When I first listened to Dopapod, it was by accident. My iPod was on shuffle and I had one of those “Who IS this” moments, and I looked down to see the song “Turnin’ Knobs” by Dopapod. Sure enough, throughout the rest of that day, every time a song piqued my curiosity enough to look down it was Dopapod again.
A friend had sent me a live show of theirs in Athens, and halfway through the set I knew these guys were on to something big. Fusing heavy metal with jumpy jazz and electro funk, their music has a diversity to it that can’t be ignored. Soon enough I was hooked, and when asked if I could interview them at Rock and Roll Resort I responded with a hearty “Hell Yeah!” After a long weekend of silly shenanigans, Neal ‘Fro’ Evans, Rob Compa, Chuck Jones and Eli Winderman were nice enough to sit down with me all together on Sunday, with their manager Jason and lighting guy Luke.
So now that I have you all in one place, hey Dopapod! Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with me and answer a few questions. Let’s start at the beginning… How did you guys meet?
Eli: Rob was living in this… technically it was a brothel, and I went in there and I saw him [Rob] standing across the room and I knew he was my guy!
Rob: Yeah. I had a corset on
Eli: A beautiful corset. It really defined the shape…
Luke (lighting guy): I can field this one seriously, if you want a serious answer. The whole band went to Berklee, all four guys…
Rob: By the way, this is Luke our lighting and sound guy
Luke: Hey! So the band started as a duo, with Eli and our good friend Mikey. And then Rob joined, and then Chuck joined, and then Neil joined and then Mikey left, and so now it’s a quartet. And then we met Jason up at a show in Lowell… And I went to Berklee with these guys.
Awesome, you met at Berklee! So what was the defining moment of you guys clicking together as a band?
Rob: Mountain Jam!
Fro: Yeah, the four of us definitely Mountain Jam
Fro: We went in 2010. Jason was working there, and he got us passes to get in and we went and played the parking lot.
Jason: I pulled a few strings, ya know? That Mountain Jam thing though, in all seriousness, that was the first time the current lineup played all together as that lineup, as a quartet. And for me, just seeing it from a third person perspective, that was definitely the defining moment; and just like the new chemistry that was established since then, but it also kind of established this really grassroots and guerilla aesthetic to just how we’ve kind of developed things… You know, pretty much just going into these bigger festivals and just setting up and playing and just kinda creating our own party and setting up the platform for going to all these festivals like Bonnaroo and Burning Man and Bear Creek. And you know, those plays– while I feel like they’ve been really stripped down– have been really helping to put the band on the map and making things go.
Luke: Oh yeah, by the way, all of those festivals were shows where the band wasn’t on the bill… They just brought their gear, just showed up.
Rob: Just showed up. Like leeches.
Eli: Those always go really well. Especially Bonnaroo.
Jason: Especially Bear Creek too. They’ve all gone really well.
Rob: Except Camp Bisco. We were on the bill at that but we were also gonna do a guerilla set and they shut us down before we even did anything… They threatened to take all out gear… yeah. They brought religion into the mix of that one.
Jason: Quote: “There’s only two things that can save you: God and me, and God is not here”
Eli: Or God aint comin’
Dopapod: God ain’t coming!
Rob: So we packed right up and got out of there
Did you have a good time at Bisco, though?
Dopapod: Oh yeah, oh yeah, Bisco’s great, Bisco’s crazy! We got raaained on.
So who or what are you most excited to see here at Rock and Roll Resort?
Fro: LeSpecial later tonight!
Eli: Definitely LeSpecial.
Rob: Definitely LeSpecial, and I was really pumped to see Conspirator. I love Chris Michetti’s guitar playing.
Chuck: I really wanted to see Shpongle but we didn’t get here in time.
Eli: Alex Grey, to be honest… OTT was really sweet, and Alex Grey just to see him speaking. He’s a really smart guy and has a lot of really interesting things to say.
If there was any charity in the world you could donate proceeds of your album to, who would it be and why?
Chuck: Can I answer this? There’s a charity that my parents do all the time, I forget exactly what it is but basically people in third world countries, or just people in need of money sign up for this website Kiva.org and put up a certain amount of money that they need to reach a specific goal, like maybe they need a few hundred dollars to buy…something. But basically people who need money sign up and people who volunteer to give money sign up and you can go and choose people and choose a profile of someone you want to help and you can loan them money and they can pay you back over time.
Would you have any specific country in mind?
Chuck: No, not really. I guess it’s just whatever you click with, but you’ll always get paid back too, so you can set aside let’s say $400 a year to give to charity, and every year you’ll get it back and you can keep reusing that same amount.
So at all of these festivals– Mountain Jam, Bonnaroo, everywhere you’ve been playing together so far, because you have only been together for a few years now– have you started to recognize a steady fan base?
Rob: Oh yeah, big time, yes.
Fro: We see people when we’re down in Florida who are from Vermont and they’re like “Yo!” and I’m like… “What are you doing here?!” So, that’s cool. It happens.
