CD best tribute Dials can pay to bandmate


January 13, 2006


There is no more powerful force for healing and catharsis than music. It can help us through the most trying times, including almost unimaginable tragedies.

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 criminal charges.

"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."




  • 6:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Metro, 3730 N. Clark
  • Tickets, $11
  • (312) 559-1212 

  • 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 going."

    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 musicians' bands.

    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 band."

    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 signatures.

    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.