After reading this interview, some may conclude that Max Eisenberg is a creep, pervert or a weirdo. But that’s not true: He's a pretty nice guy, and relatively well adjusted at that. He's not ugly, either. But most know Eisenberg as DJ Dog Dick, the Sultan of Slime noise/hip-hop/party musician who’s toured the U.S. and Europe multiple times. His career spans a decade, and at one point he was a member of the legendary Nautical Almanac (he left around 2006). Lately, though, he’s been writing phenomenal noise-infused hip-hop songs about the world, life, death and pretty girls, that recall early 90s East Coast rap and dystopian urban anxiety. The DJ Dog Dick persona is a troubadour for the weird and disenfranchised, for those who are reluctantly attuned to the absurdity and frustrations of modern life, unable to do anything but carry on with their heads lowered.
Splice Today: Slime/grime/stink-lines are a big part of your aesthetic. What fascinates you about grossness and grease?
Max Eisenberg: I think everybody has a side that is fascinated by that stuff, and I feel a duty propagating the aesthetic. It's a service to humanity. When I was growing up in the squeaky clean suburbs, every mom was a trophy wife, every girl in my school seemed way too pretty for me. I thought I was ugly. TV shows and shopping mall displays reinforced it. I'd look at the mirror after popping a couple zits, making the scariest most exaggerated faces I could contort my features into. At the moment it was liberating, but it also helped further the divide between society and myself. I wanted to fit in and be beautiful but in my mind I was a monster. The divide created a painful duality inside of me. Drugs, family troubles and abusive friendships nurtured the conflict.
Then one day I had an epiphany; I sat down and drew a self-portrait and realized I had tremendous talent as an artist. The fog cleared, my star was released, and I had a beacon to guide me out of the void. It's fitting now that I use my talents to make a better sense of those troubles I had in my formative years and interpret them in a way that also reflects the bigger picture. Grossness and grease, we all got it. The world's sinking into a wretched stink. Society's twisted up and ugly: it's a monster, a convoluted freak show. There's our reality, there're our utopias and dystopias. What do we do with it all? Where do we go from here?
ST: What are some of your major influences (musically, visually, anything)?
ME: JG Ballard, A Clockwork Orange, Nautical Almanac, Wolf Eyes, Rob Fransisco, Wu Tang Clan, Fleetwood Mac, Master P, Heath Ledger, Lucian Freud, romantic soundtracks, tragedy, bliss, friends, enemies, my family, my life, the unknown. I could make a much longer list of this.
ST: Your work as DJ Dog Dick often straddles a line between hip-hop and noise music. Are you consciously trying to bridge a gap between the two, or is it simply an outgrowth of your listening habits?
ME: Definitely an outgrowth. I'm just trying to make compelling music and performance that reflects the world inside and around me.
ST: Is DJ Dog Dick a distinct personality from your own, or are you one and the same?
ME: That's a complicated duality. I'm strict in using just the raw vibes of my personality to manifest the voice of DJ Dog Dick, but most of the time it becomes a much more idealized or theatrical projection of those vibes than I'm liable to be giving off in my daily life. Though I am a lifestyle artist and I think in developing the Dog Dick I've been able to work some of those more fantastic theatrics into my primary existence.
ST: You've toured a lot with friends like Narwhalz and Sewn Leather recently. Outside of Baltimore, how do people respond to your music and style? Crossed arms, bemused looks, bodies flying through the air?
ME: If I kill it, I kill it. When I'm truly feeling the jams the audience reciprocates. It's not 100 percent that I kill it, but I think I’ve got a pretty good track record. I should also say that people still get an engaging show when I suffer a moody meltdown or if it's mediocre in the scope of the rest of my performances. I'm never one to totally quit and walk away.
ST: Grease That I Got, a three-song 7", was released this summer. Have you recorded the other material you've been playing for the last year and a half, and if so will you release it soon?
ME: Yeah, that stuff will get recorded soon. Trying to figure out the best situation to get it cranked out. My wish is to work in a real studio with some production assistance.
ST: What other projects are you working on right now?
ME: Dog Leather...Dog Dick and Sewn Leather. We just finished recording an album for Ehse records. It was an amazing experience to produce it. Been working on some videos for a few of the hits. Vinyl dropping in March.
ST: You've lived at the Bank in West Baltimore for several years now—do you intend to stay for the indefinite future? What endears you to the West Side?
ME: I grew up in St. Louis but was born in West Baltimore; until I was five years old I lived just four blocks away on the same street as the Bank. Cruising some cosmic cycle brought me back here. The future: who knows? For now I'm happily settled. I love my housemates who all do awesome stuff. We've endured a lot of hard work and hard living to get this place as inspiring and comfortable as it is today.
ST: You hosted the fourth annual Bank Halloween show this past October, with performances by Dan Deacon, and Eric Copeland, among others. How did it go and do you plan on continuing the tradition?
ME: That was the last Halloween party we'll have at the Bank. All of them have been great successes, but it's really way too many people going crazy to be responsible for in our house.
ST: You're in a Royal Farms store. What three things do you get and why?
ME: I'm too embarrassed to answer that one.
The Grease That I Got 7" is out now.