Dogleg’s Remember Alderaan was a clear favourite when it was released back in 2016. Last summer the buzz about a full length album started and the band hinted om social media that something was in the works for the fall. Well, Autumn came and went and now we’re well into the winter but still nothing. We were getting itchy and decided to check in with the band to see what the hold up was all about, yeah that and just have a chat about the awesomeness of the Ann Arbor music scene, nerd culture and life in general as an up and coming band.
“Over the summer [of 2018] we’d been spending most of the time actually doing all the recording for the album because we recorded it ourselves.” Alex Stoitsiadis, guitarist and lead singer of the band, explains to us, all the while chuckling a bit over our insinuated accusation of promises being broken. He continues, “We used ours and our friends’ microphones […] We did all of the production and everything ourselves and then we were going to mix it with Maurizio Borgna who mixed Clash of Rhinos’ debut album [Distal] and Fine Before You Came’s Ormai and Sfortuna and those are some albums that we really like production wise. It turns out, the mixes that he did, we weren’t really that happy with them.”
Chase Macinski, the band’s bassist, is quick to clarify. “Yeah and it’s not to discredit Maurizio’s work by any means. It was just that we didn’t agree… that the direction that we wanted the album to go was what he was creating. It was just a difference in direction. It wasn’t a difference in quality. We respect him very much and he even told us; ‘you all seem to have a very like keen eye and understanding of what you want to do. I really recommend that you try to tackle it yourself and see what you can accomplish’ “.
Alex tells us the band decided to try their hand at doing just that. They did an entire remix of the album together with Tyler Floyd who had helped their friends in Seaholme mix their I Thought It’d Be Funny EP. Eventually they achieved a result they are really happy with. Once they had 10 songs that sounded just the way they wanted, they started looking for prospective labels. Dogleg released their 2016 EP Remember Alderaan on Tom Brown’s Table Three Media whom they got in contact with through their friend Avery Springer of objectively awesome band Retirement Party. However that deal was mostly Tom offering to help them out a bit. Even so, Table Three Media is now defunct so that’s not really an option anyway. Shopping for labels does take some time and effort but it is now about to pay off in a big way.
“Right now we are fielding a couple of really big offers that we are really excited about. The final release is going to probably be mid summer [or even] late spring.[…] within the next week or two things might be signed. We’d love to say exactly what is going on but right now we are kind of keeping it …we’re keeping it a secret because it’s very exciting and very important and just because nothing has been signed yet we can’t really say but as a teaser; we’re really happy about what is going to happen.” Alex explains, perfectly radiating with excitement and all but grinning from ear to ear.
Well as awesome as this news is, the meat and bones is always going to be the music. Songwriting for Dogleg is more a collaborative effort nowadays. Everyone is in the same room figuring it out together. “The song [writing] process usually starts with a riff. Most of the time it will be Alex bringing something to the table […] and I’ll pick one and be like that one is really cool, let’s take this and make it into a song”, Chase explains. Then the band works on it, coming up with a rough outline first and then just all hammering away at it together, stacking on top of that little piece they started with until they all agree there is a song there with that magical feel. Well …for the instrumental part at least. “It’s always like, alright we have a song, done! Now let’s add vocals.” Chase continues chuckling to himself. Alex elaborates some: “Usually the vocals are more like this stream of consciousness and I will just be saying whatever I’m feeling like saying. Sometimes it’s not even English. […] At the end I’ll try to remember what it is and just try to write it into a coherent phrase. […] Like this can mean this word I guess.” It wasn’t always like this though. Dogleg started out as Alex’s passion project so the older songs are more or less just his own creations.
The band was formed in 2016. After a brief period as a solo project, a band had to be assembled. First from people Alex knew from college but in order to be able to rehearse in summers when his college buddies went back home to other states, he reached out to his friends Chase Macinski and Parker Grissom (Drums) both of whom he went to music school with back in Rochester. “Once we all started playing together it was like we were on exactly the same page about every single musical idea that we had. […] Ideas was just flowing out of us really quickly and really fluidly and we was just really happy with what was coming.” Alex tells us.
First they just played locally around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti but also in different places around Michigan like in nearby Kalamazoo. As their network of contacts grew they started to get gigs in neighbouring states. There’s no shortage of opportunities to play if you are willing to spend some time on the phone. Chase recalls “We could reach out to someone. […] and if they said ‘No, I can’t book you [then they would go] but here’s three other people that you should reach out to and might be able to help you out.’ So even if we hit a dead end we always had another door that opened up for us”. However, Ann Arbor and Ypsi has a really happening scene all of its own “It’s a very big, and vibrant and welcoming scene” Alex exclaims.
