Indie-folk duo The Dodos to play Mohawk Place
Indie-folk band set to return to Buffalo on Oct. 8
On Thursday, Oct. 8, indie folk duo The Dodos will return to Buffalo for its second show at Mohawk Place.
Formed in 2005 in San Francisco as Dodo Bird, The Dodos is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber.
In the 10 years since its genesis, the band has produced six albums and one EP of upbeat, multi-layered alternative folk, which somehow meshes simplicity and complexity in one uniquely rich sound.
The band is touring to promote their latest album, Individ, which was released at the beginning of this year.
The Spectrum got the chance to speak with Long about writing, touring and the trials of juggling music making and having a family.
The Spectrum: To someone who hasn’t heard of you before, who are The Dodos?
Meric Long: Well, we’re a two-piece rock band from San Francisco, and that’s all you need to know. The more vague, the better.
TS: Have you ever played in Buffalo before?
ML: Yeah, we have. We played at – I think it’s called the Mohawk? Yeah, we played there years ago. We have a really fun memory of that show, actually, because we stayed with a friend of a childhood friend of mine. It was this guy who I never met, but one of my best friends as a kid talked about him all the time because he was his best friend. His nickname was Boner, and he’d always talk about Boner. And I’d never met Boner, and we played the show, and after the show this guy comes up to me and he’s like, “Hey! I’m Boner!” And this is like, you know, 20 years later. And we stayed with him, and he was f*ckin’ hilarious.
TS: Are you going to see Boner again when you come to Buffalo?
ML: I really hope so. Nothing would make my day more.
TS: How long have you guys been touring for?
ML: We’ve been touring for I’d say 10 years.
TS: Where are you guys right now?
ML: We’re just leaving Portland, actually. We’re going to grab some coffee and head up to Vancouver.
TS: What’s your favorite part of touring?
ML: Well, it depends, really. But I guess playing shows, you know. There’s a lot of waiting around. I’m sure you’ve heard from other bands. It’s like a waiting game. You rush to get somewhere, and then end up waiting a long time. But when you get to play shows, it’s kind of all worth it.
TS: What do you do while you’re waiting?
ML: It depends. But, you know, I’d say, lately, probably reading has been kind of a universal time-killer. Surprisingly, that’s like a new development. We’ve tried every other avenue. Like one tour, we really got into hacky-sacking. And yeah, we’ve tried a lot of things.
TS: What’s your favorite song to play live?
ML: I don’t know. Any song we haven’t played in a long time is my favorite song. It feels fresh.
TS: Do you get sick of paying the same songs every night?
ML: Surprisingly, no. It’s very easy. You can kind of fall into a thing where you just end up playing the same songs and you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing, which is kind of nice. It’s just like going on autopilot, so I like playing the same songs every night. It makes it easy. I think we have to force ourselves to try and do something that we don’t play all the time to challenge ourselves and make it a little more interesting. But I honestly don’t mind.
TS: What do you do when you’re not touring, writing or recording?
ML: Not much. That’s pretty much the center of what we do and if I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it.
TS: What’s your process like?
ML: Usually we kind of work on songs, and I’ll sort of construct a song at home, and then we’ll go to the studio and record it but mainly I’ve been into recording a lot more and sort of building songs that way, kind of just recording as much as possible, and whatever sticks, I’ll work on more. There’s really no uniform process these days. It’s pretty much anything goes as long as it yields something creative.
TS: What was your inspiration for your latest release, Individ?
ML: Well, we did that record fresh off the heels of another one. It was mostly being excited to record in the situation we were recording in, and also to revisit some of the older sounds that we had developed when we first started the band. It was kind of like simplifying the sound. Yeah, the thing that I was kind of excited about was just hearing the sound of drums and guitar again. Simplifying. Not focusing so much on what the other element would be for that record, but just what the main feel on it is. Like, I guess I had spent a lot of time trying to sort of change what we were doing on the last couple of records before Individ, and Individ was like eh, f*ck it, let’s just have fun and not worry about trying to be something different.
TS: Your vocals sound different on this newest album compared to your older albums. What brought about that change?
ML: Well, I kind of learned how to sing. Those older records are kind of like stabbing in the dark. That’s how I felt a lot of the time. I’m still stabbing away, but I have a better understanding of how the voice works, and more importantly, how my voice works. Like what sort of range I’m more comfortable with, and surprisingly, I’m actually a lot lower than I thought I was. Because in the earlier records I sing a lot higher and I thought that’s what my voice was like. But, you know, over time, just practicing and focusing on it, like anything, you just learn what your body is suited to better. I think that that record was actually just the beginning of figuring that out, like kind of me being like, “Oh, I think I actually can sing lower, and it doesn’t feel as strained.” That was fun to discover that in the middle of making the record.
TS: What are your plans for after tour?
ML: Well, I have a kid on the way, so I’m going to go home and take care of my family, continue to record and maybe start working on another record next year. But I’ll probably just focus on bringing life into the world.
TS: What’s the hardest part about being away from your family for so long?
ML: It’s kind of a double-life that you lead a little bit, when you’re touring and have a family at home. I think the difficulty is just in bringing those two mindsets together so that they’re not so different. Because, at least for me, whether I’m at home or whether I’m on the road, they’re like kind of different mindsets. But just keeping both in my brain at all times. That’s what I’m focusing on right now.
Grace Trimper is a contributing writer. Arts desk can be reached at email@example.com.