Greg Dulli’s ever-maturing confidence – Philly.com

Grooving from the gut.
By Michael Pollock
Philly.com

Greg Dulli does not lack self-esteem.

“I’ve always been confident when it comes to the music I do,” Dulli said from Los Angeles, where he lives part-time. “If I can’t present it with confidence, I can’t expect you to receive it with confidence. But I think now I have a bit of wisdom to go with the confidence.”

One might be reinforcing the other. For years, Dulli has been working touches of soul, funk, jazz, electronic – even hip-hop references – into his brand of tortured rock-and-roll. With his current project, the Twilight Singers, Dulli is at his most streamlined, “indulging the darker orchestrations with a more careful hand,” according to Pitchfork’s review of the band’s latest, Dynamite Steps.

Dulli is the only permanent member of the Twilight Singers, although he’s been relying on many of the same backing players for nearly a decade. Throughout the ’90s, he fronted the Afghan Whigs. In 2003, he formed Gutter Twins with ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan. Along the way, he has contributed to Skip Spence and Doug Sahm tribute records and albums by Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs and Foo Fighters. Dulli has never had what you might call a hit, but he has written songs – “Summer’s Kiss,” “Teenage Wristband” – that resonate well beyond their release dates.

Allegiance runs deep. In October, Dulli sold out Johnny Brenda’s as part of his intimate “Evening with Greg Dulli” series, a set of shows where Dulli played songs from his 20-plus-year career. (He sold out New York’s Bowery Ballroom during the same mini-tour.)

“The reaction’s different from city to city,” Dulli said of touring. “Philadelphia is a pretty throw-down town. I prefer to play for those more visceral audiences.”

Visceral might be the best word to describe both Dulli’s records and stage show. It’s gut reaction, he said, that guides everything he does.

“Whenever you start to second-guess your instincts, you’re running down a blind alley. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that my instincts are good. They’re what got me here.”

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