Dopapod, a Brooklyn-based jam-rock quartet, does it right. Between the band’s slick songwriting, future-forward sound, and top-notch musicianship, it offers something for everyone. Later this year, Dopapod will be releasing its third LP, “Never Odd or Even”. Aside from maintaining the band’s tradition of using palindromes as album titles, “Never Odd or Even” showcases Dopapod sharpening up its vocal skills and focusing more on musicality without sacrificing the instrumental chops its fans know and love. While it will be a few months until “Never Odd or even” drops, fans in the area can see Dopapod at Rochester’s Water Street Music Hall on Thursday, Oct. 2. For those who aren’t super familiar with the band, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dopapod guitarist and Rochester resident Rob Compa. We discussed the band’s progression, its experience working in the studio, and its upcoming fall tour.
JH: You’re releasing your third LP, “Never Odd or Even” later this year. I understand this is the band’s second album with vocals.
RC: Yup, that’s right.
JH: How is this album a progression for you guys?
RC: I think the songs are a little less bombastic, which I’m really happy about. Our last album, “Re-Divider”, we did on this farm that’s not even a recording studio. They usually use it for wedding receptions. We rented all this stuff from Guitar Center and then returned it later on, so we could turn the place into a studio for a couple of weeks. It was really cool, and I’ve never had more fun making an album. But when we listened back to it, we were really proud of the songs, but everything was really fast. We were all just really excited and wanted to prove ourselves. The arrangements are really proggy, which I love – but some of it could get a little over the top, where a little musicality was lost for the sake of trying to be impressive.
I feel like this album is more musical, deliberate, and melodic. I’m really happy about that. We were really conscious about the tempos this time, because last time everything came out so fast, which was cool, it just gave it a certain energy. This time, we took our time and really made sure that everything was the tempo that we wanted so that it could breathe the right way and really feel good. Also, this time we did it in Syracuse, New York, with our friend Jocko. His studio is called More Sound Studio. He did an amazing job – he’s an amazing producer and engineer. He was full of incredible advice and was super involved. If something’s not good, he knows how to say it exactly the right way without offending anybody or making anybody too self-conscious. I think that contributed very much to the quality of the album.
JH: I listened to these tracks and I definitely feel they’re more song-oriented. I really enjoyed the prog influences on the album too. Did you guys include a Mellotron on one track?
RC: I think it’s a Mellotron patch. Like a simulator or something. I think maybe the track “PresentGhosts” has some mellotron. We were all so excited to have the Mellotron that when we got the initial mixes, the Mellotron was cranked. We were so excited to have it. So we were all like, “Okay everybody, let’s get real here. Mellotron is fun but let’s back it off a little bit.”
JH: It sounded perfect to me in the final mix. That’s why I mentioned it, because the Mellotron is always super cool. It evoked a real old-school prog sound in the album without making it feel too noodly or cerebral.
RC: We wanted to keep the progressiveness vibe intact but be a little more musical and natural about it. That was the goal for everybody this time around.
JH: I read on your website that you guys consider yourselves “not as much a jam band as a band that improvises.” From your point of view, where do you guys feel that you stand in the jam scene? How do you guys want to be seen in it?
RC: The answer that I give you might not be the same answer that the other band members give you. I’m perfectly okay with being called a jam band. That’s what I like – I’m a huge Phish fan, and I love Umphrey’s McGee and all those bands. That doesn’t mean I don’t get self-conscious about it though, because I know what other people think when they hear the term “jam band”. For a lot of people it has a negative connotation. But I’m okay with it. We improvise a lot – that’s my favorite thing to do on stage. But I also think that there are tons of band who you could have called a jam band 30 years ago but the term wasn’t invented yet, and because of that no one would think to call them a jam band. I mean, back in the day Led Zeppelin would play tunes for a half an hour straight. Lots of bands have improvised, but I guess if you’re an improvising band and you exist after the term “jam band” was coined, you’re a jam band.
JH: You’re kicking off your upcoming Fall Tour on the 25th at Toad’s Place in Connecticut. You guys excited for that?
RC: Yeah dude, totally. Toad’s Place is awesome. You ever heard of Frog Wings?
JH: Yeah, but I’ve never listened to them.
RC: It’s a super group from the ’90s, with Jimmy Herring and Derek Trucks on the guitar, John Popper on harmonica, the whole drum section from the Allman Brothers, and the the Burbidge brothers (Oteil and Kofi). They put out one album, and it’s “Live at Toad’s Place”. It’s one of my favorite live albums ever. Jimmy Herring and Derek Trucks murder it the whole time. So I’m excited to play Toad’s Place because of that album.
JH: Dude, that’s awesome. I also see you’re sharing tour dates with Consider the Source, Umphrey’s McGee, and Alan Evans. Those are some real awesome bands to be sharing the stage with. I imagine you guys are really excited for that.
RC: Yeah, totally. Tauk is on there as well, which is an awesome band. I think there’s a couple more on there. But the ones you mentioned we’re all psyched for. Consider the Source are some of our best friends in the world. We go way back with them. We’re planning some cool collaborations with them. Opening for Umphrey’s McGee is super cool too. I’m a huge fan of them. That’s a little “pinch me” moment, I guess.
JH: That covers everything on my end. Anything else you want to add?
RC: People should get there early for our Water Street show. Stereo Nest is starting at 8:30pm, and they should also not miss Consider the Source because they’re ridiculously good.
Dopapod will be playing Rochester’s Water Street Music Hall on Thursday Oct. 2. For more information on the show, visit www.waterstreetmusic.com/dopapod. For more information on Dopapod, visit dopapod.com.
Howard is a member of
the class of 2017.