Interviewed and written by — Silvie Mietzekatze
“Play music like you only got 10 seconds left before you’ll die”.
Telling someone about the DTEASE, is just as difficult as trying to tell someone about THE best SEX you ever had in your entire life. It seems nearly impossible. THE DTEASE are not just a band, I would call them a mind blowing experience, a phenomenon – something that nobody would ever expect to come out of a little prude tourist town like Santa Barbara, that treats rock ‘n’ roll for the most part like leprosy.
I don’t remember exactly every little detail, but a few years back is when I stumbled into this cool little coffee-art-music-venue here in Santa Barbara, that sadly is no longer around, called MUDDY WATERS. What I saw left me and everyone else in the room with our mouths open, and our drawers dropped to the floor. There was this guy with curly hair in a grey shark skin suit running, jumping, climbing and singing his little heart out while the rest of the band gave him the best glam punk rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack that one can imagine. That was my very first experience with the DTEASE and its lead singer Wilson Gil. Now a few years later this band is still rocking, better than ever and everyone who has witnessed them live has become just like me, a die hard fan who knows that every show is always 110 percent rock ‘n’ roll, and 0 percent bullshit. I met with Wilson and the Dtease drummer Mike at my local cocktail bar THE IMPERIAL to talk a little about their band (mind you Wilson and the rest of the Dteasers run only on non–alcoholic beverages, and 100 proof rock ‘n’ roll). They told me that the term “Dtease” means the coming down and hallucinating of alcohol withdrawal, as well as being a “dick – tease”. Wilson is no virgin when it comes to music. When he lived in San Francisco he played in multiple bands. He had a few projects with the DWARVES singer and friend BLAG DAHLIA, but his main band he fronted was the WILFUL SINNERS. This Americana country punk band toured around the globe, including Iraq and Afghanistan in order to bring a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll sunshine into the hearts of the American soldiers that were stationed there at the time.
Wilson had originally planned to move out to Costa Rica. Santa Barbara was not supposed to be his home base, but after finding other people who had the same vision of creating this raw musical energy and bringing the Dtease to life, he changed his plans and stayed. Their guitar player back then was Laszlo Gaspar and he immediately ordered the grey shark skin suits, a smoke machine and stage lights to bring this monster to life and to throw themselves into the abyss of rock ‘n’ roll. Their songs are catchy, fun but also deep and cynical. I could go on and on how just their music will make you never want to miss a Dtease show again, but I think a very important aspect of this band are the legendary performances. Partly choreographed and partly spontaneous – a wild avalanche of rock ‘n’ roll energy by Wilson, brilliant bass lines by Terry Luna, destructive guitar riffs by Sam McPherson and Josh McDonough, and killer drum demolition by Mike Sharpe. All of this framed by beautiful female burlesque dancers or “provocateurs” as Wilson calls them, that come out and control not only the audience but also dominate the band and sometimes a band member ends up getting whipped. Even though there are pretty girls dancing, and loud rock music is being played by males, Wilson says that the Dtease couldn’t be more feminist and that projects into their audience. I have witnessed several shows where women and men got infected by this virus of rawness – and all of the sudden they are among the band and the dancers. Often it is impossible to separate the crowd from the band and its entourage – but that is exactly what these cats want from you. They want you to be part of the show. TO be a DTEASER. If I had to find anything comparable to the first thing that comes into my mind it would be – IGGY POP! Their show is that part where Iggy invites all his fans on stage and dances with them – that’s what the Dtease are from beginning to the end, RAW POWER. And yet it doesn’t just stay there it is also incredibly sexy, inspiring and freeing – the provocateurs are women of all shapes and sizes that just embrace the power of their bodies, provoking in weird space alien suits, burkas, or are covered in feathers rolling around on a dirty mattress that the band schleps to every gig. Wilson turns into Iggy then again David Bowie or a James Brown and definitely a Lux Interior and then in another moment he could very well be one of those shady TV preachers who will promise to make you walk again by just laying his hands on you and believing.
He shared a story about a show in San Luis Obispo, where this teenager just surfaced out of the crowd on crutches. He made his way onto the stage that’s when Wilson noticed that he was actually an amputee with only one leg. That kid threw his crutches to the sides, turned around and let himself just fall into the crowd and got carried across the room and back to the stage. Wilson says that this was a magical moment for him, because he felt that he was made whole by the power of music. He wasn’t an amputee kid anymore he turned into a whole person – who made everyone whole at the same time because he was floating above everyone.
When asked how he would describe a Dtease show to someone who has never seen them before he says, “the Dtease are right for you, when you just want to have fun at a rock show – you can tip toe around in the shallow end and have a great time or if you want to swim around a little deeper and analyze what we are singing about you can find something there too”.
I always wondered where this guy gets his intensity. It’s definitely not alcohol or drugs – – in the end Wilson really is just high on life and rock ‘n’ roll. His job is just as intense as everything else this man does – he is a body removal specialist. You know the guy who scrapes up the bits and pieces of people that take selfies while driving on the freeway, lose control and smash their bodies into random objects. From suicides to accidents he covers it all. He does the dirty in his work life and brings out the dirty in all of us when he is on stage. It all makes sense to me, because I feel special to be one of those people in the audience who witnesses how all that darkness that surrounds him comes back to the light in his music. “You give up all your privacy…the phone can ring at 3 am in the morning and the Grim Reaper is calling to tell you get up and go to work”, says Wilson. It makes him realize that everybody around him could be dead in the next 10 seconds and some probably will. That’s why he puts every little bit into his music, you never get to see a half assed Dtease show, “I play a show like it could be my last one. No matter if there are three people or not – I’m going to move those three people”.
The band just released a music video called SLAP SHOT, videography by the talented Gabe Ruiz from Crowded Coffin. A full length album will be coming out as well in the near future. In the meantime the next live show is – November 10th at the LONG BEACH AQUARIUM – please refer to their facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/TheDTEASE/
All I can say is that I highly recommend seeing a DTEASE show before you die, and since that could be in the next 10 seconds you better fucking hurry.