Dopapod is a four piece improvisational act out of Boston, MA that, “falls somewhere between funk, electronic, soul, jam and prog. Genre listing misses the point though – a Dopapod concert is a euphoric feeling that’s meant to be experienced on the dance floor.” Come out to the Tralf Thursday night (2/26), kick off the weekend early and join the dance party.
Read on to see what keyboard and vocalist Eli Winderman has to say about the formation of the band, their latest album, and the joys of “festival life.”
I know you’re not that old as a group, but can you talk about the early years?
Well, the band was originally formed in 2007 as a duo featuring myself and the current drummer for Turkuaz. We toured like that for a year or two before making several line up changes. We went from a duo to a trio to a quintet before finally landing and sticking with a quartet. When we first started we played a lot of house parties and ‘renegade’ sets at festivals. We really were developed from playing parties and just catering to that environment. We started in Boston so we all played a lot of other gigs around town while living there. Most of us attended Berklee College of Music as well.
How did the band form?
I met Chuck while at a Berklee summer program when we were in High School. So when we both ended up returning to Berklee for college, we decided to start a band together. I met Rob because we were in the same ‘Reggae-Dub’ ensemble at Berklee. The band really just formed so we could play gigs and house parties for fun.
Were you guys “all in” from the very beginning?
We were all kind of “band-whores” in the beginning. It was just one of the projects we played with. It became more serious in about 2010. That’s when we got our first booking agent. I’d say we became “All-in” in 2011.
Who are some of the biggest musical influences of the band / members?
We have a pretty extensive palette of influences. We all love funk and dance music in general. I grew up on jazz and funk along with heavy rock. There’s definitely a fair share of heavy rock and progressive rock in our sound as well. I loved seeing Soulive/Lettuce, MMW. Rob was a Phish/Allman Bros kind of guy. Chuck grew up on Primus and heavy rock/punk. Scotty is like a musical encyclopedia that and kind of loves everything. He was a big Disco Biscuits fan though, and used to travel with them/work for them.
You guys recently released a new album, “Never Odd or Even,” can you talk a little bit about the process of recording?
We had an incredible time recording the new album. We did it with our good friend Jason ‘Jocko’ Randall at More Sound studios in Syracuse NY. He was such a pleasure to work with. We basically lived at the studio for about a month during the recording process and it was such a relaxing and creative time for us. Jocko is really good at setting the vibe and keeping it positive. He has a great sense of music and really added his ideas in a very positive way. We’re all very proud of how it turned out.
Being known more for your live shows, do you like going into the studio? How does it differ from band practice / rehearsal / live?
We love being in the studio. It’s definitely a different beast. We’ve learned a lot from making all of our records. There’s a different approach you need to take to be successful. Really being mindful of tempos’ and song form is very important. The studio is just fun because you can really get every part perfect or as close to perfect as anything can be with how much time you have to use. Playing live is more about the energy overall. Rehearsal we focus on getting the arrangement right, and just nit picking parts in general. Once we’re in the studio it’s more about sounds and getting the right takes.
Are there any cool toys in studio that you might not use during your live shows?
We’ve used acoustic guitars and some soft synths that we wouldn’t use live. As well as using different amps to get different sounds.
You guys have played quite a few festivals, over the years, can you describe the vibe going on at a festival? Are you hanging with other musicians, collaborating backstage? Onstage?
We love festivals just for that reason. Collaborating and hanging out with artists is probably our favorite part of festivals. It’s like hanging out at a conference or something. Everybody is there from all the different bands. It’s a fun environment for the artists. We love doing sit-ins, it’s one of the cool parts of the jam scene. Taking chances and risks on stage in front of people.
Are there challenges of playing festivals? Do you change anything that you would normally do?
Sometimes you have to be more mindful of the set list because the sets tend to be a bit shorter. The crowds are usually much larger than club plays as well, so we try to play our best stuff to try and make as many new fans as possible. But that’s just sometimes.. other times we just play whatever we feel like playing. That’s most times really.
You guys are playing Bonnaroo this year, have you played there before? What are you expectations?
We’re incredibly excited to play Bonnaroo this year. We played renegade sets there in 2011. We played a set every day and night of the festival. Our biggest set was after the last band on Sunday. We played for a HUGE crowd. It was one of our biggest shows at that time. We made a lot of fans that day, so now that we’re actually on the bill for the festival, we’re very very honored.
What has been the most memorable festival experience so far?
There have been so many memorable festival experiences so I’ll just say one of the cool ones. Last year at Peach Music Festival we played after George Clinton and P-Funk. We shared the same green room area and that was just plain surreal for us.
What is your favorite thing about being on the road?
My favorite thing about the road is getting really tight with the band and playing good shows. Also, seeing all the different parts of the country at different times of year is interesting. I love all the different cultures that exist throughout the country, especially all the different amazing food there is to eat.
What is your favorite thing about getting home from tour?
Eating Chinese food and going to sleep.
What can we expect out of Dopapod in 2015?
Lots of new songs and unexpected surprises. We finally have a place to rehearse now so we plan on getting lots of cool things together for this year.