Rob: And it’s really a nice feeling to see people coming to one show and then the next night three or four hours away. They make the drive and come out to see the next show.
Jason: We’re starting to get repeats. Like three or four nights in a row, or people who have seen the band enough that they know what the band does from night to night.
Rob: That’s a very flattering feeling.
Fro: Yeah, we had a person come to our show the other night who wrote a setlist for us, and we played it because it was sick.
Rob: They blew my setlist out of the water!
That’s awesome! And I noticed on your website you have a forum for your fans? And what is your intention with that? Just trying to connect with your fans?
Luke: That just launched this year, its just getting going.
Chuck: Yeah, we want to have a community that’s just specifically… Not specifically for us, but it’s narrated and organized on our site
Eli: It’s just a tool for our fans to talk to each other.
Chuck: A place for people who are as ADD as we are to hang out and geek out.
Eli: I am always interested to hear negative things people have to say about us, so I would like to see a threat on there that could just be people that don’t like us that go there. We should only allow bad things on it.
Like constructive criticism?
Eli: Not even constructive criticism, just unwarranted trolls. Like unwarranted, blatant we hate you’s.
Luke: We love trolls!
So I’ll tell all the Sensible Reason readers to bash you on the Internet, then.
Eli: You don’t even have to tell them; they already do.
Luke: Phantasy Tour loves to hate.
Chuck: No, we get a lot of really nice things on the internet, though. We get a lot of love. There’s just some people out there who the only band they like is Phish and they just go online and talk shit about everything else.
Rob: I don’t even read ‘em anymore.
Chuck: I think they’re funny. People come up with some funny things, usually they’ll… A common one I’ve seen recently is people who won’t see us because of our band name.
Rob: I think they think they’ll sound witty if they put that message on there.
Luke: They’re on a JAM BAND FORUM… And they’re like “Jam bands are done, bro,” or like, “I hate jam bands” on the Phish PT board. Why are you on the Phish PT forum then?
Chuck: Move on to like, Metallica or something. Whatever’s the opposite of jam bands.
Luke: I wonder what the Metallica message boards would be like.
Eli: I bet they’re brutal.
Rob: I feel like message boards are an excuse for people who don’t have the guts to be rude in person to be rude on the internet, so they don’t have to look anyone in the eye while they’re doing it.
Eli: So please, come to the Dopapod forum! Talk shit! Be a part of our shit-talking community! We’ll see ya at the shows.
Rob: We’ll see ya there. We’ll mail you a free fruit basket!
See ya there! What has been your favorite venue to play at? And Why?
Chuck: My favorite venue is the Black Oak in Oneonta.
Rob: My favorite has always been Nectars. I love playin’ at Nectars– that’s in Burlington, Vermont– and, uh, the staff at Nectars is great. They’re good friends of ours; it’s always great to see ‘em. The room sounds really good, there’s always a great crowd in there. It’s awesome.
Fro: Oh, man. I would have to say Brooklyn Bowl. Brooklyn Bowl is like, the coolest venue on the east coast, the coolest venue that we’ve played. You know I’m from Colorado so Red Rocks is THE best venue ever, but Brooklyn Bowl, best venue on the east coast. Hands down.
Eli: I really like the Blockley in Philly. It’s a really good venue. I like the people that work there, they’re really cool. There’s an awesome scene in Philly; people rage really hard, it’s awesome.
Jason: I would have to say Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont. Higher Ground, I mean, they just totally do everything right, it’s an awesome musical town… The people who come out to shows, a lot of them are really active listeners to music and it’s just one of the most inviting venues as far as being band-friendly goes. You know, the staff is just very professional, and so cool, so you can hang out with them and everyone knows that everything’s getting done.
Eli: And I think, we haven’t played there yet, but once we do I’m pretty sure that Georgia Theatre is gonna be one of my favorites
Rob: I was gunna say New Earth, too!
Luke: New Earth is one of my favorites… It’s run by kids who know what’s goin’ on, kids in the scene that are our friends.
Chuck: New Earth is in Athens, Georgia.
Thanks, guys, and one last question… If you were launching into space and you were going to be there for awhile what CD would you bring with you, or if you could only pick one artist who would you bring?
Fro: If I’m gonna bring a band it’s going to be Primus and if I bring a CD it’s going to be Cornelius… Any of ‘em. They’re all good. (But yes, the new one).
Rob: Mine would be… Live Phish 12. (Don’t laugh! What’s so funny about that?) 8-13-96 Deer Creek!
Luke: Phish, A Live One. Done.
Chuck: I would definitely bring Meshugga with me to space. CD or band, cause that’s just ultimate stuck in space music.
Eli: I would bring… Herbie Hancock Thrust. That’s a good album.
Jason: Um. I’d have to say… Live Phish Saratoga April 4th 95
So what do we have in store for YOUR next album?
Fro: All we know so far is that we’re going to record it in a barn in Connecticut. Lockin’ ourselves up for 10 days to do it. It’s gonna be awesome.
Check out Dopapod’s newest album “Drawn Onward” HERE and make sure to catch them this festy season!
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