Chris Rizzanski, lead singer and vocalist for Dollar Sent, a hard rocking trio out of Brighton, Eng., took the time to sit down and answer some questions via email about the band, their self-titled EP, the fun of touring and playing live music, and their plans for the future.
Keep an eye out for my review of Dollar Sent’s EP, and keep your ears open to experiencing the power of Dollar Sent’s music by heading over to their myspace page and checking them out!
Who are the guys in the band and what instrument do they play?
There's only the three of us. Chris Rizzanski (me) – Guitar and vocals, Sparky Rogers – Drums, and Loz Serota – Bass.
Are all of you from the same place?
No, not at all. No one who lives (here) in Brighton actually comes from Brighton. Originally I come from a tiny town called Royston, which is just south of Cambridge. Then I moved to Birmingham for a bit, then London, and finally Brighton.
I've lived all over the place over the years.
Sparky comes from Northampton and lives in Worthing at the moment. He's in his last year at university there.
Loz lived somewhere near Wales when he was a kid but then moved to Slough. He came here to go to university, did a year, left and then just stayed here.
When did you guys meet? How did you all decide to get together and form Dollar Sent?
The tale of Dollar Sent as it is now is a long tale of woe. I'm the only original member left in the band these days!
Dollar Sent originally formed out of an idea me and a friend of mine were playing with. He still works closely with us, as a matter of fact. The two of us wanted to make a film. I think the working title was something along the lines of Attack of the Nympho Zombie Schoolgirls from Outer Space! or some bollocks like that. Anyway, we wanted to have a band to base the main bit of the story around and do the sound track. Eventually, the (other) original members left or got booted out for various reasons until we settled on our current line up.
Me and Sparky first met when we where just starting to demo up the last CD. He was helping out as a tech with the guy who was doing some of the recording with us, a mutual friend. When things came to a head between our last drummer and me, Sparky was there at the right time to fill his place.
Loz had been knocking around Brighton for quite a while. He works in our local pub, so I had known him for quite a while. Again, he was in the right place at the right time when our old bass player left.
Even though this is about the forth or fifth line up of Dollar-Sent, I think this is finally the right line up. I couldn't imagine having anyone else in the band these days and find it odd when I think back to how it was with the other guys.
From where did the name of the band come? Does it mean anything special?
To be honest with you the name doesn't really mean anything.
When the band first formed we had been knocking about, jamming, putting a few tunes together and playing with ideas when we got offered our first show. See, I know a guy who had been doing a lot of promotion around town and he had put on my last band a few times.
He offered us the show, we said yes. When he asked what the band was called, Dollar Sent was the first thing that came into my head. I thought it sounded a bit cocky. I had been thinking about calling us Gun Nut, as in "friends of the gun man claim he was a real 'gun nut'", but when you write it down or say it quickly it sounds like an STD.
So that one was quickly forgotten.
I have been know to come out with all sorts of things about the name being a statement of intent, that we're here for the money and the kick; that it states that we're not here to change the world; Or even that the name, combined with the iron cross on our artwork, is a statement on the current foreign policy of the western powers. To be fair I'm normally drunk when that comes up and having a laugh.
It’s utter bollocks. The truth is the name doesn't mean anything, but if people want to attach a meaning to it then they are more than welcome.
Your music sounds like it might be the lovechild of a Motorhead album that got lucky with maybe a Ramones or Sex Pistols album. Then again… while I can hear all of that in your music, you guys definitely have your own sound. What kind of music did you guys grow up listening to?
Musically we come from all over the place. I will listen to everything from The Sisters Of Mercy, Motorhead, Isis, Skinny Puppy, and Fields of the Nephilim, to John Lee Hooker. All sorts of stuff, really.
As a band we have a massive range of music we listen to. Sparky is into a lot of very heavy stuff like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, proper 'evy metal, y’know. Loz is into a lot of stonery stuff at the moment. In fact, so am I — such as Kyuss, and that sort of thing.
Obviously we're all big fans of Motorhead, I don't think we could ever deny that one. We're all also massive AC/DC fans, although Sparky wins the cup for that one as he is insanely into them.
We pull in influences from all over the shop; blues, punk, metal, it's all good. I'm (also) a bit of an old Goth at heart and I think that shows through in a lot of what we do.
Basically, if it's good we like it.
What was the first song you played together?
In this line up it would be “Girl from St. Mary's.” Loz joined just before a big gig, so we didn't have time to jam through some covers or anything like that. Same (thing) happened with Sparky. He joined four days before a MAHOOSIVE show so I had to crash course him in our entire set, which he learnt perfectly in four days.
