Another highlight for me at Outside Lands 2012 was on Saturday when I had the opportunity to talk with drummer Eric Slick of Dr. Dog before their Saturday evening show at the Panhandle Stage. I have been a big fan of them since their first album and they have grown tremendously since then to become one of the best bands to come out of Philly, while still maintaining their own unique identity and sound. In the opening moments of the interview we figured out that we actually grew up in the same neighborhood in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia – at the same time! They are currently touring in support of their latest album Be The Void, but I found out we don’t have much longer to wait before we get more new music from Dr. Dog! Read on for our chat with Eric at Outside Lands.
This is your first time playing Outside Lands, right?
Yes, this is our first time. Before I was in the band the rest of the guys played at Treasure Island Festival, but this is our first time at Outside Lands.
How do you like it?
It’s great, a little cold. Colder than I thought it would be, but it’s actually a welcome change because most of the festivals we play are hot and humid and there’s no escaping the heat. But it’s cool, you can really layer.
I just saw you guys at the XPoNential Music Festival, that was an amazing show.
Yeah that was an honor for us. Wilco asked us to play two shows with them this summer and you can’t say no to that, no matter what the circumstances are, you have to do it, so that was a real honor.
When you guys write, do you work together, or individually and then come together?
Scott McMicken and Toby Leamen are the principle songwriters, but with the last record Be the Void it was a much more collaborative effort so there were some songs that Zach contributed lyrics for, I contributed the melody for some songs… I think what happens is Scott and Toby come to us with completed structures and then from there, at least on this record, we’re given a little leeway to explore it and I think that’s the way we’re going to work in the future. It’s much more conducive to everyone’s happiness if everyone’s feeling creative.
It seems like you guys are constantly coming out with new stuff, too.
That’s true and some of the songs date back to 2004. Scott and Toby will always write songs, but it’s good that they’re so prolific because if there’s a song that didn’t work in the past, we always try to revisit that when we’re recording a new thing. We actually have an EP coming out in the end of August already and it’s called – well I’m not going to say what it’s called, but there’s a song on it called “Be The Void” that was slated to be the title track of the new record. That song existed as poems since 2004/2005, but last year Scott reimagined it in this really cool abstract way. It used to be kind of a bluegrass song, but now we’re revisiting it as a band and it’s taken on a whole new meaning.
I can’t wait to hear it.
Yeah, I can’t wait for people to hear it. I personally believe it’s one of our best songs. It comes out digitally in the end of August, and then there will be a physical copy that comes out around Record Store Day, like November. Everyone in the band is genuinely excited about it because it’s an EP full of outtakes from the record and some other nice little surprises.
Do you ever get to take a break?
Not really, but if you love what you do and the people around you, you can do it all the time. I feel like if everyone did that, the world would be a better place. Obviously there are practical things that prevent that from happening, but I think if you love what you do then you’ll do it endlessly until the day you die. There are very few frustrations that come up, at least playing music…if anyone starts complaining, just smack them…smack their hand a little bit. I usually smack my own hand.
Have you seen any of the other bands this weekend?
Yeah, we watched Beck and Neil Young, which was amazing. Watching Neil Young was very profound for all of us because we’ve all been such fans of his for a really long time and just seeing him live gives you a glimpse into what his process might be like. The naysayers might believe that his set-list was not very catered towards the fans, but I respect him so much more for that. He will continue to do what he wants to do, with no compromises, for the rest of his life, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Well hopefully you guys will be doing that too.
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think we’ll ever compromise. I don’t think you can expect to hear a stadium rock album from us anytime soon. We’ll continue to do the things we like to do and mostly produce ourselves and work as a band and be as best friends as we can be.
Do you all still live in Philly?
We all used to live in Philadelphia – I still do – but geographically we’re becoming more and more spread apart… but we spend about 150-200 days a year on the road. We also record every year, we spend at least 3 months recording, so we see each other all the time.
What are some of your favorite places to hang out in Philly?
Johnny Brenda’s. That’s probably my favorite place to hang out. I like the Rocket Cat, Milk Crate, I like my house. Our studio is still situated in that area so I go there often. I love San Francisco, too. It’s the only town I love as much as Philadelphia. I feel like there’s a certain kinship between the two places, too. There’s an honesty that you’ll find, maybe in Philadelphia it’s a bit more crass and here its more friendly, but they’re both very straight forward and small in the grand scheme of things. There’s just an honesty that I really like.
Check out Dr. Dog’s website for tour dates and be sure to catch them in your hood, they always put on an amazing show! And, keep an eye out for their new EP in late August.
Photos from XPoNential Music Festival by Julia.