A lot with a little

Dolfish visits South Park Tavern

By Leo DeLuca

Photo: Dolfish [aka Max Sollisch] will perform at South Park Tavern on Friday, March 15

Dolfish, the indie folk-rock venture of Cleveland-based songwriter Max Sollisch, is no stranger to brevity. In his short time on the scene, Paste, American Songwriter, Daytrotter and more have all hailed Sollisch.

In addition, Dolfish has toured the country over and will soon embark on a European tour with Bob Nastanovich of legendary indie-rock band Pavement. Nastanovich took to Dolfish’s debut I’d Rather Disappear than Stay the Same LP, ranked it atop his favorite records of 2012 and invited Sollisch to join him on the road at April’s onset. Southeast Engine’s Adam Remnant will also join Sollisch this summer for a week of hushed solo shows featuring the two critically acclaimed songwriters.

Succinctness is a component of Dolfish’s song structure and live set as well. Sollisch performs solo and often composes vignettes that hit hard and leave fast. On the Your Love is Bummin’ Me Out EP, five tracks are packed into a colorful eight-minute span. I had the opportunity to catch up with Sollisch in anticipation of his forthcoming South Park Tavern performance on Friday, March 15:

When did you first start performing as Dolfish? When did you first start playing music?

I began performing as Dolfish in January of 2011. My third show was opening for Southeast Engine at the Treebar in Columbus, actually! I began playing music at age three. We lived by a church. I would hear the bells on the hour and play them back with my right hand on the piano. It freaked my parents out so they enrolled me in lessons.        –Max Sollisch

Bob Nastanovich of legendary indie rock band Pavement listed your debut LP as one his very favorites of 2012. In addition, Nastanovich is taking you on a European tour at April’s onset. How did Bob Nastanovich first hear your music? How did you two get in touch? 

On my record release tour, I played Des Moines, Iowa – where Bob lives – and he happened to be at the bar. It’s unclear to me whether he heard about it through a mutual friend, but either way he was up front with his wife for the whole set. And after I got off stage he was the first at the merch table purchasing one of everything I had for sale. We grabbed a cheap beer at the bar and he explained that a performer such as myself would be truly appreciated in the UK. He asked if I ever thought about going and I replied, “duh!” Then he said, “I could get you shows over there.” (Mind you this was five minutes into us meeting – I thought he was kidding.) The next morning I had a Facebook message from him and later was cc’d on a mass email to every important person he knew. The whole thing still blows my mind, but here we are a few weeks away from our UK tour!     -MS

You were raised in Cleveland, Ohio moved to Columbus, Ohio and recently returned home to the Forest City. Do you find that your time in Ohio has influenced your music’s sound? If so, how? What was the impetus behind the move? Do you plan to stay in Cleveland? 

Ohio has definitely influenced the music I create. Ohio songwriters are a breed of their own: Adam Remnant (Southeast Engine), Jerry DeCicca (The Black Swans), Zac Little (saintseneca), Old Hundred, Glenn Davis and Travis Hall (Way Yes), Andrew Graham (RTFO Bandwagon, AG and Swarming Branch, The Saturday Giant, Dane Terry). There are too many to mention. I feel blessed to have cut my teeth in Ohio. As for the move back to Cleveland, my girlfriend got a great job as a special needs teacher and as I mainly just tour – and substitute teach – the decision was easy. My family is in Cleveland and it’s a wonderful city. I imagine I’ll be there for a while. -MS

What are your plans for the future? Is a new album in the works? 

My plan is to keep writing and touring. I’m about five or six songs into the next record and super happy with how they’re turning out. When I have 12 or so, I’ll record ‘em all and start the process over again. I’m just grateful that people are responding to my music. I’ve had more opportunities lately than ever before. Opportunities to see places I’ve never seen, to meet and perform with people I admire. I feel like a pretty lucky dude. -MS

Dolfish will perform on  Friday, March 15 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are Eyeswatter and Alli King. Admission is $5 for all ages. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, visit dolfishmusic.com.

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