If you'd been at the show you would never have thought that he had been in the band for less than a week. I'm very proud of my Sparks.
The first song that I remember Dollar Sent ever playing would be a piss poor version of “Symptoms of the Universe” by Black Sabbath. I say piss poor, but it wasn't really that bad until we got to the insanely complicate acoustic bit at the end. Considering that I had to sing and play at the same time, it was (still) given a valiant attempt. Also, we had two guitarists at that point, so it could get a bit cluttered at times. That's why we now only have one.
To be honest, it's only recently that we've even thought about doing covers!
How did that feel once you were together? Did you know right away that you guys were going to be able to get together and create something powerful?
Yeah, when it was with Sparky and Loz, everything just clicked into place. Thing is, the band had been running for quite a while before those guys joined, so a lot of the material, in fact all of the songs on the CD, was written before they joined.
There were quite a few moments with the previous guys that where awesome. Musically it was great, we just didn't work as people.
On stage Dollar Sent always sounded good, whoever was in the band. I know that sounds arrogant, but it's true.
Because there has always been three of us (except for one show) it has always been easy to sound big and energetic. You can just thrash away and not worry about getting in the way of the other band members!
I think I knew it was going to be good musically from the outset, but until Sparky and Loz turned up, I always had my doubts about the people.
What was the first song that you wrote together?
The first song that Dollar Sent ever wrote was a song called “Do The Hoochie,” which has appeared on our myspace and made the odd live outing. We did a very basic recording of it, which I think has since been lost, which is a shame because it sounded great! Hell, there's a sax solo at the end! We've never been able to do the song justice on CD ever again, but we will get it down one day; maybe as a b-side or something. I don't think it would work on an album, though, as our sound has changed so much since then.
I'll always have a soft spot for that song, really, and one day I might actually get around to writing some proper lyrics for it!
Tell me what it was like once you’d written that song. When you sat back and realized that you'd just created something only Dollar Sent could have done?
Satisfying. It just made it clear that we could do things of our own that were good. That track was very popular when it was up on myspace and always got a good reaction live.
The good thing was that “Do The Hoochie” set the mark for what we should strive for, fairly high. So, out of pride, I have always made a point of making sure all our songs give me the same feeling that that first song did. The amount of songs that we have thrown away (simply) because they didn't give us all that dumb grin you get when it feels right while we were playing them or listening to recordings of them is unreal.
I think that you have to set your standards fairly high. All the songs that the public gets to hear are songs that we enjoy ourselves, first.
How long did it take you to come up with the tracks on your record?
The songs on the CD are about a years worth of song writing. There were a lot more that we recorded, but for various reasons we couldn't use them on the CD. Either the recording wasn't up to scratch or the song itself just wasn't that good.
Over the year or so before we recorded that CD, there were songs that we wrote and placed in the set and songs that we just threw away. All the ones that made it are ones that we loved playing live at the time of recording.
When did you know that you wanted to take these songs and make an album with them?
I think that was always the idea from day one, to record and put the CD out. We spent a long time writing songs and playing them live before committing them to disc. That way, we could see how people reacted to them first, and then pick the best ones for the recording.
After we found a set that we enjoyed playing, we stuck with it for a good few months to make sure we could play the songs really well and that we had ironed out all the creases before recording them. Obviously, things change in the studio — you add things or take things away — but that CD is pretty true to what those songs sounded like live before we went to the studio.
What was the recording process like? Was it what you thought it would be?
The recording of that CD was nightmarish. That's all I can say.
We lost so much material for one reason or another. Also, the process was originally started with the old line up, who, by that point, were at each other’s throats. There were personality clashes all over the place, causing arguments and just generally a lot of bad blood. When we started the recording it became clear that certain people were playing way beyond their ability, which caused serious problems. There were clashes, and very nearly fist fights, all told.
We recorded the tracks about five or six times before we actually got to the final CD that you hear today. Plus, there was a total line up change before the final recording hit the light of day.
It's not an experience I would like to repeat.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that CD, though. Especially, blood. That’s why, I think, the thing sounds so explosive. All in all, it was kind of cathartic to finally get the tracks down and know that they would finally be seeing the light of day.
Since you brought up how explosive your CD sounds, I just have to confess and say that I think some of the songs on it are just absof*ckinglutely killer, really.
