Dr. Dog: Gettin' To That Thing

 
I couldn't define for you what it is I like about ANYTHING. It's just that intangible thing, the realization that there's a life behind this thing and this is evidence of one human being's needs. That exists in everything from the most wildly abstract art to Top 40 stuff. Even outside the realm of art, you walk into someone's house and see how they organize objects. Or it's in the shoes somebody chooses to put on or the dirt stains around the light switch – just evidence of something going on, something real.

-Scott McMicken

 

"I would feel like an asshole if we were doing anything other than that! It feels awful to go into the making of anything with really strong, demanding expectations about your experience with it," says McMicken. "It's a function of our lives, it's a process we're involved with, so personally and on a purely selfish level it needs to be fulfilling. It needs to feel good. Beyond that, if I were to stop and think about what I hope people get out of it, this is just a thing a bunch of dudes like to get together and do, and it does mean something to them. I say that because from my standpoint, looking at art or listening to music, I really have no parameters on what it is I like. I couldn't define for you what it is I like about ANYTHING. It's just that intangible thing, the realization that there's a life behind this thing and this is evidence of one human being's needs. That exists in everything from the most wildly abstract art to Top 40 stuff. Even outside the realm of art, you walk into someone's house and see how they organize objects. Or it's in the shoes somebody chooses to put on or the dirt stains around the light switch – just evidence of something going on, something real."

Dr. Dog
"It's very easy to see, especially in the context of art in popular culture, that there's a lot of illusions and puffed-up chests. That's fine because at the end of the day that serves some function for people, too. If I had to go on trial about it I'd say it's a destructive element and an exploitation of people's fears and weaknesses. But, I know I'm subject to the same things so I don't feel especially judgmental saying that," McMicken continues. "Again, the fate notion comes in as a pretty relevant tool for looking at this. When the fate thing with this record trickled in as an album title – which we tend to establish early in recording – I had no objection to it but it challenged me. It's this notion that's so real but also so romantic, and because I was considering that I opened myself up to it. When you open yourself up to a certain idea it finds you."

So much so that McMicken has recorded a "way, way more personal" solo album since Fate entitled It.

"It was this cathartic thing for me. I'd built up so much muck and so much obstruction to my sense of self-worth," says McMicken. "Literally in one night, I did a 180 on seemingly the most incidental circumstances. With this new perspective I could dig into things that I was struggling with but with a much clearer lens, a much more harmonious sense of what they meant in my life. I hung onto that feeling long enough to crank out eight or nine tunes, singing 'em all into my four-track in my room. The reason it's called It is one of the songs talks about the saying, 'It's all in how you look at it.' Then all the verses are this laying out of things – 'It's cursed. It's praise.' ending in the refrain of 'It's all in how you look at it.' These things are gonna come and go. You can't control them but you have the power of perception."

"Fate" is a power word. Like "God" or "Soul," it vibrates with associations despite its one syllable brevity. Only its construction is perfectly simple; its meaning is fluid and open to interpretation. Naming one's album Fate almost tempts it in some ways.

"Now that it's said and done, I think we tempted it for sure [laughs]. It's a living, breathing beast in my life, and I started to see everything in these terms. But, it's by no means a dogmatic thing. I've come to feel about fate that it's this constant duality, this constant balance between realizing life is both within your control and not in your control," says McMicken. "There's simple ways of applying that to your understanding. It's like, 'Here I am today and there's obviously nothing I can do about that.' So, a reconciliation of your own personal history and the choices you've made is absolutely necessary. You can't resist those things. All you can do is use them as these tools to measure the value of life and the mistakes or the right moves you've made. If you're interested in being a happy person, if you're interested in growing and staying on top of things, you can't carry around this baggage. You have to step up and take responsibility for what's gotten you where you are AND realize that the future lies ahead of you. From this stronger vantage point you can move in that direction with more security but also realizing these elements are going to keep popping up, coming and going over time, and you're going to make mistakes and not know what to do."

Dr. Dog is on tour now, dates available here.

Check out exclusive interviews, live footage and more with Dr. Dog on JamBaseTV here!

JamBase | Closer And Closer
Go See Live Music!

http://www.drdogmusic.com/

[Published on: 7/24/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!


You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



 
 

Comments

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/24/2008 06:32PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

This group is bad ass! Nice article too.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Fri 7/25/2008 04:16AM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Ointment starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 04:47AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Ointment

These guys are the shit. 'Where We Belong' is a kick ass album, and words can't even explain how great this new one is. I highly, highly suggest everyone pick up this new album, and see these guys live next chance you get. Also, that was a very deep, insightful article. I like it! Keep up the good work Dennis.

dspaseman Fri 7/25/2008 05:35AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

dspaseman

I heard of these guys about a year ago - never had a listen though...the new cd is GREAT. Instantly loved it.

NICU1985 Fri 7/25/2008 06:22AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

NICU1985

G-Love and Dr. Dog! The week of philly love fo sho. But I digress, Dr. Dog is an excellent band with alot of good things goin on. A sound all music lovers can appreciate and get down to. Nicely written piece as well, keep up the good journalism jam base...cheers.

Smittea starstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 06:55AM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
GratefulHokie starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 06:58AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

GratefulHokie

Great band doing GREAT things...seen them a bunch now from little places like NYC's Bowery Ballroom to Mountain Jam IV (where they didn't exactly...fit in but played very well).

