By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
"Turning 40 means about as much to me as turning 10," says Dando. "It's just 39 with one more year added on."
Speaking from his New York home a few days before the start of the first Lemonheads tour in a decade, Dando is his classically petulant self, still straddling the line between lout and genius, oftentimes coming across as a sobriety-challenged, semi-likable, dumb-ass savant. Mumbling and slurring out responses, Dando doesn't come off as angry as much as perpetually bummed out.
"I don't answer questions about my drug use," he says, even though a recent article in Spin magazine had several lengthy quotes concerning just that. "That guy from Spin was a fucking asshole who made me out to be a jerk," says Dando, although doing such might not take as much work as he may think.
After struggling to garner significant attention with his solo career, and after his well-chronicled (and ongoing) battles with alcohol and drugs, Dando has settled down with his model wife (whose curvaceous image graces the CD's insert) and decided to reclaim the Lemonheads moniker, recruiting Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez of the Descendents as his newest bandmates. The trio released The Lemonheads last year and the disc is a semi return to form, with quickened tempos and less of the self-consciously mannered acoustic meanderings common to later releases by the band and on Dando's solo material. Featuring cameos by Garth Hudson (The Band) and longtime pal J. Mascis, the recent CD just might be the most coherent work Dando has ever mustered.
"This feels like a new beginning for me," says Dando, "a chance to work harder on the music, to just concentrate on good songwriting."
And while the new disc does boast some of the best songs of his career, it's hard to forget that Dando has always been better known for his slacker, sex-kitten persona than his musical acumen. Like John Reznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Dando has found it difficult to be both a serious musician and a teen-beat poster boy; he didn't ask to be the latter, and he also doesn't appreciate the comparison.
"That guy's a weirdo," says Dando of Reznik. "I mean have you looked at his face, all those implants, all that plastic surgery?"
Dando is even less subtle when talking about the current music scene, especially bands of the emo genre, many of which list the Lemonheads as an influence.
"I don't like much coming out these days," says Dando. "They call it cabaret rock, all this overblown horse shit, like it's a fucking circus, all show and no songs."
Dando doesn't want to mention any band by name, but adds, "All these guys talk in interviews like they're fucking important."