Dr. Dog building on new success, old ties

Dr. Dog, who will see old friends My Morning Jacket and the Lumineers at the Firefly Festival, is finishing an album that guitarist Scott McMicken (second from right) calls "our loosest and livest and most dynamic record." CHRIS CRISMAN
Dr. Dog, who will see old friends My Morning Jacket and the Lumineers at the Firefly Festival, is finishing an album that guitarist Scott McMicken (second from right) calls "our loosest and livest and most dynamic record." CHRIS CRISMAN
Posted: June 21, 2013

The guys in Philly's Dr. Dog will be seeing several old friends after they perform Friday evening at this weekend's Firefly Festival in Dover, Del. Jim James, who plays on Saturday, helped catalyze the band's career by asking them to open for his band, My Morning Jacket, and the Lumineers, who take the stage on Sunday, will be taking them out on tour  in September  , after having done a few shows with them recently.

Dr. Dog is just finishing work on their follow-up to 2011's Be the Void, and guitarist Scott McMicken, who shares lead vocals with bassist Toby Leaman, says, "By far it's our loosest and livest and most dynamic record."

The band recorded the as-yet-untitled album, due this year, in Clifton Heights, Delaware County, in a studio they built by converting what was once an old mill into recording spaces, rehearsal rooms, and living quarters.

"We spent pretty much our whole recording budget at Home Depot," McMicken says. "It was some pretty hard-core construction and carpentry going on. I feel like the levels of collaboration, with everyone organizing their skill set and making themselves useful that went down in the construction process, lo and behold, was the exact same sort of dynamic that is necessary for a good collaborative process in a musical context. The whole experience was awesome."

Dr. Dog is a nuts-and-bolts communal band, favoring strong, direct melodies with roots in the Beach Boys, the Band, and the Beatles, while also being eager to tweak familiar forms.

"As out-there as it can get sometimes, and as abstract as it can get, ultimately the goal is to have it feel simple," McMicken says.

That simplicity is something he admires in the Lumineers, who have received their share of critical potshots for being young musicians trafficking in Dust Bowl-era styles. McMicken understands the questions of authenticity, but doesn't buy into them.

"The chips fell right, and they got huge," he says. "I think they're just as much taken aback by it as anyone else. What's unfortunate is when other people take success itself and use it as this extra-sharp knife to chop into the integrity of the band's music or something. On the more cultural side, I just think it's nice when there's stuff at the top of the pop charts that is simple, that is easily understood."

This year's Firefly, expanding on last year's well-run event, offers an impressive, wide-ranging lineup, headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Friday, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Saturday, and Vampire Weekend and Foster the People on Sunday. It includes top-notch hip-hop from Kendrick Lamar, Public Enemy, and Azealia Banks; raucous rock-and-roll from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Japandroids, and the Joy Formidable; questing indie-rock from Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit, and Chvrches (who also play Union Transfer on Sunday); diverse club music from Calvin Harris, Dan Deacon, and Big Gigantic; and roots styles from the Alabama Shakes, the Avett Brothers, and JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.


The Firefly Festival runs Friday through Sunday at the Woodlands at Dover International Speedway, 1131 N. Dupont Highway, Dover, Del. Tickets: $98 per day. Information: 773-687-4595, www.fireflyfestival.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|