Getting to play SXSW would be a sure sign that you are doing something right with your gig bookings as it is about as grand a stage as you can ask for. Even though Dogleg didn’t play any of the stages with five digit headed crowds they still got to play right where it all was happening and they got home with the stories to match. Alex tells us, “When we played South by Southwest on 6th street in Austin, Texas, which is basically main street. It was at this open air bar and we were just playing. One of those Google cars, you know the cars that have the cameras on top that take the pictures for google maps. One of their drivers stopped, rolled down his window, and just started listening to us as we where playing. By the next song he is on stage and he is just dancing like crazy. It’s one of the funniest things. Then after the show he is like ‘I’ve never heard a band sounds as good as you guys in like 20 years. I can’t believe it!’ We were just shell shocked. It was so cool.”
Detroit is right there but somehow it wasn’t mentioned. We had to ask. “I would say the music scene in Detroit wasn’t really matching the sounds we were putting out. Especially because we found our roots in Ann Arbor. We felt a lot more comfortable finding identity in the scene there. Right now there is a scene building back up in Detroit though, with house shows and a lot more of the indie/punk type that we are sort of playing of right now but back when we were starting to get our feet in the water, Detroit wasn’t really where we were finding ourselves. We are hoping to find ourselves there in the future with how things are starting to build up with new venues and basements to play in.” Chase explains.
We are stuck on the other side of the Atlantic and can only make fanfic about what a show with Dogleg might be like. We naturally couldn’t let this golden opportunity to up our research game from social media stalking to first hand accounts pass us by. When asked to describe their shows Alex and Chase exclaims “Loud!” in unison. “Whenever I play live shows I try to think of my favourite Anime fights and that’s the energy that I try to put into the show itself and demonstrate myself” Chase continues. Alex sites At the Drive-In as the benchmark for what he wants his performances to be like “When you see them perform live you see that they leave a piece of themselves just on the stage like something is taken out of them and it’s like a gift to the crowd of just like how hard and how intense their performance [is], how emotional everything just gets when they just get up on stage and do things. I just want to try and emulate that when we perform and I think we do that as best we can.” Chase agrees “I think we do a damned good job at it too.”
There is more than one reason we love Dogleg so much. Of course there is the music that is just phenomenal but then Chase goes ahead and claims he is trying to channel his favourite anime fights and in our stalking we have come across evidence there are old console gaming going on with the fans in the merch booth. Heck, their debut EP references Alderaan! How was there ever any chance we wouldn’t love this band! “I’m a big nerd” Chase explains, “I really love playing competitive Super Smash Bros and I watch a lot of anime and [those are] my only two hobbies outside of Dogleg. […] Sometimes I’ll bring a GameCube or I’ll bring my laptop with an emulator to the show and I challenge people. I’ll say if you can beat me in Super Smash Bros I’ll give you any of our merch for free or I’ll buy you another bands merch if you want me to.” Parker points out, “He’s never lost, not once”. Chase adds “People love it because everyone plays but they don’t play like I do”.
Of Course there are also musical influences. No man is an Island and all members of Dogleg are quick to profess their love for fellow Michigan band Bear vs Shark. In Fact the name Dogleg is taken from the last track of their debut album. Parker explains, “I’d say that the one band that definitely brings us together is Bear vs Shark. That’s how we all came together. We are all huge fans of them. I personally think I have the most like pop taste of the band. I really love the band 1975. The only tattoo I have is their logo. I’ve always liked punkier stuff [in] middle school and High school but I definitely calmed down later. We [as a band] listen to a lot of MF Doom I think […] Madvillain stuff like that. We have a huge tour playlist that is like every genre you can think of.” Alex continues, “Whenever we are driving around we just listen to that. It’s a huge wide range of songs we all love. It’s never just one genre. It’s always a bunch of different ones and I think subconsciously it all just melds into this one sound that is an idea that we have in our heads of what we want to sound like.”
Being in a band though is a bit of a social experiment. From listening to Dogleg talk about things there would seem to be very little friction within the band. We did ask what they do fight about in the band but they digress, all of the guys agree, the other two are the ones they’d go to war with. “I’d take a bullet for them” Chase insists and Parker is adamant “I’d play drums in a band for them, I love them so much”.
We think that’s as good a point as any to leave the guys in Dogleg on. Well almost. Before we hung up, and we want to make a habit out of this for our interviews, we offered them the chance to challenge us for our regular articles. “I got one!” Chase exclaims, ”A Tune That you shotgun a beer to”. This will by far be our most physical challenge yet but we are not ones to bow out. Soon as we are done with our current challenge we will have to start the meticulous lab work and testing needed to accurately discern the correct answer for this one. Actually after a short moment of thinking Alex came up with one more challenge that was really good but we’ll save that one for later.
We honestly can’t wait ’til we get to hear some new material and seriously you guys, get your asses over here and play some shows. We heard that you have it just as cold as we do now so no excuses!