Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
May 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Wide-Eyed Wonders

event DrDogDr. Dog seeks out surprises on latest album

Generally speaking, when it comes time for a band to make an album, they have an idea of what they want it to sound like. They might noodle around in the studio a bit, but for the most part, there is little doubt about the direction they plan to go in. Rockers Dr. Dog, however, took a totally different approach with their most recent album, B Room.

“Normally, we have a stack of demos that everyone sifts through and a lot of times those demos are pretty fleshed out with full arrangements,” says Scott McMicken, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist. “But this time, we didn’t put any songs on the table. We played, we wrote, and we hung out. We played, we wrote, and we hung out some more, and we recorded pretty much all of it that way.”

Within that laidback environment, the bandmates felt like anything was possible and nothing was off limits—almost like being a kid in a candy store.

“With B Room, on so many fronts, it was like we were stepping into a world where we really did want to be surprised, and because of that, we approached everything differently: writing, playing, recording,” McMicken explains. “And the surprises just kept on coming.”

In addition to the full AM radio-era rock and roll sound which fills up tracks like “Distant Light” and “Broken Heart,” B Room also contains elements of Motown (“The Truth”), soul (“Nellie”), and a delightful mishmash of country, Americana and folk (“Phenomenon”). McMicken says he is proud of the album’s overall sonic diversity, but admits that the experience of making one song in particular—“Too Weak to Ramble”—stands out in his memory.

“[That] was by far the most stripped-down tune we’ve ever put on an album,” McMicken says. “Doing that tune was a real challenge and a real pleasant surprise. That was just me and [bassist] Toby [Leaman] playing, but actually putting ourselves in that situation was really stressful.

“We both told each other afterward, ‘Man, I was nervous,’” he goes on. “‘What if that [song] just doesn’t work and we have to face the fact that sure, we’re musicians, but we can’t just pick up a guitar and make a song out of it? Are we really any good?’”

Moments of self-doubt aside, the process of making the album was largely characterized by a feeling of creative invigoration, according to McMicken. For that, he gives a lot of credit to drummer Eric Slick and multi-instrumentalist Dmitri Manos, who entered the fold four years ago.

“When they joined, things changed,” he says. “We were excited to have them playing with us and being with them is such a joy. And what they brought about in particular definitely informed the process of how we set [the album] up. Those guys just brought a much more well-rounded sense of live performance to the band.”

Dr. Dog has come a long way since forming in 1999, but McMicken describes the band’s journey with humility.

“It’s not like this is some new, bold frontier of music-making,” he says. “If anything, it’s the most timeless, classic truth of what music is, which is just putting an instrument in someone’s hands and having them create something palpable that can translate a certain feeling. We’ve been trying to find that within ourselves, and these two new members jump-started that.” 


Dr. Dog performs at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20/adv, $22/door. For more information, call 423-1338. photo: Nicky Devine

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence