Sweet Guitar Grit: Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes

Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes creates an immaculate, well-calculated wall of layered alt rock – like Sonic Youth and Silversun Pickups teaming up with Hope Sandoval and sometimes Bjork to art it up. Wavering between ethereal-electronica to full-on in your face, guitar gut rock, the Dirty Dishes can and will knock you clean out.

Writer, singer, guitarist, pedal guru, and all-round tech queen, Jenny Tuite, fronts the trio and is the brainchild behind it. Based in Brooklyn, the band recently recorded in Los Angeles and released a new 7” single. Dirty Dishes play Savannah Stopover, Saturday, March 11, at the Jinx.  Hissinglawns caught up with Jenny to learn more about the band and what it’s like writing, touring, performing on both sides of the country.

How did you all meet? How long have you been playing together?

Dirty Dishes has been my music project for a while.  For live shows we play as a three piece with my bestie Liz on drums and our pal Skippy (Josh) on bass.  Liz and I have known each other forever, like 10 years or something.  Liz and Josh used to work at a studio called Tree Lady together.

I’m reading about you online, and you are Brooklyn-based, but you spent some time in LA. How did you like LA musically? Best parts? Worst parts? Biggest Take away?

The scene is vastly different in LA.  For recording it’s great, for live music it was really different than what I was used to being from the east coast.  Houses in southern California don’t have basements!  So there’s that.  Being from the east coast I was used to playing a lot of great house shows, I suppose we kind of take for granted having basements as a great place to congregate and throw shows.

There are some warehouse spaces in LA, there was one I really liked in Compton for a bit.  A lot of my favorite songs on our last album were tracked in LA, so I’d say for me west coast was ideal for recording, east coast has a great live music thing going on.  I enjoy both.

Can you tell me a little about what it’s like to be a musician in Brooklyn and then do the scene in LA? What was that transition like? Donuts?

Being a musician in Brooklyn is interesting.  I really like the work ethic here.  Being around bands that are really good and work really hard here makes everyone better at their craft.  The live music scene is great.

The subway is great here, so it’s easy to pop in and out of live shows and see a bunch of different music and art, everything is really accessible.  You run into a bit of a conundrum because everyone is here to make music and art but the living spaces are so tiny here there’s basically no where to practice / create.

Transitioning back to New York after living on the west coast was comfortable for me and a bit of a relief because it feels more like home and what I’m used to.  It’s definitely more hectic here than LA though and takes a bit of readjusting.  Compared to the west coast Brooklyn seems at first like a hot mess.  When I moved here I stayed at a friends old apartment the first few nights to get situated.


We had just driven everything I owned back from LA in a tiny car.  It was so tight I couldn’t put my feet down and I had boxes in my lap.  The place I was staying when I first got here in was in a basement that smelled like gas and you had no idea what time of day it was because it was absolutely pitch black all the time.  You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face at one in the afternoon.  I was completely exhausted from the trip.

The first day I finally set down all my stuff and collapsed on the bed and thought “FINALLY SOME PEACE” and then woke up to someone getting shot in the face outside the door.  Obviously you don’t see that everyday here and I don’t want to make it appear crazier than it actually is, I really like it here, there’s just this kind of unhinged vibe here maybe partly due to there being so much going on with such little space.

It’s easy to find yourself enveloped in a lot of chaos more so than in a city that’s more spread out.  But there is also this great energy that comes with around so many people here.  Definitely a faster pace, and a very different vibe than the west coast.

Donuts.  I love donuts.  There is a great donut place in Echo Park in LA called Ms. Donut.  It looks pretty dingy but wow they have the best donuts.  No frills, just a straight up glazed and coffee out of a styro-foam cup hits the spot.  They let us film a video there, which was very kind.

The guy that makes the donuts all night (who is amazing) appears peripherally in some shots, I found out that night the secret to his artistry is he doesn’t wear shoes when he works.  There are also some wonderful donut places in New York.  I love Dun-Well donuts in Brooklyn.  Whenever I have to meet with anyone I force them to go there with me.

Can you speak about your new 7″? Where did you record it? Who all worked/collaborated on it? Can you share a little about the process of making that recording?

The 7” is two songs I wrote right after our last album was out.  We had demos of the songs, but re-recorded a bunch of stuff for the versions that are on the 7” in Brooklyn after Punk Fox hit us up to do a release.  They are a cool little UK label that does physical releases only and purposely doesn’t have a website and are just all about the music.

The record is in a bunch of UK stores, we sold out of our copies in the US but I’m pretty sure you can still find some online on Discogs or through the Rough Trade site etc.  We are going to have a new version of the songs on the upcoming album which I’m excited about; we are tracking drums and bass when we get back from tour in a few weeks.

Is Stopover part of a bigger tour for you? In the name of touring, can you share a little about a memorable gig/venue on the road? What makes a great gig for Dirty Dishes?

Stopover is part of a larger tour for us, we are going out for the month of March, driving down to Austin for SXSW and doing a loop back though Nashville, up to Boston and all the gaps in between.

Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes

The first memory on the road that comes to mind is the time Liz and I had to drive from Vegas to LA during the summer for a show, and found ourselves having to drive through this sudden onset blizzard in Death Valley in the dark in a rental car that we weren’t legally able to drive.

It was all this crazy back road stuff through the insanely snowy treacherous bizzare terrain.  It was pitch black and there were no signs or lights anywhere and just piles of snow pouring from the sky.  We were straight in the middle of nowhere and basically all alone.  The few cars we passed had totally spun out off the road.  So we were just thinking oh great when is it our turn to fall into a ditch.

Liz drove, I have no idea how she got us through.  It was so funny and awful at the same time.  I actually took a some footage of it that I ended up using in a video I made later.  I put it in slow motion and it looks all dreamy and pretty when in reality it was awful and horrifying.

I really thought we were going to die and someone was going to dig up the camera and find our final moments and be like these people are idiots what the hell were they doing driving through here and why was it snowing.  I think I said bye to my mom on camera.  Still no one believes us when we tell them we got stuck in a blizzard in Death Valley.

Aside from that we’ve had some great gigs lately, we had a lot of fun playing Firefly, we always have fun playing live, any show where the audience is really hyped is great.  We are really excited to get going on this March tour, we’ve been running our set all day and have been making new pins and stickers and fun stuff.

What will your line up be for stopover–duo, full band?

Lineup at Stopover will be full 3 piece band.

With the ever-shifting landscape of the music industry–smaller and smaller profit margins–what inspires you to keep going? What drives you? Why do you do this?

Haha good question, I ask myself that a lot.  Like most musicians I just have a passion for it, I’d can’t really imagine doing anything else.  I also really like playing live now.  It used to really scare me but now I actually find it really fun so I guess that’s something new that kind of reignited my passion for it.

I was in Savannah for a day last year to play a show, everyone was so nice and about four people were wearing the same Beavis and Butthead shirt that I was so I felt a kinship.  I had some really yummy coffee, and remember seeing some sort of hearse tour vehicle.

I was excited to hang out here a bit longer this year because I’m always hearing about cool art that happens here, I’m kinda bummed because right after we play we do an overnight drive to New Orleans, but I’m just happy to be spending the day in Savannah and seeing a bunch of bands play the festival.  Maybe I’ll wear my Beavis and Butthead shirt again.

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