We at the Granada recently got the opportunity to ask Philadelphia-based throwback-in-your-face psychedelic outfit, Dr. Dog, a few questions. Known for their haunting harmonies, rollicking riffs and startlingly accurate yet completely original vintage sound, the sextet is currently touring in support of their newest studio effort, Be the Void, which drops Feb. 7.
During the length of this current tour they’ve decided to stop in Lawrence Feb. 2 for a few pre-release shenanigans at the Granada. But before they can grace the stage with what amounts to public displays of musical black magic, we decided to ask drummer Eric Slick (yes, that’s his real name) questions about the past, present and future of the band, their experience working on their latest record, the band’s latest personnel changes and the definition of a “meatball palace.”
Intrigued? We were too.
The Granada: You were taught at the Paul Green School of Rock. Tell me about that, how it shaped you as a musician, and what knowledge you gained from that experience that you still use today.
Eric Slick: I learned how to rock and/or roll. I had a lot of amazing teachers there: Tim Karsten, Dylan McConnell, Paul Green, Jason Kourkounis (of 77 Boadrum, Bardo Pond). I learned a lot about performing, playing tastefully, and how to operate in a band….but I’m gonna have to go on the record and say that my parents are still the biggest musical influence on me. They taught me the importance of musicianship and discipline. They also have a killer record collection.
G: The members of the band have often called each other by nicknames. Where do the nicknames for each band member come from?
ES: We don’t do the “T” nicknames anymore. We’ve got new ones: Old Tober, Mickenz, FX Macanoid, Meatball, Slick, and Killer.
(Note: they all used to have “T” nicknames. Apparently, now they don’t)
G: Dmitri Manos is a new “official” addition to the band. Explain the process of getting him involved with the band, and his contributions during the recording and writing of the new album.
ES: Dmitri “Meatball” Manos has been hanging around the Dr. Dog guys for about 10 or 11 years. He actually replaced Juston Stens (former Dr. Dog drummer) on the Fall 2009 North American Tour. So technically, Dmitri was in the band before me. He also played drums on “Dutchman Falls” from Easy Beat.
He’s an inspirational, artistic, beautiful dude. His open mindedness allows the rest of the band to be creative and free. I can’t express how much he’s done for us. Every band should have a Meatball.
G: What is the “meatball palace”?
ES: It’s Meatball’s world, we’re just living in it. It’s also an electronics board that makes beep-boop-bop-bops.
(Note: for more answers about the meatball palace, click here)
G: What sets the sound of this new album apart from previous efforts like Fate and Shame, Shame?
ES: This album is raw and rocking. Up-tempo, ridiculous, and fun. I think we acheived a certain goal that we’ve been working towards for a long time: get the studio recording to sound like our live show. “Shame, Shame” was the first attempt at this, but having the freedom of our own studio, our own time, and our own gear really helped us capture that spirit.
G: How has this change in sound and addition of personnel affected the live show?
ES: You have to come and see it. Can I lie and say that we added a magic show, a horse, and a wizard?
(Note: we at the Granada are almost certain there will be no horses or wizards. As for magic, here’s a live video from a performance for public radio station WNYC of a cut off their newest record, “That Old Black Hole.”)
G: Zach Miller was quoted as saying that Be the Void was an easy album to record. What are your thoughts on the ease with which this album was recorded?
ES: I always say that our highest accomplishment as a band is that we’re best friends. When you’re surrounded by people that you get along with, the ideas come so easily. It’s like a zen tenet or even something that Yoko Ono would post on Twitter.
G: You joined the band almost two years ago, and this album is the first to be recorded during your tenure as drummer. What did you bring to this recording that was absent from earlier recordings for which you were not present?
ES: I spent the last 6 years as a pretty big fan of the band, and I’ve always loved the way that the drums sound on all the Dr. Dog records. I just wanted to bring a bigger drum sound, a little more energy, and a lot of pizza. I hope that I achieved this, and any complaints can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there you have it. Straight from the dog’s mouth. If this sparks your curiosity at all, come to the Granada Thursday, Feb. 2 at 8:30. Tickets can be found here. This is an all ages show, and most likely will not include any sorcery.
– the Granada Crew