Dilly Dally are blinking in slow motion. Physical exhaustion. The excruciating din of equipment wheeling and whistling over shredded floorboards flushes over the band’s blood-sapped faces.
On a January afternoon at Dalston’s Victoria pub, guitarist and vocalist Katie Monks points out a threadbare chesterfield sofa. Behind her is drummer Benjamin Reinhartz, who speeds towards the cushioned seat. Bassist Jimmy Tony and lead guitarist Liz Ball stroke their feet along the boards before reclining in the empty spaces. With squinted eyes, Katie smiles and looks to her friends, “I was trying to fall asleep last night and I was just reminding myself that I really have to take care of my body this year.” Everyone whispers in agreement. “Came up with that idea about ten hours ago. Since then, all I’ve done is sleep, eat food and brush my teeth. So it seems like it’s going pretty good so far.”
Such is the physical demand for a small band experiencing first album hype. In October last year, the Toronto quartet finally released their excellent debut album, Sore. In compliance with the bespoke punk aesthetic of their labels, Toronto’s Buzz and New York’s Partisan, the record is a candied glossing of emotive grunge pop that’s rattled by Katie’s intense, coarsely- textured screams. Technically speaking, Sore was over six years in the making, with Katie and Liz working together as Dilly Dally’s songwriting nucleus, flitting from one band line-up to the next before resting with Benjamin and Jimmy in 2013.
Lyrically, Sore explores the social awkwardness of growing, and the general grubbiness of youth. So where does Katie’s social disquiet stem from? “It’s really scary,” she starts. “When I was younger, I used to be blown away by some of the things that would come out of my mouth. I would think ‘Fucking duh. Who is this person? This isn’t me. I’m not this wise’. It’s like I was telling myself what I needed to hear. I’m like my own guardian in some way, which sounds really intense.”
Today, Dilly Dally are resuscitating themselves before purging their bodies of energy onstage. “We don’t talk about the chaos,” Liz vouches for the others. Her and Katie exchange cordial glances as if reading each other’s minds.
“Yeah, that would make all of this real,” Katie concedes. “When we speak about the chaos of the future, it’s more fantasy that reality. It’s a very distant dreamworld full of aspirations as opposed to seeing a totally uncontrollable darkness. We’re more involved with how the record is being perceived – how the message is coming across. I’m more afraid of the future. I don’t want anything in the future to change what our fantasies are and what we’re striving for.”
Right now, the chaos of reality is colliding with Dilly Dally’s adolescent fantasies of touring as a band. Benjamin alludes to not having enough time for reflection as Jimmy highlights that everyone still has to worry about paying rent when you’re on the road. Liz admits that the cost of being in a band in 2016 is harder than it used to be; “You just hear how labels used to throw money in to making these one-hit wonder acts and make millions. It’s so different now.”
“Totally,” Katie concurs. “It also feels like between 2005 and 2010 there was this huge middle class of musicians capable of making a decent living on their music. But now, it feels like there’s way more of a class divide.”
She argues that the current state of the music industry is about ‘key players,’ critically acclaimed pop icons who monopolise almost every platform available. “It just seems tougher now to get to the top” she sighs, “But I think the vision for Dilly Dally has always been our integrity. That’s why it took us so long to finally get this record out. We’re trying to perfect ourselves in whatever way that means for us. It’s our life mission.”
For now, Dilly Dally are directing their attention to their upcoming tour dates – they’ve got two UK tours booked for the same month. Beyond that is the total unknown. An impulsive ‘fantasy future’ as they call it. “There’s no ceiling to this work,” Monks closes, stretching her arms upwards and yawning. “Just exponential possibilities.”
Dilly Dally appear on the Crack Magazine stage at The Great Escape, Brighton, 19-21 May