Over the past seven years, Dirty Lungs’ brand of lo-fi rock ‘n roll has become as intrinsic to the Birmingham, Alabama community. Though the city’s musical landscape has changed dramatically Since Ra-Jaan Parmley and Carson Mitchell formed the band in 2006, Dirty Lungs are still standing–and they’re just as gritty and focused as ever.
Several tours and member changes have contributed to the constant evolution of their sound. Over the years, Dirty Lungs have shared the stage with bands such as British Sea Power, Jacuzzi Boys, The Clientele, Abby GoGo, New Madrid, Thee Oh Sees, Growlers, Natural Child, GULL, and many others. The Birmingham-staple garage-surf outfit has continuously reinvented itself and now moves forward as a four piece. Chris Scott and Justin Ward round out the lineup on Dirty Lungs’ latest, which dropped via Communicating Vessels in July.
You can almost hear the garage doors rattling as the Dirty Lungs tear into the first three chords of “I Suck in Bed,” the first track of their upcoming self-titled release. Two blistering, reverb-soaked minutes later, the track dissolves into “All My Cats,” a remarkably catchy alt-country tune. From there, Dirty Lungs continue their exploration of new sounds and voices. The grainy, bass-heavy guitar tones of the band’s past releases are very much present throughout–as are Mitchell’s unique vocals. However, the band refuses to rest upon its own laurels as it experiments with vocal harmony, guitar technique, and a new take on rock ‘n roll songwriting. The record is not, by any means, the archetypical Nirvana-esque rehashing of an old Kinks record that seems to egress from every garage in America these days. The influences beneath Dirty Lungs are indeed abounding, and Mitchell’s silky, warm vocals are the force that unites them all.
The band caught Ghettoblaster’s attention with an album cover that featured a photo of bassist Justin Ward skating. Naturally, we had to catch up with a couple of members of the band to discuss the sport. This is what they told us.
Do you play places on tour that also allow you to skate inside or outside? What are the best places you’ve skated on tour?
Justin Ward: Nowhere that we have played this past year has been skate friendly inside, but no one has complained about skating outside of their premises, yet. We are going to be touring up to Chicago at the end of next month and we are excited to see and/or find a lot of skate spots there and back. Also, we might have time to hit up some more famous spots but any where we have been will usually have some kind of flat area, and that is all I care to have to get some good skating in.
Carson Mitchell: Yeah, what he said, hahaha.
What is the most difficult trick that you’ve landed? How does the feeling of landing that compare to the feeling of conquering a difficult riff or part in your music?
Carson: I’ll let Justin take this one, since he is by far the best skater in the group.
Justin: Speaking strictly flat ground, I would say a nollie big flip is the most difficult trick that I have landed. There is always a good sense of pride and accomplishment in creating songs and playing them for people or landing difficult tricks but most importantly I enjoy and have fun in both skateboarding and playing music.
What kind of deck, trucks, wheels, or other gear are you currently using?
Justin: A Faith deck from Faith Skate Supply in Birmingham, Alabama, is what I would usually use, as well as Independent trucks and Bone Swiss bearings, always! I’ve used blank shop wheels since I can remember because, other than the size, I’ve never found much difference in wheels.
Carson: I usually stick to Enjoi products, always loved their stuff since I was a kid so it stuck. Same with Fender guitars/amps, haha!
What other bands who have members who skate have you toured with and skated with? Were you impressed?
Carson: We’ve encountered a few groups who were down. Our friends in Vegan Coke out of Atlanta will always throw down with us, but in general, most bands are too worried about injuring themselves on the road to go too hard, I think.
Do you seek out skate shops on tour? What are the best ones?
Carson: Usually on the road, we have such a tight schedule that stopping for food can be difficult, let alone searching out stores. Often times, record stores are our first priority, just because we like to see what the local scene is like in terms of albums they buy, etc. But I’m sure when we are in Chicago next month, we will have some time to look around since we are doing two days in the city.
What is the worst injury that you ever suffered skating and how did you recoup from that?
Justin: Mild sprains of the wrist and ankles are the most common injury I have. I landed on my hip that had me walking funny for about a week recently but nothing too bad has ever been suffered by me due to skating. The hip injury didn’t make loading and unloading equipment — very fun.
Carson: About a year ago, I fell trying to go down a water runoff and hit my right wrist pretty bad. It hurts sometimes when the weather changes, or I am really getting down on the guitar for awhile, but overall it was worth it for the fun!
Which of your band’s songs are the best to skate to?
Justin: The entire album would be worth skating to but my personal choices would be “I Suck in Bed,” “Dead in a Graveyard” and “It’s All Melted”.
Carson: I’ll say, when we were still recording the album, there was a vocal session that I was alone with Michael Shackleford in the studio and we were working on “Untitled,” I found a great deal of enjoyment in skating around listening to the harmonies in the chorus, something about it just has a surf/skate sort of vibe where you can just zone out and ride. Those are my favorite kind of tracks to roll on.”
(Listen to Dirty Lungs here: http://thedirtylungs.bandcamp.com/.)