Rob, thanks for speaking with us today about Dopapod and the upcoming Catskill Chill Music Festival.
Q1: Where did the name Dopapod come from?
Eli came up with the name before the other 3 of us were even in the group. It honestly, doesn’t mean much of anything.
Q2: Who are some of the influences behind your music?
We’ve all got different influences, which I think is an advantage for us. I grew up with a lot of standard classic rock stuff like The Beatles, Dylan, The Band, Pink Floyd. I got into Phish when I was in high school, which led to me discovering a lot of other stuff like jazz, funk, and country. Eli comes from a heavy jazz and funk background too, but also grew up on heavy stuff like Nirvana and Tool. Chuck and Neal, on the other hand, grew up on metal and punk stuff. I know Primus is a huge influence for both of them. As we’ve grown older, however, we’ve all become sort of open to one another’s influences.
Q3: How would you describe your music to someone who hadn’t heard it before?
I honestly wouldn’t be able to haha. I find myself in that situation all the time. I wish I could just say “jam band” or “rock band” or something and be done with it, but I don’t think any one term encapsulates us. Yes we improvise a ton, which puts us in the jam genre, but that’s just one aspect of many characteristics in our stuff. I suppose all of the influences mentioned in the last question could be fair descriptions.
Q4: Since you first began, Dopapod has been blowing up in the festival scene and developing a large following in the live music scene. Congratulations! Did you expect to draw this many fans this quickly?
Well personally, to me it doesn’t feel like it’s been a quick thing at all. I’ve been in Dopapod for over 4 years now, and trust me, it’s been a slow process to get where we are right now. We’ve played a loooot of empty rooms in the past, and I don’t think we’ve done it for the last time. It’s a gradual process, but an unbelievably fun one, and it’s amazing to see the crowds grow. It really means so much to us to see all these people coming to our shows, enjoying what we do.
Q5: What is it about your music that you think really draws in the fans?
I almost feel like we’re not even qualified to say, hahaha. But for one thing, the songs, plain and simple. Good songs draw people in. I think another huge thing is the way we improvise. I think people get off on just watching us have fun and interact with each other on stage. And through that interaction, people get something a little different every night. I think striving to make every show a little different, be it with surprise covers, onstage antics, or spontaneous improvisation, makes people eager to come out over and over again.
Q6: What should fans expect to see during your set at this year’s Catskill Chill?
Animatronic Chucky Cheese characters, giant scorpions that spray Evan Williams whiskey out of their tails (we couldn’t afford Maker’s Mark), and fully functional civil war era cannons that shoot surplus Furby dolls into the audience.
Q7: I was extremely lucky that I was able to work the night of your show on April 20th at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA with the Heavy Pets. The night before, the legendary member of The Band, Levon Helm passed away. Rob, you performed one of the most moving covers of any song I’ve ever seen, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” When did you decide that you play a tribute to Levon and how did that end up being the song you chose? Here is a link to the video of your performing the tribute that night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjgzuq6P1iU . How has the music of The Band influenced you personally as a guitarist and vocalist in Dopapod?
Thank you! My dad is also a guitarist and singer, and he rented a video of the Last Waltz for me to watch when I first started playing. I’ve been addicted to that music since then. He and I play tons of Band songs together when I’m home, including “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” so I already knew the tune really well. I wanted to play that one because it was written specifically for Levon to sing, and the lyrics were really relevant to his passing. The day before the Northampton show, I showed the tune to the other guys. I wanted to do it as a full band, but the song was a little too involved to teach to the other guys in such a short amount of time with no more than a few minutes at soundcheck to rehearse. So they suggested I just do it by myself, and it turned out to be a great moment for everyone. It meant a lot to me to be able to pay my respects to such an important figure in my growth as a person and musician.
Q8: What other bands are you looking forward to seing at the Catskill Chill?
Off the top of my head, Rubblebucket, Kung Fu, The Heavy Pets, Zoogma, and Consider the Source are all groups that I’m really psyched for. I’m sure between me and the other 3 guys in the band, we’re collectively amped to see just about everything.
Q9: When do you guys anticipate to release your latest album your recorded this past summer? I know your fans are extremely excited and eagerly awaiting some new material from one of the best bands on the festival circuit!
It should be out in December. We can’t wait to get it out to people.
Q10: Which album has been your favorite to create thus far? Do you plan on continuing to tour as much as you have been in the past?
Definitely this most recent one that isn’t out yet. The whole experience was incredible. We recorded the whole thing on our friend Ian MacLaren’s farm in Connecticut, which was a beautiful place. The fact that we weren’t in an actual studio made the whole thing feel loose and experimental. We had plenty of time to try lots of things, regardless of how likely it was that all of it would work.
As far as touring, we plan on doing even more of it! We’ve just announced our fall tour, and it’s the longest tour we’ve ever done by a long shot. And there’s still another leg of it that hasn’t even been announced yet.
Q11: Looking back on your musical career, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would’ve liked to have learned other instruments along with guitar when I was younger. Now that I’m older and busier, it’s much more difficult to find time to learn other instruments. Other than that, nothing. I’m really happy with where music has led me, and really psyched for where we’re headed as a band.
Rob, thanks again for taking some time to discuss Dopapod and the upcoming Catskill Chill Music Festival with us. The Chill will take place September 7-9th at Camp Minglewood in Hancock, NY. For tickets and more information, fans can visit www.catskillchill.com. We look forward to seeing you guys rage during your set this September! Good luck on the upcoming Fall tour and we’ll be sure to catch you guys again.