Vancouver B.C.’s Dumb Is Green In All Senses with “Romeo” (KEXP Premiere)

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
photo by Ivanna Besenovsky

Green is the color of American money. Green is the color of vomit. Green is the color of weed, overpriced smoothies, evergreen trees, and… you get the picture. It’s a word and concept that can be stretched in a variety of directions and Vancouver B.C.’s Dumb opts for “all of the above” with their upcoming album Seeing Green, out June 22 via Mint Records (that has to be a coincidence, right?).

It’s an album obsessed with the implications of the color, specifically with how it infers inexperience and greed. The band uses it dig deeper into the crumbling security of capitalism and the societal anxiety we fight for the almighty dollar. The first song on the album, “Romeo” sets the stage quickly. Quite literally – the song clocks in at less than a minute-and-a-half. Jagged guitars and shouted vocals move at nauseating, wobbly speeds, throwing in lines like “it feels like a vortex, all covered in gore tex, don’t look at your text!”

Punk music taking on “the man” is surely nothing new. But the band’s mixture of the genre’s antagonistic timbre with high concept art rock motifs is nothing to gloss over. And really, who can’t get behind a band that wants to flip the bird to these seemingly arbitrary systems we’ve designed to keep ourselves miserable? Dumb makes some pretty smart points and my face turns green just thinking about it.

Listen to “Romeo” below and read a brief Q&A with the band below.

KEXP: The color green feels more-or-less like a concept on the record and all the different implications of that word – greed, money, inexperience, sickness, etc. How did you come to fleshing out this idea and how does ‘Romeo’ fit into that?

Dumb:Romeo was the first song written for the album and it may have spawned the whole loose concept. Side A for the most part was written before side B. The songs on side A are about the implications you mentioned, and some of the songs on side B extended this concept after we realized that it existed.

Why did you want to start the album with ‘Romeo’?

We went through a few iterations of song orders, so we can’t say for sure why. The fact that it was written earlier on, ties into the theme, and is quick to the point, all likely contributed to it being first.

It sounds like there’s a narrative to the record as well. Would you consider this a concept record in a formal sense? What story are you trying to tell?

Loosely it’s a concept album. It’s difficult or embarrassing to admit to being envious or greedy or inexperienced. We’re trying to be more honest about having these feelings because it’s probably better than burying them. An additional theme that we haven’t mentioned is bureaucracy and corporate survivalism, which definitely ties in to the previous implications you mentioned.

You worked with Jordan Koop on this record. How did you get connected and how do you feel he helped you execute your vision for the album?

We hit Jordan up to master our first album beach church, he’s also mastered swim team’s first EP (nick from dumb is also the guitarist in swim team). We spoke to him a number of times at various shows around Vancouver and have always admired his work. We considered a number of great options but ultimately asked Jordan to do it because we felt he would understand what we were going for. It was a great decision! The man is a professional and one of the hardest working people we’ve met and he also understands the range of aesthetics we were seeking.

Your record comes out later this month. What do you have planned next? You’ve been fairly prolific in the past, releasing three albums in 2016, do you plan to keep that momentum post-Seeing Green?

After this North American tour in July we’re going to do more writing and recording because we get tired of our songs pretty fast. It takes a lot more time to pump out the releases when we’re not doing everything ourselves, but we immensely appreciate all the help from mint records and waiting a bit longer to release stuff is definitely worth all the extra help we get.

Dumb plays Vancouver's NRG Zone on June 16 and Portland's Pop Tavern on June 28. Pre-orders for Seeing Green are available now.

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