Interview: Crash Test Dummies

It’s been six years since the last Crash Test Dummies album, and six years since they toured. But, as you may have heard on this very website, the Crash Test Dummies are back and their new album, Oooh La La, dropped last month to much applause. Brad Roberts is taking his brass-baritone voice on the road along with his soulful vocal partner Ellen Reid and honorary-Dummy, Stuart Cameron.

Contrary to the instrument-focused sound of the album, the tour is a surprising, stripped-down performance: one guitarist and two vocalists, that’s it. Their show is easily the most breathtaking acoustic act you’re likely to see. Guitarist Cameron sets the song in motion and the performance is overtaken by the voices of Roberts and Reid. No track lacks vibrance or energy from the bare-bones set up; instead, the songs are enhanced by their basic format and the powerful performances by each of the respective players. Roberts’ and Reid’s distinctive voices exert amazing prowess even going so far as to substitute their own melodies where instrumentation used to be. You don’t even miss the other instruments – it’s a testament to the tremendous skill on display.

Last month, CoS reporter Cap Blackard sat down with Roberts and Reid before their Chicago show at Martyrs and talked with them about the provocatively-titled Oooh La La and all the marvelous toys they used to compose and record it. There’s plenty of questions that Dummies enthusiasts have no doubt been dying to know such as what happens in-between albums, lost songs of the past, and the low-down on the Crash Test duo’s respective solo projects.

Oooh La La uses a lot of obscure instruments on the album.  Of these instruments, what were your favorites to work with?

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Are there any of the instruments that you’re likely to use because you enjoyed them so much?

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A number of the tracks on Oooh La La are surprisingly optimistic by comparison to a lot of your work- what’s led you to this happier place?

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You have a chant-based outfit, a separate project called Satsang Circus

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Brad, you taught at the School of Rock for a while…

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The lull between every Crash Test Dummies album makes fans almost feel as though it’s been the last album.  What’s it like for you between albums?

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Would you say that you and Ellen’s partnership as Crash Test Dummies is something that you’re likely to come back to time and time again throughout your life?  Are Crash Test Dummies here to stay?

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Are there still plans to reunite most of the band in Winnipeg later this year?

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Something that’s always interested me is music that’s made but never released.  I’ve read that BMG rejected thirty-five songs from the Give Yourself a Hand sessions.  Have any of those songs come back in later albums?

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Ellen, your album, Cinderellen, is incredible.  It has a strong theme of fairytales and women’s representations classically and spinning those on their heads- what were your goals when making the album?

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There’s Brad, and he’s the Crash Test Dude, and then there’s Ellen, whose the other half of the Crash Test Dummies and I’m sure that a lot of people wonder when the band’s not active where you are and what you’re doing…

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You can catch the Crash Test Dummies live on the US West Coast this month, with more dates being announced soon.  Currently, the only way to get Ellen Reid’s terrific solo album, Cinderellen, is at their shows so be sure to pick it up along with Oooh La La.

Crash Test Dummies 2010 Tour Dates
06/04 – Portland, OR @ Alladin
06/05 – Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
06/07 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord
06/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hotel Cafe
06/10 – Redondo Beach, CA @ Brixton
06/11 – San Juan Capistrano, CA @ Coach House
06/12 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern
06/13 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
10/02 – Vancouver, BC @ Chan Theater for the Performing Arts


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