Interview: The Dodos
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 12:50:10
The Dodos Videos
After much finagling, ARTISTdirect managed to catch up with Meric Long, guitarist and vocalist for psych-folk duo The Dodos. Their album Visiter has been winning the hearts of both sentimentalists and music nerds everywhere because of its ability to intertwine earnest emotion and forward-thinking presentation. The past year has been a big one for the Dodos—their fan base has expanded exponentially. We queried Long about this, among other subjects…
Have you done a lot of shows in Europe before?
We did some festivals in Europe in the summer, but this is our first proper tour here. We're going to some places we've never been before, like Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
The crowd at your recent show at the Echoplex was by far the largest audience I've seen you play in front of in Los Angeles. How do you feel about the burgeoning level of attention you're getting?
It's cool, man. The Echoplex show was cool and fun. We were stoked that so many people came out. It's also kind of weird to play on bigger stages. As the crowd gets bigger, it's hard to, I dunno...sometimes we're in the mood to play for a big crowd and sometimes we're not. We're not accustomed to it yet.
I feel like your music is really earnest and connects with people. Do you have a tougher time doing that with big crowds?
It's weird. It's like, with bigger audiences—the more faces that there are out there, the less faces there are out there. It just turns into one massive blob with hundreds of faces. I guess it feels a little less personal. I'm a pretty suspicious person. Whenever somebody likes something that I do, or even likes me as a person, my first thought is, "What's wrong with you?" I'm glad people like it, I just never expected it to happen.
You guys have been touring relentlessly for ages now. Does it take its toll on you or are you guys at home on the road now?
Up until the last tour, the idea of getting burnt out never even occurred to me. I don't really have a lot going on at home, and this is what I've always wanted to do—travel and play music—so it never really crossed my mind. But I think on this last tour, we hit a wall. I was like, "Fuck, I'm totally burnt out and sick of playing these songs, and I don't have enough energy to write new songs." We had a three-week break before we came to Europe. It was great, a reminder that we can actually write new songs if we just slept and remained stationary for a while. Now we're back on the road, and we're starting to get in the swing of things. As long as we've got new material and we're stoked on the shows, it's fun. I think I'm starting to hit a point in my life where I can see the goodness of settling down. Not like getting married or anything, but getting a place to live, having the same coffee every morning and seeing the same people. There will probably be less touring in the next year.
Do you have a preference between recording an album and touring?
I can't really compare them. It's like, performing is a quick fix. You go do your thing and have fun and feel good at the end of the night, but it is only satisfying to a certain degree—until you wake up the next morning and have to do it all over again. Recording is something that you put a lot of time into. The reward is way more long lasting and more deep, but it's also way more work. There are tons of periods where you go through doubt. It's like, one's a quick lay and one's a relationship or something.
Tell me a bit about how Joe joined the band and why he cut off his Jesus-esque locks…
He has been a buddy of mine for a long time. He wasn't doing anything, so I asked him to come along. It was funny when he had that huge beard. Whenever we crossed borders, he made it way harder for us. The night he chopped it off, he was probably drunker than ever. We played at some college and ended up at some frat party. It was ridiculous. It was a total kegger. I did a keg stand. It was all funny and tongue-in-cheek, but Joe was getting super wasted and trying to mack on some chicks, some young college chicks, and they weren't having it. I think he was like "Fuck, I gotta go shave my beard, I can't even talk to girls..." That night, we were staying at the venue, actually, and we get back and he stumbles into the bathroom, and I pass out on a bench somewhere. I woke up at like seven in the morning and almost stumbled over him and screamed because I didn't recognize him.
Are you guys going to continue to add members in the future?
Well, I'm not really sure yet. We're about to record another record, and it depends on how that goes. My feeling is that the record is going to require another person. The last record was like, "We're gonna record instruments even if we can't reproduce it live," but we were pragmatic about it in the sense that it was always just guitar and drums. I think on this record, we're gonna branch away from that.
Do you have any plans to start standing up at shows? I was at the back of the crowd at the Echoplex and I saw the top of your head about three times.
No, I mean, we get a lot of complaints about that. It sucks because I just can't. My style of guitar playing is a sitting-down style, and I would if I could. It's one of those weird things that becomes an issue when you start playing to big crowds. It used to be that we would play small venues, and people would just huddle around. We're used to just having enough people at a show to form one circle around the band.