Q&A: Dopapod

Q&A: Dopapod
Courtesy Photo Dopapod is (from left to right) Eli Winderman (keyboards), Rob Compa (guitar), Scotty Zwang (drums), Chuck Jones (bass) and Luke Stratton (sound and lights, not pictured). The band has been gigging progressive jam sets for five years.

Courtesy Photo
Dopapod is (from left to right) Eli Winderman (keyboards), Rob Compa (guitar), Scotty Zwang (drums), Chuck Jones (bass) and Luke Stratton (sound and lights, not pictured). The band has been gigging progressive jam sets for five years.

Boston-based Dopapod will be straight jammin’ up a blend of prog-rock electro funk this Tuesday at George’s Majestic Lounge.

If those descriptors seemed kinda out there, that’s because they are. Dopapod is likely to be one of the most unique and “far out” groups in the music scene today. The band has played just about everywhere jam bands reign — Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Mountain Jam, Red Rocks, Peach Fest, Electric Forest, and just about all the others.

The band consists of Eli Winderman (keyboards), Rob Compa (guitar), Chuck Jones (bass), Scotty Zwang (drums) and Luke Stratton (sound and lights) have been gigging for five years. Each member brings a unique background of influences and songwriting to the table to create their avant garde style with some crazy improvised sections in their songs.

We got to talk with Chuck Jones about what Dopapod’s been up to:

TFW: How do you guys keep up in the “jam band” scene? Do you consider yourself a jam band?

JONES: Anything is fair game or anything we’re feeling in the writing.

We do what we do and if it sounds like someone else. I didn’t know about jam bands or the festival scene until I joined this band and we started playing festivals. To me, this whole world started five years ago. I had heard about Phish and Umphrey’s McGee, but it wasn’t until I started playing in this band that I found out about it all.

There’s definitely a rich history. The Dead. I’m not a historian for the genre, but our guitar player is and he loves Phish. I love it. I’ve had different feelings about it over the years, being okay with being a jam band, or not wanting to be in a jam band. I’ve thought a lot about the title jam band that one could. Now I don’t care, I like improvising with the guys and doing something new and fresh and that’s what people want to see and hear. It’s pretty cool. So I’m willing to go up there and try something new. If it sucks, so be it. If it’s awesome, that’s great, too.

Obviously we have songs and play the same sort of songs every night, and some nights aren’t as creative as others. Every now and then, which we kind of strive for every night, we play whatever we want and play like nobody’s watching. Those are my favorite shows.

TFW: Unlike many bands out there who have structured songs that everyone expects, you guys jam into unknown territory in your shows. How does that work out?

JONES: For me, I just try to not take it too seriously and pay attention as much as possible while we’re playing. There’s a fine line of letting things happen but giving it a little push to go in a certain direction. There’s no right or wrong way to go about that, and it changes on any given night. It’s being up there with people you’re comfortable and paying attention and listening as we go into unknown territory as you put it.

I like it when it goes all over the place. Being creative every day of the week is impossible I’ve come to realize. There’s a grass greener kind of thing with it all. Sometimes I envy bands that get to go up there and do the same thing every night. Even if they’re not feeling good or up to it, they can just dance around and do their thing. Other nights, I think I’d want to kill myself if I had to go up there and do the same exact thing every time.

It just depends, the nights that we’re on and into improv and feeling good, our ears are warmed up and we’re into it are awesome. It can be a little challenging onstage to be creative and improvise and find inspiration onstage when you’re five weeks into a tour and you didn’t get enough sleep. Basically what I’m saying is, sometimes it is tough to be creative every night of the week.

TFW: When you’re in the studio, how does the band approach composing and songwriting?

JONES: Our keyboard player does a lot of the writing. He’s always composing and putting out new music. Anything is fair game if someone brings an idea, we’ll work on it. Ninety percent of the time the music that shows up on the table was composed by him or the idea was his. I’ve put a couple songs in there and helped with the lyrics.

TFW: What’s you’re favorite one you’ve played or feel at home at among the lineup?

JONES: My favorite festival is Catskill Chill festival in upstate New York at the border of Pennsylvania. It’s a summer camp for kids during the summer and then at the very end they shut it down do a music festival. So there’s a huge infrastructure with cabins for people to rent, a nice artist area, and all the stages are enclosed. The good thing is no matter what the elements are you’re going to be dry for the show which is nice. It’s a beautiful place. The team that promotes is very accommodating supportive of up and coming. They’re really trying to make their own scene and I think they’ve done really well. I always look forward to playing that one.

TFW: What are some messages Dopapod writes about lyrically?

JONES: Lyrically, it depends on who’s writing. I enjoy love songs but I feel artificial composing love songs. So I tend to be a little more morbid. I wrote a song called Present Ghosts. It’s about a guy, he’s living forever. He’s immortal and stuck on Earth and it turns into a when our worlds collide, and another planet is crashing into Earth and he’s worried that he’s going to still be alive, floating through space. That’s sort of where my head is.

As long as it’s a good song and we all like it we’ll play it. We have country songs, progressive rock songs, pop songs. As long as we feel good about it we’ll play it. I’m never really going for something, it’s more like when I get an idea lyrically I get everything out and decide if it makes sense.

TFW: Are any songs autobiographical?

JONES: There’s a couple little sections of autobiographical events, but it’s mostly ideas and themes and stories. I’ve given that a shot a couple times and get halfway through it think to myself who would want to listen to this? The lyrics feel forced. I never feel good about them, so I just sort of write about people living forever and I’m happy with that.

Dopapod w/ The Nth Power

What: Prog-rock, electro-funk jam band

Where: George’s Majestic Lounge, 519 W Dickson St., Fayetteville, Ark.

When: Tuesday, Oct. 13 @ 8 p.m.

How Much: $12/ticket

Categories: Galleries