A Hard Lesson In DIY: Matt Wettergreen & The Dimes

NOISE AND SMOKE

I’ve been looking forward to Noise and Smoke for quite some time now. Joey and Liz have been busting their balls/ovaries to put together one of the strongest festivals ever in the Houston Indie scene. When someone said “Deerhoof is playing that same night; you can’t put on a show that night.” Joey responded “Fuck Deerhoof.” Now that wasn’t a dis to Deerhoof but a dis against suggesting that local bands couldn’t compete. That, my friends, is class. I mean look at the line-up?

This is a celebration of the local music scene and any band asked to play it should be glad to participate and be so honoured. Sure, things will happen when doing any festival (I know from first hand experience) and sure enough there have been some hiccups along the way. First, God’s Temple of Family Deliverance had to cancel due to a physical injury to drummer Chris Ryan’s foot. Then, Walter’s (one of the two original venues) was forced to cancel various shows before they got completely run out of business by yuppie neighbors with noise complaints. This forced a last minute change to the historic Axiom which couldn’t be more perfect. This kind of stuff, by my book, is pretty par for the course for any festival.

A LAWYER ONCE SAID
NEVER PUT IT IN WRITING

Clearly the effort involved in this festival was not on the mind of the person who authored an e-mail from the HQ of the Dimes [You can read the full e-mail at ADR’s excellent Skyline Network]:

We wanted to let you know, personally, that we have decided to drop from the Noise and Smoke show.

It is important to us that you know that this is in no way meant to be a sign of disrespect to you or any of the other bands on the bill. …we have based our decision on the general mishandling, lack of communication and professionalism surrounding the show. Since the show’s inception we have attempted to remain professional … And despite several offers to play other shows, we felt it was important to remain professional.

However, with the recent developments, there is a strong indication that there has been inadequate preparation and therefore, we no longer feel this show is in our best interest.Again, we want to make clear that this has nothing to do with personal profiteering and is not meant to be a sign of disrespect.

Nigh a week before the show and they drop out! And they have the nerve to complain about being unprofessional? What, so Walter’s cancels shows including this one and the organizers move the show? To me that shows that the organizers weren’t sitting on their ass, they were hustling to move the show and pulled it off! Kudos to them. We had the same issue in Austin during the Texas Psych Fest. It was a hassle but Scott Telles earned praise for moving (and saving) the show, not ridicule. So let’s face it, this is simply an excuse and nothing more to get the band off of a festival that wasn’t perceived as benefiting their career.

THE LESSON
DIY

What we have here is a good reason for any local band NOT to have a manager. It’s no news that The Dimes have been under management as of late by some would-be mogul named Matt Wettergreen for some time now and this just shows what an utter asshole that guy is. Wettergreen, who is clearly the author of this second rate “business memo”, is just another person who sees his fortune riding on the talent of others and the Dimes are just naive enough and unsure enough in their talents to be ripe for the picking. Can the Dimes book their own shows? Yes. Can they release their own acclaimed EP? Yes. Can they earn the respect and support of their peers? Yes. So why hand over their band to some snake oil salesman? Simple, the lessons of DIY and punk are lost on the band.

I hate to harp on the whole punk rock ethos as I see it but it all comes down to Do It Yourself and Community. I don’t mean to sound all preachy but the second you give the reigns to some outsider, it’s not your band anymore – it’s his. Go and read This Band Could be Your Life. That shit went down because people believed in themselves and there was a community there that lifted everyone up. Yes, you sometimes may have to scrabble that community out from nothing but that is your scene and in some way you participated and helped it along.

A manager is something between you and that community. It reduces that interaction to a business transaction, making you a commodity to be sold. A manager like Wettergreen cares little for community. To him and his ilk, you are a product to be marketed for maximum return. If that means shitting on your friends and supporters – hey, it’s just business right?

But here is the thing, ironically managers work for bands. Yet, as in this Noise and Smoke fiasco, bands like the Dimes are willing to put aside their better judgment and abdicate to their manager. Here is the problem. Does Wettergreen sign the e-mail with his name? No, he signs it “The Dimes”. Perversely, the manager becomes the band. Here the band finally concedes even it’s own voice to the manager. Their job has merely become to manufacture a product, shut up, and do as they are told.

So here we are, Liz and Joey have worked hard to prepare a feast with everyone invited to the table and we have a band’s manager throw the plate back at them. But this is “professional”, “has nothing to do with personal profiteering”, and is in no way disrespectful. No, this is that hard-nose business professionalism that John Lomax keeps saying more local bands need – a hard nosed motherfucker like Matt Wettergreen.

