Dildo of God stimulates buzz

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by Anthony Harrison

Dildo of God’s lead guitarist Taylor Bays wolfed down some butternut squash in the front hallway of his Greensboro home, next to Glenwood Coffee and Books. Cardboard boxes lined the hardwood hallway next to the stairs; each was filled to the brim with Nerf guns.

“I’ve gotta spruce up the ambiance over there, set up some lights,” Bays said after finishing his plate. He grabbed some blueish holiday lights and two small disco-ball lamps and headed across the parking lot.

Dildo of God played first on the bill at Glenwood on April 29, a last-minute addition to an already stacked lineup: Cantenac Dagar and Fort Crèvecouer, both from Toulouse, France; Asheville’s Derek Poteat and Greensboro’s Dumpster were all slated to play that night. A full night of music for a Wednesday.

In the garage of Glenwood, Sam Martin — aka Happy Sipalong of Three-Brained Robot — and Dildo of God drummer Randy Seals were manning Martin’s Kustom PA system, testing levels and checking for feedback. Bays had set his lights, the disco lamps diffusing light onto the ceiling. Handmade posters bearing not-so-radical slogans covered the stage-right wall — Human Rights are Worth the Fight, People Over Profit, Stop Police Brutality. The music wouldn’t start until about 10:30 p.m., hours after schedule, but a boom box next to the garage door played Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On, deep cuts from Zappa and Prince’s Purple Rain.

Eventually, Bays and multi-instrumentalist Adam Collis began noodling around. Bays played a Beatles-esque progression while Collis improvised harmony on his Moog synthesizer. The five other band members joined the stage, and Collis pulsated a drone on the synth.

“How’re you guys doin’ out there in TV Land?” Bays asked the crowd of about 20.

The ragtag opening of the show mirrored how Dildo of God itself began.

“We really didn’t form on purpose,” Seals said after the show.

Each band member — save for multi-instrumentalist Mike Bannerman, who watched Cantenac Dagar — and some fans crowded into Bays’ bedroom for an interview.

“We recorded together [at On Pop of the World Studios],” said lead MC Eric Murphy, “and one time, I said [to Randy], ‘We should do a song together.’”

“It was a studio collaboration — off the cuff — that became a real thing,” Seals added.

Their 2014 debut at New York Pizza on Tate Street was auspicious and controversial. Rumors circulated leading up to the show that religious reactionaries would picket. No such zealots attended. Later, when Dildo of God played at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro, the marquee removed the L from their name.

Even they admitted their name does automatically garner attention.

“We get comments from around the world just because of our name,” Seals said.

“People keep tagging pics of balls and tits popping out,” Bays added. “It’s hilarious.”

But the band is more than a grabby gimmick-style name. Dildo of God has serious chops.

For one thing, they feature an impressive lineup of seven. But Dildo of God exploits to the fullest every possible avenue of talent from those seven: Bays and Seals can both back up Murphy and hype girl Dottie Nash on vocals, Collis contributes trombone as well as Moog and Bannerman runs from 12-string guitar and synthesizer to vocal effects and melodica.

The range of instrumentation leads to a swirling sonic aesthetic bordering on the schizophrenic. While ostensibly a hip-hop group, Dildo of God switches styles between rap-rock to trance to sludgy, psychedelic metal — often within the same song.

“We’re all so different,” Nash said, “and we all have different outreach.”

“Dottie’s our youth outreach,” Seals jabbed.

“So what?” Nash spat back. “I’m keeping us young and hip.”

That night’s performance flaunted a fresh intensity that kept the crowd’s attention front and center from the moment the band began playing.

“When we’re on Channel 0, we’re good,” Seals said. “It gets fuzzy around Channel 13.”

“Aside from technical issues, the show went great,” bassist Matthew Goshow said.

It had been impossible to discern the lyrics most of the night, but during the final number, the vocals cut out completely.

“We had PA issues at the end, but we made it something beautiful,” Bays said.

The rock trio began jamming in free form. Seals laid down the beat and Goshow kept the low end in check by droning on a single note while Bays experimented with his effects pedals, producing squealing feedback and crashing dissonances. Then Nash began freestyling, sans mic. It all culminated in a thrashing metal breakdown in the end.

“We’re two different animals — the live and studio band,” Bays said. “I discover a lot about my music when I’m f***ing up. Imperfections give character; I’d rather see a band with character than a band playing blandly like on the album.”

Dildo of God plans to maintain a presence in the studio. Aside from an upcoming show in Wilmington and the release of two remixes by Fukaya, Japan-based band Mothercoat, their long-term goals are as fast and loose as their origin.

“We make records all the time,” Nash said, “and we play shows all the time and kill it, so we’re doing that. We’re spreading the disease to the nation.”