Occasionally you need to take it back to the early 90s when the real guitar heroes ruled, and lack of funds and hype machine access forced (or, allowed) us to sink into one album for months at a time to love it up and down. Based in North Carolina, Dillon Fence was a local touring favorite in the South until they broke up in 1995 after producing three solid full-lengths and a self-released EP, and we spent many afternoons honing the air guitar skills to their catalogue.
Lead fencer Greg Humphreys (left) went on to form funk/soul outfit Hobex, and while the new band still continues to tour/release great music, Dillon Fence's classic guitar-driven pops and croons should have made them a household name (fittingly they just got back together to open for Eddie Money).
Raleigh radio personality Hayes Permar sat down with the Humph a few weeks back to talk about promoting a band in the 80s/90s sans-InterWeb, "the biz" and making music a lifelong career.
How easy was it to transition from the old band to the new one?
Dillon Fence is like the band you start in high school, that first band and it just kept going. With Hobex I definitely wanted to switch the focus to more of a funk and soul band, and within that direction we’ve tried different things. At one point we had horns and it was like a nine-piece soul revue. Hobex as it is now - a tight four piece set with a rocking organist - is probably closer to sounding like Dillon Fence than it ever did.
Since you've been promoting bands on both sides, how has the InterWeb changed the landscape of grassroots music marketing?
In some ways it’s made it easier, and in some ways it’s more difficult. Getting the word out to a lot of people certainly has changed. Back in the day if you wanted to get something out it would cost you 25 cents a name, now you can obviously get news out fast to a lot of people with email lists. But it’s harder because there’s so much more out there and you’re competing a lot more for people’s attention.
Do you get young people who discover Dillon Fence online somehow in 2007 and buy, Rosemary for example on itunes?
We have had young people discover DF music online...I'm not really sure how many. It's hard to tell how much the old DF is selling digitally since we don't own the catalog. Some of the older label releases like DF's Living Room Scene and HOBEX's U Ready Man are still not available through most services like Itunes. The illegal sites may be the only place you can find some of these records online! Don't ask me why these labels don't just put all of their catalog out there - I don't get it either.
We are all constantly inundated with so much information, so much music, so much media, that it can be difficult to collectively cut through the crap. Quality stuff still gets buried under the mountain of mediocre material that has big marketing dollars connections backing it up.
Exactly. Some words on “the biz” from an enlightened soul?
After 20 years I can say pursuing music is very much a roller coaster, and I’ve tried to enjoy the highs and endure the lows ….I worked hard to make DF a full-time thing, but things never work out like you expect. I’d definitely like to make music for the rest of my life, in whatever form. Now whether or not I’d like to travel in a van the whole time, that’s another thing…but I said that 10 years ago.
Thanks again Greg. A few classics:
Dillon Fence - For A While
Dillon Fence - One Bad Habit
Dillon Fence - Black Eyed Susan
Dillon Fence - Remember
As we said earlier, DF dropped several solid albums - the kind where you might fight and argue for months over what the single order would have been for each, let alone which album was the best (our favorite was Outside In, which is considered blasphemy by the Rosemary purist crew). Buy them here or start with the Greatest Hits.
Even choosing the tracks above was hard - so if you're a DF fan let us know which album or songs were your favorite.