The Dodos

Clearly Not Extinct

Apr 01, 2008 Spring 2008 - Flight of the Conchords Bookmark and Share


Meric Long and Logan Kroeber are The Dodos. If you didn’t know this heading into a listen of their excellent second record, Visiter, you might be shocked. Vocalist/guitarist Long and drummer Kroeber kick a pretty large sound for just two guys, with Long’s deadpan, folksy vocals juxtaposed with a highly rhythmic base. The San Francisco-based band returned to Portland’s Type Foundry studios for the followup to their 2006 debut, Beware of the Maniacs. Long clearly regards this as a wise decision.

“Type Foundry has such a special ambiance to it,” explains Long, “from the way the large industrial room sounds to the plethora of random instruments lying around. As opposed to some other studios I’ve been in, the place feels alive and noisy like it’s breathing. We really wanted to make the record sound almost live, but have the guitar and drums and vocals be really present and full. Then Logan and I would lay down whatever else we could think of or try to play [whatever] happened to be there, like piano, banjo, junk. Because we had done our first record at Type Foundry as well, we went into this record having a clear idea of what we could do in that space.”

Originally a solo outlet for Long, The Dodos now incorporate an impressively wide range of sounds and influences. They are, at various times, reminiscent of any number of freak- folk acts, but also exhibit a gentler touch that evokes more folk than freak. The one constant is the presence of a world music feel, as Long’s forays into the study of West African Ewe drumming seem to inform the rhythm-heavy feel of Visiter tracks such as “Fools” and “Ashley.”

“I wanted to learn about West African drumming for a paper I was doing on the history of western popular music,” says Long. “A friend of mine hooked me up with a drummer who taught Ewe at CalArts in Southern California….A lot of my rhythmic ideas still are informed by what I learned back then. All the parts compliment each other so well in Ewe drumming, so that alone they sound like the simplest thing but when matched with the other parts it’s totally complex and mind-boggling.”

While The Dodos have a fully developed sound, their album artwork remains a little lagging (albeit in an intentional manner). Visiter’s seemingly primitive artwork and misspelled title come courtesy of a trip to Southern California.

“My co-worker’s sister teaches special [education] at a high school in south central Los Angeles,” clarifies Long. “She asked us to come [and] play for her class. After we played, the kids made drawings and gave them to us. One of the kids named Kenneth made a drawing that was sort of a replica of the visitor badges we were wearing. The drawing caught my attention and it seemed to fit with the nature of the songs.”

As the duo embarks on a lengthy spring tour, the nature of the Visiter’s songs is sure to garner plenty of attention. These Visiters bring along a fascinating array of sounds and influences, indicating that The Dodos will be granted plenty more time to conquer natural selection.



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