Dumb’s “Pizza Slice” officially came out of the oven last week, but the Vancouver quartet’s latest, and arguably spiciest single (one side of a split 7-inch with Tough Age) will undoubtedly stay fresh for some time yet.
Part of this comes down to the band’s twitchy post-punk framework and guitarist-vocalist Franco Rossino’s half-spoken, stream-of-consciousness itemizing of Value Village trade-ins, friendly phone calls and—yes, obviously—pecorino-topped foodstuffs. It’s also a song where guitarist Nick Short goes absolutely buck on his whammy bar, providing a series of top platform dives and quivering pinch squeals that, as he explains, pay homage to his friends in San Francisco’s Pardoner, but likewise conjure the seedy and chaotic, Slayer-style underbelly of metal.
The whammy acrobatics are a return to form, of sorts, with Short explaining that he recently returned to the agile bar dynamics of a Fender Stratocaster after chunking out the bulk of 2018’s Seeing Green and 2019’s Club Nites LP on a Les Paul—an instrument famously lacking an extra, string-waggling appendage.
Speaking with Gut Feeling, Short dove into his whammy technique, the addictive flavour of tremolo-riddled leads, and when we might next sample a full-length from Dumb.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
There might be some light, whammy-type trem work on Club Nites— maybe on “De Más,” for instance— but you really go wild with it on “Pizza Slice.” First off, what’s your entry to point to the whammy bar?
Nick Short: It’s been something that I’ve been interested in playing with for a long time, but for a number of years I actually didn’t have a whammy bar—my original guitar got stolen, so that’s why I didn’t do it for a bit.
With Seeing Green, I think that’s all done on a guitar where I didn’t have a whammy bar, or at the least I didn’t do the over-the-top pinch squeal thing. I think “Pizza Slice” is the first track where you really hear me doing that excessively, but I’ve always used it for an expressive purpose.
What was that original guitar you lost?
It was a Fender Strat. I have another Fender Strat, now, but there were two years where I was playing a Les Paul.
What was it about “Pizza Slice,” in particular, that made you want to cut loose?
The pinch squeal with the super fast whammy is something I picked up off of my friend Max Freeland, from the band Pardoner. He does that a lot while playing live—like in a jam situation—but on record he tries to rein it back, because it is pretty ridiculous. You get addicted to it, though; that’s what happened to me. I find myself doing it on every note of a solo, now. On “Pizza Slice,” I just let go.
Did you sculpt out your leads on “Pizza Slice,” or were these mainly off-the-cuff?
Most riffs are planned out, but solos I tend to play on the spot. The noisier stuff is also pretty random; you never know how it’ll sound. I’m not extremely good at controlling all that stuff, I just throw a bunch of pedals on and it sounds cool.
What kind of effects are you using, then?
Pretty standard stuff. I have a DynaComp compressor pedal from MXR, a Boss DS-1, and a Tube Screamer. I don’t know if I used it on “Pizza Slice,” but I also have this weird pitch shift/delay that Boss made—this weird ‘90s pedal.
I’m not sure about this song, but you’re definitely experimenting with some different tunings across Club Nites. There are some really low notes on songs like “Submission” and “Don’t Sleep,” for instance. What are you dropping to on those recordings?
Most Dumb songs are in standard tuning, but half of that album is in this drop open C. That low note is a C, and it’s tuned to an open C chord.
Being that this is the first song you’ve released in a couple of years, is there any more Dumb music on the way?
There is, yes. The bed tracks were recorded at our studio, CHOMS. It’s our practice space; its got a little control room. That’s where we recorded Club Nites. Not sure when the next recordings will be out, but it’s in the computer.
The Dumb “Pizza Slice”/ Tough Age “Giuseppe Pizzeria” split single is out now through Mint Records, and comes topped with cover art and a bonus Pizza Punks comic by illustrator Cole Pauls.