I first met Dylan five or six years ago after asking him to play a show in the living room of Castle Rockmoore. Since then I’ve seen him go through a whole series of musical transformations, all the while maintaining a strong DIY ethic. Here’s what he had to say to our Five Questions…
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dylan J Suttles and I’m a singer, songwriter and guitarist in the alt country dream pop band Summer Cult. I’ve also been known to play and record solo from time to time, among other hobbies.
2. What does DIY mean to you?
DIY is about taking control and not settling. It’s controlling what you do, what you make, what you put out and how people see you, but also it’s paying attention to what goes into you. It’s like cooking. Almost everyone can agree a home cooked meal is going to be better than Burger King. You’re still going to end up getting a weird, greasy, little cheeseburger sometimes, Burger King is too prevalent and convenient, you just end up there sometimes. But make your own food and you can make whatever you want, how you want it and it’s going to taste better, be more healthful and maybe even cheaper (if you know what you’re doing.) If you come to my house and let me cook for you, you’ll get the same care and quality as if I were cooking for myself. I’m not going to cook for you for money, it’s going to be out of the fun of cooking and because I like you. So I want to make you good food you’ll like. With music it’s the same thing. Sometimes, no matter what, you’re going to end up listening to Katy Perry or The Foo Fighters. They’re everywhere and it is music. In a pinch, it’ll do. But if I’m making music for you, or anyone else who makes music, it’s more for the love of music than for fame and money – our heart is in it. There’s no overhead, no bottom line, no profit margin.
3. Why should people choose the DIY method?
Everyone starts DIY, right? Any band, musician, artist, writer, whatever, has to bootstrap themselves up because you’re not going to get much help from anyone until you have something to offer them. If you get to a point where people want to help you, you have to pick and choose where to accept it. I don’t think anyone is really going to believe in you or have your best interest in mind as much as you can. So, when you’re not literally doing “it” yourself you have to make sure you are working with people who aren’t just trying to use you or profit from you and won’t dilute what you’re trying to do. It’s not for everyone. It’s harder to control every aspect of what you’re doing, from playing and writing the music to booking the shows to doing your own artwork and even printing and selling your own shirts. But in the end you know that it’s all part of you, your vision, your voice. You’ll be happier with what’s attached to your name that way. It’s much more rewarding than having all sorts of people trying to pull you in different directions or second guessing yourself and making music with a preconceived notion to mimic someone “successful.”
4. What do you want to get off of your chest right now?
Well, it’s an election year. I know both staunch republicans and steadfast democrats and some of them can come up with good reasons to be either but I can’t subscribe, wholly, to either. NPR has been covering the primaries and, since a democrat is in office, they’ve been talking to a lot of republicans. I don’t want to pick on them as a group but I swear the people they talk to are beyond ignorant and make America look horrible. No matter what state they’re in, it’s all “secret Muslim” this and “by the constitution, can’t be president” that. These people really need to wake up! Not in an Alex Jones, David Icke kind of way. They need to stop buying the Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh lines and start forming their own opinions and accept that minorities are here and it’s fine. Beck and Limbaugh aren’t philosophers, historians or experts in any field. They’re entertainers with acts closer to professional wrestlers than anything else. They don’t know or care about actual governmental policy. They’d never run for office because their shtick is working and pays them well. They’re like old, fat, right-wing, christian Marilyn Mansons. The two-party system is just a false battle to obscure that both sides are just trying to stay in power and are not as magnanimous as they’d like to appear.
5. Are there any people, places or ideas that you think folks should know about?
Just a random list off the top of my head: Hunter S. Thompson, Chaos Magick, Ohne-Ka and The Burning River from Syracuse, The Vulcans from Philly and Derren Brown. (And Summer Cult.)