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DFL: an interview with Monty Messex of LA punk legends Dead Fucking Last

Fresh off their new single release on SBÄM and Say-10 Records (stream below), hardcore punk legends DFL (Dead Fucking Last) join us today with a speical interview, conducted by Josh Goldman of Rad Girlfriend Records, Raging Nathans, and Dopamines.

YRUDFL is the first track from DFL‘s upcoming EP on Say-10 Records and SBÄM Records. It was produced by Greg Hetson. It is the first major release since “Grateful”, which was released on Epitaph in 1997. DFL previously toured with Rancid, NOFX, Sick Of It All, Suicidal Tendencies and many many more. They also released their first record on Grand Royal, the label of the Beastie Boys.

July last year marked the 25th anniversary of DFL’s Proud to Be LP. “When the album was originally released, the band had just migrated from the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label to Epitaph, and were ready to cut an album that, while quickly recorded, became one of their definitive statements.”- comments PunkNews in their recent feature & interview (check it out HERE). “Released at the height of pop punk slickness, Proud to Be was a rough, raw, ragged hardcore record. While it threw back to the damaged geniuses of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the record sounded distinctly fresh when it was released. The strange thing is that the record rocks so hard that it sounds timely, or even timeless today.”

An interview with Monty Messex (guitarist and vocalist for DFL), conducted by Josh Goldman.

First off, I just want to say that I feel highly under qualified for this. You guys should be interviewed by fucking Nardwuar because there is so much history behind your band. But I’m going to do my best. Lets give it a shot!

Thanks for having me. Oh, Tom is training for an underwater-karate-surfing match and is currently incommunicado. That match will be broadcasted live on TikTok, if you wanna check it out.

Anyway, let’s do this!

You guys just released your new single “YRUDFL” on Say-10 Records and SBAM Records. Your first releases were on Grand Royale, followed by records on Epitaph. When DFL got back together, what was your experience like trying to navigate an industry that has changed so much in the last 20 years?

A lot of things changed since I was last at it. For one, the internet pretty much reshaped the music biz. But even so, I’ve found the punk scene is alive and amazing these days, and probably bigger than ever.

Brett Gurewitz from Epitaph was really cool and supportive. He’d always take my calls and provide guidance. He was down to do a 20th anniversary release of Proud To Be. Thx, Mr. Brett!

DFL has gone through some line-up changes over the years including members of the Beastie Boys, Suicidal Tendencies, Minor Threat and Union 13. Was having different members in the band, especially dudes of that pedigree, something that was helpful in terms of keeping things fresh in the band or did it hinder you in any way, like constantly having to rehearse old material instead of being able to focus on writing new stuff?

For some reason we’ve had a revolving line up of bass players and drummers. Not sure why, but I’m stoked to have worked with some amazing musicians over the years. That said, it’s a lot of work teaching people the set. Our songs are short and may seem simple, but playing them right is fucking hard. The guys we’re playing with now are great. Edgar was in Union 13 and Adam was in Narcoleptic Youth. Both dudes are excellent musicians and super nice dudes to boot.

Tom and I have been core members since the beginning of DFL. In terms of song writing, Tom pretty much writes the lyrics and I write the music. Sometimes I’ll come up with a chorus, and Tom will handle the verses. That’s how we’ve written most DFL songs, including on our new EP “YRUDFL” that’s due out on SBAM and Say-10 this summer. Greg Hetson has been a friend since were kids and it was great having him produce it.

Let’s talk about the Beastie Boys connection for a minute. The original line up consisted of you guys, Adam Horovitz and Tony Converse on drums. Tom, your sister used to be married to Mike D. who also had a short stint in DFL. Is that how you guys linked up?

We actually linked up with the Beasties through Adam Horovitz. I grew up with Adam’s ex-wife Ione Skye. I met Adam when he and Ione were first dating in the early 90s. It was a really cool time in LA. The Beasties moved here from New York. They set up G-Son and were recording Check Your Head (one of my top 10 records of all time). We’d go to lunches, and birthday parties and hang out at the studio and just do stuff. Plus Ione and Adam used to babysit my son Bela, which was helpful and cool. I went to their wedding and they went to mine. It was a tight scene back then.

Anyway, one day I was hanging out with Adam and I said “hey, I wrote a bunch of hardcore songs. You wanna start a band?” He was like “yeah”, so we got Tom and Tony involved and jammed the songs at G-Son. Mario C recorded one of our early rehearsals and that was our first Grand Royal 7”. I came up with the name DFL. It’s actually a sailing term I heard my dad say. In the summer I’d visit my dad in Maine and we’d go to sailing races. He’d say the boat that came in last was DFL.

