Dave Hause Revisits a Still Resonating “Minimum Wage is a Gateway Drug”

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When Dillinger Four released their fourth album Civil War, “Minimum Wage is a Gateway Drug” was their punk rock ode to the tribulations of the working class, injustices, and struggling to live the American dream. Written by one Dillinger bassist Patrick “Paddy” Costello, it was a song Dave Hause was drawn to revisit and part of one half of his upcoming dual EP release, Patty and Paddy (Oct. 23), a collection of songs written by folk singer-songwriter Patty Griffin and Costello that still continue to capture the essence of all the layers of life in America… now.

“Dillinger Four put this song out in 2008, and 12 years later it cuts to the quick of American life for working people even more than it did when it came out,” says Hause. “Paddy Costello is one of my favorite lyricists, especially when he writes about the distance between the promise of the American dream and the reality of working in modern America. The title alone speaks volumes, connecting addiction to poverty for a hard dose of truth that makes you smile and wince at the same time.”

Featuring multi-instrumentalist and singer Jake Blount, Hause’s folk-driven rendition defiantly cuts through the lyrics, moving through One can tell themselves about when going gets rough / Determination just ain’t enough / When your overtime defines your life… Time was a war time economy / Was a silver lining to tragedy / But even those with homes are now those alone / In the land of the free.

Following up his 2019 release Kick and EP September Haze, Patty and Paddy pay homage to two artists that helped shape Hause’s own songwriting and features Will Hoge, Brian Fallon (“Long Ride Home“), Lilly Hiatt, Laura Stevenson on Griffin’s “When It Don’t Come Easy,” and Bartees Strange, in addition to Blount throughout several tracks.

Dave Hause (Photo: Kyle London)

“As we started moving along, we were really enjoying the process, and by virtue of recording songs by both songwriters at the same time, certain parallels emerged,” says Hause. “These are two of my favorite songwriters on Earth. I hope we did them proud.”

Prior to his EP singles, Hause released “Your Ghost,” a protest song addressing police brutality and white privilege, following the death of George Floyd in March 2020, with proceeds from its sale donated to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund.

“Minimum Wage is a Gateway Drug” is simply the continuation of the ongoing dialogue of what is happening in America today.

I wanted to reimagine Paddy’s songs as folk ballads, and hopefully bring a new focus to these amazing melodies and lyrics that he and the band play at breakneck speeds through loud Marshall amps,” says Hause, whose brother Tim also plays guitar and contributes vocals on the track. 

“Jake Blount’s haunting vocal gave this song a different space to live in, stripping it down to its barest form, he adds. “God bless Patrick Costello, Dillinger Four, and this crooked American nightmare that we can hopefully claw our way out of.

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