Dikembe, The Band. Photo courtesy Kendra Mamula.
Is music simply better when you name your songs after 1990s Chicago Bulls players combined with marijuana slang? Florida's Dikembe makes the answer to that question a resounding "yes."
They came to me suddenly and unexpectedly. I was listening to the Punknews Podcast two weeks ago, and one of the hosts introduced a song from a band simply called "Dikembe." I was immediately piqued. Not only did they have the name of one of the most hilarious NBA players, ever, but both songs featured from the band were named after former Chicago Bulls players... sort of. "Scottie Spliffen" and "Luc Bongley" were the titles. And when I looked up the cover of their recent EP, "Chicago Bowls," I found a picture with an interesting intersection.
When I found out other two songs on the EP were named "Michael Jordank" and "Tony Kukush," and the album's release date was listed as April 20, 1969, I knew I had to get in contact with someone from this already mythical band. Guitarist and songwriter, Steven, was nice enough to exchange a few e-mails with me, and the following Q&A was the end result...
We'll get the cliche music questions out of the way first: As the writer of "Scottie Spliffen" and "Luc Bongley" -- I'm loving this Q&A already -- what topics inspire your writing? And what genre would you classify the music as?
I wrote the lyrics for "Scottie Spliffen" on the first day of my junior year in college. I got lost on the way to class. I find myself writing mostly about the little things I do that bug me. I think that writing about this stuff helps to bring it to my attention. I guess I feel like I can work on fixing it that way. As for the type of music, I would definitely call it a throwback to early and mid 90s emo.
When did you guys form?
We started playing together at the beginning of March this year.
Were you in any previous bands?
Ryan and I play in a band called Wavelets, Kenny plays in Senders, and David drums for The Young Hookers.
Loved the clarification on your blog: "I'm not Kenny from The Starting Line." Is TSL an influence at all, or do you just happen to sound somewhat like him? Any other artists that influence you?
Haha. I saw a guy on a forum telling people I was Kenny, so I decided to clarify. TSL is one the bands I cut my teeth on in middle and high school. I think that I just sort of naturally emulate bands like that. We all really love Braid, as well as bands like the Promise Ring and American Football.
What's the age range of the members of the band? And what do you all do on the side?
We all sort of hang around the 22-25 age range. We go to shows, watch shitty movies, work, and just hang out. Luckily the playoffs have given us something to do recently. Gainesville is kind of boring if you don’t party.
You guys are based in Florida, right? What part?
We all live Gainesville. Y’know, like where Joakim Noah went to school.
Are you guys fans of the NBA? Miami? Orlando? Chicago? None of the above?
We all really love the NBA. Personally, I have been a Bulls fan since birth. I grew up during the Jordan era. Our drummer, David, is from Miami. He is a huge Heat fan. This series has been pretty trying on our musical relationship. Ryan really likes the Celtics. Big Baby Davis specifically.
So the band name is Dikembe. What specific part of Dikembe Mutombo inspired it?
I feel like Dikembe Mutombo is pretty iconic, with the finger wag and second place all-time blocks record and all. It was a pretty natural decision, once somebody suggested it. We always joke that someone is going to start a rival band called Hakeem.
Have you ever heard the "Who wants to sex Mutombo?" urban legend? Thoughts? (transcript of the story below)
You ever heard the story about Mutumbo going to that bar when he was at Georgetown? Well I met someone recently who claims to have been at Georgetown at the time and told me the story like this-- a young Dikembe (I think he was a sophomore at the time, meaning he was probably around 28) was beloved by his fellow classmates at G'Town, known to be a very social and friendly guy. He was also an inexperienced drinker and supposedly got BOMBED whenever he went out and partied, which was very seldom. One night, Deke rolled to some club in Maryland with some friends, absolutely belligerent and dressed like a fool, and upon making his presence felt, hollered out, "WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTUMBO?! WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTUMBO?!" The entire bar went silent for a few brief seconds before erupting into laughter. How can you not LOVE this guy?!
I have not heard that story before, but it is awesome! I saw Dikembe talking about his career a few months ago on ESPN, and he seems like a hilarious dude.
As a big Bulls fan, I was immediately drawn to your band's EP because of all the player references and the classic Bulls/marijuana leaf logo. You clearly have some knowledge of those 90s Bulls...
Yea. I played basketball a lot in the 90s in the rec leagues and AAU and stuff. I think we all feel like that era of the Bulls was pretty inspiring. You don’t really see many teams/players nowadays who are just obviously champions, ability AND attitude wise. The logo was created by our bassist, Kenny, and we thought it was hilarious.
I saw your EP was 'released' on "April 20, 1969" -- amazing.
We had a lot of fun with that. The actual release date was March 26th, 2011.
Despite surrounding your music with NBA and marijuana references, it seems like the only thing not comedic -- in some way -- about the band is the music itself. Is that an intentional device?
We started this band specifically to have fun. We try and keep ourselves entertained first and foremost, and if other people like it too, then that is awesome. We don’t actually even smoke weed, we just appreciate seriously good puns. We like the music a lot though, so we take it pretty seriously.
If you could give the "Chicago Bowls" EP to one NBA player, who would it be?
Probably Carlos Boozer, I hear he has a pretty banging hip hop career. Maybe we could get him to guest vocal a track or two. That dude goes HARD in the paint.
What type of feedback have you gotten from this EP. Anything interesting? Anyone angry?
The response to the EP has been insane! We recorded it in our drummer’s bedroom with no idea that anyone outside of Gainesville would hear it. But we have been pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback. We have run out of free downloads on bandcamp two months in a row, which is crazy to me. We’re really excited that people seem to dig it. No one has been angry about it, luckily. My mom is not super stoked on the song titles, though.
This band seems like a 'for fun'/side project-type thing, but I also read you're working on a full length. Any preview of the song titles this time around?
Yea it started out that way but has really evolved into something different. We all love playing music together, and have pretty good chemistry when it comes to writing. We have been working hard on a full length record, and we are about 8 songs into writing it. I’m not sure what we are going to do for song titles as of yet. Hopefully we strike comedic gold again, though.
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Twitter : @bobbystompy