Dogleg's Bassist Challenges You to a Super Smash Brothers Game

Dogleg: all ninja battles, zero convoluted plot arcs.
Dogleg: all ninja battles, zero convoluted plot arcs. Kris Herrmann
One word immediately comes to mind while listening to Dogleg: energy.

Listening to “Fox,” the single for their upcoming Triple Crown debut record, one is struck by the kineticism of the music: the massed shouts, the pounding rhythms, guitars frantic to fill up every empty space with sound. It all combines to hit the listener with the overwhelming force of an anime energy blast. Dogleg’s music is Super Saiyan (that's a Dragon Ball Z reference, guys) pop-punk.

But talking to Dogleg members Alex Stoitsiadis (guitars/vocals) and Chase Macinski (bass/vocals) over the phone, the Michigan-based musicians suggest a different anime to rep their band’s vibe. "We would be all of the good fight scenes from Naruto," Mackisnki says. "None of the bad story writing."

Formed in 2015 in Detroit, the band that would grow into the quartet of Stoitsiadis, Macinski, Parker Grissom (guitar), and Jacob Hanlon (drums) started as a solo project.

“After a year of doing it solo, I recruited Chase and Parker to play,” Stoitsiadis says. “We’ve been more of a band than a solo project since then, writing together and everything.” Hanlon would later join the three-piece, freeing up Parker to hop on guitar and thicken the band’s sound with a twin-ax attack.

“Fox” is the band at their most feral. Voices and riffs careen around for its three minutes like a Blues Brothers police car pileup. But one can hear the band’s exuberant energy all over their 2015 self-titled EP and 2016’s Remember Alderaan. Weaving together elements of emo, D.C. hardcore, and dance-punk, Dogleg’s songs have an ADD-ish quality to them. They just can’t sit still for long.

While the band are quick to cite seminal post-hardcore groups like At The Drive-In as influences, they also draw inspiration from more melodic indie-rock bands.

“Tokyo Police Club is probably not a band people would expect most of us to love, but their first EP, A Lesson in Crime, is a huge influence for us,” Mackinski says. “We like to throw on all those old 2000s indie bands — just the very basic chords type of stuff,” Stoitsiadis adds.

Dogleg's sound may have aggro volume levels, but their songs are open-hearted and communal, and often leavened with bits of nerdy humor, as in the song “Prince Is Little.”

“Parker came up with that one,” Stoitsiadis says. “He was like, ‘I like the story The Little Prince, but what if the little prince was Prince the artist?”

The band have also gained some geeky notoriety for Mackinski’s open-to-all-challengers Super Smash Brothers competition. Taking his console on the road, Mackinski has offered up free Dogleg merch to anyone who can beat him in a post-show head-to-head game.

“I still haven’t been beaten, if you’re curious,” Macinski says.

“Yeah, he’s never lost,” Stoitsiadis chimes in. “He’s played, like, hundreds and hundreds of people.”

With a debut LP around the corner, a long tour ahead of them, and next-big-punk-band buzz building them up, Dogleg are looking like they’re on the verge of growing from being indie rock Saint Bernards into full-on Clifford the Big Red Dogs.

But for reigning Smash champ Mackinski, the band’s growing profile comes with one potential downside.

“As we get bigger, it’s kind of scary because the Smash community and the music community has some very minor overlap,” Mackinski says. “It’s so small that we have to either be a way bigger band or I have to become a more famous Smash player for those better quality, higher-skilled players to come out to our shows. Right now, I won’t lose to someone unless I know who they are.”

Dogleg are scheduled to perform on Wednesday, January 22, at The Rebel Lounge. Tickets are $8 to $10 via Eventbrite.
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Ashley Naftule