Blag Dahlia, aka Blag the Ripper, is the longtime front-man and founder of Chicago band, the Dwarves. With roots dating back to the mid-‘80s, the band has seen its share of blood, sweat, and carnage. Often causing controversy with their lyrics and nudity-laden album covers, Blag has remained a figure who did not play by society’s rules and flourished because of it.
While many of his contemporaries fizzled out, he’s still out here raising hell and even toning things down a notch with his new alter ego, Ralph Champagne. I spoke with Blag recently about his new solo project, the next Dwarves’ album, and a couple of side projects that have kept him busy lately.
Kevin: Blag the Ripper in the place to be. How you doing, buddy?
Blag: (laughs) I’m doing good, man. Just getting ready to release my next solo album, “Introducing Ralph Champagne.” You know, I actually stole that name from none other than Josh Freese (Vandals drummer, as well as Sting, Devo, etc.). It was a nickname he used to use, and I thought it would be perfect for the project I was working on.
Kevin: That’s hilarious. I was actually going to ask you about Josh. I saw you guys in the studio and see that he’s been tracking drums for the Dwarves’ next album.
Blag: Yeah, I’ve known him for going on decades now and he’s actually recorded drums for a couple of Dwarves albums before. And our actual drummer, Snupac, is still going to be on the record. He’s got a couple of tracks he plays on.
Kevin: Nick Oliveri (formerly of Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) has been with you for a while now. I think he fits in perfectly with you guys; on one hand he’s a beast of a bass player, but vocally he also compliments and contrasts with you really well. For instance, his screeching vocals on songs like “We Only Came to Get High” and “Devil’s Level.”
Blag: Yeah, Nick is great. He’s been with us for a couple years now and it makes for a terrific dynamic. He fits in so well with the band’s chemistry. I’m so happy to have him working with us.
Kevin: You’re about to release “Introducing Ralph Champagne.” What can people expect?
Blag: It’s my solo record. A kind of retro-Americana, novelty album. Yeah, “Ralph Champagne,” that’s the new alter ego. It’s definitely a lot different from the Dwarves. There’s some folk songs, acoustic numbers. If you want to get a taste of what it’s like, check out the video for the first single, “Lolita Goodbye.”
Kevin: The video is hilarious. Being surrounded by two beautiful women, how did filming go?
Blag: Oh, man. We had a blast. It features the beautiful, Miss Eliza Winn playing my mother-in-law, and the sexy, Isabella De Vroede playing my lovely wife (laughs). They were both really cool and easy to work with. It’s directed by Joe Cardamone and his American Primitive crew. I’m really happy with the way it turned out; it fits the vibe of the song perfectly.
Kevin: Seeing that the video turned out so well, are you planning on doing any more videos for the album?
Blag: Yes, in fact we are working on it right now. The next single is going to be “Contraband” and it’s going to be completely animated, and the artwork is being done by MadTwins. If you don’t know them, they are these insanely talented twin sisters from Ukraine (Olga & Vira Ishchuk). I’ve seen bits of it so far and I’m so excited for everyone else to finally see it.
Kevin: I’m a huge Bad Cop/Bad Cop fan. I know you and Stacey Dee (guitarist and co-lead singer for Bad Cop/Bad Cop) have collaborated a lot in the past, probably most famously on “Sluts of the USA.” How did you guys first meet?
Blag: I’m a huge fan of hers. She used to be in a band a long time ago called the Angry Amputees. We played a show together and just hit it off really well. I wrote “Sluts of the USA” and thought this would really go well as a duet with a female. I thought her voice would go perfectly on the song, and I was right. Shout out to Stacey Dee and Bad Cop/Bad Cop.
Kevin: Speaking of duets, I heard you’re working on a cover of a Motörhead song?
Blag: Yeah, I’m working with Madd Lucas from Sik Sik Sicks on a cover of Motörhead’s “Please Don’t Touch” for an upcoming compilation. That’s going to kick ass, man.
Kevin: So, you’ve got the new solo album, you’re working on the next Dwarves album. Do you have any free time?
Blag: (laughs) It’s funny that you mention that, because in addition to all of that I have a book coming out. It’s called “Highland Falls.” It’s published by Rare Bird Books.
The book cover art is done by Zoe Lacchei. It’s a crazy ass fiction; a lot of sex, a lot of violence. You know me, man. It’s dirty. It’s filthy and it’s fun (laughs). It’s going to be released October 11. And Rare Bird Press has actually put together a special vinyl featuring audio clips of me reading the book, as well as the music behind it.
“Highland Falls” is officially out now, so you can order a signed copy now. You can also pre-order a signed copy of “Blag Dahlia: Introducing Ralph Champagne” which will be released on October 28th.