Dopapod Interview with Neal “Fro” Evans; Playing Catskill Chill
Talk about a band that has its name come up everywhere lately! Dopapod do not appear to be holding anything back in recent months, and their tenacity and dedication appears to be paying off very well. The 4-piece group has logged many miles and performed at some of the best festivals the US has to offer, including Bonnaroo, Burning Man, Camp Bisco, and many, many more. It only makes sense that that’d also be one of the highlights of this year’s Catskill Chill fest, taking place from September 7-9 in Hancock, NY. Check out the insane lineup for that below! And not a group to slow down (ever), if you can’t make the Chill this year, they’ll also be coming to Ithaca, NY on December 1st, courtesy of their bad selves and Dan Smalls Presents!
Currently touring their sophomore release, “Drawn Onward,” Dopapod’s unique vision and excellent musicianship has made many fast fans, all of who speak very highly of their live performances. Their rigorous touring schedule currently has the group on the road through November 2012, and something tells me they won’t be slowing down anytime in the near future.
Expect to hear much more from these guys, because they are clearly going for broke with this project. I got in touch with drummer Neal “Fro” Evans to talk about the band’s new album, their sound and influences, and how they manage to keep such an active pace on the road. Big ups to these guys!
G- Hey what’s up and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live high five! If you could, please introduce everyone in the group… Who is everybody and what instruments do you play?
N- GREETINGS and HIGH FIVE!!!!! We are DOPAPOD, and we are five, so that works out. Neal Evans beats, Eli Winderman twinkles, Rob Compa strums, and Chuck Jones bottoms out.
G- Right on! You guys have been extremely busy for the past few years, and appear to be gaining quite a following. Can you tell us how long Dopapod been around, where you guys are all from, and when you first get started?
N- Dopapod started about plus or minus 3+ years ago, and has assembled into a team of musicians from Boulder Colorado, Los Angeles California, Rochester New York, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
G- A nice mix of East and West Coasts going on… I can dig that. So, where did you guys come up with the name Dopapod? Is that where astronauts keep their space weed or something? Who coined the term?
N- Fate coined the term this time. We threw a bunch of scrabble letters out onto the board and that’s what came up. Triple word score!
G- That is so much cooler than any internet band generator site I have heard of… More groups should follow your lead! So tell me a bit about where you are from… How is the scene and how are the responses at your shows?
N- We are originally from Boston, but now we live in Brooklyn. The scene there is overflowing with bands playing every different kind of music. It’s a great place to be when you are off the road. With that in mind, I feel like we get a great response there because we play a lot of different kinds of music. There are people who like jazz, hard rock and metal, electronic, funk, all living in New York City, so we have a lot of potential fans.
G- Yes NYC is definitely a music melting pot. There’s always so much going on it is hard to figure out where to go each night. Now, you guys are currently touring your second release, “Drawn Outward.” Can you tell us a bit about this release and how it compares to your first record? Do you have anything else in the works at this time, or is it all road doggin’ for now?
N- This record is very different from our first, largely because of a different musician lineup, but also because the musical direction has evolved into some very interesting and new directions. The first record had some very straight ahead tunes with solos and such, and some great compositions. The new album has these things but is more experimental with the sounds of compositions. We are currently (literally at this moment, I should be paying attention) working on a new record. The second album will definitely serve as the perfect bridge between the first and third, so we are excited to see what will be coming in the future.
G- Solid we look forward to checking it out! Your music is very intricate, and yet balls to the wall… Can you tell us a bit about the tunes and where you find your musical inspirations.
N- We find inspiration from all things. To start, we all listen to different kinds of music than each other, with some sort of colorful venne diagram to show the common interest. But a key point about this is that my and Chuck’s musical inspirations contain a lot of heavy music, and that becomes very apparent at our shows and in our music. I believe it serves as a great foundation for Eli and Rob to have their more beautiful and melodic stuff on top of some real ugly sludge. But certainly not all of our songs are this way… No two songs are alike, and we really enjoy that about the way we approach each tune.
G- Very cool… I dig the wide variety of influence, and am also a heavy music guy, so I get where you’re coming from for sure. Describe for us what is your writing process like? Do you guys spend a lot of time jamming out grooves together, or is their a primary songwriter who handles a lot of the creative aspect? Who in the band typically comes up new music?
N- There are a few different processes that may go down when we are making some new music. One of the main ways that a song will come about is that Eli will make some ideas on his computer. Then he will bring that to practice and we will develop it from there. Other ideas will come from jamming, or just messing around with a sound. If we can make a musical idea out of it, we can start from there, or save it for later. Certainly no formula here.
G- Nice. So, Dopapod has been sharing stages with innumerable bands over the course of the past few years… Are there any bands in particular that you feel have influenced your style? Who do you listen to when you’re on the road?
N- The Royal Family bands (Soulive, Lettuce, etc.) have definitely been an influence, and we have played many festivals with them. Primus is another. MMW, MSMW, are great influences as well. A smaller band that is blowing up that is a big influence for me is Consider The Source out of Brooklyn. We have done many shows with them and its always so musically rewarding to share the stage with bands like that.
G- Yea Consider The Source is making some waves right now, too! And to follow up the last question, are there any bands that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
N- We really hope to open for GWAR sometime, or rather, for them to open for us. Maybe we will let Phish open that show too.
G- Uhh, yea i’d say that would be a show worth checking out! Maybe you can all cover each other’s songs, too! Wrapping up a bit, and though it may be difficult with so many past shows to choose from, but can you tell us about the craziest show Dopapod has played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
N- The craziest show was obviously at Bonnaroo in 2011. We played in the campgrounds on the shakedown street, right after the last band of the weekend finished on the main stage, so of course no one is ready to stop listening to music. We played for about 4 hours straight to a massive crowd the whole time. We set up our lights and a PA and everything in the middle of a dusty dirty street of vendors. No reason to hold back!
G- Nice! Bonarroo is always a blast. I wish I was there for that one. Anywho, lastly, as professional musicians, you have a lot of young fans and your input would mean a lot to them. Can you tell us what advice you would give to some of the young, up and coming bands and artists everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
N- Keep at it. There are a lot of discouraging things out there, but dont let it stop you ever. If you play music because you want to, then there is not a thing in the world that can tell you otherwise. Don’t expect to “make it,” that isnt a thing anymore. Don’t expect anything really, and the magic that is playing music will provide you with far more than you could have imagined.