Interview: The Dodos

The Dodos, an American indie-rock duo composed of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, played at La Sala Rossa on March 2nd, 2015. They did not have any additional touring members, and it made all the difference. The duo was incredibly energetic, and performed well together, capturing the full attention of the crowd. They opened with "Goodbyes and Endings" off their newly released album, Individ. Although the vocals were buried under disappointing sound quality, the packed audience responded well to their performance, slowly singing and dancing along.

The duo exploited the cheerfulness of the crowd, and made it clear that they were happy to perform again in Montreal. They attempted to speak French a few times; Meric would randomly talk about "pamplemousse", and Logan would read prepared sentences written on napkins! Even though the band was on tour promoting Individ, they still graced the crowd with a few favourite songs from their previous albums, including "The Season", "Confidence", "Black Night" and "Walking".

It was surprising to see how close they are with their opening act, Springtime Carnivore (Greta Morgan). During their performance, she came in at the front of the stage, dancing and screaming at the Dodos. She even had a cardboard poster that read "Critters Buggin", and pretended she was a groupie. Meric explained that "Critters Buggin" was actually a band that he was talking about the night before, and Greta thought he was talking about an old hobo! She joined them in the encore, closing the night on a great performance.

Carmen from Plebeian Pleasures (Mondays at 11AM on CJLO) sat with the Dodos to discuss their latest album, performing live, and cookies!


Carmen: You guys are here for another time in Montreal on the same stage! What are your expectations for tonight, according to your last show?

Logan: I kind of have high expectations. The last show was really good.

Meric: We don't usually have high expectations for much. (Laughter)

Carmen: Can you start by telling me a random fun fact about yourselves that doesn't concern music?

Meric: Music's part of me! I don't think about anything else. Fun fact? I'm really boring, that's the fun fact.

Logan: I still watch skate videos every day online like a thirteen-year-old boy, and know all the skateboard gossip, and who's on what team, and up-and-comers. I guess maybe I am still a thirteen-year-old boy.

Meric: Now that you've got my brain turning...(laughter) One thing I've come to realize about myself is that I know a lot about terrible movies.

Carmen: What's the worst terrible movie you know about?

Meric: Just today, in the car even, like, Ian was trying to think of some movie and, forgot what it was, but I knew exactly what he was talking about and I could tell him the exact title of the movie. I feel like I do that a lot, I know that information. I didn't seek that information out on purpose, but I find myself knowledgeable about this totally useless thing.

Carmen: Individ is your sixth album, so how does the inspiration come after you've already explored so much material? Did the composition process change?

Logan: Well, I think a good example of that would be at sound check. [...] was breaking down the construction of our song "Goodbyes and Endings", which we often sound-check with. They've heard it enough through sound check, that they had some questions. And I don't think we've done a song quite like that before, so intricately stitched together, of time signatures, jumping back and forth while trying to maintain a quality of smoothness...where it doesn't seem like crazy meth rock. I guess we've done things similar before but it's just a continuation of that, the gnarliest form of that so far. At least, that's part of the story.

Carmen: And how has it been recording in the studio together for 10 years now? Did your relationship change or is it just like the first day?

Meric: Well, now I'm on top! (Laughter)

Carmen: Do you "complete" each other musically?

Meric: No. But, in this project, we've come full circle, to being a two-piece on this tour. I think that in doing so, you realize some of our strengths as two musicians who play together. Some of the things that we developed over the years of playing that take time and don't just come naturally. So, yeah, we've played a lot of music together. Played a lot of shows together. If we weren't tied by now we'd be on the wrong tracks. (Laughter)

Carmen: If you would not make the genre of music you do today, what genre would you do?

Meric: Right now...I'd like to play bass, in a heavy slow R&B band.

Logan: That sounds really great, but I would probably either regress back into playing metal, or I would progress into playing country music. There's another part of me that thinks I would be into electronic music as a total left turn. There are a lot of genres out there to explore.

