, as Pack jokes, "knows the bottom end") and the brand-spanking new addition of former Gut Truck frontguy Bill Dahlinger on guitar and harmony, Pack is back and ready to keep the testosterone under control. Dinky Doo is a departure from the past.

No longer do you hear the jaw-rattling virtuosity that boosted Pegclimber into a sonic monolith of balls-to-the-wall ungrunge and heavy alternative. Instead, reel-em-in hooks and infectious choruses bounce atop ringing guitars. Three-and-a-half minutes of verse-chorus-verse is the formula du jour. Why, if you didn't know better, you would call them power pop. Good-bye Clockhammer comparisons, hello Hüsker Du.

"I've tried to be more 'songwriterly,'" Pack muses. "I don't wanna say simplified, because I think the songs are more involved on a different level, more involved within the tenets of pop songwriting. I don't want them to be choppy and abrupt just for the sake of being choppy and abrupt."

Dinky Doo may try to shirk off the "power" label that once fit so well, but they also realize that's easier said than done. And don't misunderstand: these guys still pack more of a wallop than anything you'll hear in just about any bar on the Strip or downtown. "Dinky" is not synonymous with "wimpy."

"You can't avoid the power label when you play loud," Pack reasons. "I think if you listen to a certain genre of music, you become numb to what's 'power.' Like, if you listen to Bad Religion, you're immune to 'power,' but your parents will still be offended by it."

Instead of citing the Misfits or the Buzzcocks or Sonic Youth as a defining influence, Pack shamelessly goes where few other musicians dare. He actually admits to listening to ZZ Top, Huey Lewis and Bad Company.

"Stewart knows them all," crows Rothstein.

"This man is an encyclopedia of bad Top 40 music from the late '60s to the mid-80s," Dunn says.

"You know that Guitar Rock compilation you can order on TV?" Rothstein queries. "I was gonna buy it for him, but he already knows it all."

While Pack most certainly doesn't deny his roots, he does defend them. "My theory on knowing cheese rock is if you don't know cheese rock you're liable to make cheese rock and not know it. You'll always have people who want to stay up on what's going on, read all the magazines, know what's fresh, and then there are people who think they have divine inspiration. They close themselves off from what's going on, and inevitably they end up doing something that's already been done."

And if that's not convincing enough, he's also armed with one final note of justification. "My guitar learning age was the '80s, full of New Wave keyboardy effects and punk, which was anti-guitar. What else was I going to listen to besides classic rock?"

If "Tush" or "Feel Like Makin' Love" can shape the face of rock 'n' roll in a way that doesn't involve jerk-off guitar solos or over-the-top vocal operatics ... well, that might just be the best argument yet to keep dinosaurs on the FM dial.

© Metro Pulse