Secret Selector: “D.O.W (Dealer of Weed)” by Dig up the Dead (2010)
In the mid 2000s, St. John’s punk and hardcore was enjoying one of its many young band booms. Concurrently, the metal scene had always maintained some capacity of presence and relevance in the city. While the genre bending was always present from a booking perspective — with many all ages shows presenting a smorgasbord of loud and weird music across the “heavy” spectrum — there hadn’t been too many bands to come along and masterfully blend metal, punk and hardcore into a perfect crossover package.
That is until Dig up the Dead came on the scene in 2006.
This was a time when St. John’s punk was getting scissor-beat fast and hardcore was getting chuggy and heavy, but nothing quite occupied the thrashzone like Dig up the Dead.
Dig up the Dead were the most talked about crossover thrash band that St. John’s had seen since Schizoid in the 1980s, and deservingly so. Hell, they even covered Schizoid on a regular basis.
Though Dig up the Dead garnered a reputation for a wild live show and never ceasing to produce memorable material, there is one song that seems to have stuck to the gum sole of our road-worn sneakers.
“D.O.W“, or “Dealer of Weed” (or “Deals on Wheels“), was an undeniable thrash anthem about a guy in a truck selling bunk weed on delivery. Schizoid had “Death Deliverer“, and I guess Dig up the Dead appropriately answered with “Schwag Deliverer“. The track was one of DUTD’s “newer songs” when they recorded in 2010 with the intention of a sophomore 8 song EP, one which bassist/vocalist Matt Morgan reminds us was never officially released.
Released or not, the later era output of Dig up the Dead coined some of the most entertaining tracks in their repertoire.
“With Dig up the Dead, we really tried to have as much fun with our lyrics as possible, and not to take ourselves too seriously” explains Morgan. “Where’s the fun in that?”
“He drives around dealing his weed
grams, quarters, whatever you need
he sells half eighths for twenty bucks
or two grams if it really sucks.
He drives around on the phone
making deals of shitty homegrown
the only reason the shit ain’t free
is cause it’s on delivery.”
This is only part of the reason of what makes “D.O.W” so perfect. Certainly nothing makes an anthem quite like relatable subject matter, and who didn’t know a last resort dealer who had bunk in the trunk? But lyrics aside, the song held ground as a live staple due to hitting every appropriate beat for an impeccable crossover crowd pleaser. “D.O.W” opens with a Motörhead-esque groove of an introductory jam, revs into a fast and thunderous verse, halts seamlessly into a slamming mid-tempo chant-along chorus (fully equipped with doublekick), and eventually builds into a stomping breakdown that would make the most meatheaded throwdown hardcore band “bust” with envy.
“And his weed is the only thing that stays with him at night
he knows the branch won’t love him back and something just ain’t right
not nice enough to share a puff, he’ll always be a joke
dealing weed to those in need but there’s nothing good about his dope.”
While I had Morgan on the topic of Dig up the Dead’s songwriting, I had to inquire about the intonation and inflection of delivering lyrics in the form of questions, something Dig up the Dead are known to do in many of their songs: “Does he got what I need? The Weed?”
“I’m not sure there’s much of a secret to it. Although there are some actual questions in our lyrics. It’s all about the little uptake at the end of the words, kind of like going ‘HmmmmMMM?'”
But, if we can get super serious for a moment, the real vital cultural question is: in the modern era of marijuana legalization, will the occupational inspiration of “D.O.W” have the same longevity and relevance that this song has had in modern punk history? Are D.O.W’s going to become a thing of the past?
“I’m thinking so for the most part, especially in more populated areas where the plan is to have dispensaries and the like” says Morgan. “However, I expect that outside of St. John’s in the more rural areas, there will still be your friendly D.O.W’s in operation where there may not be many legal options to obtain marijuana.”
“I also expect that some D.O.W’s will stay in business just for the kicks.”
And, y’know, maybe because it is still on “DELIV-ERY”.
“He’s got that shit in his trunk
a sandwich bag of brown bunk
he lies and says it’s red hairs
full of stalk and shit, he don’t care.
Light it up and hope for the best
but every toke is a stab in the chest
the only reason the shit ain’t free
Is cause it’s on delivery.”
While the popularity and presence of D.O.W’s in our community hangs in the balance for 2018, St. John’s will get a much more important reemergence with the triumphant return of Dig up the Dead.
On April 21st, Dig up the Dead will dust the cobwebs off of their spades and play live for the first time in almost five years.
“The last show we played was with Mutank [in December 2013] when they were in town” explains Morgan. “Fitting, as we’re playing with them again on April 21st, which is our first show since.”
Mutank, the Montréal-based thrash metal outfit with a long lineup history of Newfoundland expats, are hitting the road with the mighty New Wave of Newfoundland Heavy Metal torch-carriers, Emblem, for the “Raids Across Canada Tour”. The tour touches down in St. John’s at the Rockhouse with Goreforge, and the returning Dig up the Dead.
So don’t sleep on your opportunity to see the modern legends of crossover rise from the grave and proceed to “dig up the thrash so fast, you’ll get whiplash“.
Oh, and make sure you got what you need…