Here is the problem for those of us who love music; it’s not just a commodity to us. Great music is a smoky bar or on an LP to us is on par with reading Melville, looking at the paint strokes on a Van Gogh, or admiring the joyous madness of Werner Herzog. When a manager comes between the band and its fans and supporters the band becomes something less and we’re left wanting that band we loved so much back.

So let this be an object lesson. Do things yourself. Book your shows. Make your own flyers. Record your own record and release it. Never give away your right to think for yourself and do what is best for you. You are smarter and capable of more than you think.

Links:

Noise and Smoke


Saturday March 10
Indian Jewelry

Something Fierce
Skullening
The Wiggins
Blades
Sporatics

Skyline Network

The Dimes

Credits:
Faust Image from uwm.edu
Really Red Photo by Dixon Coulbourn
from Idle Time which has a bunch of old cool Texas punk rock pics..check it out.

87 thoughts on “A Hard Lesson In DIY: Matt Wettergreen & The Dimes”

  1. Degrading words Mr. Medina. I hope Mr.Wettergreen doesn’t kick your ass and that it’s all talk on his part. I hear he’s fuming right now. I’d watch it with the blind insults. Inside word from a reliable source says he’s looking for you.

    Friend/co-worker of Wettergreen.

  2. Yeah someone saying they are going to kick my ass is like declaring “I’m going to eat a handful of cotton candy”. I mean anyone can do it, so what does it prove.

    Nevertheless pretty funny and with a sick dog today, I needed a laugh.

  3. I thought you would appreciate that joke. Mr. Wettergreen bites the big one. I am his co-worker but no friend and he did not threaten you. However, we need to kick his ass.

    Mr. Don’t want to get fired.

  4. LOL

    Nah, no ass kicking need take place. I’m sure he has his good side, you know, whatevs, eh?

    But seriously that was pretty frikkin hilarious.

  5. Ramon-
    Have you spoken to The Dimes or Matthew Wettergreen?

    All I’m gonna say is…

    Matthew Wettergreen is solid. Seriously, I love that dude. He is good people. He has done so much for The Proletariat, KTRU, myself, and many many others. I’ll make a list! Dare me!

  6. Aw, it was a joke? Dang, I was hoping it was for real, yo! You woulda got the greatest story out of it…to get smacked by some Rock Manager…it’s so “Hammer Of The Gods”.

  7. agree with shawna. ramon, i think you are being way too critical of this situation and maybe this stems from your lack of success at your age…what, 40? the dimes are young and they have a hot sound and if matthew can guide these kids out of this shitty space city where we all live, then more power to them. this is your blog and your opinion, but let’s face it everyone bitching about the dimes are in bands with no chance of any success. my band played with the dimes over 2 years ago and we’re friends with them and i applaud them for trying to be more than a DIY houston band. who are you to lambast houston bands? you ain’t no lester bangs.

    stephen anderson lead singer prick

  8. I disagree. I believe Ramon and his band have had moderate success. I define success as having a steady job, a solid marriage, and making a little extra dough on the side playing in a band that’s well known in Houston and perhaps Germany and Italy. That’s success in my books. I do agree with the critical insults Ramon always seems to insight on this forum. I’m not sure what he’s trying to accomplish by doing this, but that type of behaviour doesn’t agree with me either. That “shock” element just doesn’t work with me. All it does is piss people off. Nothing positive comes from that type of negativety. Maybe there are some unresolved issues going on. I put some of the responsibily on his napster mates as well as his wife. Obviously someone should tell Ramon to take it down a couple of notches. That is unless it works for his cause in some weird way. But close friends and family of his should try to prevent him from putting his foot in his mouth all the time.

    Joseph Malaty

  9. Stephen,

    You ignorant slut : )

    See above comment about Wettergreen.

    But no this has nothing to do with my band being unsuccessful by your standards – releasing 5 albums in Europe over the last decade, not to mention various singles and comps, a few festivals, and we’re getting ready to release an new Lp this summer. More importantly we’ve been doing this for over a decade and it’s still fun to go to the space drink beer shoot the shit and make music. Sure, were clearly dinosaurs in the scene and sure nobody cares what we do here but that doesn’t preclude us from praising bands and booking shows with bands we like.

