The Weekly interview: Checking in with The Dirty Hooks’ Jenine Cali

Jenine Cali and the rest of The Dirty Hooks perform at Brooklyn Bowl on July 8.
Photo: Bonnie Kroll

What have the Dirty Hooks been up to lately? What new projects are in the works? We have been writing whenever we can get together. It’s kind of been hard; real life comes into play, but we’re writing. We’re going to start recording here I think at the end of the summer. It might be an EP. We’ve just been trying to write. So that’s why we’ve been kind of picky and choosy with shows.

How do you decide which shows to take and which shows to pass on? If we’re gonna take a show it’s just gotta work with our schedules, basically. [And] we look out for our fans. We wanna make sure it’s a place people wanna go or someplace new that we haven’t played before. We kind of want to keep it interesting for ourselves and for our fans.

Do you or the band have commitments that prevent you from playing as often? Of course. We’re lucky there’s only three of us. I couldn’t imagine having five people and trying to deal with schedules. The guys have families. Our singer is married, he’s got a couple kids; our guitarist has a kid. So you know, real life comes first—families and everything—and then, yeah, we all have day jobs. I work in production, so I’m gone entire days when I’m working. Whenever we can get together we’ve gotta pick and choose: Do we wanna write, or do we wanna practice for a show?

And now you’re performing at Brooklyn Bowl. Are you excited to play there? It’s a pretty cool venue. I’ve seen a few shows there, and they’ve been awesome. The sound is great. It’s always nice to play places when you can hear yourself. Why wouldn’t you want to play at Brooklyn Bowl?

Last year at Life Is Beautiful you guys played the Red Bull Sound Select Stage. Has being a Red Bull Sound Select Artist helped you guys as a band? That’s a good question. I think we just need to get in touch with them, because honestly we haven’t done too much with them. It was super cool that we got to be onstage, and I think it’s great to be a part of it. I just hope we can do more stuff with them and get on some other festivals. I don’t know how exactly that works, but hopefully we can.

Your old band, The Day After, was signed to a small record label [Gotham Records]. What did you learn from that experience? For me, I definitely think things through a lot more than I used to. We were young. I think everybody thinks it’s like it was 20 years ago, where you’re signed and it’s amazing. Maybe we didn’t have the best record deal, but it definitely helped to say you were signed, that’s for sure. But nowadays you can do so much on your own.

When The Dirty Hooks’ album came out, you were getting a lot of comparisons to bluesy rock bands like The White Stripes. Is the new material similar? It’s in the same vein. I think these newer ones definitely drive straight toward the hook, and I think they’re a little more catchy. Like any other band, you grow up with your second record, mature with it, and I think that’s definitely gonna happen with this next record.

You’re the drummer and you also sing, which is a rarity. How difficult is it to do both? It’s like any instrument—you know what you can and can’t play, and you’re not gonna get ahead of yourself. Sometimes when they’re like, “Hey, can you play this beat and sing over this?” it’s kind of tricky. I didn’t think I could do it, to be honest with you. I hadn’t really played the drums in about 10 years, so to just jump into this band and be like, “Sure, I can sing and play,” I don’t know. I guess I pulled it off. (laughs)

The Dirty Hooks with Same Sex Mary, Leather Lungs. July 8, 8 p.m., free. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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