Dr. Dog to play Newport Music Hall in Columbus
By Justin Kreitzer
Earlier this month, Philadelphia-based retro-rockers Dr. Dog released their excellent new album, B-Room, via ANTI- Records to great praise. For their eighth album, the band built their own studio in a defunct silversmith mill and recorded the songs on their own, which allowed them to revamp their harmony-rich and ramshackle Beatles- and Beach Boys-inspired sound by adding in elements of vintage soul music and a more straight-forward simplicity not yet heard from the band. The resulting album – advanced by the catchy, nostalgia-laced single “The Truth” and the raw and heartfelt, “Broken Heart” – could be considered one of their best yet.
In support of the album, Dr. Dog just finished a high profile tour opening for folk-pop chart-toppers The Lumineers and are now set to begin a lengthy headlining tour of their own that will bring the band to Columbus on Thursday, Nov. 7 for a show at the Newport Music Hall. In anticipation, the Dayton City Paper caught up with Zach Miller of Dr. Dog to gather more insight into their new studio and the recording process for the new album, what they are listening to in the tour van and more.
You recorded the newly released album, B-Room in your new studio that you built yourselves from the ground up and wrote most of the songs live during rehearsal. Please take us through the creative process and how that all helped to shape the new album.
We moved out of our old studio, and after a long search found a spot in an old mill building outside of Philadelphia that had previously been a silversmith’s workshop. So, the process really began by physically tearing down walls and building a control room and tracking room and modifying the rooms we didn’t tear down to fit our needs. That entire process took six weeks, maybe a little longer. It was good to get together with the band on a non-musical task. It was a good team-building exercise. – Zach Miller
The arrangements are stripped-down and simplistic, yet more soulful this time around. What inspired you to go in this direction?
A lot of the recordings were more or less live, or were derived from live jams, which was new for us; we’re used to overdubbing up from a scratch track. Anyway, in a live setting you have to play to the song, and to each other. There’s a collective consciousness that emerges that is harder to capture in an overdub. It’s so tempting to overplay and then sort it out later when overdubbing, at least for me, because you are isolated and feel like you should be playing something full and complex. In a group setting you can feel satisfied playing just a little bit. – ZM
Two songs from B-Room really stand out – “The Truth,” with its lilting string-laden melodies and emotionally-charged vocals, and the upbeat yet bittersweet single, “Broken Heart.” What song on the new album are you most proud of and why?
I think “The Truth” captures the spirit of these recordings. We tried to do that song in a much more upbeat tempo with some funkier rhythms, but it just didn’t come together like we wanted it to. As soon as we slowed it down and simplified everything, it clicked. I am pretty proud of that song; I had a good time overdubbing all the keyboards on that. I made a couple mistakes that actually turned into some of my favorite parts. Those are always my favorite moments: figuring out how to make something work that shouldn’t. – ZM
Before starting your current headlining tour, you recently went out on tour with The Lumineers. What was that like? How did their audience respond to your soulful brand of folk?
It’s been great. They are all really nice people and have been very supportive of us. I think we’ve gotten a good response from their audience and it’s been cool to play on such big stages. – ZM
What is your favorite song to play live and why?
I love playing “Distant Light” and “The Truth.” “Distant Light” moves in a way that is really fun to bang out on the piano and “The Truth” is really fun because there are a lot of keyboard parts and I love hearing them all come together. – ZM
What have you guys been listening to in the tour van?
I’ve been listening to a mix my friend made and been loving the Mac DeMarco and Othello Woolf he included on there. Scott’s been listening to a lot of Oblivians/Reigning Sound; Toby’s been jamming this Crucial Bunny/Prince Jammy Dub record that’s cool. – ZM
If someone reading this has never seen Dr. Dog live, how would you describe your live show and what can they expect?
A lot of energy. We try to rock … I don’t know. We’re good. Come see us. – ZM
Dr. Dog performs Thursday, Nov. 7 at Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St. in Columbus. Opening the show will be Fly Golden Eagle. Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 the day of the show. It is a general admission, all-ages show. Doors at 7 p.m. For more information, please visit drdogmusic.com.