Carmen: In "Pattern/Shadow" you've collaborated with Brigid Dawson of Thee Oh Sees. How was that?

Meric: It was fun. Her and I were on a band together when I first moved to San Francisco. We had toured together with Thee Oh Sees and we hadn't played music together since our band, so it was fun to come back. She's rad. She's really sweet and she's got a really strong voice, but she's really modest about it.

Carmen: Do you guys know what The Dodos means in French?

Logan: Take a nap?

Carmen: Yeah, taking a nap. I'm guessing it comes from the EP Dodo Bird, but why "The Dodos"?

Meric: You're right, it did come from the EP. When I think back to naming the EP, it was just lying in bed trying to go to sleep and just thinking about stuff and the dodo bird. I don't even really know the story of the dodo bird. I'm really out of knowing what common people know. To me, it sounded like something. Without knowing the back-story, I just liked what my impression was of what it actually is. 'Cause it just seemed kind of goofy but also kind of sad. So that's why I named the EP that, and then from there we just grabbed the nearest bark off the tree.

Carmen: So this month you released a video for "Competition", and props to the dancing skills! (Laugher). Although it was directed by Tyler McPherron, do you still have a say in the concept? Is it your idea?

Meric: Yeah it was our idea.

Carmen: Where did it come from?

Meric: It sort of progressed. The idea came out the rehearsals between us and the choreographer Katie Gaydos, and it was the actual idea for the whole concept of us starting out. You know, when you think you're gonna watch a concert and then come out and we do the whole dance thing. That was from a conversation that we had. We were trying to figure it out as we were figuring out the choreography. 'Cause we just started, we didn't know what we were gonna do when we met. We got in touch with her, she signed on to do the choreography and we just started meeting, working on stuff. As it went on, it sort of got whittled down into that. But it's pretty cool! You're making me remember how clueless we were when we first started and that's kind of beautiful.

Carmen: Did you ever dance before?

Meric: No. I took tap dance lessons from my sister when I was younger a little.

Carmen: Did you collaborate on every video you did?

Logan: Our early videos were not collaborative. People came to us and we were either on tour or didn't have time to get involved. We just said "ok, make a video", but the last three albums, we've been more involved.

Carmen: And what about the artwork? Even your t-shirts are cool, and the cover of the album is really interesting. Did you guide the artist in what you wanted for the cover?

Logan: Yeah, Meric did. It's hard to guide somebody like Victor (Cayro).

Meric: It was very small guidelines. As Logan put it out, he has a lot of ideas. Way more ideas than we could have given him. We threw out a few things that were pertaining to the record and the title and the theme, and he crafted that all. It's Victor's baby for sure.

Carmen: Did he listen to the album, and just...

Meric: He supposingly listened to the record and got some ideas from that, but I think most of that is Victor's brain, turned down for public consumption. Most of his stuff is pretty abrasive, for a lack of a better word, to put on the cover of a Dodos record, so he really turned it down for our well-being.

Carmen: Individ is quite dark, how is the vibe of LIVE shows changing? Compared to the previous tours, according to the mood of this album?

Meric: It's tough man. We are realizing, probably this week because we're almost four weeks in the tour, our sets are pretty intense. We mix the old stuff. I don't know about you (talking to Logan), but our sets are pretty intense.

Logan: They are intense. It gets dark. I think it's well sequenced, 'cause it gets darker towards the end of the set, with "Retriever" and "Pattern/Shadow". By that point, people are pumped so it doesn't seem gloomy.

Carmen: So it gets darker for you?

Logan: It's the tone of the songs, 'cause other new songs that we play aren't as dark as those ones.

Meric: I don't mean to say intense in a dark way, 'cause I don't think of the record as being that dark. I just don't. It might be that way, but coming from the dark side, I don't feel that.

Logan: From an energy level, you mean? Definitely intense.

Carmen: And that changed the way the audience interacts in the shows?

