Road Warriors Dr. Dog: "We're a City-By-City Band"
Dr. Dog aren't the same band they used to be. Gone are the days of the gritty, ramshackle group of Philadelphia drifters who firmly planted themselves in the world of indie rock. Now, for a band that has seen all the successes you could ask for after more than a decade, the six-piece is steadily doing their thing in much tighter fashion than ever before.
Photos by Jim Bricker
They're not changing the world, or even striving to, but Dr. Dog is focused on making a dent with consistently solid recorded efforts and equally as substantial live performances. With another album, 2013's B-Room, in the books, they're now focusing on bringing those new songs and the endless amount of gems from records past to fans, city to city.
It's hard to have lived in Houston and not heard of Dr. Dog. They've played more gigs in this town than any other bigger national touring act I can think of and have always treated Houston very well -- never skipping over us for the state's bigger music markets.
With a week off from the road, bassist, co-vocalist and songwriter Toby Leaman took a few moments from his Saturday afternoon to eagerly talk about his band, the new album and their time on the road.
"Austin is obviously a music city, I'm sure everyone in Houston knows that," he says. "That's just sort of how it is. I don't particularly think Houston is very small, though. There's definitely those bands that [seem to] fill their time in between the major markets, but I don't really feel that way,"
"The Houston crowds are good," he adds. "We used to play in this weird place -- it was in this odd house called "happy fun land" or something like that. [Indeed, Super Happy Fun Land - Ed.] There were some weird things going on there. It was kind of scary. Little kids' toys and stuff. Very frightening."
Having the chance to play the city so much, Leaman added his disdain for the area surrounding the venue Dr. Dog plays Thursday, Warehouse Live: "the one thing about where the venue is you're just stuck," he says. "There's not really much going on around there.
"We used to play Walter's -- that was a cool drag," Leaman continues. "That place was kind of a shithole, but there's something endearing about shitholes." He's reminiscing about the group's nearly ill-fated performance at Walter's On Washington with Delta Spirit the night before Hurricane Ike came and beat down our city.
"We got out just in time," he says.
Thankfully, unlike most other bands, Dr. Dog stuck with the show and gave their all to the few who stuck around before the storm, just one of the many reasons Houston has so much love for the indie-rockers.
With so much time away from Philadelphia, the road warriors have learned to find something positive about every city they play, not just New York City or Chicago. "There were towns that I couldn't really stand and now I love them, and sort of the other way around," Leaman says.
"Well, not really the other way around," he continues. "But you just fall more and more in love with different cities. I used to have a problem with St Louis, Salt Lake and Seattle, but I love those places now. We're a city-by-city band."
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