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The Dimes prove they're no cheap talent

Photo courtesy of The Dimes
The Dimes aren't a dime a dozen, and they are playing today on the UA Mall at noon. The best part is that you don't have to shell out any change to see them.
By Andi Berlin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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There comes a time in every little band's life when they finally get a chance to throw their touring diapers away and trade them in for a pair of regular underwear: the production studio.

The Portland, Ore., quartet, The Dimes, was wearing diapers for quite a while, but decided full-on underwear just wasn't the right thing for them. That's why they decided to go for something more along the lines of pull-ups instead. (I'm a big band now!)

The Dimes have been labeled as one of the hardest working bands in indie rock namely because of their intensive touring schedule. Only three weeks after finishing their album, the band pushed themselves to play 90 shows in the period of about a year.

Because The Dimes hold themselves to a very high standard on the road, they wanted that work ethic to come out on their latest album, Atlanta. So, during the recording process, they tried something a little different.

Instead of layering each instrument on top of each other separately (like most bands do in the studio nowadays) The Dimes recorded most of their album live. They played the songs together in the studio, then went back and added production touches at the end.

"We went into it as a band that presented a vibe live," said vocalist Johnny Clay. "We're really into the atmosphere of the show."

The result was a more cohesive and emotionally raw sound that captured the live energy of their stage show. Instead of an album full of production work, Atlanta. is a passionate portrait of the entire band.

So if the results are so spectacular, why doesn't every band try recording live? "A lot of people just get intimidated by the studio setting," Clay said. "The scary part about that is, you all have to nail it."

But The Dimes have had a lot of practice in that area. In addition to extensive amounts of time perfecting their stage show, they have also grown up listening to the sounds that they want to build upon.

Also a huge fan of bands like The Beatles, Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie, Clay models many of the principles of his music after U2.

"You go back and look at some of those songs, and it's like man, they did so much with so little. There's not an orchestra behind them or whatever, but the song is so full."

Although groups that utilize more production work such as Radiohead and the Postal Service catch Clay's eye, he prefers as of now to develop the band's sound in a more traditional way. This can include bringing in a cellist or two from time to time (or just on the new record) to add a little classical glitz.

The band's cellist may be absent from their performance today at noon on the UA mall, but their sound will probably be just as crisp as the record, even if they are playing in front of a tough passing crowd.

"You know going into those gigs. And the cool thing is, isn't that sort of the ultimate challenge of the musician? It's like, OK, I've got 15 seconds to grab your attention and make you want to know more about me, so I better do it right now," Clay said.

The Dimes will be performing on the UA Mall today at noon, and at the Red Room at the Grill at 9 p.m. No cover.

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