Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

DM Bob & the Deficits “They Call Me Country” (Influenza)

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

DM Bob Deficits

The history behind DM Bob & the Deficits is one that might not translate through a screen as it seems to be a story weathered by well over a decade of unique twists and turns. Earning a Master of Fine Arts degree from LSU in Baton Rouge, “Deutsche Mark” Bob (Robert Tooke) formed the trio with Django Reinhardt’s grandniece, Susie, and drummer Tank Top in 1995. Fast forward to present day where the group is based out of Hamburg, Germany, with Bob juggling his time as a painter (think art, not houses) and “music man.” What happened in between is where the computer screen might fail us, with its inability to breathe life into artifacts and stories from a surely fascinating history (though this page attempts to break down a few notes of interest), but for fans of the indie rock ilk, one significant plot (two, actually) on Bob’s timeline seems to stand out. Renowned for his taste and history of breaking talent, the late John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions remain a thing of legend: some seven years between appearances (1997 and 2004), Bob played ‘em twice.

It’s been said that DM Bob & the Deficit’s sound is derivative of “80s cow punk,” but in the case of “They Call Me Country” the group’s sound might better be described as one spitting sloppy reverb through the snarled teeth of the vintage original. A cover of classic rockabilly/country player Sanford Clark‘s “(They Call Me) Country,” the new version appears as the lead track on the group’s new album, and in this edition of Culture Bully’s Influenza series, Bob explains his introduction to the original, the development of the cover through the live setting, and finally the actual recording of the track, itself. “They Call Me Country” is taken from the album They Called Us Country, which is available now via Off Label Records.

Of course I knew about Sanford Clark’s rockabilly stuff from a couple of Bear Family reissues and I loved his smooth sound but it wasn’t till I heard the song “It’s Nothing to Me” that I became aware of his country music. While we were on tour in France I found a second hand CD comp. of his country sides (think this is Bear Family too). It was only at this point that I discovered his connection to Lee Hazlewood: the writer of “They Call Me Country.” Typical ironic Lee and as far as I know, he never recorded the song himself — would love to hear it if he did. Anyway DM Bob and the Deficits took it for our live sets and at some point (roughly 1998) made a recording of it.

I’d say about half of our recordings (five LPs and several 7 inch things) were done with a TASCAM HS cassette 4-track which we bought second hand with our first advance. The machine has a six channel board so there are two micros on the drums, two on Susie’s guitar (she plays lead here), one mic on my guitar amp and my old 60′s metal housed auditorium EV mic run through a tube pre-amp straight into the “board” for the vocal. Other than the EV I don’t recall which mics were used but they were all dynamic types slightly tweaked to enhance the instrument being recorded (with a bright edge — no noise reduction was used and no overdubs). It was done live in a tight space. One has 15 min per cassette so we usually did three or four versions and then picked our favorite. It was mixed down with a better board with some ambiance added and some delay — I “mastered” it with my desktop (Q-base LE I think it’s called). This was our usual method and sort of defined our sound — very direct — quite simple really. It was around this time though that we “upgraded” to an 8-track tape machine with better mics and more pre-amps etc. (and eventually over-dubs) but what I find cool is that one can’t really decipher the difference sonically on the record They Called Us Country. At least I can’t.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]