Dopapod Jams Fête, Dec 30



The jam band scene in New England is a very talented one. Numerous acts incorporate styles of funk, reggae, folk and progressive rock to capture a feeling that’s contagious. The Boston-born act Dopapod, currently based in Brooklyn, has a vintage style of prog rock that’s uniquely wonderful. They’ll be coming to Providence to get weird at Fête Music Hall on Dec 30 with fellow jam heads Hayley Jane & The Primates and Swimmer.

I had a chat with guitarist Rob Compa from the band about their latest album Megagem, having a lot of live recordings on-line, incorporating synth into their sound and taking 2018 off.

Rob Duguay (Motif): This past October, Dopapod released a new album, Megagem. The album has a lot of sonic vibes being conveyed along with an abundance of upbeat rhythms. Where was the album recorded and what was the artistic goal the band had while making the record?

Rob Compa: The album was recorded in a bunch of places. The basics where we just get a good core track before we put on any dubs or vocals were done at this place called Mountain Star in Colorado. I couldn’t tell you exactly where in Colorado, but it’s essentially in the middle of nowhere. It was in a barn, and we brought our own gear in there and we did it all ourselves. Then we tracked the vocals at More Sound Studios in Syracuse where we recorded our previous album.

I did all my guitar overdubs at home with my amp in my closet and Eli [Winderman] did a bunch of stuff like that too. It was a gradual experience and it was the first time we made an album that wasn’t a two-week marathon chunk in one studio. Whenever we had time and wherever we happened to be, we would work on it and get it finished. As far as artistic goals, mine was just to get it done. We’ve been trying to make another album for a long time, things had sort of gotten in the way and it would get difficult so I just wanted to get this one finished and hopefully be good.

I didn’t have any grand vision or anything like that. You obviously want something you’re proud of and you hope for the best. It was pretty basic for me.

RD: I personally liked a lot of the progressive rock leanings of the record where there are a lot of solos.

RC: Thanks, man.

RD: No problem. On the band’s Bandcamp page there are a ton of live recordings. With that going on, does the band make a conscious effort to bring something different to each performance?

RC: Initially, it was probably Luke [Stratton] and Eli’s idea. The whole thing at this point is being curated by this guy, Rob Kimmel, who handles the mixing and mastering of each live recording. He used to tour with us for a few years and we’re still really good friends. I don’t think we think about it too hard, we just play and have fun, and through that it’s more likely to be more unique from night to night. Sometimes when we’re talking about which songs we want to play on a given night and if we played in Pittsburgh one night and then drove eight hours to the next gig wherever it happens to be, we’d just play all the same songs if we really felt like it.

We also keep in mind about the Bandcamp recordings so because of that we won’t repeat anything anyways. Things like that keep us fresh.

RD: It’s really cool that you have year’s worth of live recordings available to check out. Not many bands do that. Dopapod is a bit different from their contemporaries in the jam band community due to the use of synthesizers. What initially gravitated the band to incorporating that into their sound?

RC: You’d have to ask Eli because it was sort of his decision. When we started, it was kind of an organ trio. It was more like Soulive or Medeski, Martin & Wood or something like that. Eli is a big Emerson, Lake & Palmer fan and ‘70s prog rock so I think he naturally wanted to use synth. We used to be a trio without any bass, Eli would play all the bass lines with his left hand while he was playing keyboards.

He talked about how he wanted to use a synthesizer but he couldn’t manipulate the controls on the synthesizer because of his other hand already being used on the keyboard. Once Chuck [Jones] joined the band as the bass [guitar] player then Eli didn’t have to play the bass lines with his other hand anymore. He would be free to tweak dials and get all these weird frequencies that he wanted. Now that I think about it, that’s when it came to life.

RD: Starting next year, Dopapod is planning on taking a year off. What do you plan on doing to pass the time?

RC: Surviving (laughs), making enough money to live. All I want to do is play so I’m going to play with as many people as I can, write some songs and, when we’re ready to work together again, we will. Eli wants to make another album but I don’t know if that’s realistic to do without getting back together and playing shows first. I think some of the other guys just want to do normal stuff. Chuck, our bass player, is going to finish his college degree and he’s going to do some sort of thing helping to build houses. He’s a bit of a renaissance man who does a little bit of everything and he’s excited to do non-music stuff, and I don’t blame him for that.

Tickets to Dopapod, Hayley James & The Primates and Swimmer @ Fête, Dec 30:


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