The Dust-Ups by The Dust-Ups | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney

Greetings, The Dust-Ups! Congratulations on your self titled debut album! For those who may not know you guys, tell us a bit about yourselves and how you met.

I [Ryan Chatelain] had been wanting to try to put a band together like this for a few years - a fun bar band with catchy, rockin' country songs. I didn't know if it was even possible in New Jersey, but one day, as everyone was emerging from the pandemic, I thought I'd finally give it a shot. I posted something on a Facebook group telling people what I wanted to do. One of the people who responded was Joe Palmisano, now our guitarist/pedal steel player. He said he liked Old 97's and Uncle Tupelo - two of my favorite bands - and I knew he understood exactly what I was trying to do. We had drinks to talk things over and then set out to fill out the rest of the band. We later found Alek Speck (drums) and Stephen Swalsky (bass) on Craigslist. I was just so fortunate to find three guys as talented, cool and easy to work with as them.

You describe yourselves as having a down-home country sound with punk rock spirit. How did you guys come to decide on blending those two things?

We're inspired a lot by the pioneers of alt-country from the '90s who were all cut from that same cloth. Like I mentioned, Old 97's and Uncle Tupelo, but also bands like Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, early Wilco, the Bottle Rockets, Drive-By Truckers. Of course, classic country is at the heart of pretty much everything we do, but we love punk, too, which can seep into our songwriting. Some of our songs can feel like we're racing, and others can get pretty loud.

Some of your biggest influences include the Old 97s and Uncle Tupelo. Who were some of your other influences that you each have that helped shape the sound of the band?

Yeah, them and those other bands I just mentioned. It's such a wide range. Also classic country like Johnny Cash, newer stuff like the Turnpike Troubadours. Joe, who writes half our songs, draws from artists like Neil Young, Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes, Waxahatchee.

Your songs are not only extremely catchy, but also really well arranged. You can never go wrong with twangy guitars and the sound pedal steel! When writing the songs, did you already have the idea to add the pedal steel to the tracks like "Only Good Thing", "Good For You", and Adirondack Moon" or did that come when you recorded them?

Like I said, I write half the songs and Joe writes half. Joe can play lead guitar, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo, dobro - anything with strings really. On the songs I write, I email them out to the band and then show up at rehearsal in suspense about which instrument Joe chose to play on it. Of the three songs you mentioned, Joe only wrote "Only Good Thing," and he set out to write something pedal steel driven there. Joe's in another band, the indie rock group Part-Time Custodian, and a big reason he joined our band was because he was looking for an outlet to show off his pedal steel chops.

There is a partially spoken part near the end of the track "Good For You". What was the reason by arranging the end of the song to be partially spoken and back to singing?

"Good For You" is a simple, three-chord song I wrote. It just kind of fell into place like that. I thought speaking the third verse, rather than singing it, would be a good way to help break up any monotony in the song. In my mind, it's a de facto bridge. I also think it was subconsciously inspired by classic country. It's something Johnny Cash, George Strait, George Jones, Dolly Parton, so many other have done over the years.

The song "Adirondack Moon" has a relaxing yet groovy vibe to it. Where did the title of it come from and what is the story behind the lyrics?

Yeah, "Adirondack Moon," is about a couple that is newly in love and wanting to block out the distractions of everyday life so they can just spend the day lost in each other. The chorus started to come together first when I wrote the lines "Let's follow the river over there/I like the way the mountains make me feel so small." So I knew then it was going to be a song that hung a lot on scenic imagery. Somewhere in the process, I thought to myself that we're kind of a weird band in the sense that we're a country band from New Jersey. Typically, a southern country band would sing about a southern place. So I thought that since we're a northeastern country band, we should sing about a northeastern place. Lake Placid is one of my favorite places to visit, and the Adirondacks just seemed like a great fit for that river and those mountains.

"Evangeline" is such an earworm. Who is Evangeline and why did you write a song about her?

