“We’ll go out and play a show, sweat our asses off for three hours, get off stage and stay up until four or five in the morning with the good people we meet and then we’ll wake up at eight or nine and hit the river or get on the mountain. It’s a full force band.”
The Dodgy Mountain Men is one of Missoula’s most quintessential band. Probably because they’ve been playing in and around Missoula for over seven years, or that their distinct Montana sound comes through in their hard-hitting but welcoming music. However you’ve seen them live, or felt their music, it can’t be ignored that the Dodgy Mountain Men are like eating a chicken fried steak at the Oxford at 3 in the morning – you haven’t truly lived in Missoula until you’ve experienced them.
When I interviewed Jed Nussbaum, one of the vocalists and guitar players of the Dodgy Mountain Men, it was a Tuesday evening at the Union Club. The regulars were playing ping pong or chatting up the bartenders about the venue’s new paint job, while Nussbaum and I were in back, sitting in one of the Union’s weathered booths. We were talking everything Dodgy Mountain Men related and beyond – from the band playing the last old Top Hat Show, their newest album Changing Lanes, to my hopes that #getdodgy would become a trending hashtag in Missoula.
Here are the highlights from our conversation over a pitcher of the finest domestic ale the happy hour had to offer.
For those who don’t know – who are the Dodgy Mountain Men?
Nussbaum -The DDM are a four-piece, stompgrass outfit out of Missoula, MT. Loud, rowdy roots-based party music, basically.
Stompgrass doesn’t really do The Dodgy Mountain Men music enough justice.
N – We’re turning more and more into a rock band now adays, but we’re still holding onto those roots elements. We were always more of a rock-and-roll band but [The Dodgy Mountain Men] started more as more of a rootsy project.
It feels like everything is there to call the Dodgy Mountain Men bluegrass music, but you can’t actually do that.
N – A lot of people who aren’t into bluegrass will call us a bluegrass band, and that’s fine by me. But if your into bluegrass and you come to one of our shows, you’re definitely going to be like “This isn’t a bluegrass band.”, but hopefully you like us.
We’ll go out and play a show, sweat our asses off for three hours, get off stage and stay up until four or five in the morning with the good people we meet and then we’ll wake up at eight or nine and hit the river or get on the mountain. It’s a full force band.
You guys were the last old Top Hat show ever. Can you talk about that night?
N – That was one of the best night of my life. Closing down the old Top Hat was a euphoric experience.
We had a band out of Bellingham playing with us called Polecat. It was a clear the kegs party, it was a five dollar cover. It basically was just clean out the beer, and the beer was gone before we got on-stage, which was around 11:30. People were going hard.
The place was packed, more packed then I had ever seen it, there were probably around 600 – 700 people there that night. It was jam-packed, it was a blast. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever played.
The Dodgy Mountain Men preforming “Sleep When I’m Dead” at the last old Top Hat show.
You guys are playing Treefort this year. Are you guys looking forward to it?
N – Absolutely looking forward to it. We played back in 2012 to a packed house, packed front to back. We had a great time, sold a bunch of merchandise and have wanted to get back there since then. [Josh Clinger] and I went back there again in 2013 and had a blast, and tried really hard to get on last year.
Treefort is such a cool thing, there are so many bands. The fun thing as a musician is that it’s one big musician’s party. You’re just partying with other bands, from start to finish. You get to see so much inspiring music and make so many good connections with other bands.
We’re going down to play for a bunch of people who have never seen us before, so we’re going to play a tight set with the best of [The Dodgy Mountain Men].
Your latest album, Changing Lanes feels like a collaborative effort of individual expressions.
N – All three of us are very different songwriters – Josh is the predominant love song writer in the band, I write songs that are more proletariat and Boss splits it right down the middle. We complement each other well, and it allows a lot of diversity to come into the band.
We call the record Changing Lanes to signify that we had changed as a band so much. The whole notion of change is what the [album] deals with – break up tunes to being on the road to just dealing with mortality or how your life changes. That really is the bedrock for that record.
It feels like a compilation of songs about growing.
N – Yeah. Absolutely. Of course, Missoula shines through it, we’ve all been in Missoula for a long time. Montana as a state is a huge part of our identity.
How do you feel that idea of Montana identity plays into your music?
N – We’re bringing that northern, mountain identity into a ramped up roots band. We don’t really have the laid back poppiness, there’s a lot more aggressiveness that comes out in our music. I think that has something to do with living in Montana, it’s burley out here. This isn’t a state for sissies.
Any parting words with your audience?
N – Yeah. I don’t think we’ll ever be the best singers or soloists out there, but we are is an experience for people to come in and enjoy all around. We’ve got personality and attitude and we’re a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with and dance to. It makes it more of an interactive experience for our audience to be with.
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This interview was produced in partnership with Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT).