Exclusive Interview with The Dodos
Now that fans can receive your music so much more readily now, there is a demand on you to produce more often?
“Yeah. That is the hard side of it from a band’s perspective. At the same time, as a fan or audience member I love hearing stuff from bands when it is not perfected. Like life, performances where things don’t sound perfect. So part of me pushes for it; it is a cool thing. It is cool that fans can have so much access to your music, but as a band it is pressure. The more that we have done this, I have gotten better at letting go. If is is good, it is good and if it sucks it is just a moment that passes and then it is gone. In a way, as an artist or songwriter it just forces you to move on so you don’t get hung up on perfecting a piece.”
How do you write your music?
“Each record has been kind of different. The first two records were written while touring.”
You haven’t lost your momentum writing while on tour?
“Not at all. When Visitor came out we had an audience, and we were expected to play songs from the album, and so we ended up doing that. Then when we made Time to Die, none of those songs had ever been performed before an audience. We debuted a lot of music we wrote on tour to fans. Playing the new stuff to an audience that had not heard the songs before kept things fresh and new. That’s the best part of this tour. It isn’t only our fans in the audience [as Dodos are touring with New Pornographers] , so we can experiment by introducing new music, not just the songs fans expect to hear.”
Can you tell us more about the wedding proposal that happened on stage tonight, near the end of your set?
“We got an email from a fan a few days ago that wanted to propose. So we worked it out with him, and it was intense. It was the first time that that something like that has happened. I am glad she said yes!”
In a lot of ways, The Dodos have abandoned convention. You use tiny pianos… abandoned your bass drum and bass guitar. Will you continue to abandon convention in the future?
“We are not trying to push boundaries, but we’re sort of addicted to going beyond limitations. We are a really physical band in terms of the the way the music is produced. It is very much how the music physically feels. The fact that Logan doesn’t use a bass drum and that I have to play a lot of the base lines on my guitar, it is a lot of work, but it is really gratifying. The physicality makes me relate it to metal. You’re in it. When I use to play metal, the guitar riffs make you feel like you are playing a 40k or a marathon. There is a satisfaction out of that. So we are addicted to the physical side of playing. The limitation we have set by not having a bass guitar or bass drum forces the physical side of playing out of us more. It wasn’t intentional at the beginning, but now after playing so many shows it brings out our energy.”
How much has the line-up change altered your dynamic?
“When we first added a new person it took some time. We were wary of adding a new person, but it has strengthened what was already there. Logan and I have this thing where we are in a similar place. That is the basis for the songs and what is happening with our music. Everything else is just added on top. When Keaton joined the band, it was so different because of his background. He was never in a band and only played music in school, and it was all classical. There was a long breaking down period of getting used to the life style. ‘Come on, were are in a band now. We are going to travel to Europe. We are going to go party.’ Instead of just reading music off of a piece of paper you have to learn to take cues from each other. For lack of a better word, you have to learn how to ‘jam.’ Keaton’s background in the conservatory gave me a different insight to the way classical musicians played.”
How have you progressed from your first album to Time to Die?
“I think there is this type of thing we are trying to get to get to, and it is very specific. With each album we’re plugging away to get to ‘it’. We are just trying to get it right. The last record, Time to Die, is a little off to the side because were were working with a new producer. At that point in the band we had done two records and were just trying to hone in on this thing that Logan and I have in our heads. We got pretty close with Visitor. But at that point we got pretty tired and just wanted someone else to come in and refresh us. So Time to Die definitely sounds different. ”