The witching hour

Rock

The witching hour

Doctor Smoke stays up late at Blind Bob’s

By Matt Clevenger

Photo: Matt Tluchowski (left) and Steve Lehocky of Doctor Smoke keep the audience up late at Blind Bob’s Feb. 24 photo: Paul Workmeister, Miser Photography

Doctor Smoke has examined Blind Bob’s, and the prognosis is good.

“We’ve played Blind Bob’s two or three times now,” singer/guitarist Matt Tluchowski says. “It’s a cool place, and it’s in a cool area. I like it there.”

The Mingo Junction, Ohio-based quartet will return to Blind Bob’s Friday, Feb. 24, bringing with them their unique brand of catchy, horror-themed metal.

“I think we do it pretty raw,” Tluchowski says of Doctor Smoke’s live appearances. “I guess we use a lot of effects sometimes, but we get up there and pretty much just play. We just get up there and try to have a good time.”

Originally formed in 2012, Doctor Smoke features Tluchowski on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Steve Lehocky, bassist Kathryn Flesher, and drummer Cody Cooke.

Tluchowski and Lehocky live in Mingo Junction, which is located on the Ohio River along the border of West Virginia, but Flesher and Cooke both live about an hour away in Monaca, Pennsylvania.

The band released their first full-length album, The Witching Hour, on French label Totem Cat Records in 2014.

Dark and catchy, the album features groovy, Sabbath-style guitars and some monstrous bass and drum tracks. It also features some surprisingly un-metal moments, including a saxophone solo, but Doctor Smoke makes it all work.

“The sax on that song was recorded by our buddy Mitch Lawrence, he’s a really talented guy,” Tluchowski says. “It ended up coming out awesome. I’ve always loved bands like the original Alice Cooper band and stuff like that, that incorporates other things sometimes, other instruments, because it gives it kind of like a third dimension. Especially if you’re not expecting it, because it will really just catch your ear and you’re just like, ‘Holy shit!’”

The Witching Hour was recorded in a unique way; half the tracks were done at a studio and the others were self-produced.

The band crowd-funded to pay for their recording at a studio in Nashville called The Bomb Shelter.

“It’s an all-analog studio with reel-to-reel tape. We went down there and recorded everything, but we did it really fast; we recorded and mixed the whole album in three or four days,” he says.

However, after returning and listening to the album, they weren’t satisfied. So, they did most of it again, at home, on their own.

“The bass track and the drum track that you hear on the album were recorded in Nashville,” Tluchowski says. “and then the guitar tracks, the vocal tracks, and the sax, that was all recorded here in our houses and mixed ourselves. It was mastered by Gus Elg at Sky Onion studios in Portland, Oregon.”

Now, Doctor Smoke is planning several short tours this spring and summer.

“Because of our job situations, we’re kind of forced to play weekends only,” Tluchowski says. “So we’ve booked like a tour of weekends. We’re doing like seven weekends in a row; we’re starting off in Columbus, and then we’re going to Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Then the next weekend is Pittsburg, and we’re going up to Philadelphia and Baltimore, all kinds of places.

“We’ve been booking dates for the rest of the year,” he continues. “There’s a small festival in Altoona, Pennsylvania, called the Route 22 Rock and Blues Fest; it’s kind of a cool little thing. It’s like a three-day weekend in this big open field where you camp out. There’s a metal band, then a rockabilly band, and then a folk band.”

The band is also planning a show in Indianapolis during the annual Doomed and Stoned Festival, but haven’t yet been confirmed for the festival.

But their primary focus right now is a new album, which could come out some time later this year. They have a working title for the album, but, for now, it remains a secret.

“We’re just kind of keeping it under wraps for right now,” Tluchowski says. “We are playing three of the songs live currently, so we’ll be playing three of the songs at Blind Bob’s.”

“The first record was kind of like a stepping-stone; with the next record, we kind of want to hunker down, maybe do some real touring, and domestic distribution would be cool,” he says.

“I think our plan with the next record is to kind of reach out and try to do some bigger things.”

Doctor Smoke performs Friday, Feb. 24 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District. Show starts at 9 p.m. Maharaja and Cities on Flame are also on the bill. For more information, please visit DoctorSmoke.bandcamp.com or BlindBobs.com.

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