idiots with power pop hearts of gold

by Shea Stewart | Sync Weekly | March 11, 2010


‘Gulch rock’ trio Dangerous Idiots create new musical genre


What follows is a partial list of topics discussed with Dangerous Idiots during a recent Friday evening at Vino’s:


  • The physical limitations of zombies on heroin
  • Franco-American relations
  • What’s the better Led Zeppelin album? Led Zeppelin II vs. Physical Graffiti
  • The role of the South in the cultural progression of the U.S.
  • Vomit Suicide Pact as a potential album or band name


Be reminded it’s a partial list. And the PG-rated version. We won’t discuss how Dangerous Idiots guitarist and vocalist Aaron Sarlo believes I possess the perfect fingers for strangling people. Or playing piano. Either one. Fellow Idiots bassist and vocalist Paul Bowling, and drummer and vocalist Shayne Gray miss the beginning of the strangling people discussion. Sarlo and I disagree on who originally introduced the strangling fingers theory. Or playing piano. Either one. Sarlo and I also have a friendly back and forth over the Led Zeppelin II vs. Physical Graffiti question. I think Sarlo gets the last word in.

But enough about the non-musical doings of Dangerous Idiots. Well, one more: It’s a band name that’s hard to write or say without including the article “The.” Okay. Dangerous Idiots. Here’s the quickie history: Bowling was a founding member and bass player in legendary Little Rock punk outfit Trusty. One of the Trusty guys not to move to Washington, D.C., he resembles an English professor with his smart-looking glasses. Gray was a founding member of legendary alternative rock act Techno Squid Eats Parliament. He’s an actor and artist. He also wears scrubs to work with his day job at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Sarlo was a founding member of legendary alternative rock act Techno Squid Eats Parliament, too. He was in Slept, a Boston band. He’s an archer. He also plays the ukulele and wrote most of Dangerous Idiots tunes on the instrument.

Therefore we arrive at the music of Dangerous Idiots. Dangerous Idiots’ first show was Sept. 4, 2009, opening for Dragoon at White Water Tavern.

Before the quasi-super group’s founding, Sarlo didn’t even have a guitar. After getting reacquainted with Sarlo following a Techno Squid Eats Parliament reunion show in May 2008, Gray presented Sarlo with two items needed in making rock: a guitar and Lou Reed’s Transformer. “It was one of those things where we got re-introduced and thought we should get together and play,” Gray says. “[Sarlo’s] voice had gotten stronger. We kind of dug what was going on.” Gray was social media friends with Bowling and invited the bassist to come by and jam. The group had a common love of David Bowie, The Pixies, Camper Van Beethoven and Big Star. Power pop, with hints of late ’70s punk, and stoner and psychedelic rock. Soon the trio was creating music, with Sarlo transforming songs written on ukulele into Dangerous Idiots tunes. The resulting goo is described as “gulch rock” by the band, or, as Gray describes it: the sound of boots stuck in mud. Or, as Bowling describes it: “Gulch rock is barbershop punk.”

The idea was to keep it simple. Relax and have fun. Tear down their musical pasts and create something new. And they chose a band name for their new trio: Dangerous Idiots. It’s a name where “people don’t expect much,” Bowling says, as opposed to a band name such as Super Badass Geniuses. “With Dangerous Idiots, we didn’t want to take it too seriously,” Bowling says. “We’ve been around the block, and we’re not worried about offending people. We can do what we want. We just have to keep it honest.” “We just want to have fun with it,” Sarlo adds. “I think we’re generally in it for the fun. The real payoff to me is other musicians like it.”

The end result: a group of guys creating music and having fun. There’s an album on the way later this year, simply titled Double EP. It’s two EPs as a LP; 11 tracks in all in about 31 minutes. The basic tracks were recorded with Jason Tedford at Wolfman Recording Studios The band promises more music in the future. It will be fun. Serious, tuneful, pop melodies with buzzing guitars, but fun.

Ultimately, I do get the last word. Dangerous Idiots. Probably a little dangerous. Maybe a tad idiotic from time to time. Guys not afraid to drink beer and swerve among a range of topics while occasionally steadying their wheel and keeping the discussion on Dangerous Idiots. They are a trio of guys who create superb music with tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Maybe it’s a little off-kilter, but it’s darn good music, recalling what used to be right with alternative rock.

And the final word: Dear Mr. Sarlo, Physical Graffiti is the better Led Zeppelin album. Or so I think it’s the last word until I receive an e-mail from Sarlo, with a list of Dangerous Idiots tunes soon to appear on the trio’s Double EP. The songs include He Who Has The Information Is The Leader, Can I Get A Role Model, and, if Sarlo can get the guys to learn it, Penis Tsunami. “Like the tragically underrated band Cannibal Corpse, we tend to give our songs catchy (Read: curiosity arousing) titles,” Sarlo writes. “Feel free to mention the following actual Dangerous Idiots song titles, if you find yourself at a loss for wacky sh*t.”

Sarlo wins.



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