Dr. Dog: Trying a Detour | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Dr. Dog

Trying a Detour

Mar 05, 2010 Web Exclusive
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When it came time to craft their latest record, the members of Philadelphia quintet Dr. Dog were shooting for something different. Rather than lay down their latest batch of Beach Boys- and Beatles-inspired psych-pop themselves, as they'd done in the past, singer/guitarist Scott McMicken says the group decided to experiment with outside production.

"The studio craft side of it has been as much what we're about as any other thing," says McMicken. He adds that there was a "certain impulse with this album to focus less on the studio part of it and more on the bare bones mechanics of playing in a band. Essentially we wanted to be more musicians about the process rather than the engineering and all that; just to focus on sitting around in the room in our five positions rather than running around the room putting mics up and all that."

In the end the band brought in veteran producer Rob Schnapfwho's worked with everyone from Elliott Smith to Beck to Islandsand decamped to Woodstock, NY for a month to begin work on what eventually became Shame, Shame (due out April 6 on ANTI-).

The choice of Schnapf, McMicken says, was less about the records he's helmed than the overall vibe of the person they'd be spending so much time working with. After meeting with multiple producers, the band determined that they weren't looking for "somebody who could conceptually make us sound a certain way; it was more about somebody who could be around and lend their experience and be open to collaborating with us."

The New York sessions "didn't go as far as people had hoped," but were still salvageable, says McMicken, and after their month in New York the band returned to their studio in Philadelphia's hipster enclave of Fishtown to finish things on their own.

"Our albums sound the way they do on purpose," McMicken adds, pointing out that collaborating with a professional producer meant working at a different pace and in a different style than anyone in the group was used to.

"We've always used the studio as a place to come up with ideas, rather than go in there with ideas and capture them. But that's what we wanted to do and that's what we were hoping for, and therein lies one of the growing pains. We didn't exactly know how to feel in there, but I don't know how he felt about our approach either. It just took a lot more effort than we had hoped to get both parties to understand each other's needs in the studio."

Some of the conflict came down to simple things, such as agreeing on the right drum sounds, says McMicken, but the bigger picture was that "it wasn't our studio and we weren't encouraged to manipulate the sounds a whole bunch. So as soon as we were able to do that it was a little bit easier to make it sound like what we were going for."

In the end about 70 percent of everything the group recorded in Woodstock wound up on the record in some form, and the resulting disc is their most emotionally direct to date, the singer/guitarist says. The title track, "Shame, Shame," encapsulates the record, he says, which comprises "a lot of different characters grappling with the larger scheme of self worth and happiness."

Though the great production experiment didn't fully work out, McMicken says the band has no regrets. "I do think it's a better record than it would've been if we'd done it all by ourselves in our studio, and I think it's a better record than if we'd done it all up in New York."

www.drdogmusic.com



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steff
March 6th 2010
2:51pm

i cannot wait for this album…

Alec
March 19th 2010
12:37pm

SHAME SHAME!!!
Can not wait!