You may remember Toby Pipes from the innocuous (and infectious) mid-90’s single by Deep Blue Something, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. Forgive him, though, as the hit song was an anomaly for the rest of that band’s sound, which Pipes expands upon with the shoegaze-y Little Black Dress.
His latest band’s sound is a throwback to 80’s Britrock, with roots in My Bloody Valentine, late-period Depeche Mode, and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Along with musician Nolan Thies and a smattering of other area heavy-hitters, the group created one of the best albums to come out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area last year (the Idol Records release, Snow in June).
In advance of the band’s official showcase at this year’s South By Southwest, vocalist/guitarist Pipes recently answered some questions for Houston Calling.
Houston Calling: Your album was one of the unsung highlights of 2009, and continues to get solid play in my iPod. Are you happy with how the album turned out and how it has been received so far?
Toby Pipes: Yeah, we’re definitely happy about the record. It took a while for us to get everything the way we wanted, but I think it turned out okay. People seem to like it.
HC: What was your favorite part of recording the album?
TP: Nolan and I spend a lot of time getting the right sound for the part. There is a ton of trial and error–amping and re-amping–but the process is usually the best thing about recording…
HC: How do you view the music scene in Dallas as opposed to other cities you’ve played?
TP: It seems to be growing again. It was a much bigger thing during the 90’s in Dallas–there were fewer bands but bigger crowds. Then, there was a saturation of bands in Dallas and the quality went way down. But I think that happened in a lot of cities.
HC: What’s your favorite thing about playing SXSW?
TP: It’s good to see a bunch a people/bands you haven’t seen a while…everyone in one place. HC: What are you as a band hoping to get out of this year’s SXSW?
TP: Playing in front of some new people.
HC: Any band(s) in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing during SXSW?
TP: Not sure about the exact days we’re gonna be there, but it would be nice to catch Athlete, The Crystal Method, or maybe Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
HC: What do you consider to be your primary musical influences?
TP: Probably the late 70’s early 80’s keyboard bands (Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire), and a lot of the 80’s Manchester bands.
HC: If you could play music with one musician from the 70s or 80s, who would it be and why?
TP: Hard to decide–Johnny Marr or Robert Smith? Robert Smith, I guess. I don’t think I can play guitar good enough to play with Johnny Marr…
HC: What does Little Black Dress have planned for 2010?
TP: More touring [and] start to work on a new record by the end of the year.
Here’s a video of Little Black Dress live at the Grenada Theater in Dallas in 2009:
Little Black Dress plays its official SXSW showcase on Wednesday, 3.17.10, at The Hideout (617 Congress Ave.) at 1am.
Visit Little Black Dress online at www.myspace.com/littleblackdressmusic.