Taylor DeBoer Interviews Dungeon Kids on the eve of their second EP
You wouldn’t expect the songwriter behind one of Baltimore’s catchiest rock bands to be a fan of early 90s English synth-pop and 60s soul music. Well, that’s until you sit down and talk to Dan Windsor for an hour or so and realize that, for just 22 years old, the dude has musical roots that go deeper than most people twice his age. Windsor, along with guitarist Kinsey Matthews, bassist Ben Woodworth, and drummer Zac Yelnosky make up Dungeon Kids, who have quickly become one of my favorite Baltimore bands. Blending 90’s indie-rock with sloppy pop punk and beefy guitar riffs, Dungeon Kids give you energy and character – they are heavily influenced by a gamut of sounds but distinctly unique due to Windsor’s clever word play and vocal delivery, as well as the dueling guitar work between Windsor and Matthews.
After forming just over a year ago, Dungeon Kids are about to release their second EP, Twin Ebb Tide, out August 15 – their fourth release in just over a year. I caught up with Windsor, Matthews, and Yelnosky at a diner in Station North last month to chat about their upcoming release. We also talked about video games, obscure early 90s synth-pop, old soul music and The Wire. Some of that conversation is in the interview below.
Taylor DeBoer: The new EP, Twin Ebb Tide, what’s it like? Similar to Oh, How It Hurts?
Kinsey Matthews: I think it’s a lot different.
Dan Windsor: Kinsey wasn’t in the band on the first EP, so him coming into the band ushered in a lot of maturity that we just didn’t have before.
Zac Yelnosky: We wrote and recorded this EP with the same lineup, so there was continuity there.
TD: Where did that title come from?
DW: I’m not really sure…I think I was watching an episode of The Wire and someone on the show mentioned an ebb tide. And I just said, “Fuck it, I’m taking it.” And it sounds like a “twin ebb tide” kinda album, I guess. And no one objected – that’s how a lot of names go. I think we are good at finding the meaning of something once it all comes together.
KM: What is the line for it?
DW: “Imaginary twin ebb tide”
TD: Oh there’s a line on the EP?
DW: Yeah it’s in a song called “Sunny Smiles.”
KM: Which is based off of a character from the video game Fallout: New Vegas.
TD: You guys have been playing a lot of shows recently in Baltimore and you went on a small East Coast tour, right?
DW: Yeah we did a few shows with Us and Us Only and Teen Suicide including Shea Stadium in Brooklyn.
TD: How was that?
KM: That was the best show on tour, for sure.
TD: I love the “Wife Out” video. How did that idea come about? I know Sean Mercer of Us and Us and Wolfstream produced it, right?
DW: I personally have never really been a music video guy. Like, “What am I going to do in a music video?” I really didn’t wanna do it but Sean [Mercer] and our friends really wanted us to do one.
ZY: We pitched this idea of all being in one room with different scenes.
DW: We were actually trying to pitch something that Sean wouldn’t wanna do, but he loved it, haha.
KM: Sean, Nick and Joe did hard-ass work on that video too. Great work.
TD: I hear a 90’s indie/college rock influence in your music. What do you consider the biggest musical influences on Dungeon Kids?
KM: Anyone’s perception of what we sound like is interesting to me – especially if it’s something I’ve never heard before. The word I usually use to describe our music is “energetic.”
TD: What inspires you to write these songs?
KM: It might be a romanticized idea of Dan that I have, but I see Dan going between watching The Sopranos and The Wire and listening to old soul songs for a couple hours and then sitting down and writing for the rest of the night.
TD: Dan, you’re a big soul music fan?
DW: Yeah, I listen to a lot of soul music and Motown. Sometimes I feel like I need that specific kind of warmth. Back in the day I would listen to really old, crazily arranged songs and cop hooks from them and then throw a weirder riff over top so you couldn’t really tell. The song “Happiness” from Twin Ebb Tide is totally the same melody as this Barbara Mason song called “Yes, I’m Ready” but you’d never know.
TD: I am not familiar with Barbara Mason?
ZY: She’s an old Motown singer.
DW: She made so many records, but she had incredible stage freight and anxiety so she couldn’t sing in front of an audience. She’s made decades worth of albums but didn’t get notoriety back then because her lack live performances.
TD: What artists/bands that you guys love would shock people? Maybe someone that influences you but sounds NOTHING like Dungeon Kids.
KM: I love Beyonce. Her new album is phenomenal.
ZY: I listen to old Russian composers on NPR or ridiculous rap music in my free time.
KM: Dan, what’s that one song “Wild Horses?”
KM: Yeah it sounds like a Pitchfork hype-track but it’s from like 1990.
DW: I listened to Prefab Sprout on repeat for like seven months and nothing else. It was a weird year. You gotta check them out.
TD: Who are your favorite Baltimore bands?
DW: A lot of my favorite bands in general are local bands – my friends’ bands, actually.
KM: Soft Cat. If I write a slow part in a song, I want it to sound like Soft Cat.
DW: Julia Brown, Raindeer.
ZY: Surf Harp, for sure.
Dungeon Kids are celebrating the release of Twin Ebb Tide this Saturday, August 16th at Windup Space with Surf Harp, Goblin Mold and Julia Brown. The show is FREE. On a side note, I haven’t stopped listening to Prefab Sprout or Barbara Mason, so Dan Windsor’s recommendations are spot on.
Friday, August 16th, you can buy Twin Ebb Tide on their Bandcamp.
*Author Taylor DeBoer grew up in the Baltimore area and studied Writing and Sociology at Loyola University Maryland. He is a local writer, music lover, and edits a website that he co-founded, Manikmusic.net. Follow him on Twitter at TayDeBoer23