Why thank you. It's so good to know that people actually like what we're doing, especially after the amount of stress that we went through.
I think I have barely listened to the CD three times since it went out, since it brings back a lot of bad memories. I prefer to hear the songs when we play them live.
Who came up with that monster riff that fuels "Hey Yeah"? That's got to be one of the best songs I've heard on any rock record in a long time. Could you talk about where that song comes from?
'Ta very much fella. I came up with the riff for “Hey Yeah” when I was pissing about with some old blues riffs. It's a very simple riff, but that's why it works in my opinion. It's a nice fluid riff that you can just lean back into.
I reckon that even if you've (only) been playing guitar for a week or two, you could probably play that riff and make it sound big. That's the joy of it.
The song originally stemmed from a love of shouting “yeah” very loud at shows. Not in a Dave Lee Roth kind of way, though. More in a sing-a-long, boozey kind of way. You don't need to have the record or even know the song at all to be able to sing-a-long with three blokes shouting "YEAH!" at the top of their lungs.
The main bulk of the lyrics are about a couple of people that I know and don't really like, although I won't name names. The guy who I sing about in the first verse is this arsehole who just spends his time knocking around the bars and clubs in Brighton, singing his own praises and making himself sound far more important than he actually is. He always spends his time drinking and boring people who just avoid him, so these days I always see him on his own talking to the bar staff who can't get away from him. I kind of feel a bit sorry for him these days, really.
He does however have a girlfriend, which is who the second verse is about. She's just as vapid (as him), but also quite nasty. She's one of those people who put image above everything. Now, she is, to be fair, a pretty girl. But, she relies so much on her looks, and will stab people in the back knowing that she can get away with it, because she has a pretty face.
I guess it’s all kind of a warning that looks and youth are fleeting and that she will only end up unhappy in the end. The “yeah”s are kind of sarcastic, in the end.
Another favorite of mine is "King of your Scene," which just rocks. The vocals on that are just spot on. It sounds like someone bottled up the voice of Lemmy from Motorhead and just handed it off to everyone for a drink. It's just a great song. Where did the idea for the song come from?
Lemmy. I'll never get away from him. Not that it's a bad thing to be compared to him, though.
It's funny, most people, yourself included, say that one of the things they like about us is our similarity to Motorhead, at times. There is a bit more to us than just Motorhead, though. Recently, in fact, we got panned in a couple of reviews (both by the same person) because we sounded a bit like Motorhead, and I apparently was trying to look like Lemmy. Something I don’t see in myself, except that I have ginger sideburns. I guess that’s what they're referring to.
It’s a blessing and a curse that I have a voice a bit like Lemmy's, really. It’s not a put on, though; as that's just the way I sound. Too many cigarettes and too much beer, I guess. The blessing is that it gives a point of reference that people can relate to, something familiar (in our sound) that a lot of people like. The curse, though, is that we’re always going to get people saying that we just rip off Motorhead.
I suppose that it doesn't really matter, either way. Hell, people slated (criticized) Motorhead when they first came out, after all. “King of your Scene” is quite a vitriolic song, which, oddly enough, most of our songs seem to be. I guess I must be bitter about something, but Christ knows what.
The song is about people who will only be into what is cool, to the point of excluding everything else around them, and then when the trends change, they’ll ditch all their old friends and hop on the next bandwagon. Superficial people — I can't stand them. To me cool is about being yourself and taking people for who they are, not what they look like, or what records they own.
The riff is again just a nice basic power cord thing that you can belt out without too much thought. I just wanted to write a song that is short and powerful; something that just hits you in the balls. I like it because it's just a sledgehammer of a tune.
How do you guys write? Do the words come first or the music?
We write the music first. The music is the most important part to us, which is why the vocals tend to be kept a fair way back in the mix. If the music's not right, then the track will never work, no matter how clever or well written the lyrics are. So, I write the lyrics a long way down the line, quite often the day before I record them. I hate writing lyrics, so I tend to put it off as long as I can.
What I like to do is play the song and just yell and bellow over the top (of it) until a pattern forms. Quite often, in doing that, I will come up with a phrase or two that I like and will then build the rest of the lyrics around that. I also tend to find a name for the song that I like, which will quite often give me a theme to base the lyrics on. I’ve never sat down and thought "I must write a song about that", cause my mind doesn't work like that.
Speaking of playing and bellowing over the top of it all, I see you've been touring. How's that been?
Great fun. While we all love touring, the funny thing with it, is that after a while it all just blurs into one big gig and one big motorway — unless something happens to really make it stand out.
