Much like the band's music, it can be difficult to interpret the claims of Knoxville quintet Dumb Lunch. However, they appear to be dead serious on a new format that will transform its old drug-addled electronic hip-hop into something ultra-organic, something for people to hike to.
Founded on absurdity, Dumb Lunch formed shortly after the breakup of I Need Sleep, much like its counterpart Marina Orchestra. Turned off by the formulaic bands of the South by Southwest festival, the Marina faction of I Need Sleep upped its ante of musical incorporations; Dumb Lunch opted for something even more extreme — a satirical act ridiculing the attempts of the commonplace bands that populated the event and the modern airwaves.
"South by Southwest wasn't such a turning point for us," explains DUMB (vocals, drums, strings). "When I Need Sleep broke up, I gave up on my dream of being a career musician. We started Dumb Lunch as a response to that song 'Shots' by LMFAO. Music has become so meaningless now; basically, we wanted to make it for ourselves and also represent the natural sounds you hear outside. When we went to SXSW our intention was to emphasize how stupid that festival is, how it's not about real music. It's about money."
Dumb Lunch began as a largely pre-recorded band shaping scattered beats, samples and narcotic-themed vocals into swirling soundtracks for nights hunched over a toilet bowl. It has since evolved drastically with each release. For its third and upcoming project, the band has gone au naturel, recording and splicing together outdoor sounds to accompany hiking. This new transcendental approach will culminate in a project of 24 hours of sound recorded onto a box set of cassette tapes complete with a Walkman, entitled "Hike2."
"Think about when you're on a long hike," says DUMB. "What do you hear? Birds, wind, streams, insects — there is natural rhythm to all of it, although it's not just one pattern; it's everything working together that makes it music. When we're playing 'Hike2', it's about using many different elements. We record one thing at a time on tape, then put about 20 different tapes together to create one song.
"It's totally serious," DUMB continues of the recording project. "We're probably about 5 percent done with it right now. It's gonna be a lot of work, but we're planning on spending most of July in the woods and recording a big chunk of it. It's all being made with cassette tapes — no computers. And it will be released as a box set with 10 to 15 tapes. Included will be a Walkman and headphones so you can pop a tape in and go hiking immediately."
Impractical as its recordings sound, Dumb Lunch does acknowledge that standard venue gigs are no longer feasible for its new direction. Noting the necessity of an outdoor canvas for its sound, Dumb Lunch is presently planning a July 4 exhibition to accompany Knoxville's fireworks displays. The band explains that such specialized outdoor performances will be its future means of performance.
"Dumb Lunch is no longer doing rock shows," confirms DUMB. "We'd like to think of ourselves as sound artists more than anything. It was fine for us to play shows when we were doing the whole hip-hop thing, but now that we're working on 'Hike2,' it's not something that can just be added to a bill. We have to create the whole experience. So we're only playing in special spaces now. We're not eliminating live shows, just changing the conditions.
"Our next event is going to be a 4th of July secret show. We'll be performing sights and sounds to go along with the fireworks display in downtown Knoxville. Since this type of thing could get shut down, we're going to keep the location a secret — probably keep it VIP. There'll be a password to get in, that type of thing."
CLOTHES BEFORE HOS: Plainclothes Tracy joins Hudson K and The StereoFidelics (Asheville) for a show at Preservation Pub Friday, May 18. Music is slated for 10 p.m. and admission is $5.
LOVE WILL TEAR US APART (AGAIN): The Well hosts Teenage Love and Josephus and the George Jonestown Massacre Saturday. The show is scheduled for 10 p.m. with a $5 cover.