Logan: If they what to interact with it, yeah. We've had some really great interactive audiences and we've been opening up some requests from the audience as well.

Carmen: Do you always do the same set list, or does it change?

Meric: There's a basic skeleton, but we've been taking requests to capitalize on the fact that we're touring as a two-piece and we can play a lot of songs in a drop of a hat.

Carmen: After 10 years, are you proud of how the underground scene has evolved?

Meric: I don't feel like there is an underground scene.

Logan (referring to posters of bands that performed at La Sala Rossa): I'm looking at all these old posters while we've been talking, all these bands that I recognize from when I was much younger and that was an underground scene that I looked up to. Am I a part of that? I still feel like I look up to them, in the shadow of some of these people. It's hard to place yourself in that. The music scene has gotten weird. It's gotten bigger. It seams that there's more bands than when we started.

Meric: There's a lot more turn over. Both in the mainstream, and I would assume in the underground as well because its like... one ships in, one ships out. It's harder. I feel like it might be harder to maintain something of an underground scene, or something of a scene nowadays. Because there's just so much exportation and so much upward mobility.

Logan: As soon as something is pluckable, it gets sucked into the system. I hear about stuff. I hear about other scenes going on. My interest in that seems just as vampiric as music media that would wanna focus on and bring it out of that scene.

Carmen: Once you bring it out, it's no longer part of that scene, right?

Logan: It could be. It's cool to know that that's happening out there and people aren't just trying to get famous on Instagram for having a few songs, 'cause that's the formula that I'm more familiar with.

Carmen: Is there anything you wish you would have known about the music industry when you started? (Laughter) Is there something you learned that shocked you? That you didn't expect?

Meric: I'm trying to imagine what I thought we were getting into. Or what I hoped, or what I imagined. It's definitely not how I thought it would be. That's a good thing 'cause I had a very naïve, very suburban view of the music industry. Very "major label", very much like "you become a rock star or you don't".

Logan: Having that traditional power system in place, from being a little kid and being into music from a young age, it has surprised me how far certain bands and performers have taken the Kickstarter fan-sourced thing now. I didn't see that coming. It's cool that that works for some people but it definitely turned upside down the traditional label power system that, you know... It was almost like another branch of the government. It just seemed unchangeable. It most certainly has changed over the course of our career.

Carmen: Do you have any fun story of the tour so far?

Logan: Been working pretty hard, but what kind of fun have we been getting into? Mostly eating.

Carmen: If you would have to decide between a vegan, a spicy or a meat poutine which one would you go for?

Meric: Spicy!

Logan: I had a spicy last night, so I might go for regular gravy.

Carmen: What would be the dream festival you would want to play the most at?

Logan: It's got to be Primavera right?

Meric: Some festivals like Japan, something crazy. Some festival where Imagine Dragons would headline. (Laughter)

Logan: what was the name of that festival?

Meric: The Fuji festival! (Laughter). I have no idea. Is there a specific one? God, I don't know. You know what, fuck festivals.

Carmen: Do you prefer small venues because you can connect with the audience more?

Meric: I think our band works better. We've played some big festivals, we've actually had some really amazing shows. But in terms of what I gather, seems like people, they connect to the music better if they are in a smaller room with us. And I think we kinda sound better in a small room, 'cause they're just two of us.

Carmen: Is there anything I didn't' ask you that you wanted me to ask you or mention?

Meric: I think you should ask Logan about his new sweater.

Carmen: You got a new sweater! Did you buy it here?

Logan: I did get it here, got it at Frank & Oak. Thank you Frank and Oak for the sweater, but also for the cookie they gave me! (Laughter)

Carmen (to Meric): Did you get a coodie, um a cookie too?

Meric: I got some coodies, (Laughter) and a sweater and a cookie!

Carmen: Anything else?

Logan: We love Montreal!


The interview ended with Logan giving a shout out to The Luyas, an indie rock band from Montreal.