Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken: Texas Crowds Are More Fun
We chatted with McMicken about the album, the band's recent lineup additions, and why he deems Texas crowds among the world's best.
Rocks Off: Tell us about Dr. Dog's new record, Be The Void.
Scott McMicken: While we have self-produced our own albums, there's still a great deal of variety between one album and the next, like our general goals for each album. And with each album, we get to apply more and more things that we're learning along the way.
Like a lot of things in life, one can seek out growth or evolution by physically rearranging the elements of your life, or you can do that internally and start changing your perspective. On the new album, we were playing around with a lot of perspective.
RO: So, a "rearrangement" of both perspective and of your band itself; Be The Void has introduced to two new members to Dr. Dog, correct?
SM: Yes - changes to perspective and to the actual band; we've added two members (drummer Eric Slick and multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos) since our last album, and that's been extremely influential to the band.
Be the Void was created on the same gear, and in the same studio that we've recorded in for seven, yet still sounds brand new--I think that's always the goal: To allow your evolved perspective help make each album you're writing sound like it's the first. Figuring how to execute ideas in the studio became the fun of it all.
RO: Are you referring to your studio, "Meth Beach"?
SM: Yeah, Meth Beach. (Laughs) We nicknamed it years ago because it's located in a rough neighborhood. Right before we moved in, a whole row of houses burned down because a meth lab exploded, leaving a vacant lot across the street from our studio. In that lot, there was a boat, and for some reason, there were always seagulls hanging around, giving it that weird look of a beach. So, we call it "Meth Beach."
RO: Tell us more about Eric and Dimitri, and how they've affected the band's sound.
SM: Slick has a super-power brain. He's so gifted, and was a big fan of the band before joining, which is important for us in terms of musicianship, creativity, and collaboration; the foundation and spirit of the band mean a lot, and he's like a brother to us all. He's a refreshing addition to the band, and he's a far better musician than any of us, technically speaking.
Dimitri has been a friend of ours forever; he played on Easy Beat, and he's always been an honorary member of the band. When he joined us, he joined with no clear role. For the first few months, he was the tambourine player. Since then, he's created a role for himself, and we're all very open to whatever he wants to do. He's an abstract thinker--a sonic Brian Eno-type musician, so it's a perfect format for him.
RO: Earlier, you mentioned each Dr. Dog album sets out to achieve a different sort of goal. What were you aiming to attain with Be the Void?
SM: We're finally doing what we've been inching toward for so long, which is to capture more energy and more spontaneity on the record, and therefore a more "live" feeling.
And Dimitri and Eric have brought clear, focused roles in the band--which by no means closes doors, but it has focused everyone, allowing us to work more quickly, keeping us honest and spontaneous, instead of overworking and doubting, which can suck the joy out of recording. It keeps the results fresh, and Eric and Dimitri have enhanced that for us.