1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Smasher of Things: Rock of Changes (1986)

Smasher of Things' 1986 release, Feastus Arcanus (Clubbo Records)
SINGER/GUITARIST DANNY DINMONT hit the rock jackpot when his band, Smasher of Things, signed with Clubbo straight out of high school. The Minneapolis-based quartet’s first two albums, Feastus Arcanus and Thunderbeast Park, combined blistering guitars and manic drumming with the kind of dark lyric imagery that thrilled fans of so-called “Satanic” rock.

Danny and his bandmates were deeply committed to their death metal muse. But Danny was still growing as an artist — and he was never one to ignore a good influence. By 1991, he’d moved to Seattle, changed his band’s name to Thingsmasher, and replaced most of the personnel with more grunge-friendly players to record Shrug, an even bigger hit.

“This is the real me,” Danny insisted in a January 1992 interview with Rockmakers magazine, shortly before leaving Clubbo for major label Magnapop. But by the late ’90s, his band had morphed again, this time into rap-rock supergroup Smash XL.

Danny admits he’s been through a lot of stylistic changes. But he’ll still tell you he’s only being true to his muse. His latest band, the Smashes, is a perfect distillation of more recent rock trends — and, in Danny’s own words, “the most honest thing I’ve ever done.”


The Rage of Baphomet

“The Rage of Baphomet” lyrics and credits



Smashing Records with Danny Dinmont

By Dan Dickerson

[Excerpted from RockFile! magazine, February 2004. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.]

From his early days with black metal masters Smasher of Things through his chart-topping turns with grunge heroes Thingsmasher and multi-platinum rap-rockers Smash XL, Danny Dinmont has never failed to deliver a heartfelt hard-rock punch to the gut. Earlier this month his current band, the Smashes, dealt a brand-new K.O. with its pared-down power pop on a press tour for the group’s self-titled debut.

We phoned Danny at his home in Minneapolis to ask a few questions about his long and varied career to date. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available when we called.

But his mom was more than happy to talk with us.

Smasher of Things' 1986 release, Feastus Arcanus (Clubbo Records)

Fran Dinmont: Just call me Fran, or Franny. Or Granny — Granny Dinmont, that’s my name nowadays! [Laughs.] I’m just here looking after the kids for Danny and Kirsten.

RockFile! magazine: We had a few questions for Danny. Is he going to be around later?

Fran: Oh, you know, I think he said something about not doing press right now. But maybe I can help, if they’re not difficult questions?

RF: Umm. Okay, sure. Tell us about your first band, Smasher of Things. How did the band originally get together?

Fran: Well, I probably shouldn’t toot my horn this way, but I have to take some credit for helping Danny with his first band. See, he’d been taking guitar lessons, and he was in the choir at Grace Lutheran. He was obviously a very talented young man, but he was a little shy. So I said, “Danny, why don’t you start a little rock combo, just for fun?” Sharon Collier, who ran the hair salon next door to my place at the mall, told me her son Brad played guitar too, so I helped the boys exchange numbers. Brad didn’t go to the same high school as Danny — he was from Hopkins, the next town over. I remember he was always such a good-looking boy.

The original Smasher of Things (left to right): Danny Dinmont, Dave Spinone, and Brad Collier.

And there was another young man who worked for the store — I used to have a little shop in the Southdale Center, over in Edina — Bear Esscentuals, it was called. We were the first ones anywhere to sell bear-based gift baskets. Nowadays you see them all over, but ours were quite original at the time. Anyhow, this third boy, Dave Spinone, used to make deliveries for us all around the Twin Cities. He was a little older than Danny, because he had his driver’s license, but the point is, he played guitar too. And what do you know, they really hit it off, those three!

RF: I think we have a photo of that first incarnation of the band.

Fran: Oh yes, they had a portrait done at Gunderson’s Photo, four stores down. It was a special favor, because we’d sent Mrs. Gunderson a nice Bear & Bath basket after her surgery. That was Roy Gunderson’s way of saying thank you.

RF: All three of them are holding guitars.

Fran: Yes, that was right before they got Charley Springer to play the drums. And then they had a very long argument about which guitar player would play bass instead. Danny said he couldn’t do it because the low notes would interfere with his singing. And Brad said he wouldn’t do it, because he’d been playing guitar a whole year longer than Danny. Finally, they got Dave to play the bass — I think they promised to carry all his equipment for him, because you know, those bass amplifiers are even heavier than guitar amplifiers. I always wonder why they have to make them so big. You’re in the music business — do you know why they make them so big?

RF: Uh, I’m not sure. Anyway, those Smasher of Things songs — the lyrics are, um, sort of Satanic. Where did that come from?

Fran: That’s exactly what I would like to know! Danny was always such a happy little boy. I think it all started in junior high school. You see, Danny had some trouble with bullies, you know, for a few years, because he wasn’t as big as some of the other boys. But I thought we’d worked all that out in family counseling, with Pastor Farsheim. So you can imagine how shocked I was when those boys started writing things about demons and flaming swords! I suppose it was all fairly harmless, though I did put my foot down when Danny tried to write about burning bibles.

Thingshamer's Shrug album (Clubbo Records)

RF: You mean like in “The Rage of Baphomet,” where he sings, “Smashing their bones where they fall, burning them bibles and all”?