You guys grew up in the LA Hardcore scene in the 80s. In fact, Tom, you’re actually on the cover of “Wild in the Streets”, right? What kind of influence did those bands have on DFL and who were your favorite bands to see play?

There were so many great bands and shows back then, I can’t really say I had one favorite. I mean, we’d go to shows practically every single night and see bands like Bad Religion, the Germs, China White, Black Flag, the Adolescents and the Circle Jerks. They were all great. It was crazy. Anyway, that period in the early 80s had a huge impact on me as a song writer and as a person. I really try to channel that scene into my music.

Monty, you recently celebrated 30 years of sobriety. Congratulations. That’s a bit longer than the existence of DFL. Did playing in a punk band that toured heavily with hard partying bands pose unique challenges to staying sober?

Oh, thanks! It’s been a minute, hasn’t it! Grateful. You know, there were times when it was awkward or uncomfortable to be around people who were partying, but I guess since my focus was on playing music and the tour it really never became a problem for me. I actually had opportunities to be there for guys who were struggling with drugs and alcohol. When we were on tour with Sublime I got to know Bradley pretty well. We had some really honest conversations about life and drugs. When he OD’d I was just gutted.

So sad and what a loss.

In the time off from DFL, Monty you started The Family Dog and did some solo music and Tom you started General Fucking Principal. Were you guys in touch with each other that entire time and what happened that made you guys want to start playing together as DFL again? Was it anything specific?

When DFL broke up in 1997, Tom and I drifted apart and we really had very little contact until we got back together in 2013. I had no hard feelings towards Tom. I mean I love that guy like a brother. When Tom texted me about getting back together, DFL was the furthest thing from my mind. I was working at my public health job and being a dad and a husband. I mean I really had moved on. To be honest I was a little apprehensive about starting back with DFL, but in the end it just felt like the right thing to do.

Tom, It’s clear that skateboarding has been a big influence for you. Your homie Tony Alva was in GFP with you. I think for lifers, punk rock and skateboarding are parallel and seen as a way you live your life instead of just a sport or just a style of music. Skateboarding, like the music industry, has changed so much in the last two decades I’m curious if there are any teams or guys you follow currently and who were some of your favorite skaters growing up?

Fuck, tell me about it! I’ve skated my whole life. But the shit the kids are doing today is next level, real life video game shit! I follow a buncha skaters on Instagram, mostly guys that ride bowls and ramps, since that’s what I grew up on. I really dig Ivan Federico, Clay Kreiner and Pedro Borros. The stuff they’re doing is mind blowing. Also, the women have really stepped up and are killing it. I also follow some old-school skaters like Caballero, Dressen and Alva. They still shred and I dig checking out what they’re up to.

Your new EP comes out soon and you’re doing a split 7” with the Raging Nathans on Rad Girlfriend Records. Do you guys have any plans to release another full length and will you be playing any shows or touring at all in support of the new releases?

We’re always working on new music so I’d a say a full length is definitely in the cards. Tom is a great song writer, and the track we did with Edgar and Adam (Misunderstood) is one of our best. So yeah, I hope we can continue to put out new music! We’re actually working on a few songs right now for the Raging Nathans’ split. So hopefully, we can get those songs sorted out and recorded soon.

Playing live is the best part of being in a band, so for sure we wanna play some shows in support of the EP. Tom and I are older now, so I don’t think we’re gonna jump in a van for a six week tour like with did in the 90s with Pennywise or Slayer, but we have some festivals booked in 2022, and other things are in the works. I think once the world opens back up, there’s gonna be a lot of rad things happening!

I heard that someone in the band got the masters back for your first record “My Crazy Life” originally on Grand Royale. Any plans to reissue it?

That’s true. I actually bought the My Crazy Life masters. I got them off this rando company that snapped up the Grand Royal catalog when it was in bankruptcy in the early 2000s. I’m working on a record deal right now for a reissue. I can’t really say more since the deals not finalized, but for stay tuned it’s gonna be rad.

Finally I just want to say thanks for letting me ask you guys some questions and I really want to know what are you guys currently listening to right now. Like if you got in the car, what would come on?

Oh, if you got in my car right now you’d probably hear SiriusXM 1st Wave. They play bands I hated back in the 80’s like Depeche Mode and the Cure, but also good stuff like the Clash and Ramones.

Anyway, I dug this interview, you’d make Nardwuar proud.

DFL: an interview with Monty Messex of LA punk legends Dead Fucking Last
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