Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dag Nasty - "Minority Of One" Photo Shoot

Colin, Brian and Dave, Photo: Traci McMahon

Back in January of 2002 my wife Traci and I received a call from our friend Larry Ransom, who at the time was working over at Revelation Records. Larry was the main cog in the machine responsible for bringing the Dag Nasty "Minority Of One" LP to the surface and needed some photography done for the band. Larry knowing that Traci and I were huge Dag Nasty fans and Traci being a photographer, asked if we would be interested in driving from New Jersey down to D.C. to do a photo shoot of Dag for the new record. Although on very short notice and smack dab in the middle of a work week, of course our answer was yes and the plans were quickly set in motion.

We were to meet the entire band at Brian Bakers' house. Directions to Brian's house in D.C, were secured and we were on our way down I95. From our area in central New Jersey to D.C., the drive is about 3 hours. For some reason, that 3 hour drive seemed more like 15 minutes and before we knew it we were looking for a parking space in Brian's neighborhood. Brian lived in a pretty nice area, pretty much center city, but the street was lined with classic brownstone type houses and nice cars. His house was in fact a brownstone. We walked up to his door, rang the door bell and were greeted by Mr. Baker himself. He let us in and as we walked down his hall and towards his living room, a freshly bleached hair Dave Smalley popped out of the bathroom. Dave looked at us and said, "Hey, how's it going, my name is Dave", then quickly realized that he actually knew both Traci and me from years back. Within minutes we were catching up and us knowing each other really helped break the awkwardness of walking into a house of someone we had never met and meeting 2 of the other Dag guys that we had never met. We sat down on Brian's sofa and were introduced to both Roger Marbury (bass) and Colin Sears (drums). Both Roger and Colin were super cool and treated us like they had known us for as long as Dave had. Brian was on the phone coordinating a Dag interview for Thrasher Magazine, so up until now we really hadn't had a chance to talk with him much. I remember Coca Cola memorabilia decorations all over the house as well has guitars hung on the walls. It was obvious that Brian's love for Coca Cola had not lessened since his days in Minor Threat.

Brian Baker getting his flaming head tattoo, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once Brian was done with his interview and off the phone, the first thing he said to us was, "So you wana hear one of the new tracks?" It was clear that he and the rest of the band were genuinely excited about this new Dag Nasty record that they had just completed that day. We of course were excited as well and eagerly said yes. Off hand I don't recall what track it was, but we were played one full track. I remember the track being pretty fast and sounding fairly similar to something that could have come off "Can I Say". I believe what we heard was not completely mixed and definitely not mastered, so it almost had a raw sound. We dug it, but as quickly as it was played, it was over and we were packing up to leave.

The bands plan for the photo shoot was to take place at a tattoo shop in Virginia. Dave, Brian and Colin all decided they were going to get the classic "Can I Say" flaming head logo tattooed on them and Traci was going to shoot it all as it went down. When we pulled up at the shop, Brian was the first one in the chair. He was going to get the logo tattooed on his ankle. While Brain was getting tattooed and Traci was shooting it on film, I was sitting in the waiting area with Dave, Roger and Colin and all these guys could talk about was Dag Nasty. They were so fired up and excited about the band and this new record, you would think they were an active band and had never broken up. It was really cool to be sitting there with these three guys who were responsible for writing one of my top 10 favorite hardcore records of all time, "Can I Say". What was cool as well was the fact that I had just met all of these guys, with the exception of Dave and they honestly treated me like I was a long lost roadie for the band.

Roger Marbury sketches up a Dag logo, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once Brian was finished getting tattooed, Colin was the next up. He was getting his on his ankle as well. Brian and Dave were hungry and decided to take a walk down the street to get a sandwich at Subway. Dave asked if I wanted anything or if I wanted to take a walk with them and I decided to tag along. We walked down the steps, out of the shop and straight up the street. Within minutes Brian and Dave started talking and conversation instantly went to old friends. "How's Jon Anastas from DYS doing these days, how's Ian doing, have you talked to Al Barile in awhile, how about Choke, what's up with John Stabb?" At that point everything just seemed so surreal. There I was, a kid from New Jersey, in my late 20s who grew up listening die hard to both of these guys' bands. I have the bass player from Minor Threat to my right and the singer of DYS to my left, they're talking about Ian MacKaye and they just got finished recording a Dag Nasty record... damn it's crazy where you end up sometimes. Eventually we got our sandwiches and headed back to the shop.

Colin was finishing up by the time we got back and Smalley was up next. Dave decided he was going to get his flaming head on the inside of his arm, surrounded by Fred Perry like laurle art. Dave sized up and placed the art on his arm and was quickly in the seat himself. As Dave is getting tattooed, I start dabbling with the idea of getting the flaming head logo tattooed on myself. What better time and what better place, but I was torn. This was clearly the band's day and their experience and in my head it just didn't feel like the right thing to do, for their sake. Maybe if I really was that old roadie that the guys made me feel like, but the truth of the matter was that I had never even seen Dag when they were fronted by Dave. Peter Cortner fronted the Dag I saw and were great, but a Smalley fronted Dag just wasn't in my cards. I restrained myself, but do think back from time to time... damn, that could have been cool.

Dave Smalley and Colin Sears talk Dag while waiting to get tattooed, Photo: Traci McMahon

Once everyone was done and freshly inked, we gathered directions, shook hands and made our way out of the shop. Was a Smalley fronted Dag Nasty live show reunion in the future? That was a question that was in the air between the members and of course in our heads. Maybe in between Bad Religion tours, but there was no guarentee. In a way I felt like I already witnessed a reunion, a reunion of old friends that got together to write and play the music that they loved and still love. Thanks Dave, Brian, Colin and Roger... thanks for recording one of the greatest records ever, "Can I Say" and thanks for letting Traci and I sit in on a very cool and special time. Traci was happy to document it with the photos and I was happy to just be there. An extra thanks is also due to Larry for coordianting the whole thing from the start."I'm loooking at pictures and I'm thinking of those times". -Tim DCXX

The Dag Nasty "Minority Of One" promo photo that Rev used, Photo: Traci McMahon