Dr Dog - The Doctor's Fate
Monday, 28 July 2008
Juston Stems bellows down the line from Philadelphia, eager to talk about his band Dr Dog and the looming release of their third record Fate. Stems - who on the band's website is accredited with 'trapset, harmonies [and] vehicle maintenance' - helpfully explains the Dr Dog philosophy:
'We're a rock n roll band,' he states almost perfunctorily. 'We're heavily influences by bands like The Band, The Byrds and the Beach Boys, recording music heavy on the vocal harmonies and with interesting string arrangements. The early '60s was when people were experimenting with sounds a lot more - bands like The Beatles and even Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. That's what we're trying to go after - that openness to experimentation.'
Signing to Brisbane label Dew Process in 2007, Stems says his hometown has a vibrant music scene. 'Philadelphia is essentially a small version of New York, in every way - in size, in price,' he says. 'We rent a warehouse and that's where we've recorded all our albums and rehearse. We wouldn't be able to afford that in New York.'
Dr Dog have gained a wider fan base of late through associations with other bands. They've toured with such luminaries as Wilco, The Strokes, The Raconteurs and My Morning Jacket. Stems explains that it all started with My Morning Jacket, who took Dr Dog on their first big tour and showed the band 'what it was like to leave our own city.' Since then Dr Dog have made friends with Australia's own Architecture in Helsinki - who Stems thinks are 'one of the best bands out there.'
I quote to Stems what Wilco's Jeff Tweedy wrote in the New York Times of the band, claiming 'everything about Dr Dog and the way they sound draws on my favourite stuff on earth.' Stems is surprised because he hadn't previously heard the quote. It was this sort of enthusiasm for the band that led Beck to remix one of the band's tracks, The Girl, for a 7 Inch vinyl release.
'That was pretty weird; it came out of nowhere,' Stems says. 'I don't know how it came about. We've never met [Beck], but obviously we're big fans. It was nice of him to do [it]. Someone actually told me that that was the first time he'd remixed a song, but I don't know if that's true.'
WHO: Dr Dog
WHAT: Fate through Dew Process/Universal
WHEN: Out now
MORE: dew-process.com / myspace.com/drdog