We played a show in Leeds, last tour, which was great — other than the fact that I kept getting shocks off the mic. They really bloody hurt! The first shock knocked me on my arse. You could actually see the sparks arcing into my lip!!! The other guys thought that I was messing about or drunk or something, so, we just carried on. I kept getting shocks, though, so, the other guys kept laughing their arses off. We ended up playing two encores despite the shocks and ended up with a show that went down really well. When I walked off stage I looked like a bee had stung me on the lip, though!!
Then, on our way back home, we got five miles out of Sheffield and the van blew up. Not just broke down, the thing just completely packed it up. We had borrowed the van off a friend of ours, who had been seriously ripped off, so we pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the M1 and spent an hour waiting for the RAC to pick us up.
We returned triumphantly from our tour (sitting) on the back of a pick up truck! That was really funny, to be honest.
Now that you're album is out, have the shows been different? What's it like to start playing and see that the crowd is right there with you and know the song you're playing?
It's been strange. Every show we do there will be a few people there who have the CD, or have listened to our songs hundreds of times online, and know our tunes. So, we’ll get people singing along quite a bit, which always makes me laugh because I have a bad habit of forgetting the bulk of the lyrics when I step on stage, and then just making it up as I go along. There have been times where I've sung along with the people singing, as it's the only way I've been able to remember the lyrics, especially if we haven't played the song for a while.
We always sell a few CDs at our shows, so the next time we go and play, there are more people who know the tracks. It's great to see the look on people’s faces when we play their favorite song from the CD. It makes it all worthwhile.
I see that you’re supposed to be coming to America to tour in May. Will this be your first tour in the States?
Ahh, well, we've just had some very bad news about that. In fact, I only found out last night. The US immigration department won't let us in the country! We've had our visas declined, and now can't get in on the visa waiver that they do. So that part of the tour is not going to happen now. We're a bit disappointed. We were really looking forward to it and have lost a small fortune on airfares and legal fees, so we’re a bit down about that.
The visa laws in the US have been really tightened up lately, so it’s not just us, though. There have been a lot of UK bands refused entry to the States. What that means is that it will be a long time before our US fans get to see us live, unless they come on holiday to Europe. On the up side of things, we're looking at doing a European tour later in the year, and may possibly be heading to Turkey for a few shows. Which, ironically, considering they share a border with Iraq are actually quite liberal with letting foreign artists into the country. It helps, though, that my other half is Turkish.
Have you guys thought about what comes next? The reason I'm asking is, though I love your entire album, it's not quite a half-hour long so I wanted more, y'know? Are you thinking ahead to the next time you might get a chance to head back to the studio, yet?
Well, funny you should mention it, as we are actually in the studio at the moment. We've had a wealth of material that we've been playing live for ages, and we really wanted to get them down. So far we have six tracks recorded and are planning to record another six fairly soon. We’re also going to rerecord a couple of songs from the first CD, as we've changed them up a bit since the CD was recorded. We also have plans to record a cover song that will be on the album, if all the legal stuff goes through with no problems.
The new tracks that we're recording at the moment all sound really good. We’re over the moon with them, really.
Our sound has progressed a lot since the first CD. You can still hear that it's Dollar Sent, but we’re just a more developed band now. I hope that people will be pleasantly surprised with what we're doing. Anyone who has seen us live will recognize a lot of the stuff we’ve recorded, but there are also some entirely new tracks that no one has ever heard. I'm very excited about it. We haven't set a release date as yet, ‘cause it's a long way from being finished, but hopefully it won't be to long before it's out.
While you guys are working on the songs that will turn into "the next album," does the thought that somewhere out there in the future is a major label that might want to take you guys on?
It would be nice. I think everyone would love that, but it’s not something that plays massively on our minds. That’s not why we're recording. We're doing this because we feel we have a lot of music that people want to hear. We're well aware that we're not Coldplay or Fall Out Boy, and that's what record companies want at the moment.
We're a bunch of ugly bastards who play very loud, vicious heavy rock. Not really prime major label fodder, right?
We will get the album out on our own label as soon as we can, though, and it will still sound pretty raw as we're doing it ourselves, but we have upped the production a little. We learnt a lot when we where doing the last CD, but, thankfully this one has been a lot less stressful. In the end, I would love a big label to put some support behind us because there’s obviously people out there who like us, and I'm sure a lot more who would like us if they heard us.
But for now, I think we’ll just worry about making the best record we can at the moment.