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Wet Dip: "We Didn't Expect to Record Our Demos Again But Caufield Schnug Suggested It Would be Great Since They Had Changed in Various Ways Enough for a Full Length Album"

One of my favorite releases that I felt wasn't talked about as much near the end of last year was Wet Dip's first full-length statement Smell of Money (Feel It Records). The trio composed of sisters Erica and Sylvia Rodriguez and friend Daniel Francis Doyle, sound like an act you would've heard playing at the now extinct NYC no wave club Tier 3 with their art-damaged no wave intensity full of blistering guitar riffs, spitting bilinguals vocals, and ever-shifting tempos and interjections.


Earlier in the year, I had the pleasure to catch up with the band all about how the debut album came together with Sweeping Promises' Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug at their Lawrence, Kansas studio and digging into their favorite tracks from it.

Photo by Julio Silva

First tell me what you've been up to lately? What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?


Wet Dip: Running on that old hamster wheel 40 hours weekly. When not working, Dan is enjoying long walks, Erica is revisiting nu-metal classics and Sylvia's new favorite band is fellow Feel It mates The Cowboy.


How did that show go with Black Eyes and Water Damage back in January? 


The show was LOUD and so much fun. The sound team at The Parish was exceptional, and there was so much gear on stage! We ended up playing on the floor since we always bring our own gear, the audience stood a foot away from our setup.  


For our readers who aren't familiar, take us through the origins of Wet Dip. How did you three decide to form a band together in 2019?


Dan and Sylvia met back in 2009 while Dan, based in Austin, was touring through the panhandle with his solo project. When Sylvia and Erica moved to Austin, they reconnected with Dan at local shows and started playing music together Fall of 2016.


Besides making music, what's something you love to do when you're all together?


We love to watch movies together. One of the first hang outs, besides seeing each other at shows, was catching a screening of Jodorowsky's El Topo at the Alamo Drafthouse. 


What are your thoughts looking back on your past 2019 demo? 


Our demo was recorded in December 2018 by Max Deems, member of local band Blank Hellscape in his garage space. It was the first time we had the opportunity to listen to all of our parts and hear the lyrics clearly. Prior to the recording, we played only in our practice space and our first show wasn't until the summer of 2019. It was so exciting to hear each other's remarks on what new sounds we could hear on the recordings after playing these four songs for almost two years. The instrumentals were recorded in one afternoon and vocals done at a later date. Max did a fantastic job nailing the sound we wanted with no notes from us, and we immediately uploaded the files onto Bandcamp.


How do you think you three have progressed as a trio since that demo?


Wet Dip's progression since the demo's release has been defined by the ability to play in front of a live audience. The songs began to change with the cadence of the lyrics and Sylvia becoming more comfortable with playing and doing vocals at the same time. The songs became louder, faster, more aggressive with each live performance. Right before we were scheduled to play an official SXSW showcase, the shutdown happened and performing live paused until summer of 2021. Our return to the stage after a year and a half long absence really motivated us to record a physical album, and our dream came true in August 2022.  


Take me now through the recording of your long-awaited debut LP Smell of Money. What do you recall most from its sessions and how did it all come together with Caufield Schnug and Lira Mondal of Sweeping Promises during their short time in Austin? How do you think they brought the best out of you? 


Lira and Caufield briefly lived in Austin during the pandemic. Before they left Texas, they happened to catch a show we played with Chronophage and Borzoi July 2021. Sweeping Promises' Hunger For A Way Out had been one of Sylvia's most played albums of 2020 and was ecstatic when Sweeping Promises followed the Wet Dip Instagram account. Through DMs the band offered to record and host Wet Dip in their home studio in Kansas. We set out in August of 2022 to record and it was the first time the band traveled that far of a distance together. Lira and Caufield were wonderful hosts! They gave us a tour of Lawrence, Lira cooked amazing food, and it felt like a vacation to us. Caufield was so enthusiastic during our session and pushed us to do multiple takes. He'd say, "That's the one!" before moving onto the next track. We really appreciated him being earnest with his intent to get the best version, and we did it all in a twelve hour period. We didn't expect to record our demos again but Caufield suggested it would be a great idea since they had changed in various ways since their initial release, and it could become enough a full length album as opposed to a 7". Lira and Caufield were confident that their record label Feel It would love the album and would offer to put a vinyl out. They sent the recordings to Feel It Records label head Sam Richardson and he offered to put out our debut. 

Let's dive into some of the songs here. What can you tell me about the making of the opening cut "Rollercoaster"?


"Rollercoaster" starts with a cover of Dionne Warwick's "(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls." The opening lyrics, "Have to get off from this ride" inspired conveying what it feels like riding out that emotional rollercoaster living with depression/anxiety. It is the only song with acapella vocals so it made for a great opener live and on the album. 


How about "Emperor"? I'd say that's my personal favorite cut!


"Emperor" was fun to record again because it has gotten so rowdy and fast. We nicknamed the song "Chuck Berry" because Dan remarked the opening lick sounded like it was inspired by him. Caufield added some great vocal effects in the album version that we appreciated having him suggest to double track vocals.


How did "Finale" come about?


"Finale" has been the closing song for live shows because of how relentless the drumming is, and over time the tempo has also sped up significantly. The lyrics are Mexican pop culture references to telenovelas and singer Paquita la del Barrio, which inspire a lot of nostalgic conversations from the audience after sets. 


Which song from the record means the most to you (and why)?


Daniel Doyle: "Train wreck" because it's the most surprising song from the original demo songs.


Erica Rodriguez: "Kill Floor" because of backstory and raw quality. This song is about the slaughterhouse industry in the panhandle and encapsulates small town rage very well.


Sylvia Rodrigue: "Black Friday" because it is the first song I wrote for the band. It was based on the court testimony of a former elementary school classmate that was convicted of murder. She and her boyfriend plotted to rob the safe at the retail store they worked for after Black Friday. After breaking into their manager's home to steal her store keys, they murdered her and set her place on fire. They are both serving life sentences with no possibility of parole in a Texas federal prison.


What were the inspirations behind the cover art?


The art was made by our good friend Gabriela Mireles from Amarillo, Texas. The cover art was based on photos of a grain elevator in the center of Plainview, Texas, the hometown of Sylvia and Erica. The backside of the record jacket is based on a photo of an ice cream and soda shop in Post, Texas next to a Masonic lodge. The album is inspired by growing up in the panhandle. The album title "Smell of Money," is a joke the locals say about the stench from the waste of cattle and pig farms. Gabriela grew up in Amarillo so she didn't need much direction, she knew exactly how to convey what that area of Texas looks like. She also did the artwork for our demo and we used some of the art from the album insert for stickers to purchase at our shows!


What else is on the horizon for Wet Dip?

 

Future goals for Wet Dip would be to tour. We haven't done that yet but would love to hit the road for an extended time. We are going out of town to Marfa,Texas on May 4th for Infinite Hellscape, a festival put together by The Infinites and Blank Hellscape. We also will be playing with our fellow Feel It Records family Optic Sink on May 10th at Hotel Vegas in Austin. We've been steadily adding new songs so hopefully a second album soon in the works...


What do you recommend people should do when they visit Austin, Texas? Also do you have any favorite bands in the scene readers should check out? 


If you must come to the hell that is Texas, visit Houston instead. The food is more diverse, the city is rich with so much musical history, and the museums are better. Check out Varriety, a new band who share members from Borzoi. Moist Flesh and God Shell are also favorites.


Smell of Money is out now on Feel It Records.


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