    Now as for you talking out your arse. We’ve played a few shows with the Dimes because we think they are a great band. We’ve always treated them square with billing, money, and everything else. In fact the last show we did play with them we booked ourselves after them and Gay Marriage because those were the better slots given the all ages show and we wanted people to see those bands. We could have hogged Lori Surfer’s multi media (which was somewhat problematic and hobbling along because we overloaded the Porletariat’s circuits) but we didn’t. We worked hard on a photo shoot and poster just for the other bands on that show because we don’t ever see shows as something with a headliner but a full package of great bands. We can do that because we do ask bands we admire like the Dimes to play with us.

    Contrary to your view of business is business and if it gets you out of this “shitty” city more power to them. I am still old school about how you treat your friends and supporters. If that’s your view then fine, whatevs, more power to you and where that leads you but if that’s the case with the dimes and they think they are so great that they can badmouth people who support them maybe they don’t need people like me shoving the CD in people’s faces saying “These guys are amazing, e-mailing them over and over again to get some copies to sound exchange, and even hassling Lomax to come to my show, skip my band, and just catch the Dimes since we booked them early enough where he’d have no excuse.

    More than anything what this is more than anything else is adisappointment. If this was a certain band who I gave shit to last year for their music and stage shtick I wouldn’t care but here it’s a band I believed in and rallied behind so I DO take it a bit more personally that they would do something so callous and stupid. Those are two qualities not worthy of being supported in this or any other.

    Have fun with that business attitude. I’m sure John Lomax (god love him) will be singing Flowers To Hide’s praises when you play the to sold out stadiums and quoting you on how other local bands should their music like business professionals.

    Me, I’ll just stick to being unsuccessful dinosaurs and being my own worst manager.

    So in short Stephen, Don’t be such a whiny pussy. ; )

  10. Hey Stephen, there’s a lot of ways to go after Ramon, but telling him he isn’t a success because he isn’t selling a million records and getting blown by the Pussycat Dolls , instead of saying that you just don’t fit them into your definition of success is a mistake. In case you haven’t noticed, everyone defines success more or less for themselves. You couldn’t possibly imagine that Linus is trying to go huge playing what they play, do you? I applaud the LP4 for trying to be a DIY local band. I applaud anyone who is doing what they really want to do. You should too. I think you’re being a little too narrow minded about this. And I hate to tell you this, but you may in fact turn 40 yourself one day. Sorry.

  11. Joseph,

    Thanks but I hate to break it to you but as I said earlier. This is the nice and positive version. See a few comments back from Rosa, Kilian, and John. And yes, the anonymous person’s comment last week and Rosa did have a big part in me taking it down a lot of notches but it’s hard to be critical of bad behavior and not sound like a preachy whiny asshole. But the thing is I stand behind the fact that the Dimes fucked up royally and they and their manager need to put on their humility hats.

  12. Any band that’s been together putting out records and playing shows for 10+ years is the peak of success in my book, regardless of how many records they sell or who goes to their shows. If you are enjoying playing and recording and its been 10 years, you made it. Everything else (fame, fortune, groupies, managers) is just frosting on the cake. The Dimes have been around for how long? 2, 3 years? I hate to say it, but as great as their music might be, or how nice they might be, or how many labels might be interested, or how good or bad of a manager they might have, the odds are against them staying together much longer. It just doesn’t happen. And more than wishing them a career filled with fame, fortune, groupies, and managers, i wish for them that they are still together in 10 years happily making music together. That kind of success is the real shit.

    And if you are not Doing It Yourself, you are probably having it Done To You. DIY doesn’t mean you can’t have a label, or you can’t tour, or you can’t have a manager, or an agent or a booker, or a merch guy, or a distributor or none of those things, the Y in DIY can be defined to include all those people. Its all a matter of who those people are and how its done. And treating each other like strangers is not the way to make people feel like part of a team.

  13. Joseph Malaky said:

    “I put some of the responsibily on his napster mates as well as his wife.”

    I can’t even get him to stop saying “nigh” and you think i can tell him to not vehemently express his opinion? what am i his mommy?

    oh and ramon isn’t into “shock” value. that’s really the way he talks. trust me the man i’m with now is a kinder gentler ramon than the one who’s life was constantly being threatened (because of his mouth) seventeen years ago when we first started dating. lester bangs indeed.

    btw i wrote a very positive review of The Dimes cd here in this forum a few months ago. and i’ve been shooting them for about a year and a half. and they are my friends and we’ve broken bread together. but i’m not their mommy either.

    right on, carlos. can you believe we even have to defend the punk ethos? the more i think about it the more disheartened i become…:(

  14. Hey, Ramon…

    You mean to tell me that I’m not going to get the money, drugs and groupies you’ve been promising me for the last 13 years? All that work was for NOTHING?

    Fuck this. I QUIT!

