When it comes to the Fourth of July, there are a few things you can count on: fireworks, American flags and a Dillinger Four show in Minneapolis. In fact, over the years the D4th of July has become a tradition that's very much worthy of a day off from work. This year, it's bigger than ever, with three nights (July 4, 5 and 6) of shows headlined by Banner Pilot, Off With Their Heads, and of course, Dillinger Four. Staff interviewer Adam Eisenberg caught up with D4's Erik Funk to find out what to expect at the D4th of July celebration, when we might hear something new and how the band plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

How did the D4th of July tradition get started?
It’s funny; I was trying to think about when it actually started and none of us… Someone can probably do the homework on it and really pinpoint when it was, but I think this would the thirteenth or fourteenth year in a row we’ve done it. It’s been at Triple Rock for the last ten years, but we did it at other places for a couple of years before that. In recent years we call it the "ninth or tenth annual" because none of us can really remember. It’s got to be 13 or 14 years that we’ve been doing it and I think it just sounded so obvious that someone said, "Let’s do a Fourth of July show."

How did it grow from a single show into a three-night event?
That really just happened this year. I was thinking about it and I realized that for the next few years it’s going to land on and around the weekend. It seems like a perfect opportunity. There’s not really any kind of festival here in Minneapolis. It seemed like this would be the kind of thing we could build into something. We figured we’d started asking bands and see who would come do it. It’s not easy for everyone because it’s a holiday weekend. Another thing we ran into, we didn’t think about it, but it’s a really expensive weekend to fly. For this first year, since we asked people, and bands aren’t exactly routing tours through the area by chance, although that was the case with the Flatliners and A Wilhelm Scream, we got lucky on that, but, bands were kind of looking and saying "yeah, we might come… Whoa, it’s really expensive to fly that weekend." So with just doing it one place and not at multiple venues, it’s a pretty tight budget. We’re hoping over the next few years it can grow into more of a thing and maybe add some extra venues too.

Is there anything else going on that weekend in addition to the shows?
There’s not a lot. There are things we’re kicking around but not a lot set in stone yet. We’re not known for being the most active band. Just figuring out how we’re going to accomplish a practice before our show takes several weeks of discussion. We’re probably not really the best-suited to be festival organizers, to add all that extra stuff that makes other festivals awesome. I’m hoping in future years, once we do it once, maybe some other people might want to get involved and help us make it more like that, but the goal for this year is let’s just get it done, let’s just do it once, let’s make it three really good shows and try not to make it too expensive, and try to pull together as much as we can as far as stuff for people to do, but we’re not making booklets or figuring out accommodations for people. It’s just not that size yet.

Besides D4th of July, you’re also booked for The Fest in Gainesville. That’s a relatively active year for D4. Is there anything else planned?
That’s the extent of it for now, although we’ve actually been trying to do more. There’s been a few other things that we were willing to do, but just couldn’t work out. As usual one of us has a conflict you just can’t get around. I think we’re still talking about at least one West Coast show before the end of the year, and we’re also talking about a couple other Midwest shows before the end of this year, so I think September through November will be a little more than just Fest. I just adopted a son this year and Paddy and his lady just gave birth to a new daughter this month. There’s a lot of kids now. It doesn’t get any easier as time goes on and you get more active, it just gets harder.

It’s been 4 ½ years since C I V I L W A R. Are you working on a new album?
We are. We definitely are. Not in that super-active way where we’re setting dates and making decisions, but we’re accumulating stuff and writing. Our hope is to maybe get something new, I don’t know how much, to bring to Fest. If we don’t pull that off then next year we’ll put out something bigger. I don’t know if we’re going to do a full-length next or if we’re maybe going to do something smaller. I’m not sure.

Putting out something smaller must be easier when everybody has so many other obligations, right?
What we’ve really been talking about is, instead of thinking we’ve got to get together a dozen songs at least, or 13, because our records are always 13 songs, that’s kind of a daunting task for us. But we have been talking more about, let’s just get four ready and do something with that, and not worry about trying to make a full, complete full-length album. That is definitely something we’re talking about a lot, figuring out ways to release smaller amounts of material more rapidly, which would be anything more than every four years for us.

Do you see the songs heading in the more mid-tempo direction of your last record?
Yeah, it’s hard to say, mid-tempo probably. At least from my part of the songwriting, and I notice that Paddy’s been kind of this way too, I just find a lot less to do with that really fast beat that a lot of our songs, and a lot of other bands songs are based around. I find when I write for the last, when we were writing Civil War, I find less to do with it. It just doesn’t appeal to me as much. Every once in a while I still come up with something I like that’s like that, but probably the mid-tempo thing. And production-wise, I think we all look back on Civil War and say well, that’s the record we made and I think there’s cool things about it, but I think we’d want to go back production-wise to something that’s a little more rough around the edges.

I did the research and it would seem that next year is the 20th anniversary of Dillinger Four. Any big plans?
Yeah, we were just thinking about that. We were trying to remember if it was 19 years or 20 years next year. I think technically its 20 years next year. We’ve always done a pretty bad job of that kind of stuff. We do know next year we should be able to be more active, so I’m sure we’ll try and make some sort of occasion out of that, but it might just be stuff in Minneapolis. We’ll get around the country a little bit next year, but the days of being able to jump on week-long tours or two-week longs tours are pretty much gone. It’s whatever we can do in a weekend, but I’m sure we’ll try and incorporate that into whatever we do next year.