NYC’s Dirty Fences delivered their quirky brand of driving rock and roll fuzz to a rowdy beer-soaked crowd at The Know. I was delighted to chat with the boys before they hit the stage their packed out Portland show. The band is currently on tour in support of their latest LP, Goodbye Love with pals and Portland jingle enthusiasts, Mean Jeans.
(Photos: Ms. Moneynine; From Left: Max Comaskey, Jack Daves, Max Hiersteiner, Max Roseglass)
Childhood friends from Boston, Max Comaskey, Max Hiersteiner, and Jack Daves formed Dirty Fences in Brooklyn with guitarist Max Roseglass and released their debut album Too High to Kross, in 2013.
Ms. Moneynine: Can you tell me a little about how you guys first met?
Dirty Fences: Hebrew School
Max Hiersteiner: We (Max Hiersteiner, Max Comaskey) met at Hebrew School. We were singing at the Tefila practicing our Torah portions and we were both hungry and had our graham crackers and apple juice and both started talking about Dead Kennedys and then… the guitar came into the room while riding a skateboard and I took the guitar and…
Max Comaskey: I took the skateboard and then did a backflip.
Max Hiersteiner: We started playing drums with the skateboard and the guitar was played by Comaskey. And that’s how we met!
Max Comaskey: There you go!
Max Hiersteiner: And then they (Jack Daves, Max Comaskey) met in woodshop class. And then Sonic Youth came on the radio and it changed our lives forever. Then somebody sliced their finger off with the bandsaw. Then we left class and we watched Rolling Stones videos and that’s when we realized that The Rolling Stones were a band.
Jack Daves: And our teacher was named Michael Anthony.
MM9: That was beautiful. Alright, so you guys are from Boston originally?
Max Hiersteiner: That whole story took place in Boston when we were all 13 years old. So, we’ve all known each other since we were about 13, in Boston and grew up there.
Jack Daves: We ate at a Kosher deli and smoked pot.
Max Hiersteiner: Also at the Kosher deli.
Max Roseglass: Kosher Pot.
MM9: So, have any of the old Boston scene bands ever influenced you guys?
Max Hiersteiner: We played with Gang Green once and then they tried to fight Jack. They tried to get everyone in the bar to fight Jack. We were also gonna play with Fang. Fang’s not from Boston, but I like the band, Fang. We like all the classic Boston rock bands.
Max Comaskey: We like the Lyres, DMZ, The Real Kids, all of them.
Max Hiersteiner: The Dropkicks, The Cars, Nervous Eaters, Aerosmith.
Max Comaskey: The band Boston. Mission of Burma. They’re from Boston, so there you go.
Max Hiersteiner: Morphine, can we shout out Morphine?
Jack Daves: Shout out to Cam Neely!
Max Hiersteiner: Shout out to fuckin’ guy… The Neighborhoods… Dave Minahan!
Dirty Fences’ sound is somewhere between Redd Kross, Thin Lizzy, The Dictators, and DMZ but uniquely theirs and constantly evolving. Too High to Kross, the band’s debut, shows the band at its classic rock fuzziest with plenty of nasty classic rock grooves and swaggering fills but I the earliest hints of Dirty Fences’ overall sound are present on the track “Heaven is Tonight”.
MM9: So, Goodbye Love, that’s your latest and your first album Too High to Kross, where would you say you are now, evolution-wise?
Max Hiersteiner: We’ve toured a lot more. We’ve also played a lot more together, we understand the recording process way better. Songwriting, recording, working with each other, it’s all just easier. Things come naturally.
MM9: You’ve evolved more technically.
Max Hiersteiner: Yeah and I think going into the studio is less pressure than it used to be. It used to be like you went in and it was “Aw, fuck! We gotta get this done immediately!” Now it’s like we know what we need to do and how to get it done.
MM9: Have any other bands or anything influenced you along the way, as well? Like did you hear something and it was like a game-changer or anything?
Jack Daves: I don’t think it’s been like one particular thing, it’s just been our collective experience over the number of years we’ve been playing.
MM9: So, I heard you guys got robbed in Rome. (In 2016, while on a six-country European tour in support of their Slovenly LP, Full Tramp.)
Max Hiersteiner: Yes, and it sucked!
Max Comaskey: Yeah, we got all our gear stolen and we had about 15 shows and we each had to scramble.
Max Roseglass: And it’s all better, now!
Max Hiersteiner: And we’re still here and we’re still a band.
