Dumb Poets are a difficult band to categorise. English Americana is one phrase that has been applied to them, and it is easy to see why. There is a hint of R.E.M. stylings to their sound, just as there is a thread of classic British Rock.
But wherever we can place them geographically, we can agree that the music they make is melodically on point and their songs finely crafted. It is easy to hear Kinks and Byrds influences filter through their songs, but it is easier just to sit back and enjoy them.
My own attention first focused on Dumb Poets as a result of their drummer being one Joe Musker, who is something of a local legend round these parts. Joe has sat on the drum stool for some of Liverpool’s very finest bands, including Wah! Heat, The Farm, Dead or Alive and Sun 13 favourites Come In Tokio.
In fact, I would lay a fairly substantial sum of money on betting that Mr Musker hold the record for playing on the most Peel Sessions with different bands, having done this for 5 different outfits.
I first came across Joe when he played drums for a friend’s band, 67, The Agency. After this, I would bump into him regularly around town, often on the way to gigs. We would chat and Joe would ask who I was going to see. Without missing a beat, he would have a story about how he knew members of these bands and tales of his interactions with them. This was the case from everyone from Southern Death Cult to The Fall, from Killing Joke to Comsat Angels.
His charm and geniality placed him at the centre of the musical world as it passed through Liverpool He also set up charity events such as the Drums Over The Mersey weekender that saw the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, China Crisis and Craig Charles play two all dayers at the Royal Court. These days, Joe teaches drumming SEN kids and organises events for charity under the Drumming 4 Life banner.
Dumb Poets have a run of releases and gigs happening in 2022 and you are strongly advised to check them out.
Sun 13 were able to ask singer Lance Riley 13 Questions. Read on to find out more about Jools Holland’s home grown and Paul Simon’s wig.
1. Where are you and what are you doing?
Lance Riley: “I’m sat in my kitchen eating rhubarb crumble and custard. First time for a decade. Rain falling down outside.”
2. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
LR: “Most days have concessions and frustration but nothing ever feels so shit as selling out to necessity.”
3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
LR: “I won’t count musicians as celebrities. Ray Davis is a writer but was so famous and cool to us. Kirsty was cool and Jools Holland gave me a huge bag of his home grown. But for me Adrian Chiles. Been on our side for yonks. Comes to gigs gets us on stuff. Lovely human being.”
4. When did you last get into an argument?
LR: “I try avoid them but it’s Sometimes unavoidable. I try keep a non personal. Not like the old days’ fights in the playground.”
5. What’s your favorite food?
LR: “I do love a mango.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
LR: “Everyday. I wouldn’t be on social media at all but for distant friends and the band.”
7. What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
LR: “Meeting my mate Simon Barnet from 6 music at Glastonbury, dropping some fine ecstasy and smoothing into the VIP bit at the front of the stage for Bowie. Coming up, oh yeah.. spiritual.”
8. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
9. What words of warning would you give your younger self?
LR: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are better than you think. Be nice to yourself.”
10. When were you last told off?
LR: “My mum when I told her I was giving up writing music.”
11. What has been your favourite decade for music?
LR:”Blimey, I wish I had been born in 1950 to get the sixties and seventies. There was good stuff to in the eighties but nineties for me. Mixed bag of all sorts. Best yet to come?”
12. Tell us a secret.
LR: “My mate used to wash Paul Simon’s wig by kicking round the bottom of her shower when doing his tour.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
LR: “Love and thanks for asking. Dumb Poets new single out April Magic Happens.”