"Evangeline" is a tribute to my home state of Louisiana, more specifically the Acadiana area where I went to college. It's about a couple that meets at the Frog Festival - which sounds weird but is a real thing -- and then bonds over Cajun culture. The name "Evangeline" comes from a famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem about a girl searching for her lost lover after the Acadians were expelled from Canada in the 1700s. Those Acadians settled in Louisiana and are better known today as Cajuns. In our song, Evangeline is really Louisiana personified.

"Lord and Savior" has some very interesting yet moving lyrics. What is the meaning behind them and what gave you the thought to write it?

The hook came to me one day in the shower: "You can tell my lord and savior I won't be on my best behavior." I then built the story around that. I think we've all had those times in our lives when it feels like nothing is going right - romatically, professionally, whatever - and that can lead some people to make bad choices.

Along with the release of your debut album, you also have some shows coming up soon. On May 19th, you will be performing at the Great Swamp Great Music Festival in Chatham Township, NJ. Then, you will be playing at the Two Ton Brewing Co. in Kenilworth, NJ on June 22nd. After that, you will be playing at Pino's in Highland Park, NJ on August 24th. And finally, you will be performing an acoustic show at the Boonton Coffee Co. in Boonton, NJ on September 6th. What can audiences expect from and be excited about for these shows?

We like to keep our shows lively and fun. Our songs are mostly upbeat and catchy. And we're country, but we can get sort of loud and we give Joe room to rip the kind of guitar solos you might have expected to see at a 1970s arena rock concert. We're very mindful of the fact that a lot of people are seeing us for the first time and that we want to give them a reason to come back.

We're excited that, at the Great Swamp Great Music Festival, Emily Witkowski, who sang backing vocals on the album, will join us on stage for the first time ever. We'll probably be unveiling some new songs at Two Ton. Pino's should be a really fun show, with Ruby Bones and Levy Okun joining us. They're both really great. And that acoustic show at Boonton Coffee will have a different feel. We did our first acoustic show earlier this year at More Barn Studios and had so much fun and enjoyed the challenge of rearranging some of our songs that we instantly wanted to do it again.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

Just please check out the album on the streaming services . If you like what you hear, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and tell your friends about us. And please support local, original music, even if it's not us!

Artist Bio:
The Dust-Ups blend a down-home country sound with punk rock spirit. While they all call New Jersey home today, The Dust-Ups' origins span from New Orleans to Quebec, allowing their alt-country signature to resonate as far from regional. Before becoming known for their lively, catchy songs, the outfit was assembled in 2022 after lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Ryan Chatelain, a veteran of the New Orleans and New York solo-acoustic scenes, laid down roots in New Jersey and put out the call for musicians on Facebook and Craigslist. Multi-instrumentalist Joe Palmisano answered and expressed a shared fondness of some of Chatelain's biggest influences, including Old 97's and Uncle Tupelo, and the two then partnered to start what would eventually become known as The Dust-Ups. Shortly after, bassist Stephen Swalsky, formerly of the alt-country bands Coal Palace Kings and Mud, Blood & Beer, and drummer Alek Speck, who toured the world with the indie rock group Run Run Run, completed the lineup. So far, the four-piece band has driven their quintessential alt-country charm through the PA systems at The Stanhope House and Crossroads in New Jersey, Rockwood Music Hall in NYC and John & Peter's in New Hope, Pennsylvania, among other clubs and events. With Palmisano seamlessly switching from lead guitar to pedal steel to mandolin, crowds can always expect the unexpected. The symbiotic songwriting relationship between Chatelain and Palmisano brings a unique dynamic to The Dust-Ups, who released their eponymous debut album March 8. Now that the polishing touches have been put on the album, The Dust-Ups are endeavoring to continue extending the legacy of alt-country while remaining inspired by country legends and channeling their fervor for the genre into euphonic harmonies and raw, heartfelt lyrics.

About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on all platforms.

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