Max Comaskey: And we’re still incredibly thankful for every single person who came out and helped us afterwards. It was obviously a crazy experience to get your stuff took. I think the only positive thing that came from it was afterwards I got to try like 20 million different types of basses just because I tried a different bass every single night and was able to shop around before I bought a new one.
Jack Daves: Because we had to advance the shows and borrow gear…
Max Comaskey: Every single night from every single opening band. But all in all, getting robbed sucks.
MM9: How’s this tour been?
Max Comaskey: Very good. Lotta shows! Playing with the Mean Jeans is awesome.
Jack Daves: Mean Jeans are awesome.
Max Comaskey: It’s great playing with a band you like watching every night.
Max Roseglass: They’re good guys, we get along great. It’s been really fun. We’re very similar in our way of doing things. Except those guys are bigger potheads than us.
Max Comaskey: It’s been a lot of fun. Every place we’ve been there’s been a good amount of people going and losing their shit, which is kinda what we want.
It should be noted that my app briefly stopped recording just as Max Roseglass announced that I had not just interviewed Max Comaskey and that I had actually interviewed Billy Jeans lead singer of Mean Jeans. The actual Billy Jeans arrived shortly after and introduced himself as Max Comaskey and I was just stoned enough to believe him.
MM9: So, Full Tramp I noticed that album sounds like a little darker compared to like some of your other… like it’s darker and grittier.
Max Roseglass: Why don’t you take this one, Comaskey?
The “Real” Max Comaskey: I haven’t really listened to it.
Max Hiersteiner: We recorded it in a basement on Garageband. We blew the speakers out, so we tried to get that grit. We wanted to do something different from the first EP and Too High to Kross, so we did a different approach, which was, we recorded it in a basement. Our Garageband blew the speakers out. And that’s how Full Tramp got…
Max Roseglass: We recorded it in Hersh’s basement. We recorded it ourselves just did our tracks like you know, like did everything separate.
The “Real” Max Comaskey: Separate?
Max Roseglass: (to Billy Jeans) Yeah, like we did no live (takes) we didn’t like, ya know…
The “Real” Max Comaskey: What about the feel of the rock and roll that happens when you record it?
Max Roseglass: I dunno. ‘Cause originally Full Tramp was supposed to be demos and then our friend, ted, who ended up mixing it. Shout out to Ted Humphrey! He listened to the mixes and said “You know, I think there’s more here than you thought.” And then it became an album. It was supposed to be demos for the album. He mixed it brilliantly and it turned out good.
With Goodbye Love, the boys double down on their quirkiest pop inclinations with tight arrangements that are arena anthem ready to rock with the band’s most impressive vocal harmonies, to date. Max Comaskey is at his soulful best on songs “Blue Screen”, “Four Leaf Clover”, “Message From Anyone” and most notably, the duet “One More Step (ft. Christina Halliday)”
MM9: You did a duet with the chick from Sheer Mag. (Sorry, Christina Halliday!)
Max Roseglass: Yeah, Christina Halliday
Max Hiersteiner: She’s our dear friend.
Max Roseglass: Yeah, video’s coming out really soon. Like in a week or something.
The “Real” Max Comaskey: What’s up with the video?
Max Roseglass: (to The “Real” Max Comaskey) The video’s coming out really soon.
The “Real” Max Comaskey: Is it in 3D or anything?
Max Hiersteiner: Yeah, definitely!
Max Hiersteiner: Anyways, Tina is awesome. We love hanging out with her. We love having her on the record.
Max Roseglass: The video’s good. She killed it. She did a great job.
MM9: Any little hints as to what the video’s about?
The “Real” Max Comaskey: It’s about a mid-level band facing its own limitations in the face of stardom.
AS: Almost Famous!
Max Hiersteiner: You’re the first one who’s gotten it.
Max Roseglass: We don’t wanna tell you about the video. It comes out soon.
MM9: Okay, it’s top secret.
Max Roseglass: Stay tuned. It’s gonna be pretty good. It’ll have already been out for three weeks by the time you do anything with this, interview.
MM9: Anything else you would like to plug?
Max Roseglass: The rest of the tour.
MM9: Besides that. Anything in the coming weeks or month?
Max Hiersteiner: February 15th Rough Trade, New York, with Las Rosas and Animal Show.
Max Roseglass: It’s our homecoming show in New York. Come to it. Check out the new record. Buy the new record.