Innovative and intricate, Bay area rockers the Dodos are back with their 6th studio album, Individ. Although still laced in melodic melancholy, Individ was a creative release from the pressures and hardships that lay the foundations of their previous album Carrier, during which the band was dealing with the switch from Frenchkiss Records to Polyvinyl, as well as the passing of band member Chris Reimer (formally of Women). Now entering their 10th year as a duo, Meric Long (guitarist) and Logan Kroeber (drums) have left an indie rock legacy that most groups can only dream of, but are now tasked with keeping the legend alive.
We sat down with Logan Kroeber and talked about the making of Individ, their musical style, and of course, Switzerland’s singer, music producer and not to forget dancer, DJ Bobo.
What’s happening with the Dodos right now?
Well, we are pretty much at the halfway point through our first tour for our new record.
You released the album Individ just last month, how has the reception been so far?
Receptions been good. It’s been really cool, like we just played a show in New York, and that’s always a destination to look forward to. And, yeah it was really awesome not only to see the audience singing along to the words in the new songs but I even saw a young woman singing along to one of Meric’s guitar solos. It looks like people are taking to it pretty well.
Do you think there’s more of an expectation from the public now that you and Meric have been in the music scene for so long?
I mean, fans always have a certain expectation of what they want from us, and I don’t know, now I feel like more than ever we are in the position to deliver just the variety. I feel like we’re able to draw from all of our albums in a concert format now. And, you know the last couple albums we put out have been really exciting because we have so many songs to choose from now, a setlist, and now that’s like so true more than ever. I feel like because we’ve been doing this for so long, we have more of the ability to play something from every single album. If anyone is there who wants to listen to a particular album, there’s more of a chance we’ll actually play it. It’s definitely harder to choose, since we have such a limited time at concerts. We want to play a bunch of new stuff, for us.
You guys are known for combining intricate rhythmic patterns together. When you first started making music, how did you develop this sound? And did you ever feel like you were taking a risk with this?
I guess you could say it was a risk, if I felt tied to another way of doing something, I was ready for a different approach myself. I went into this band with this new way of playing with a lot of excitement and never really looked back.
Having been in the music scene for a while, Individ being your 6th studio album, have you ever felt the need to change your sound to continue being successful?
In a way. When it comes to new material, we’re both pretty confident about just charging ahead with you know the sort of slow mutation of our sound. Pressures could change, I don’t think we feel the pressure to, we might be able to change our sound sometime that would make us more successful but you want to talk about a risk, that’s a risk. Doing something you don’t enjoy so more people buy the record, when you’re not even satisfied with the product.
Lyrically, I personally noticed a leap from your previous albums with Carrier and Individ, towards a more poetic style. Was this a conscious decision, or did it happen that way?
Speaking of the point of view of lyrics, it’s’ hard for me. But I can tell you that this is the first album that Meric wanted to focus less on the lyrics. I know that for a lot of the lyrics Meric just let them happen, while in Carrier I think he spent a bit more time crafting some of those, since the way we recorded we already had the lyrics before recording. And it also depends on what your definition of poetry is. Some people prefer finely crafted stanzas, and others like stream of consciousness.
You recorded Carrier after the passing of Chris Reimer. What was it like moving on this time musically and creatively, especially since I know you wrote both albums in close time frames.
It was a lot different. Carrier was for me it took, it felt like it took a lot more effort to like script together the raw material, and you know, we were also changing labels at that time and dealing with personal stuff. Like Chris’ passing. There was more of an effort of pushing things forward, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. But yeah before Carrier came out and we started working on Individ, it didn’t have the same weight. We had already moved labels, and we had Carrier wrapped up, and we could move forward to making new music. Yeah, it felt really good.
I guess with that weight already creatively outputted, you could move on better creatively.
Yeah, it really was.
You toured with Neko Case last year, is there anyone you’re interested with touring in next?
That’s a great question, because we really loved being on that Neko tour, and yeah it might be fun after doing all these Atlantic shows to open up for someone bigger. But later on in the year, who would be a good option? Why don’t you give me some suggestions?
What about with DJ Bobo?
Oh? DJ Bobo you say?
I’d definitely go to that show.
[Laughing] If you have any influence, please, bring him to us.
That will be my new job, and I will take it very seriously.
Oh my god. Oh my god. He’s such a mystery. The strangest of the strange is DJ Bobo.
Do you have any favourite San Francisco bands you’d like to share with our readers?
Oh boy. There’s a guy called Dylan Shears, and instrumentally he’s a pretty standard singer/songwriter. He plays guitar, and the bass, but he’s got some pretty jacked tunings that he uses and his voice is pretty idiosyncratic. I really love his stuff. I’m really feeling that Jessica Pratt record, but I don’t think she lives in the bay anymore. But, I don’t think she would mind being categorized as a Bay area band.
And, so, what have the Dodos been listening to, other than of course DJ Bobo?
Correct, DJ Bobo number 1.
Of course, always.
We actually had a really fun time driving into Brooklyn, listening to that Queens of the Stone Age album Songs for the Dead. I loved that record when it came out, and I think all of us have some memory to it. But it came out in like 2002. It’s been a while. It was really fun blasting that song to the city.
What’s next for the Dodos?
I guess we just need to go home and prepare ourselves for the opening slot on the DJ Bobo tour. Because, you know, he’s a big fan of choreography, and we just released a video with a little bit of choreography. But he’d want us at the next level, dancing while playing music.
I’ll contact you guys as soon as I get in touch with him.