Dilly Dally are Bringing Their Toronto Roots with Them to the Top
Toronto rockers, Dilly Dally, have taken the music world by storm with the release of their debut album, Sore. Sultry screeches and grunge-soaked rhythms lure you in, while pop hooks and catchy beats invite you to stay, washing over you like an uncharacteristically warm day. Their performances are equally enticing, but with an added roughness that attempts to belie the polished recordings. However, both exude a confidence so rarely observed in young bands. Dilly Dally see a bright future ahead of them and they’re not going to stop until they reach it.
I caught up with the band one cloudy afternoon in downtown Austin, and as SXSW concertgoers, dogs and food vendors alike passed by, we discussed Dilly Dally’s identity as a nostalgic band, their Toronto roots and their path to success.
MOLLY RAGAN: I’ve read a lot of articles that describe Dilly Dally’s sound as grunge, that continually draw comparisons with Pixies and Nirvana. Do you agree with that classification?
LIZ BALL: Yeah, we get grunge a lot, but I don’t know. Not really. We were discussing the other day what to put on our Facebook page as our genre because we don’t really know how to classify ourselves either. It was “soft grunge”. Katie recently changed it to “hate sex”. I think we’re trying to find something else because I don’t like it. It doesn’t sound nice.
KATIE MONKS: I don’t mind grunge. It’s fine. Obviously on the record we use a pallet of sounds and there’s references to early 90’s grunge in there. That’s intentional. We’re nostalgic about that era sometimes and I think it made it’s way in there along with a lot of other influences. I mean, we’re playing guitars and sometimes we get angry. People can say whatever they want.
I feel like when people just classify you by your influences it’s kind of limiting you.
KM: Yeah, but we’re a new band, so it makes sense that people are just talking about us at surface level. Then once they hear the record, it’s really fun finding out about the people. And more and more now, as the record has been out for longer periods of time, people are listening to it in more depth and coming to our shows and thinking about us in different ways and realizing we’re not just recreating things from the past, that we have our own, genuine sound. It’s all very real and authentic and we’re just trying to be ourselves at the end of the day.
So your record has been out for several months, you’ve gone on a couple tours and have been getting some great media coverage. You’re definitely riding a little indie fame wave. Do you see that, do you like it? Are you going to ride with it for a little while and see if it grows?
KM: We’re gonna go straight to the top! [Laughs] We’re obviously…well I shouldn’t say obviously. We are very driven and ambitious and the whole point of this band is that we want to go as far as possible. So “little indie fame, ride the wave”, we’re gonna try and go as far beyond that as possible. We don’t just want to be like a hype band for a year and then stop, that would suck.
I read about this flourishing industrial post-punk scene in Toronto and how you guys were part of that.
KM: Yeah, we have a lot of friends in Toronto and we’ve all been playing shows, some of us in different bands, in Toronto for the last six years. Most of our friends make music that’s much less accessible than ours even, even though to common people, your Common Joe, maybe, we sound like we’re really heavy and difficult to listen to. But all of our friends are making way more badass shit than we are. So I guess with Dilly Dally, what I wanted to do anyway, was really take inspiration from my life and the world around me and artists around me, things that we’re all inspired by, and kind of package it in a way for the whole world to see. And hopefully people will look to Toronto more now and check out some other cool bands, and maybe if we get fucking huge and famous, we can take some of our friends on the road with us. It’s all just part of the family, you know?
So it was more of a conscious decision to make accessible music?
LB: I don’t think it was conscious.
KM: For me it was. I don’t mean to say it was conscious in the sense that we were strategizing anything or that we discussed these things amongst ourselves, but I think that, I don’t know, for me, I’ve always been fascinated with pop music that’s really genuine. There’s an absolutely impossible task of trying to do that, to reach as many people as possible but still be yourself and say something unique. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been consciously trying to do, I guess. But also subconsciously.
Dilly Dally is a very playful name and has connotations of just goofing off and wasting time. Did you view making music as dilly-dallying when you first named yourselves?
KM: I think it’s a bit more sarcastic.
LB: It’s cheeky.
KM: I just thought it’d be a cool name to have because when you tell people you’re in a band, you always think you’re just wanking off. I’ve always been, Liz has always been, and then of course when we met Tony and Ben, we’ve always been super, super serious about making music a lifelong journey. About making wanking off a lifelong journey. [Laughs]
How did you guys meet Tony and Ben?
JIMMY TONY: I worked with Katie at a restaurant in Toronto. I met her like 6 years ago.
BENJAMIN REINHARTZ: I was a fan of Dilly Dally already and I was in bands that had played the same shows as them. I really liked them. Katie worked at the café up the street from me, so I would go in a lot and we started chatting and one day she asked me if I knew a drummer—
KM: Also, I made mean breakfast sandwiches for Ben on the reg and he was like “Damn. If this girl can sing as well as she makes breakfast sandwiches, I’m gonna be a millionaire!”
BR: That’s right! And yeah! One day she asked me if I knew any drummers and I was like, “Yeah…yeah I do…I’ll play drums….” and then I met Liz at band practice and then I met Tony at band practice.
You guys had been through a lot of bassists and drummers in the past. Did Ben and Tony just click immediately? Was it love at first sight
KM: It was.
LB: Well you know, we had a couple on the go, jamming with people, and I guess these guys just had the best vibes. They got it and did it.
Katie, I saw a piece where the writer compared your vocals to Shane McGowan. I thought that was interesting, cause he’s a gnarly looking dude. Mostly out of curiosity, what do you think of that comparison?
KM: Well, my parents are Irish. I grew up listening to a lot of the Pogues. He sounds drunk sometimes, so do I. I don’t know, maybe his face is in my future. [Laughs] I think there’s a little Shane McGowan in me, just a little bit. If you fucking see me in my darkest moments, sure, why not.
Lastly, do you have any music recommendations for our listeners?
BR: I saw this band the other day called Palm, they’re good.
LB: Bad Channels. But from Toronto, not from BC.
JT: Adonis Adonis. Also from Toronto.
Dilly Dally's debut LP, Sore, is out now on Partisan Records.
***This piece was originally written for KAMP Student Radio at the University of Arizona***