Dum Dum Girls is an American rock band, formed in 2008. It began as the bedroom recording project of lead singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny (aka Kristin Welchez) in Los Angeles. She is currently based in New York City. The name is a double homage to The Vaselines’ album Dum Dum and the Iggy Pop song “Dum Dum Boys”. Many people believe Dee Dee Penny’s stage name was inspired by Dee Dee Ramone but she has stated this isn’t true.
Dee Dee’s first release under the Dum Dum Girls moniker was a five-song CDr on her own label, Zoo Music, in late 2008. It was followed by an EP on Captured Tracks and a 7″ on HoZac. She quickly gained attention with these releases and signed to Sub Pop in July 2009.
Dum Dum Girls’ debut album, I Will Be, was released in March 2010 and was well-received by critics. Pitchfork described the songs as “genuine earworms, both unfailingly hip and often wonderfully associative”. Penny produced the record with Richard Gottehrer, who had previously worked with Richard Hell, Blondie, The Go-Gos, and The Raveonettes. Gottehrer also co-wrote the early 1960s hit songs “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy”. The record included guest guitarists Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs on “Yours Alone,” Dee Dee’s husband Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles on “Blank Girl,” and Andrew Miller on multiple tracks. The cover of the album featured a college snapshot of Penny’s mother, who died from cancer in 2010. After its release, she assembled a touring band, and their first shows were in support of Girls.
In 2011, the band released the He Gets Me High EP, which included a cover of “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths. This record marked the addition of Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes to the production team, which Dee Dee has kept intact.
Second album Only in Dreams was released in September 2011, featuring the singles “Coming Down” and “Bedroom Eyes,” the latter of which Dum Dum Girls performed on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This album was the only Dum Dum Girls recording to feature the full band.
In September 2012, the EP End of Daze was released, preceded by the single “Lord Knows” on July 31, 2012, which Pitchfork awarded “Best New Track”. The EP received “Best New Music” from Pitchfork as well.
Dee Dee has also collaborated on a number of musical projects. As The Mayfair Set, a duo with Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs, she released an eponymous single followed by the Young One 12″ EP, both in 2009. She and Tamaryn released a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain song “Teenage Lust” in 2011 under the name Les Demoniaques. Also that year, Dee Dee, Sniper and of J.B. Townsend of Crystal Stilts recorded a one-sided 7″ single, “Faraway Friend,” under the name Zodiacs, which was given away via Captured Tracks mailorder. Most recently, Dee Dee and her husband released a 2013 single, “Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good,” as Haunted Hearts. In 2013, Dee Dee composed the opening theme for the animated series Beware the Batman.
On October 31, 2013, Dum Dum Girls announced the third full-length album Too True, set for release on January 28, 2014 and featuring the single “Lost Boys & Girls Club”, whose video premiered with H&M on October 31, 2013. For this album, Dee Dee Penny cited Suede, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Madonna, and The Stone Roses as her influences.
The Dum Dum Girls single “Coming Down” was used for a promotional teaser trailer and can be heard in the end credits for the 2013 film The Canyons, written by Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Paul Schrader. Because the filmmakers used their song as a sort of “theme” for the film, Dee Dee approached Ellis to script a music video for their single “Are You Okay” that was released in 2014.