Dwarves Biography

Though never quite matching G.G. Allin’s ability for outraging moral decency, this Chicago, Illinois, USA-based outfit has managed to continually offend and confuse throughout their career. Originally formed by frontman Blag Dahlia as Suburban Nightmare, the band’s earliest incarnation was as a garage outfit, and the first full Dwarves album, 1986’s Horror Stories, continued this sound. When the Dwarves took their volatile show on the road across America, stories of 15-minute shows, onstage sex acts and audiences soaked in bodily fluids only heightened the buzz around the band. Add to this their preference for pseudonyms and a rotating door policy for band members, helped to sustain the band’s already unsavoury reputation. Toolin’ For A Warm Teabag documented the band’s scatological approach, and also saw the debut of their skull and crossbones motif. With a relatively settled line-up comprising Blag Dahlia aka Blag Jesus (vocals), Vadge Moore (drums), He Who Cannot Be Named (guitar) and Salt Peter (bass), the band signed for the burgeoning Sub Pop Records label that was enjoying the fruits of the grunge revolution. The first release for the new label, Blood, Guts, And Pussy saw the band refine their sound into a streamlined punk approach. Lyrically uncompromising, a glance at the song titles gave a clue to the band’s primary obsessions. Thank Heaven For Little Girls followed soon after, and despite the typically distasteful subject matter the band demonstrated a new-found musicality. Sugar Fix was the band’s last effort for Sub Pop, with ‘Smack City’ a thinly veiled attack on the label and Seattle’s ongoing heroin problem. The highly publicised faked death of He Who Cannot Be Named ended the band’s relationship with the label (Sugar Fix even carried a tribute to the guitarist).

It was to be three years before the band returned to the studio, and The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking was their best work for some time. The equally likely Wholly Smokes replaced him Who Cannot Be Named, and at this point Nick Oliveri (21 October 1971, Los Angeles, California, USA) of Kyuss was playing with the band under the moniker Rex Everything. Likened by fans to the Ramones, this latest release ranked alongside Blood, Guts, And Pussy as the definitive Dwarves album. A contract with Epitaph Records followed, which saw the band release its most melodic and diverse album so far, incorporating samples and electronic beats. More line-up changes followed, with Vadge Moore leaving the band subject to rumours that he had severed a hand in a chainsaw accident, while He Who Cannot Be Named was miraculously raised from the dead to fill the vacant bass and guitar spots. Epitaph perhaps having glimpsed what was to come subsequently dropped the band, just as they crossed the gender barrier and recruited female bass player Tazzie Bushweed.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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