  15. Hey, and since we are talking about rewards Ramon has offered… what happened with the Celine Dion joke contest…

  16. Celine’s Agent wouldn’t talk to me/us after your very public break-up with Ms Dion.

  17. Celine didn’t stand a chance against Ms. Anaconda.

    I got to say I’m glad there’s folks out here sticking up for the Dimes and even this manager dude. Being ignored is way worse than being hated.

    Someone’s got a quote out there “if at first you don’t succeed you failed” but that ain’t true, especially as young as those guys are. If you succeed by any standard you will fail often. I just wish the Dimes had failed by playing a shitty show rather than copping out of one (and I’m not really saying the show is shitty).

    Anyway don’t listen to Ramon he’s over thirty.

    But someday most of you yungins will wish you were as much of a loser as Ramon. I do.

  18. Steven and everyone else,

    You know what in rereading my blog Iv’e come to one conclusion.

    My blog puts too much of the blame on the manager. Yes, he should know better (if he’s a good manager) to not pen such a stupid letter but the more I think about it the Dimes are ultimately responsible and I was too kind and pulled too many punches by not letting the buck stop with them.

    As for anyone who thinks that the letter was appropriate, professional, and worthy being proud of, you are just another rock-star asshole.

  19. Yeah we did a photo shoot with them and the Kimonos and we had snacks prepared for the bands while we waited for everyone to arrive.

    Gawd we are such assholes.

  20. is broke bread not the term? i had a lovely dinner at la tapatia with them. they gave me a laundry list of films to watch. they are good, good souls.

  21. “Broke Bread” works. It makes Ramon and Rosa out to be either the unisex Jesus or the Texas Mafia. Either way I’m going to stay on their good side.

  22. LOL!

    actually killian i’m ramon’s hired gun only. he gets complete credit for putting together kick ass shows. ramon happens to like my photography style (at least that’s what he says. i hope he isn’t just trying to get some “action”) and so i do his show poster photos.

    and people would be surprised how little we have in common as far as musical taste goes. the dimes happen to be a band ramon turned me onto. and i’ve photographed them since i first saw them oh about 2 summers ago. and ramon booked them on a Linus show. and i did the flyer for that show.

    other than that my interaction with the dimes has been completely independent of ramon’s interaction with them. he’s more peer and i’m not.

    i tell ya it’s a challenge to have a creative life that isn’t somehow associated with ramon because i tend to get drowned out by ramon’s volume (in both senses of the word) and our long history together. i think i do ok but i keep getting the “keep your husband in check” remark. which by the way makes me CRINGE.

    regardless, i can’t tell ramon what to write or how to write it. this blog isn’t a gossip column. it’s the creative writing outlet of seven very different people all leading very different creative lives. hallelujah.

  23. Yo, Rosa, shut yer bitch up, or I’m taking you both down to the pavement! How was that? A li’l too Axl Rose, maybe?

  24. Did they ever claim DIY Punk Ethics? i cant figure out why this is such a big deal. geez.

    -beau

  25. Beau,

    No of course, not. I’m just saying it’s not a bad MO. regardless I think everyone is a little weary from this. I just wish the Dimes would apologize so we can get back to them getting back some love.

  26. i don’t think the dimes owe an apology to anyone. they made an unpopular move and given a very unpopular explanation for it (arguably to the wrong parties.) and it was exposed publicly – here where it was a bit more circumspect and elsewhere where it was just gossipy.

    me personally i think this is a situation in which there is a very young band and everyone on earth is telling them what to do and how to act instead of just letting them be (stupid). what’s done is done and lower your expectations. courtesy is dead and let’s all move on.

    now if we can just get Dom to declare this all boring.

  27. thats my thoughts. they are kids. part of the fun of being in band is fucking up and learning from your mistakes. well, at least thats the enjoyment i get out of it. thats why i enjoy the start up period of any band i am in opposed to the later period. its just fun learning what works and what doesnt.

    let them fuck up. they will def not make the same mistake in their next band.

    -beau

  28. People actually tell you to keep Ramon in check? What fucking idiots. Who keeps you in check? Fuck, for that matter, who keeps every dumb motherfucker and their moronic requests in check? Jesus. I hate people with an undying passion. Why is it your job to “control” your husband? People should keep their pathetic whimpering in check. You know, except for me, of course.

  29. Not on topic but I am desperate- I have been trying to get back in contact with Dorothy for years now. If you are out there, it is Michael from Beaumont. Did get your email but I guess you had moved before the reply got to you. Sorry to hear about Johnny- he was really cool. mlane@mail.accd.edu

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