Killer Dwarfs have just announced a reunion and release of a “lost” album from 1993 which is coming on the heels of singer Russ Dwarf’s latest album “Wireless”, an acoustic overview of much of his career. In the 80s/90s “Headbanger’s Ball” era of bands where it was often image first, talent second, the Dwarfs always had a competitive edge with their flair for hooks and Russ’s powerful vocals. The fact that “Wireless” strips down many of those hits to their essence and that voice is exactly why it works. We were very happy to talk to Russ about the old days, the new album and much more, read on…..
LRI Thanks for talking with us Russ. Your new album WIRELESS is getting great reviews and good word of mouth. How long did you spend working on this and how does it feel to hear people’s reactions?
Russ Dwarf: Honestly we went in to do it “live off the floor”… that turned into 9 months of eating Chinese Food and drinking Sapporo! It was basically a labor of love and all about just hanging out with my friends in the studio… Stayed too long, drank too much said to little… I’m actually really shocked at the reaction I didn’t expect this what so ever… it’s actually still the number one selling rock CD on bandcamp.com for the last few weeks, it’s a great thing this Music gag… I’m thinking about getting into the Show-Bizz!
LRI: I was a fan of Killer Dwarfs back in the day and can still remember picking up those albums at the record store like it was yesterday. Was it difficult to find a new approach to material you are so familiar with??
Russ: Not really… they are a huge part of my life and like my children… the guitar player (Glenn Belcher) I do most of my acoustic duo stuff with did most of the heavy lifting we’ve been doing songs from my catalog for a couple of years like this live… so they kind of evolved over time… these are the same songs just without WW3 in the back ground!
LRI: The track DIRTY WEAPONS is a great example of the way that you approached this album. I couldnt believe how much different it is but I love it just the same. It makes for a nice Sunday driving song! Do you think you or the fanbase could have ever accepted an album like this back in the “Headbangers Ball” days?
Russ: Yes I agree “Weapons2” as we like to call it has such a different atmosphere… this another gem Glenn came up with… from him and I just fooling around with different takes during live shows… we also did a straight up version as well I think you can get for free from RussDwarf.com… It’s hard to say what the reaction would have been that long ago… I don’t think we would have had the “life” experience to pull that one off back them… it’s all about time…
LRI: Some people take an album like this as an easy way out and simplify it to the point of boredom. You have a lot of tracks and acoustic instruments going on here on WIRELESS which leads to a very full, rich sound. Was that important to you…not to strip it down TOO much?
Russ: We approached it initially as I said as live off the floor just guitars and vocals… then as we went it did change and we added some percussion… by the time we mixed it that was all gone and we just went back to our original idea… we wanted the voice to stand out and keep the essence of the songs… I think we succeeded on a full sound all around…
LRI: Canada has always had its own music industry and world beyond just that of American tastes but the kids in the U.S. did come along for the ride on your career and the fan base grew a bit as a result. Do you think there were specific reasons why it took a few albums to gain a foothold here?
Russ: Well like anybody we were an “overnight” sensation… almost ten years Bah! If I think about it it’s just logistics and MONEY… when we got the “Big Deal” with Epic everything changed… No Bucks No Buck Rogers!
LRI: Of all of your touring partners and stretches on the road coming up were there any that were particularly easy or contrastingly difficult?
Russ: I must say and have forever that Iron Maiden was the absolute best to work with… the whole organization is amazing… Best Tour ever… we are still friends and see them whenever possible… Up The Irons!
LRI: Killer Dwarfs always had memorable and oftentimes humorous videos back in the MTV and Much Music era…So many artists say that making videos is just so tedious and seemed like such a waste of money. Do you agree or do you think they were ultimately worth it?
Russ: In our case it was a god send. Remember back in the “olden days” TV was King… and how better to get your name across the world than by that medium.. We had great luck with that format and I myself totally enjoyed doing all those vids… looking back its funny as ever… we always had a great sense of humor… our motto in the Killer Dwarfs was “you gotta laugh or you’re gonna cry”…
LRI: Were there any tracks that you didnt know how to approach or had trouble translating to WIRELESS?
Russ: As always when recording anything… as far as my approach is that it’s like a painting… you kind of know where you want to put things, but in the end it’s nice to see it get a life of it’s own… I’m not one for sticking to a plan in the studio… it will tell you most of the time… sometimes you really have hope for a tune you really like, but it turns out not to be the favorite in the end… it’s all only rockn’ roll in the end right… not rocket science! An album always ends up being a post card of what really happened… kinda wish you were here gag…
LRI: The vocal performance on “Doesn’t Matter ” is as good or more likely better than the original version. Do you think harnessing some of the emotional vibe from those lyrics helped your end result?
Russ: I was reading it and very drunk! Ok I wasn’t… well maybe a bit… that song is a very special song to me… we wrote that after we had finished everything that was going onto the Dirty Weapons album… we were already in our last days of pre-production with Andy Johns and he thought we needed one more tune… Mike and I went back to our apartment and basically wrote that tune in 20 minutes… but it probably took 15 years to be able to pull that one out emotionally… if you understand what I’m saying… sadly… as I’m writing this now I’m thinking of my dear friend Andy who passed away 2 days ago.. I will be forever grateful to have known his professionally and on a very personal level… he was a very dear friend and really believed in me as a artist… and gave me tons of confidence I’d never had by letting me do what I do… I will miss him very much… Cheers Old Weasel!
LRI: Again….Thanks for talking with us. Anything else on the horizon while we await some Killer Dwarfs tour dates and the “lost” album, “Start @ One” ??
Russ: At this point I have my own touring band called Russ Dwarf… oddly enough! We are also trying complete a documentary called “Tall Tales” about my boring life… mostly I’m working a new rock record and writing songs with a bunch of my pals… unfortunately Andy (Johns) was working with me to produce it so there is a change in plans at this point… I hope to be out touring more this year as well… check out http://www.Russdwarf.com I’m sure we’ll both find out what I’m doing at the same time! Thanks Tons for having me!