Dressy Bessy comes back strong after a seven-year hiatus with the aptly titled Kingsized
In the time of Dressy Bessy has been out of commission, MySpace has gone from number-one online community site to virtual haunted house. Tammy Ealom knows the band has work ahead of it in getting the word out on new album Kingsized.
“We didn’t even have a Facebook page back then,” says the guitarist/vocalist from the Denver home she shares with Dressy Bessy/Apples In Stereo guitarist/vocalist John Hill. “All this social-media stuff has come up since we’ve been out of the scene. We’re having to build it back up.”
Seven years ago, Dressy Bessy released Holler And Stomp to less than enthusiastic critical reviews, which ranged from lukewarm to hateful. One infamously snarky website used several excremental references.
“They haven’t been kind to us from the beginning,” says Ealom. “Fuck them.”
Holler And Stomp’s unfairly harsh reception, combined with low attendance on Dressy Bessy’s subsequent 2008 tour, would have ended lesser bands. Fortunately, Ealom has a rare gift for perspective.
“To be honest, I didn’t know there were any reviews at all,” she says. “We’d been hitting it hard for 10 years. When Holler And Stomp came out, it was the cusp of the housing crash, gas prices were sky high and the turnout was lackluster because nobody could afford to do anything. We didn’t sit down and say it, but we decided to take a break.”
Since 2008, Ealom made music videos for every song on Holler And Stomp, she and Hill built up their home studio, bassist Rob Greene amicably left the band, and her father passed away. With Greene’s 2014 departure, Ealom did some soul-searching about next steps, and a torrent of songs subsequently erupted from her creative well, resulting in Kingsized, the sugar-pop band’s triumphant sixth studio effort.
“That’s how albums happen in our house,” says Ealom. “With Rob moving on, I decided, ‘OK, this is my direction in life—let’s see what we’re going to do.’ It opened it up for me to write bass lines and say, ‘This is exactly how I’d like this to go,’ and to invite friends to perform on the album and give it a whole new vibe.”
With guests including Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Rebecca Cole and Andy Sherno, Ealom, Hill and drummer Craig Gilbert bring a tougher, darker edge to Dressy Bessy’s standard bubblegum snap and bounce on Kingsized.
“We’ve been considered this cutesy thing, and I’ll take some of the blame—I do the visuals, and I’m drawn to cute shit,” says Ealom. “Cute isn’t something you learn; you embrace it or you don’t. We’ve always felt like we were a rocking fucking band.”
Kingsized exposes shades of punk and glam that have always lurked under Dressy Bessy’s surface without abandoning its core sound. More importantly, the band feels its captured its essence with this album.
“I think we’ve nailed our live sound in a recording for the first time,” says Ealom. “There’s that gritty underbelly. This is us.”
Inspired epiphanies notwithstanding, it seems logical to ask the universe and other interested parties: Why is now the time for Dressy Bessy’s return?
“We’re about to go into a housing crash, and we’re gluttons for punishment,” says Ealom. “We didn’t pick the time; it just is time. We’re excited, we have no expectations. Like it or leave it, we’re gonna do it, but please like it. We’re cute, but we’ll also make you cry.”