Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dwarf -Gotta Get Louder

Dwarf –Gotta Get Louder/ I Won’t Be Back –Merlyn Records 3378 (1975 US)

Once in a while a single gets plucked out of obscurity which is a total revelation and becomes an obsession to track down, but rarely does this same single get played over and over and you know it has the staying power to remain a firm favourite forever. I am very glad to say that this single is one of these rare beasts. It is everything you could ever wish for and absolutely ticks ALL the right boxes.

I first heard a snippet of the tracks when a copy appeared on eBay in February, but I got outbid, then low and behold a second copy appeared and I lost out again. It was clear that I wasn’t the only one bit by this particular bug. I finally secured a spare copy, but its condition is far from pristine as you will hear. It appears that many copies suffered the same fate as mine being pressed off-centre, plus this copy has some nasty gouges on the B side, so I am still on the look-out for a better copy...

How to put a tag on Gotta Get Louder? It sits somewhere between Proto-Punk, Bubblegum/Hard Rock and Powerpop. It's insanely catchy and an instant exuberant classic. What makes this even more amazing is that most of the band were 15 at the time!

I Won’t Be Back is stupendous in its snotty Teenage Punk attitude. I was thinking of The Runaways as I believed a girl singer was involved, but this is not the case as explained by Nick Piunti “that would be me, make that pre-pubescent me...” The guitars clang and crash, the drums are full power with added momentum of a glorious cowbell nailing everything down to the beat. So put both tracks together and you end up with the best coupling since Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton!

Hear a full version of Gotta Get Louder

Hear a full version of I Won’t Be Back

The line up on Gotta Get Louder was: Left on the photo Pete Madary: vocals, bass, above Mike Finn: lead guitar vocals, front Nick Piunti: vocals, guitar right Mickey Patay: drums

After a minimal amount of tracking down I contacted Dwarf’s Singer/guitarist Nick Piunti and Pete Madary followed suit from LA where he still plays with Mike “Dorsal” Finn in a band called Southbound. Apart from co-owning what appears to be a fine eatery Nick Piunti also officiates as a member of The Respectables who are a great tough sounding Powerpop outfit with an affinity to Cheap Trick in their prime, check them out here: http://www.reverbnation.com/therespectables

As expected the band was formed as school chums, but back in 1972 in Riverview Michigan.

NP: “Three of us, Nick, Pete, and Mike formed in the spring of 1972 for a performance at our 6th grade talent show. Mickey replaced our original drummerin 1973.

We played at local school dances to audiences our same age who could really relate to us. At times it was like Beatlemania with young girls rushing the stage. They especially loved our drummer Mickey...”

PM: “In my mind – Dwarf was always a great little band. But for the longest time – Mike “Dorsal” Finn was the only accomplished musician. We were very, very raw. We’d make up for lack of talent with pure energy...”

The lead guitar is indeed blistering within the pure energy, but the drumming, singing and general playing is very accomplished considering their age at the time! The band started by doing covers including some tasteful choices, but as is clear from this single, they had real talented song-writers in Nick Piunti and Pete Madary with a real affinity to Purepop and Rock’ N’ Roll.

NP: “We did covers of course, Stones, Beatles, Alice Cooper, Slade, Chuck Berry songs. Back in 1973, 1974 we would do a set of 50's rock and roll. But we soon started writing songs and we slipped as many originals in a set as we could. Covers included Under My Wheels, Mama Kin, 30 Days in a Hole (HUMBLE PIE!!!) Ma Ma Belle, Tie Your Mother Down, Live With Me, Brown Sugar, Jumpin ‘Jack Flash etc...The first song I ever sang live was Be My Lover at our sixth grade talent show. I kept getting shocked every time I stepped up to the microphone... As we got older we progressed to playing high schools, colleges, bars and eventually doing some original show case gigs...”

