Smile Politely

Slightly corny but entirely genuine

With song titles like “I Was Where Were You” and “Monochrome Girl”, DTCV is a band that makes you think. The French-American rock ‘n’ roll trio recently released Hilarious Heaven, “an ambitious (read: contains free jazz saxophone skronk and flute solo(s), a piano ballad in French, synth-pop, a Monks cover, and two songs that surpass the eleven minute mark) double album” on Xemu Records.

I had a chance to correspond with DTCV member James Greer over the past few days. We went over the basics, mainly -working hard at being a band, growing up in Boston, and hitting woodland animals with vans.

Smile Politely: How did you get started in music?

James Greer: I was trained on tenor saxophone because my dad had a tenor sax. As far as rock music, I didn’t really start to take it seriously until punk rock happened. I was initially attracted by the intelligence and energy of the best groups, especially from the post-punk era, like Wire, The Fall, the Jam, Buzzcocks, and on and on.

SP: How did the band meet? What made you decide to make music together?

Greer: We met in Los Angeles. Guylaine Vivarat (She’s French. Born and raised in the French Alps. Speaks English without an accent, which tends to confuse people.) was playing in one or two other groups but wanted to start something where she could do her own songs. I hadn’t played live for a while, but a year and a half ago I was asked to play a party for a literary festival and I was drunk, so I said yes. Guylaine took that opportunity to suggest we start a band. We did and it was fun, so we kept doing it.

I quickly realized there are a lot more bands out there now than ever before, and that almost all of them are terrible. The world deserves better. That’s where we come in.

SP: What makes you better? Hard work, technique, stage presence, variety…?

Greer: Leaving aside questions about the subjectivity of taste or of aesthetics in general, what makes us better is an ardent desire to do or say something original, musically. We work hard, but no harder than a lot of bands.

It’s maybe easier to define us by what we’re not: We’re not revivalists; we hate nostalgia. We don’t think music was better (or worse) in any other era. We don’t bury our vocals or guitars in reverb to hide a lack of talent. We don’t sing about pizza or getting drunk (usually). Our songs don’t all sound the same. We don’t follow trends. None of us have pink hair.

SP: Not one of you?! How would you describe your sound?

Greer: It’s difficult to define our sound because a) it’s constantly changing and b) definitions are limiting and we are limitless. We sometimes call ourselves post-punk but that’s meant to be ironic. All music is post-punk.

SP: Fantastic answers, all around. Where have you played? Any particular favorites?

Greer: We’ve played roughly 150 shows in the two years of our existence, touring pretty much every state in the contiguous U.S. and a few stops in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto as well.

For whatever reason, our shows in the Midwest seem to go over well. On this tour, Cincinnati in particular was a blast. We had to play all the songs we know before the audience let us off the stage. Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City last year was great, and Pygmalion was memorable because right after our show we hit a deer and totaled the van.


Some of our favorite cities as cities: Vancouver, New York, St. Louis… Berkeley/Oakland, Chicago, New Orleans, and St. Augustine, FL. The place we usually play in St. Augustine is called Nobby’s, and for some reason we always play on Ladies Night. This year my parents came, and my mom was unhappy with our cover of Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” because of the language. I forgot they were there or I would have sung “Back of a Trucker” or something instead.

Least favorite cities are Akron, OH and Austin, TX. Akron canceled our show so it’s not really the city so much as the (unnamed) venue. Austin used to be a great city but, in our 2 brief years as a touring band, every visit has been tortuous. The place seems overrun with hyper-drunk bro-types puking in the streets. Also I’m at present mad at Boston, but I’m from there so it will pass.

SP: I got to visit Austin recently and found it delightful, but I had a very cool relative to show me around and we didn’t go anywhere near campus. I would definitely like to visit Boston though! It’s your home town? What’s good to see and eat?

Greer: I grew up in the suburbs, but in Boston itself, there’s tons of stuff to see if you’re a history buff; and the place I like best to eat is called Life Alive in, I think, Central Square. Also, if you like baseball at all you have to go to Fenway Park, which is not the Fenway Park of my youth — or anyone’s youth- but remains a necessary stop for any fan.

SP: I am a fan of historical towns. Savannah, Georgia is my lady. What’s your dream jam session? No limits.

Greer: This will probably sound disingenuous or corny, or both, but I can’t think of anyone better to play with than my current bandmates. I wouldn’t mind writing a song with Jimmy Webb or Lee Hazelwood, though.

SP: Slightly corny but entirely genuine. Any fun tour stories?

Greer: Well, as I mentioned briefly before, we ran into a deer while driving about 70 mph on the highway, 1/2 mile from our exit, after playing Mike ‘n’ Molly’s for the Pygmalion Festival last September. Had to cancel the rest of the tour, but no one was seriously hurt. Except the deer. We couldn’t find it -this was after midnight on a cloudy night, so it was very dark- but we’re pretty sure it’s dead. Other than that — and even that, in fact, because hitting a deer is kind of a rock band rite of passage — nothing out of the ordinary has happened to us, and we’d like to keep it that way. Save the spectacle for the stage.

SP: Knock on wood…

See DTCV with Bookmobile!, Spaceships, and Crank Wizard tonight, Thursday, April 10 at Mike ‘n’ Molly’s. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the cover is only $7 American. That’s less than two bucks a band, so get your booty out for a pre-weekend treat. 

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