Photo of Dinny Bulca by Noah Parker Witt
A rare negative byproduct of Milwaukee’s varied and all-around stacked music scene, its abundance of venues, regular stops from incredible touring acts, and our multitude of well-established and up-and-coming bands is that it can sometimes be difficult for a new band to get started.
Two-piece band Malacai found that out. The group – UWM students Scott Cary (guitar and vocals) and Kelly Danen (drums)– recently added bassist Corbin Coonan and the new moniker Dinny Bulca to round out the bluesy punk outfit. With only a few shows and a couple impressive demo songs to the young band’s credit, Music Notes wanted to formally introduce Milwaukee to Dinny Bulca, gain insight into difficulties new bands sometimes face and get the skinny on the groups forthcoming debut album, tentatively called Ladies And Gentlemen.
So what does your band name mean?
Scott Cary: A friend of ours went to Ashland High School, and he told a lot of stories about their librarian, whose name was Dinny Bulca. I just really liked the sound of that name, so we just used it.
How would you explain your band and your sound?
SC: It’s mostly punk music with blues influences in some songs. It’s like a blues-punk band with ADD. I try not to linger on certain parts for too long. A lot of the songs are done before we’re even three minutes in.
Corbin Coonan: There’s a little bit of influence from bands like the Pixies. Some of the songs remind me of that, the grunge, rock and post-punk influences. It’s like The White Keys meets The Black Stripes [laughs].
Your band has only existed as is for roughly six months at this point. As a less-established band, I’m wondering what are some of the difficulties faced – whether that be with booking, getting shows or small turnouts?
SC: It’s all that. The main thing is – as much as we love all our friends – we’d really love to stop playing shows for just them and somehow get the word out and get people to come out who aren’t there just to hang out with us and support us. The trouble is just getting the word out there, for the most part. The stuff like booking shows I think would come with that. It’s difficult to establish yourself and get people to know about you without already knowing you.
CC: The way that it’s been great at the same time, we play basement shows. Those are really fun; you always meet new people. Being a not-established band in Milwaukee has its great parts too, because you’re in the underground scene still. You’re not playing at the same venues all the time. It’s fun being at this point in the band, and to come at it in your own way.
Kelly Danen: You have to be so shameless to book shows. It feels so gross to me when I’m emailing someone [from venues or other bands] like “Hey, here’s our music. Could you listen to it?” I hate forcing it on people.
It seems like a frustrating situation where you need to play more shows to get shows, but you have to be allowed by somebody else to get those first few shows. Who are some venues and bands that have helped make things easier for you early on?
SC: Well, we have kind of a sister band. It’s the first band I was ever in. They’re called American Monroe. Corbin plays bass in it, and I play drums. Basically, I would’ve never started to write songs if I haven’t been in that band. [Dinny Bulca] play a lot of shows with them. We’ve played a lot of great show at Quarter’s [Rock ‘N Roll Palace] and Bremen Café. [Bremen] gave American Monroe a monthly slot, which basically means Dinny also has a monthly slot.
What is your view of the Milwaukee music scene in general for lesser-known bands? Is it inviting? Do you feel like you’re part of something or do you feel like you’re on the outside looking in?
CC: It’s a little bit of both.
SC: Yeah, it’s – we have plenty of friends who I would consider to be on the inside, but I feel like a lot of the time, we’re on the outside looking in. We’re working on establishing ourselves. We don’t want to necessarily be the biggest band in Milwaukee, as nice as that would be, we just want to be part of it and have people know about us.
CC: There’s a really big post-hardcore kind of scene, progressive/math metal and emo scenes. We play with a lot of them now, and we’d love to keep playing with shows with them, but we don’t really sound like that. So we’re just hoping that they’ll enjoy our music as much as we enjoy what they’re playing.
What are your aspirations, both in the long-term and in the near future?
SC: We started recording demos for an album. We’re going to do the rest of the songs over summer and hopefully we’ll have that out. We’re planning on having an album and an EP within a very short time of each other. Hopefully we’ll have those out between fall and winter. As far as the short-term goals, it would be just establishing ourselves more in the local scene and just get the word out.
CC: I’d really like to play Cactus Club someday. I’ve never played there with any bands, so that’d be good. I know it’s a pretty awesome place to play.
Any bands you want to play with that you haven’t yet?
KD: I’ve emailed Sat. Nite Duets like four times [laughs]. Scott really wants to play with Call me Lightning. I just try to find bands that we sound like.
SC: The main we’re trying to say is just come out. Just check us out and if you don’t like us, you can never see us again, you can come beat us up if you want. Just try it out.
You can try out Dinny Bulca Friday, March 15 when the band plays at Y-Not III (1854 Kenilworth Pl.) in a show that benefits Milwaukee Underground Film Festival. March 22, they’ll compete in a Battle Of The Bands at Up & Under Pub (1216 E. Brady St.). April 2, Dinny Bulca makes its radio debut on WMSE’s Local Live program at 8 p.m. sharp. Two demo songs can be streamed or downloaded (for free or donation) at the Bulca Bandcamp page.