PM: “As far a covers went – we stuck to material that we could handle. The reason we played, Stones, Slade, T-Rex and 50’s tunes was because they were easy! We weren’t trying to be eclectic or cool – we were just trying to make it through a song! Merle (Manager) always encouraged us to write songs. We were doing original tunes as far back as 1972 (when we were 12). We knew our limits as singers and musicians so we stayed within them. As we grew older and our tunes began to fill up the sets – we’d actually “fib” to the audience – “Here’s a rare “B” side from Tom Petty,” or, “Here’s a John Cougar song you haven’t heard...”

But was the band ever overtly influenced by the Detroit Total Energy scene (Stooges, MC5 etc...?

NP: “I think the MC5 influence may be more of a geographical influence. Back then we were probably only influenced by Kick Out The Jams. It wasn't until years later that I discovered more of their catalogue. Detroit radio didn't play much MC5 on the radio back then. Curiously enough, the guitarist in The Respectables, Joey Gaydos, was the guitarist with Rob Tyner in his last band...”

PM: “Our little community, an area about 20 miles South of Detroit was a real Hot Bed of Rock. Because Merle was nine years older than us – he would make sure that his established musician friends were accessible to us. Derek St. Holmes was from our hometown. He rehearsed across the street from Nick’s house until he became Ted Nugent’s lead singer in ’75. Merle’s friend Randy Meyers drummed for a fabulous band called Julia. Julia was Bob Seger’s back-up band in 1972. So again, our local scene may have influenced us more than what was happening in Detroit...”

Dwarf managed to release 3 singles and an EP:

Gotta Get Louder / I Won't Be Back - Merlyn 1975

Backstage Queen/Couple of the Night –Merlyn 1976

Another Chance/Perfect Pair -Merlyn 1977

A Little Rock Goes A Long Way EP –Merlin (1981)

The band stayed together as Dwarf until 1983. Mickey Patay moved to Central California in May of 1980 and Merle took over on drums. The band then moved to LA playing Madam Wong’s, Troubadour, The Lingerie and the usual West Coast haunts before finally breaking up in 1986.

PM: “As a general rule, Merle would accept bookings within five hours from home in any direction. As a result – we played throughout Michigan, most of Ohio, parts of Indiana and Ontario, Canada. We enjoyed regional success, but Nick suggested we move to New York or Los Angeles to pursue a major recording contract. Moving across the country is not for everyone. After Merle stepped aside in 1983, we added new drummer Mike Pientka, changed the name of the band to The Take and focused our efforts on recording a strong demo tape before moving to LA in the fall of 1984..."

NP: “Well we graduated college. Our girlfriends moved on. I definitely did not want to be in a cover band, so we figured New York or L.A. After 24 years of Detroit winter we picked the weather. But we were probably y a few years too late. It was 1984 and the L.A. Hair Metal Bands were happening and that just wasn't our thing. We were much more like The Plimsouls than Guns and Roses or Poison...”
It now looks like Dwarf will receive the amply deserved late recognition as the folks at Sing Sing have been quick off the mark and will be reissuing Gotta Get Louder soon. There will be more Dwarf on Purepop in the future as their other releases are no slouches either!

NP: "This renewed interest in Dwarf after all these years is a bit baffling to me as we were just a bunch of kids learning our way to rock. It was a great way to grow up. A lot of fun for sure...”

PM: “Let me just say that the band ran its course. Mike, Nick and I were 11 years old at our first full rehearsal. 11! We stayed together for 14 years until we were 26. When I got married in Southern California the very next summer, Nick flew out from Michigan, Mickey came down from Central California, Mike and Nick stood up at my wedding and Merle sent well wishes from back home. We still have a tremendous friendship. Now, all these years later; we speak on the phone or email each other daily - talking band business...!"

Keep watching this space!

DWARF is now on facebook -plenty of photos and more to come...


Trudi Tangerine said...


Anonymous said...

This single is amazing!

Anonymous said...

An excellent discovery!

Cheryl Ann Hunter said...

Fun music with fun guys! Pete Madary and Mike Finn are rocking friends of ours...thanks for sharing their early days with the world!

Anonymous said...

wont be back is the bomb! nice posting thanks!