Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Interview with Frank McElroy of Dr. Dog

1. Each of you has a nickname beginning with the letter T—Taxi, Teach, Text, Tables, and you’re Thanks. What’s their significance to the band?

They’re not all that significant. It’s just a letter—like a lot of things in Dr. Dog—picked out of thin air. The significance is added to it by the fact that we decided that you needed a “T” name to be in Dr. Dog. It’s setting a feeling that we’re all in it as a team. I mean it really could’ve been any letter, but it was T. There’s no real meaning.

2. When I first heard the band’s name I assumed you guys were a rapper—somewhere between Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Where did the name Dr. Dog come from?

It’s another kind of chance occurrence. There’s not a really good story. One time Toby (Leaman) and Scott (McMicken) were together and Scott had a drawing and crossed out the A and it said Dr. Wing. Drawing with the A crossed out says Dr. Wing. And I think Scott suggested that as a band name. Then Toby said, “How about Dr. Dog?”

3. Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences and what were you listening to while recording Shame, Shame?

We worked on Shame, Shame so much that I personally didn’t listen to much other music. You get so deep into the process because you’re working on it like 18 hours a day—pretty much every waking moment. You should check out a guy named R. Stevie Moore. He’s had a big influence on Dr. Dog because he’s like the father, grandfather, or forefather of do-it-yourself recording. He’s recorded hundreds of albums in his basement and played all the instruments and he’s out of New Jersey.

4. For the new album, you guys switched labels from Park the Van to Anti-Records and left your home studio in Philadelphia and recorded in New York for the first time. What prompted you to change labels and go in that direction?

We had kind of grown with Park the Van with each record. We were their first release and had introduced them to a few other Philadelphia bands. We got to a point where just the logistics of all of the work that goes into after you’ve made an album—promoting it and pushing it out there—and we kind of moved beyond their reach. So it was kind of a mutual recognition that we needed someone with a broader stretch to push the album.

5. Are there any other acts you would like to work or perform with?

We could do something cool with the Wu-Tang Clan. That would be up there.

6. What’s the dynamic like between Dr. Dog and Deer Tick?

Well, we’re on the whole tour with them. I didn’t know them so much before the tour but usually with most bands we get along pretty well. We get pretty close pretty fast and Deer Tick is no exception. I think they’re great. They work really well with us on this tour because people in the crowds tend to know their songs and get excited to see them. It seems like the crowd is more familiar with them than smaller opening bands. You know, it’s a toss-up because you want to introduce people to new music that you like but in the case of Deer Tick everyone already seems to be hip to them and really enjoy them so it’s great.

7. Have you ever thought about doing a take-away show—sort of like an impromptu recording on the street—like a lot of bands have been doing on La Blogotheque?

Walking around and singing? I’d love to do that. It sounds cool. I haven’t heard of that blog, though. We did a similar thing in California. Some kids came up to us after a show and asked to film us walking down the street singing a song. So I guess we’ve already done it. Youtube Dr. Dog California. It’s a black and white video. It’s one of my favorite.

8. You used to work on The David Letterman Show and then Dr. Dog played there a few years later. What was it like to go from working there behind the scenes to being featured on the show?

I got to see all my old friends. It was an honor and I was real excited. It was surreal. Working there was surreal and then playing there was even more surreal. It was a weird time to leave because it’s my favorite show but Dr. Dog was my favorite band—so it was strange.

9. What’s the next step for Dr. Dog?

We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re going to play live shows, we’re going to record albums, and we’re playing a lot of festivals this summer.

Thanks, Frank,
Steve Church and Gillian Zwengler

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