Coming from the greater Chicago area is Dennis J. Leise. Leise is a country, folk, and rockabilly musician who’s always serving up metaphor and powerful statements on religion, cellphone addiction, and life… oh, and sometimes he’ll write a song about breakfast. As he gets ready to release The World That You Grew Up In Is No More, VENTS MAGAZINE is proud to interview him. Read the conversation with Dennis below!
How would you describe your sound? Where do you draw inspiration from?
My sound is a bit of a challenge to pigeon-hole. A friend of mine described it as “Vintage-sounding music with an overlay of modern ideas and themes in the lyrics.”. I sometimes think of it as socially conscious music that doesn’t suck.
I draw inspiration from all over. My musical tastes are all over the place time and genre-wise, so what I generate is a bit of a reflection of that. Lyrically, mostly I tend to favor lyrics that reflect things that are both current and in some ways timeless, with an endeavor toward the Zeitgeist.
How did COVID-19 impact you as an artist?
I’d say COVID-19 has had some impact on me, but not as much as most musicians as music is one of my side-gigs. Through it, eventually I noticed that not enough rich, old, white assholes were dying off from it, so I figured not much would change. Among the predicted non-changes was that people would go from being attentive listeners at live shows after the drought of live entertainment, back to a room full of constantly chatting assholes while others were trying to listen. Based on this, I did craft a song called “Please Shut Up” that basically is a singalong that encourages audiences to take matters into their own hands and tell the people around them to stifle it.
What is “Dipshits” about? What message does it have about the digital space and social media?
“Dipshits” is a fairly straightforward jab at people who are addicted to technology—in this case, their phones. There is a gentler B-side to this one on the record called “In Screens” that basically calls out that we’ve become slaves to our gadgets. I think there is something missing in my genes, or perhaps it’s because I work in technology and know too much and/or am exposed to it too much, but to me there seems to be something weak-minded in all of it. What good is it to be a person if we need a computer or a phone to do everything for us?–And yes, I get the irony of everyone who is reading this is doing so on a computer or their phone. The song is to everyone, about everyone, for everyone’s enjoyment, either in jest or in ponderance.
What inspired you to write “Dipshits”? How did that inspiration translate into the music video?
The word Dipshits was finding it’s way back into use a few years back and it couldn’t have been better timed. It’s such a good word. The modern, social media-charged world is seemingly infested with dipshits. In some way or another, we are probably all dipshits to someone else.
The inspiration for the song, I think, came one day when I noticed someone almost getting hit by a car in the Chicago Loop. The person was crossing the street, looking at their phone. The guy driving the car also was looking at his phone. I decided to take record of this and do a little research on my lunch hours. In one outing, I saw no less than 4 instances of people almost being hit by cars either due to they or the driver being distracted. This is maybe in the span of a half hour on any given day. Dipshits are everywhere.
The video originally was going to be stock video footage of people doing different things from stock pictures. In the event that it took off, I didn’t like the idea of just calling a bunch of strangers dipshits, so Rob Fitzgerald and I worked out the video of a bunch of historical failed ideas that were thought up by dipshits that correlated to some degree with the lyrics of the song.
What major projects do you have for the upcoming year? What can fans expect from you?
For the coming year, I’ll be fully releasing my new record The World That You Grew Up In Is No More digitally and maybe something on a hard copy. I hope to get back into the studio to flush out some more ideas and I also will be playing out a bit more than this past year, with several gigs in the can around Chicago and hopefully elsewhere.
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