There is no more powerful force for healing and catharsis than music. It can
help us through the most trying times, including almost unimaginable
The Dials have been one of the most promising bands on
Chicago's thriving garage-rock scene for about four years now, and after
releasing a strong six-song EP in 2004, they were gearing up to issue their
first full album for the local Latest Flame label when bandleader Rebecca
Crawford received a horrible phone call last July.
Crawford's husband, John Glick, the guitarist for the Returnables, had
been killed at an intersection in Skokie, near the Shure microphone
headquarters where he worked with his friends Doug Meis, drummer for the
Dials and Exo, and Michael Dahlquist, the drummer for Silkworm. The Honda
Civic they were driving was rammed by another car driven by a 23-year-old
woman police say was trying to commit suicide. The woman lived and is facing
"It was the most tragic day of my life," Crawford said. "I found out
about my husband, and I deduced from what was told to me that Doug was also
in the car. They hadn't informed his family yet, but basically for 24 hours,
while I was in shock, [Dials guitarist] Patti [Gran] and [keyboardist] Emily
[Dennison] were trying to figure out what happened to Doug and Michael."
MEMORIAL AND BENEFIT
SILKWORM, EXO, THE DIALS, THE RETURNABLES AND THE NEGLIGENTS
6:30 p.m. Saturday
Metro, 3730 N. Clark
The Dials had already finished recording the 13 songs on "Flex Time" with
Meis on drums, and it wasn't long before Crawford, Gran and Dennison decided
that releasing the disc as planned would be the best tribute they could give
their friend and bandmate.
"We were all holding on to each other extremely tightly," Crawford said.
"Grief is absolutely horrible, and I think that in desperate times, people
hold on tight to what they still have. Playing music is what we do, and
these guys are like my family. So we determined to honor Doug and keep
Six months later, the Dials are celebrating the release of "Flex Time" as
part of a special show at Metro tomorrow night dubbed "The Three Friends
Benefit and Memorial," featuring the surviving members of all of the slain
Standing at the center of such a tragedy, it's inevitable that the Dials
are being asked about the incident in most of the interviews they're doing
to support the new album. "But we don't want to have that mark on our
forehead wherever we go," Crawford said. "We want to be known as a good
The Dials aren't just a good band; with "Flex Time," they've become a
great one, with insanely energetic and infectious tunes such as "Sick
Times," "Phone Time" and "Do You Want Me?" hooking you in from the first
time you hear them.
A veteran of the puta-pons, Crawford was looking for likeminded music
fans when she linked up with Gran, who had been considering moving back to
her native Miami. The two guitarists found an instant chemistry, and their
dual lead harmony vocals form one of the band's two most striking
After initially penning songs on their own, it wasn't long before
Crawford and Gran started writing as a team, and the harmonies started
coming almost effortlessly. "If Becky's doing something, I just immediately
do a lower voice under it, and it seems like when I sing lead, Becky comes
up to the mike and those harmonies just naturally come out," Gran said.
The quartet's other musical hallmark became part of the mix shortly
before the release of its EP, when Dennison joined on Farfisa organ.
"Originally, after Patti and I found each other through the musicians
wanted ads, somebody approached us and said, 'Have you ever thought about a
keyboard player?' " Crawford said. "I went, 'Oh, that would be a good idea!'
So we all got together, and then once we had a keyboard player, it seemed
like a necessity. Then she left to do some other project, but Emily had been
a friend for a while, and I didn't even know she played keyboards."
Dennison's only other experience playing in bands had been a two-week
stint filling in on guitar for the Returnables, but she had taken piano
lessons as a kid. She proved to be a natural on Farfisa, bringing the
classic trashy garage-rock organ drone to some of the group's tunes, and
adding a compelling percussive counterpoint to others.
"I just kind of played off of the sounds that the band already had going,
and some songs you play a lot, and some a little," Dennison said. Added
Crawford, "When Emily and Doug joined the band, that's when it felt like the
Dials really began."
Though Meis will never be forgotten, the group is now completed by
drummer Chad Romanski. The band is planning to support "Flex Time" with
shows throughout the Midwest (it will also perform at the Empty Bottle on
Feb. 18), at South by Southwest in March and on an East Coast tour in April.
And "Flex Time" stands as the first great album of 2006 from a local group
deserving of a much wider audience.