'Dennis & Lois' Rock Doc Tracks Couple's 40-Year Punk Superfan Odyssey


They had been the Ramones’ first followers, and 40 years later, they’re nonetheless within the pit. Since their first date at CBGB in 1976, Dennis Anderson and Lois Kahlert have been rock’s boldest, most tireless superfans — and so they have their very own movie to show it.

Thursday (Nov. 15) marks the premiere of Dennis and Lois, a Chris Cassidy-helmed documentary concerning the septuagenarian couple, who’ve been following indie and punk acts on the street for greater than 4 a long time. The movie digs into the couple’s historical past of music fandom with appearances from Noel Gallagher, Peter Hook, The Mekons’ Jon Langford and extra.

Dennis and Lois began out because the Ramones’ merch-slingers and tour followers, however quickly solid a deeper, extra parental relationship with the band. In a scene in Dennis and Lois, we see the late Joey’s tattered denims slung on their toilet door; amongst many different roles, Lois was their unofficial seamstress.

As it seems, being tight sufficient with the Ramones will get a bunch of fledgling punks speaking. From there, Dennis and Lois would forge lasting bonds with everybody from El Vez to Primal Scream, from the Mekons to Happy Mondays.

Where most longtime rock followers would ease up with age, Dennis and Lois have doubled down. They don’t have any kids. They by no means married. When they aren’t at their Long Island house — which is crammed with sufficient offbeat toys, clothes and memorabilia to rival a popular culture museum — they’re on the street to the subsequent gig. Even as growing old and well being points have entered the image, their road-warrior spirit hasn’t flagged; today, they comply with modern-day rockers like Cabbage and Fat White Family with equal zeal.

Their beloved Happy Mondays even immortalized them eternally in music; their basic 1990 album Pills ‘n' Thrills and Bellyaches incorporates a tune known as “Dennis and Lois.” Cassidy, a hardcore Mondays fan in his early ‘90s school years, was listening.

The topics of the tune had been a thriller to Cassidy: who’re Dennis and Lois? Eventually, a mutual pal, P.J. O’Connor from the Bogmen, would introduce them in particular person at a present in 2010. For Cassidy, it was the start of a journey that led straight into Dennis and Lois’s internal lives.

Ahead of the official premiere of Dennis and Lois at New York City's IFC Center, Billboard caught up with Cassidy about how he weaved a brand new historical past of punk, one from the attitude of its two most ardent followers.

Can you describe the way you befriended Dennis and Lois, and the way that planted the seeds for the movie? What was concerned in bringing you into their internal world?

I had heard their identify earlier than, from the Happy Mondays music. I used to be an enormous Happy Mondays fan within the early ‘90s. I had at all times recognized there was a music known as “Dennis and Lois,” and I at all times questioned who these folks had been. My musician buddy, P.J. O’Connor from the Bogmen, launched me to them, and I mentioned to them, “Are you the Dennis and Lois?” And they mentioned “Yes.” And I used to be like, “Oh my gosh, I’m an enormous Mondays fan. It’s a pleasure to fulfill you.”

And we simply began speaking, and I began to listen to their tales. I went again house and thought, “Wow, this is able to most likely make a extremely attention-grabbing documentary,” simply primarily based on all of the tales. All the bands that they comply with are bands that I really like. I’ve had lots of unanswered questions through the years about who Dennis and Lois had been. To me, it was a dream come true to do that challenge with them.

All main rock acts have had their devotees and superfans, however not essentially to the tip of constructing a documentary about them. What separates Dennis and Lois from the remainder, and what impressed you to sort out this large endeavor to inform their story?

There are a few issues. For one, I feel it’s their longevity. They’ve been doing it for 40 years. They’re devoted to doing what they love for that size of time. That’s actually spectacular. To nonetheless do it whenever you’re in your seventies, I don’t see many individuals doing that. If you go searching a present, you don’t actually see anyone their age. And when you do, it’s sort of cool. It’s like, “Wow, these guys get it.” It’s undoubtedly a younger man’s sport, proper? The live performance world, going to exhibits? So, to see these people who find themselves your grandparents’ age, it’s spectacular.

So, I used to be completely impressed with their monitor document, actually, as a result of 40 years of doing it’s a very long time. It’s a lifetime dedication.

Dennis and Lois – Doc Teaser from Dennis and Lois Documentary on Vimeo.

After watching the documentary, I’d wager they took it a step additional than most different “growing old punks.” They had a real relationship with these bands through which they developed mutual belief.

They know precisely how to slot in with these folks, what to say, what to do. They’re not the standard superfans. One different actually vital factor is their cred, I assume you could possibly name it? They met at a time in music that was this golden interval of punk. They met at CBGB’s when the Ramones had been simply beginning out. The indisputable fact that they had been linked to and labored with the Ramones meant that they had been immediately in historical past, what I imply?

