Punk Couple ‘Dennis and Lois’ Dish on their 40-Year Love Affair with Music [INTERVIEW]
New York couple Dennis and Lois consume concerts at the same frenetic pace as many of the acts they see perform their sets (sometimes they see four shows a week, sometimes it’s brief overnight stint in Manchester). They are the ultimate punk fans, a lifetime music-driven couple. And the best kind of cool – matter of fact, not pretentious, and completely true to their passions (not the least of which is amassing a house full of toys and gig memorabilia).
They started by offering to sell merch for The Ramones at CBGB in the 1970s, and it was full speed ahead, connecting with big names in music throughout the US and UK. They’re an inspiration – a true testament of love what you do and not let anyone or anything get in the way of it.
In his excellent documentary, Dennis and Lois, director Chris Cassidy gives us a colorful glimpse into a lifestyle that instantly makes any live music lover simultaneously green with envy and incredibly hopeful – there is no “I’m getting too old for this shit,” unless you want there to be. The film premiered at DocNYC earlier this week – read on to gain a bit more insight on working with this world famous couple.
Bowery Boogie: This was your first full length documentary – what were some of the challenges you ran into?
Chris Cassidy: One of the biggest challenges with this project was keeping up with Dennis and Lois. They keep a pretty rapid schedule in terms of hitting the road and traveling to gigs, and much of it is last minute. It truly is pretty amazing the pace they keep in their commitment to doing what they love.
BB: How many shows did you get to see while filming this? Favorites?
CC: I’ve probably seen about 50 shows related to the filming of Dennis and Lois. Standout gigs include Fat White Family, Peter Hook, and everything with Frank Sidebottom involved, he was an amazing man and talent.
BB: When did you become infatuated with the Dennis & Lois story?
CC: I am often curious about the named subjects of certain songs/titles, Jane’s Addiction – who was Jane? Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane, etc. I am a big Happy Monday’s fan so naturally when Pill, Thrills and Bellyaches came out with a track called Dennis and Lois, I was instantly curious if these people are real – they obviously are.
BB: Was it easy getting bands/artists to talk to you? Based on reactions in the film, my guess is you had to only mention their names to gain access…
CC: For the most part, anyone who has had interaction with D&L was more than happy to participate. D&L mean a lot to many of the bands in the film, and I think they were really eager to have an opportunity to participate and say a few nice things about them.
BB: What was the most surprising thing you learned about Dennis & Lois?
CC: If I am honest, there was nothing really surprising – this is a couple that have lived such an extraordinary life that when stories creep out about certain exploits or adventures they’ve been on, it’s really no surprise. Now if I end up hearing they sat around and never went to shows for some period of time in the ’80s or something, that would shock me. But we know that didn’t happen.
BB: Were you privy to any music debates/arguments between the couple while filming?
CC: The amazing thing about Dennis and Lois is that their taste in music is almost identical. In all the years that I was with them and discussing music or going to shows, I am can’t recall a single time when their taste or opinion of the experience diverged from one another. The agreement they have goes down to small little nuances of a show or a song, and it’s not that they don’t have individual opinions, of course they do, it’s just that their taste is so tuned-in and usually spot on that their shared opinion is close to fact… many would agree that their taste is usually right on spot.
BB: What is your big takeaway from their story?
CC: My biggest takeaway from the life of Dennis and Lois – find something that you love, and do whatever you can to keep doing it as long as you can… and if you can find a partner in crime to ride it out along the way – hold on tight!
BB: Did you walk away from this documentary and immediately want to go to more gigs?
CC: If there are bands or artists in town that I admire or am curious about, I will always try to make an effort to get to see them live. I’ve grown up going to shows/concerts, and I will keep going every opportunity I get. I have a two-year-old son now, and I look forward to getting him to his first gig.
BB: Do Dennis and Lois wear earplugs to shows?
CC: They still refuse to wear earplugs
See what all the noise is about and check out Dennis and Lois – you wont be sorry.