Students unfamiliar with the Oregon music scene can experience it firsthand Monday when self-described indie pop band The Dimes makes a stop during its fifth tour to play at the University Student Union.
â€œWhen we go on tour, we like to focus on the college market, since we are just out of school ourselves,â€? acoustic guitar player and singer Johnny Clay said. â€œIt is really great to see the college crowd come out and already know our latest single or having previously discovered us on MySpace.â€?
The Dimes has been compared favorably by critics to groups like The Shins and The Decemberists â€” other bands that exemplify the unique brand of independent music coming out of Portland.
â€œWe all grew up on The Beatles and thatâ€™s what we wanted to do: play music in the style of The Beatlesâ€™ White Album,â€? Clay said.
â€œWe wanted to focus on songs that could, one day, be considered timeless.â€?
Clay said this is the longest tour the band has ever done, with more than 34 engagements planned during the course of 18 days.
â€œItâ€™s always nose to the grindstone when we tour,â€? 28-year-old Clay said, â€œWe all have day jobs and it is really tough to take six weeks off a year, so we have to make the most of it. We have a manager now and heâ€™s cracking the whip on us, but thatâ€™s exactly what we need.
â€œIt has been an incredible tour so far. People love the new music and it has just been a blast.â€?
When the band originally set off on tour, it brought 400 copies of its latest album with it. Now, after 16 shows, the group has put in an order for 200 more to keep up with demand.
â€œIt is the most weâ€™ve sold on any tour so far,â€? bass player Ryan Johnston said. â€œWeâ€™ve just had a great response from people.â€?
Between shows, the members of the band enjoy themselves by watching movies, playing â€œGuitar Hero 2â€? and doing whatever they can to just have fun.
The Dimes was formed four years ago by a group of friends with similar goals, but their love for music began long before the bandâ€™s conception.
â€œI was a late bloomer, in terms of music,â€? Johnston said. â€œMy mom had taught me to play the guitar at 16, but I never really realized what I wanted to do until I was 17 years old and went to the Burning Man festival. That is this art and performance thing where the entire artistic part of San Francisco empties out into the desert for a couple of days. Itâ€™s a real good place to get inspired and thatâ€™s where my music started.â€?
In the future, Johnston hopes they can continue to play and reach people with their music.
â€œI think for everyone in the band, this would be our main choice of profession,â€? Johnston said. â€œI mean, I lift things all day long with a forklift. I donâ€™t want to do that for the rest of my life. If the easiest thing I ever have to do is remember to wake up early for an interview, then Iâ€™m sold.â€?