They had been there from the beginning. They most likely noticed the primary couple of gigs. And then they wound up connecting with them personally, promoting their merch, happening tour, and that actually began them off. The indisputable fact that they had been there and witnessed that complete scene was actually spectacular. And it impressed lots of bands that they’d met after. Everyone appeared to be wowed by the truth that they had been within the Ramones’ internal circle. It’s instantaneous credibility.

Is that how their circle of admirers grew to incorporate the Mekons, Noel Gallagher, Peter Hook and so many others?

I’d say that they had been all influenced by the Ramones, so all of them took it very severely. I’m certain they wished to listen to many tales. It legitimized them. They had been immediately welcomed, favored and credible. Not wacky and fanatical. People get together with them. They’re tremendous cool folks. They have a approach of connecting with these artists that almost all followers don’t. They’re not just like the younger fan who is perhaps in awe of those artists. They can dig proper in and be on their degree.

It’s a particular group of bands that Dennis and Lois have embraced. They share this one factor in widespread, which is that this relationship with these two folks. Which has been a very long time, typically. For a few of these acts, they’ve been following them because the starting. I imply, Peter Hook talks about it. He mentioned, “When you get well-known, you don’t know if individuals are attempting to get one thing from you or not. These are the individuals who will at all times be there for you.”

And this isn’t within the movie, however I at all times cherished this. Dennis instructed me as soon as that Patti Smith by no means employed safety at her exhibits within the early days. She at all times had her followers up entrance, as a result of she believed her followers will shield her essentially the most. So, there’s a belief there, yeah. “Trust” might be the key phrase to remove from that.

Let’s speak about their memorabilia assortment they’ve at house. According to their profile in The New York Times, they’ve bought all the pieces from a wine glass stained with Joni Mitchell’s lipstick to a tissue Joe Strummer blew his nostril in. What possesses them to take accumulating to this excessive?

Well, as we all know, their accumulating is obsessive, proper? They’ve bought Mark Day’s marriage ceremony cake of their freezer for 30+ years. And they save peoples’ garments and water bottles and beer bottles and snot towels and stuff like that. They’re simply true collectors.

This goes many, many steps past simply selecting up the T-shirt on the merch sales space.

Way past. Their home is nearly like a museum.

Would you say there’s no restrict to what they’ll protect from an artist?

No. They have Cheetos luggage from the Vaccines that they ate from. They save discarded wrappers. They’re simply into accumulating issues! Their toy assortment might be one of many higher ones on the market. But it’s all for them. I’ve requested them loads of occasions, “Why don’t we present these things out? You guys ought to have a sales space at Comic-Con with the toys. Grab the very best of your finest!” Or you’ll see collections in airports of issues. They may actually tour some of these items, which might be enjoyable, however they’re sort of not . It’s actually for them.

And they rotate their stuff, so that they’re taking a look at various things. It may appear sort of loopy, however there’s a little little bit of a way there. There are completely different themed rooms. Batman rooms, Spider-Man rooms, Simpsons rooms, the SpongeBob toilet, Star Wars basement, Freddie Krueger’s by the furnace. And their kitchen cupboards are dioramas, so that you open up the place you’d see meals…

So, there’s a degree of curation there. It’s only for their enjoyment solely.

It’s fastidiously performed. They go to England, and so they have to purchase suitcases over there to deliver again the toys. As far because the [more intimate] memorabilia goes, I feel it’s simply a part of the accumulating factor that they do.

As the movie winds down, you give attention to among the well being considerations which have slowed them down a bit of bit not too long ago. Is an finish of the street foreseeable for his or her diehard live performance and accumulating routine?

I feel they don’t see an finish. It doesn’t appear to be something’s actually going to cease them. They’re going to do that so long as they’ll. As lengthy as they’ll get to that present and get what they get out of that.

Do they nonetheless attend as many exhibits as ever?

Yeah. They’ll get within the automobile and drive in a single day from New York to Chicago. They’ve been doing that rather a lot currently, as a result of Jon Langford and Sally Timms are in Chicago. They’re true street warriors. They’ll simply drive, and drive, and drive.

Just take into consideration all the children who had been proper with them at these CBGB’s exhibits a long time in the past. Most of them are most likely advertising consultants now, however Dennis and Lois are nonetheless 100% dedicated to this way of life.

I’ve requested them about sacrifices. They don’t really feel they’ve made any. They’ve by no means had youngsters; that doesn’t appear to hassle them. They by no means bought married. Careers didn’t actually appear to be that vital to them. Lois labored at a spot for a very long time, but it surely all took a backseat to the music. It’s actually, actually their one ardour in life. I don’t suppose they ever wished to desert that.

It looks as if the message of the movie is simply to spend your life doing what makes you cheerful and fulfilled.

That’s proper, precisely. And at this level, they’re not going to cease, as a result of it’s the factor that’s sort of protecting them going, too. You understand how folks retire, and so they simply don’t appear to have a function anymore? We’ve heard tales of kinfolk at house, simply sort of doing chores, mowing the garden, watching TV. They’re not fascinated by stopping. They’re going to do that eternally.