Yes, the success and growth of Dope is complex and impressive and on their new album, appropriately titled NO REGRETS, Dope continues to show a plethora of reasons that their fans keep coming back for another fix.
NO REGRETS is the band’s most impressive work to date. The songs are full of heavy metal hooks and the album oozes the riff-driven energy that we’ve come to expect from Edsel and his band. The most notable progression on NO REGRETS is the obvious emphasis put on the technical side of the band and their musicianship. It’s especially obvious in the guitar work and in the drum patterns. “One of our main goals was to smarten things up and to really let the lead guitars shred. The tunes are smarter, but they still have that Dope swagger to them,” proclaims Edsel. That approach influenced the drums to get faster, the sound to get more precise, and at the end of the day, made us all have to practice more and play better. It was fun and challenging to push ourselves musically. Edsel produced NO REGRETS at his studio in Chicago, IL and shares the majority of the musical and production responsibilities with his long-time guitarist and songwriting partner “Virus.” The NO REGRETS lineup is rounded out by drummer Angel Bartolotta and bassist/vocalist Tripp “Lee” Tribbett.
The title of the album is a reflection of Edsel’s unusual journey through life and of his band’s winding road of success, which are equally complex. Edsel reflects on his beginnings and his musical roots that have evolved into the current state of Dope. “Having a career in the music business is all I ever dreamed of as a kid - and my whole life has been committed to that childhood dream. I chose this path when I was 16 years old. I dropped out of high school and moved a couple hundred miles away from my mom to live in my first bands rehearsal space.
It’s been do or die since and I never looked back. I’ve worked every sort of shit job you can imagine and used to sling dope back in the day in order to make cash to make our early demos. That’s actually how the band got its name,” notes Dope. Dedicated fully to his quest for success, Edsel Dope established the band officially in 1997 while living in New York City. From there, life in the fast lane has been one learning experience after another.
The major record deal "life changing." The major record label departure "a learning experience, a crisis, and a eventually a relief." The hiring and firing of different band members "more learning experiences." The tours "life defining" and the relocation to the Midwest "to settle down a bit." His role as a mentor producing new bands in his own studio "my greatest reward." And of course, the required sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, to which Dope only offers up silence, and a smirk.
“I have learned so much. There is nothing that the music business can throw at me that I haven’t already experienced or been around. That’s a comfortable place to be. I like to think of myself as a veteran in this game. I may not be as fast as some of these young kids coming out today, but I know how to get to the ball and how to succeed,” says Dope.
For Dope’s latest release NO REGRETS Edsel brings his veteran experience to his fans along with the rebellious energy Dope fans thrive on. And make no mistake, the rebel runs through NO REGRETS much like beer runs through modern day guitar hero Zakk Wylde, who makes an appearance on the CD’s first single "Addiction," which Dope believes will not only play in your I-pod, but will very likely be banging in your local strip club. Tracks like "Violence”, “6 6 Sick”, and “We Are” take us back to the root of Dope’s sound, but with an obvious shot of technical adrenaline. The dark and gloomy “My Funeral” and raunchy “Dirty World” are awesome changes of pace, while the title track “No Regrets,” along with the bonus tracks “Nothing For Me Here” and “I Don't Give A ..." continue to showcase the wide spectrum of influences that Dope drew from when creating this album.
It's clear asking if Dope indeed has no regrets is flat out unnecessary, as an artist this immersed in what he lives and breathes would never in a lifetime be so disingenuous to actually affix his latest and self-admitted greatest work with that moniker if he indeed HAD any. Says Dope, “I really did choose this route… I jumped into the deepest part of the ocean without a life preserver and swam. I was very methodical with my approach to become a professional musician and I have been incredibly fortunate to be part of some amazingly cool shit. I am so humbled by the state of this industry and I am extremely proud that Dope is still touring and releasing new music at a respectable level. I am blessed to have my own studio and to produce young bands and to be embraced by someone like Zakk Wylde. Are you fucking kidding me?? Zakk ripping out guitar leads on our album and electing us to be part of the Black Label Bash is an unbelievable honor.”
Edsel continues, “to put it frankly, when you actually stop and say out loud that Zakk Wylde has just played on your record, you really have to acknowledge that you really aren’t in Kansas anymore. It sort of redefines how far I’ve come from living in that rehearsal place in south Florida. Humbled would be an amazingly accurate word for where I am today after so many ups, downs, and in betweens. I think the album title in a lot of ways represents that I’ve gotten so much out of these years and I’ve sacrificed so much to get it. The one thing that’s certain is that I wouldn’t trade or change any of it. Because it’s those experiences that have gotten me where I am.”
While it's clear that the business has offered challenges to the man whose band bears his name; his band and his new album NO REGRETS is no analysis of life. It's music designed to engage the Dope fan and dare them to not have fucking fun. Dope's mission with NO REGRETS is simple - release a record for the existing fans, with enough hooks, energy, and good grooves to engage a new group of disciples to come out and party with us when we come to your town.
“I think that the evolution of the music industry is leveling the playing field and allowing proactive independent artists to thrive. It’s a great time because for us and our fans, its never been about a hit song. It’s all about a lifestyle and a collective energy, an escape for lack of better words. Dope is your excuse to throw your middle fingers in the air and say “I Don’t Give A Fuck!!” as loud as you fucking can. While a lot of our songs have depth and meaning to them, a lot of them just make you wanna drive fast and get nuts!!
That’s a great deal of what people like about our shows and this band. You don’t go see Dope to have a serious time; you go see Dope to get away from all of the serious bullshit in your life. It’s been an unpredictable, but incredibly rewarding ride, I’ve been to hell and back, and I’ll do it all again with no regrets…”