@Baum - the breakthrough album for them was called "We All Belong" and still ranks up there as one of my favs. FATE though, IMO, is their best work to date. Had tix to see them at Bowery again this week...which got pushed back to August :( Hope to see the Dr. soon!

jimmy row Fri 7/25/2008 08:09AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Easy Beat is great. Gotta go pick this one up

phanatic2 starstarstarstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 08:53AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Fate is one of the best CDs of the year and Dog is selling out shows all over the place. Take the negativity aside and try giving the entire catalog of the band a listen and if you have appreication for good organic music with premium songcraft and you may change your stance on where all the hype is coming from. if not, oh well, maybe its not for you,...but it is for alot of other people.

Smittea starstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 09:10AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
HoodooVoodoo starstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 09:58AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
HoodooVoodoo starstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 10:04AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

HoodooVoodoo

These guys kinda sound like the bastard child of Flaming Lips and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Smittea starstarstar Fri 7/25/2008 10:06AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

^ Bingo HoodooVoodoo. I have tentative plans to go and see them in September on the night of my birthday... that should illustrate my willingness to have an open mind about the band. I am by no means trashing these guys. I've listened to their music... it seems pretty good. I just don't get the hype. Looks like your lack understanding of their popularity has also elicited a negative rating from some of our friendly neighborhood bulletin board trolls. Talk about VERY shallow attempts at censorship.

snappy Fri 7/25/2008 10:53AM
+8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

snappy

Question I guess is define "hype"? Getting more popular, having their work heard & appreciated by more people, is what every band wants, whether they admit it or not. Dr. Dog has been an active group for 7 years so it's not like they just appeared out of nowhere. Some of us having been chronicling their evolution for years and, not unlike what's happened with My Morning Jacket in the past few years, more people in press and elsewhere are starting to notice Dr. Dog. I don't see the hype in that. If they had one album and were formed two minutes ago I'd possibly agree. However, I can see not feeling as much passion or pleasure in what they do as others. That's just one's personal taste. Clearly, some folks really dig 'em, some folks not as much. That's life.

tDB and Gravy starstarstarstarstar Sat 7/26/2008 06:23PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

tDB and Gravy

This fabulous band just made another fabulous album. Cheers to Dr. Dog!

Mightyquinn starstarstar Sun 7/27/2008 09:45AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great band. Article is toooo much though. Trim back the 1500 words of fat, and try to present an actual story or some aspect of the band. Scott says some great things there - you don't need to bury his words in a heap of factual history.

rainydaywomen420 starstarstarstar Sun 7/27/2008 01:18PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

rainydaywomen420

im glad to see this band start to gain a little recognition. I just bought their new album the other day and its good but i dont think they could ever top easy beat.

FreeHawk Sun 7/27/2008 04:48PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

FreeHawk

a highly enjoyable band to see live.

hardingmr starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/28/2008 10:07AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"It's the kind of album you like right away but find you're madly in love with after a few dates. By your first road trip alone you'll be ready to slip a ring on its finger."

Wow! I don't think I could put it better myself. Picked the disc up right before a solo road trip this past weekend. First listen I liked it but wasn't sure if it could hold it's own with the past discs. By the time I was on my 3rd listen I felt like I was listening to some old classic that I hadn't heard in years, but yet still knew all the songs like the back of my hand. Great new album by a great band.

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Mon 7/28/2008 05:20PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

Yeah, their new disc is great! I'd put it up there with the best of the year so far.

bluefox starstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 10:54AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bluefox

I picked up the new record thanks largely to all the hype and damn if it isn't real good! Bastard child of the Beach Boys, Beatles and the Band I'd say is more accurate (and I like Flaming Lips and to a lesser extent Neutral Milk Hotel as well.)

Woody starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/5/2008 11:52AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Woody

I bought fate last night, and man, it is my favortite album of the year over night. Great lyrics and hooks as well a good cohesive sound. Article is well informed also. But FYI: Paul played the drums on Back in the USSR

quarble starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/13/2008 11:57AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Awesome article about an awesome band, although I gather that Scott makes it pretty easy. That man is full of grand and lofty ideas. Thought you might like to know that the second guitarist's name is Frank McElroy. I know this because I shook his hand and he said "Hi, I'm Frank," and I think we should believe him. Where do people get all this stuff about a Sukey?

See them live, if you can. They are beyond fantastic, and very friendly.

moemoe6434 starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/13/2008 06:08PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Just saw them a week ago and i think they are great live! Even better than the album! http://www.moemoephoto.com/index.php?p=40

spiderdonkey starstarstar Sun 8/24/2008 12:32PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

spiderdonkey

Article is okay at best. The band on the other hand is a remarkable joy to hear both on cd and live. I've heard more than half of their songs form the new album but until I hear Fate multiple times I cant make a judgement as to whether it is better than We All Belong or Easy Beat. Personally, I still love Easy Beat the best. On a side note I saw them perform a free concert in Philly the week that the new album came out and they played a lot from it. Now I've seen Dr. Dog live more times than I have fingers to count on because I'm from Philly, but when I saw them most recently I was not blown away by they set, free though it was! Hopefully when I see them in a couple months they will play a better set.