Today, March 24th, Hardly Art will release the third album from everyone’s favorite, increasingly unhinged rock phenom Dick Stusso. S.P. is the first Dick Stusso record in four years, following his stellar Hardly Art debut In Heaven from 2018—but this latest missive is more of an indirect sequel to the buzz-building 2015 release Nashville Dreams / Sings the Blues, diving deeper into Dick Stusso’s crumbling psyche and dystopian surroundings. To celebrate this impending release, Dick Stusso mastermind Nic Russo, sat down with Hardly Art to talk about trees (Nic’s day job is an arborist,) California Rain, The Apocalypse, and of course, his new album S.P. See below for the full interview.
Dick Stusso in conversation w/ Hardly Art:
HA: “Nic, my friend, how are you doing? How is Oakland? How are the trees?”
DS: “I’m doing well, my friend. I’ve got a record coming out, and I’m feeling good about it. Oakland is drenched at the moment. The whole state is, as you know. Finally got all that rain we’d longed for and then some. The trees had a hard time with it and the wind, there’s been a lot of broken and uprooted ones. Tree work has been busy.”
(Ed. Note: Nic’s day job is as an arborist and thus speaks for the trees.)
HA: “Sonically, this record is a return to your more home-recorded, lo-fi roots. Was that a conscious decision going into the recording process?”
DS: “Definitely. The record is dealing with a flawed character, and I wanted the recordings to reflect that. And like the character, I think it lends to something more interesting than if it were conventionally produced. Also, just on a practical level during the pandemic it was much easier to work in isolation, which is my usual approach anyway. So that sealed the deal.
HA: “The album sequence is pretty incredible. How did you approach writing this record to make songs flow in and out of each and create such a seamless listening experience?”
DS: “I wanted the songs to be short. Like one idea and done. Also, I liked the idea of not using usual verse/chorus/bridge dynamics within a song. Instead, I could have two or three separate songs that were disparate ideas but, when smashed together, somehow recalled a verse/chorus/bridge dynamic. So while there’s technically 18 tracks, most of those could be grouped together and listened to as more conventional 3/4 minute songs. At least that’s how I approached writing them.”
HA: “How would you describe the ideal listening experience for S.P. ?”
DS: “Well, I wanted it to work on a few levels. It’s designed with the internet age in mind ha. So it’s kind of however people want to listen to it. The songs are divided up and short so you could skip around and listen to bits here and there. There are sections that go together so you could listen to groups of songs that run together, or if you’ve got the time listen to the whole thing like a traditional album. I think it works pretty well in all those capacities.”
HA: “What were you listening to or watching that informed these songs? Was there any art that weighed heavily on your mind as you were writing?”
DS: “I mean, gas station radio and YouTube advertisements. I’m sure I listened to and watched things that informed these songs. But, pardon me paraphrasing myself, the feeling of myself acting out an advertisement for watching or listening to something while actually trying to watch or listen to something is more what informed these songs than anything in particular. Don’t forget to buy/download/stream the record!”
HA: “There’s an apocalyptic theme to the music of Dick Stusso. You have a real knack for succinctly describing some of the more unseemly aspects of the modern world. Is the world ending? Is the apocalypse nigh?”
DS: “Ha, well I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that. Good sign I’m not a cult leader. I will say though, the prognosis for living in general isn’t exactly great, so it’s kind of part of the whole experience here. The scale of potential catastrophe is something that seems uniquely modern. And I think that juxtaposed with many of the modern comforts and amenities invites all sorts of existential dread and demons that are strange and new and yet still tastefully eternal. I’m thinking of that Jason Molina line ‘Death comes now, and the next minute, and the next minute.’ So yeah it’s coming, but not quite yet haha.”
Dick Stusso’s S.P. is available now from the Hardly Art Mini Mart, select independent retailers in North America and the UK, /EU will receive the album on Clear Vinyl.
1. Rocking Machine
2. Part-time Apocalypse
3. The Check In
4. Convenient Life
5. Garbagedump #1
6. A Fairly Normal Guy
7. Dinner For Two
8. The Masterwork
9. Self Reflection (Deep)
10. Big Money
11. Haunted Hotel
12. Checking Back
13. How Do You Spell Success?
17. Twilight At The Shareholders’ Meeting
18. Tears Of Love