Fran: It’s “burning them barbells and all.” I told Danny, when you’re 18 and you have your own apartment, you can sing whatever you want. But as long as you’re under my roof, you aren’t going to sing about burning bibles. Teenage boys can be a handful, but sometimes you just have to draw the line and stand on it. Look, I said, why don’t you make it “barbells” instead of “bibles?” You know how you’re always complaining about those jocks at school. I think it was just something he had to outgrow. And he did. By the time he moved to Seattle, he was writing about more grown-up things. Not so much the rivers of blood and gnawing on bones and whatnot.

RF: How did you feel about the move to Seattle?

Fran: Well, I was happy to see Danny being successful with his band, though I still thought he should have been in college, like his sister. But I was so disappointed when he quarreled with Brad, and then Dave too. Do you know he didn’t even speak to them again until quite recently? I don’t think Seattle was a very positive environment for Danny, until he met Kirsten, that is. All that rain couldn’t have helped. Not that he was confiding in me — but I knew, the way moms do. And the record label, Clubbo Records, wasn’t happy with him either, I believe. Because of changing the band name to Thingsmasher, and because he was so late coming out with another record, and when he did finish, it wasn’t at all what they expected.

Danny Dinmont press photo (Clubbo Records)

Danny Dinmont circa 1991.

RF: But as successful as the first Thingsmasher album, Shrug, proved to be, Thingsmasher and Clubbo parted ways soon after.

Fran: Do you know, I think he didn’t have anything against Clubbo at all, even with the trouble about the name change. It was a simple matter of those bigger labels coming around and offering him more money and bigger tours and such. And the Clubbo contract was done with anyway after those first three records, wasn’t it? From Danny’s point of view, I don’t think such a little label could compete with the big guys.

RF: In 1993 you — Danny, I mean — said, and I quote, “Rap music is for people who don’t have the originality to play guitar.” But by 1998, on albums like Parental, Smash XL was one of the first former metal and alternative bands to jump on the turntables-and-beats trend.

Fran: Well, I never did see all that much difference between Danny’s music with these different bands. Like the difference between Smasher of Things and Thingsmasher. Danny explained it to me once, but to me it all sounds like he’s abusing his vocal cords and playing too loud. And the only difference I could hear with Smash XL was that they were even louder, and they shouted more, and that language! I tell you, I was relieved when that band ended. But it’s the same thing again with these Smashes — it’s still just loud rock music to me.

RF: You’ve been accused of bandwagon-jumping by some.
Smash XL's Parental Advisory album (Clubbo Records)

Fran: I don’t know about any bandwagons, but Danny gets so restless sometimes. He’s always running after some new idea or other. Like all that moving around, first Los Angeles, then Seattle, then that awful place in Florida, then Brooklyn, which I don’t have to tell you scared the daylights out of me, especially with the children so young!

It’s just like when he was little. First he wanted to be Superman, then the next week, after I’d stayed up late making him a Superman cape, he’d decide he was Batman instead. Even before he was born, he used to kick like crazy, like he was trying to run off somewhere! I just hope he settles down and stays put for a while. This is such a nice place for the kids, you know, with the lake and all. And having them nearby is nice for me, too.

RF: At this point in their careers many musicians are resting on their laurels. But you seem to be fronting the Smashes as if you were an unproven group of 22-year-olds.

Fran: Well, it’s like we were just saying, isn’t it? Danny always has so much enthusiasm for his projects when they’re new. And from what I hear, the new group is doing very well with selling their records, though as you say, they’re not 22-year-olds. Do you know, Danny turns 37 this year? I can hardly believe it! But then that’s what I said when I first became a grandmother. You should see the kids — they’re adorable, all redheads like Kirsten. Morgan is in third grade now, and Brannan is five and began kindergarten last fall, and the baby, Petra, just started walking. Running, more like — she’s just like Danny was at that age! But you know, I’m not sure these new Smashes are going to last as long as some of Danny’s other bands.

The Smashes album (Clubbo Records)

RF: What do you mean?

Fran: Oh! Now I’ve put my foot in it, haven’t I?! What I mean is — well, I really shouldn’t say, but that’s why Danny isn’t here right now. He’s at a rehearsal with Smasher of Things.

RF: With Smasher of Things?

Fran: Yes, it’s actually such a nice thing to see, and I think it’s only because they’re all grown up now that they can get over their differences this way. It’s the original boys from the original Smasher of Things, with Dave Spinone and Brad Collier both playing guitar too, just like in the beginning. And then the Russell brothers, Jack and Terry, from Thingsmasher are playing drums and bass. They’re talking about going on a little tour together, just to try things out. But of course, Brad runs his mother’s business now, and they’re doing so well with the new line of hair care products that I have no idea how he’ll be able to take the time off. And Dave and his wife Caryn have three little girls to look after, triplets, if you can believe it!

I tell you, Danny and Kirsten are lucky they have me, old Granny Dinmont here, as a built-in babysitter, especially with Kirsten off in Angola again — did I tell you she’s an epidemiologist? I just said to her, don’t you be coming back here and giving these kids Marburg disease or the SARS bug or some such thing! And then Danny’s always off somewhere, you know, with his tour schedule. But that’s okay. The grandkids and I get along just fine. After all, I do know a thing or two about raising children!