Meric Long of The Dodos Talks Neko Case, SXSW and More

Festival season is a great time to be a music fan in Phoenix. With South by Southwest and Coachella both right around the corner, tons of great bands will be passing through Arizona on their way east or west across our state. You can add The Dodos to this list of bands making a stop in town on their way to SXSW.

The San Francisco duo will be releasing their fourth album, No Color, on March 15th. The groups latest record moves at a little faster pace than the previous album, Time to Die, which will probably be good news for long time fans. For the new record the group also brought in Neko Case to sing backing vocals on a few tracks.

Up on the Sun recently caught up with The Dodos' Meric Long to talk about recording the album, working with Neko Case and their plans for SXSW.  You can catch The Dodos when they perform on Sunday, March 13th at The Duce in Phoenix along with The Mumlers.

Up on the Sun: How are things going getting ready for the tour?

Meric Long: Everything is good, man. Just getting ready for the big tour, leaving on Thursday. Rehearsing, figuring out how to play these new songs live but it's going pretty good.

UOTS: Is there any added pressure when you're playing songs live for the first time?

ML: There's a sense of being out of your comfort zone, which I think that's the only real pressure but I don't feel any pressure from outside sources. People don't know the songs as well, there's not as much pressure to perform them to a tee. It's more of just not wanting to crawl back into your comfort zone. It takes a little bit of courage to stick to with the program.

UOTS: Listening to the new record, No Color, it seems like there is a lot more energy compared to the last one, Time To Die. Is that something you guys tried to do intentionally?

ML: We definitely had the intention to slam the pace more in terms of just our approach and the sound of the songs and how we wanted them to come across. Me and Logan have always thought of ourselves as an energetic band and the focal point that we both share in terms of playing music with each other is being hyper and putting a lot of energy into it. That was one of things that we wanted to come across on the record, almost to the point where we weren't concerned with making a pretty record, we were more concerned with making a heavy record.

UOTS: It's seems like the drums on this record are a lot more noticeable. Was that part of your attempt to make a heavier record?

ML: The drums have always been a big part of the band. We give equal attention to the drums as much as the guitar, as much as the vocals. I think we tried to find a balance between the drums and everything else, but turning up the drums is a really quick shortcut to making things seem heavier and more energetic.

UOTS: For this record you worked with Neko Case. How did you guys end up working with her on the new album?

ML: We toured with her band the New Pornographers over the summer and at the end of the tour I was considering just saying goodbye and we were like, 'well what are you doing the next few months?' We're recording, she was available, so we're just like you wanna come record and she said sure. So, it was pretty casual, it wasn't one of those things you bank on happening, it was kind of surreal.

UOTS: What was your experience like working with her?

ML: She came in for two days, it wasn't even that much time, it was a few hours for two days. I sent her the songs a few days before that, there were a few that I had in mind that I felt that she would sound great on. She came in and she just started singing and trying stuff. You never know how those things are going to go down, a whole new person coming into the studio, a short amount of time, it can go a lot of ways but in this case - pun intended - it went really well. I felt like we had a really magical moment in the studio when she was really giving it her best and working really hard for us.

UOTS: You guys are going to be playing SXSW this year. How would describe the SXSW experience?

ML: Well, it's been a few years since we've been. The last time we went it was a pretty insane time, but it was really great for us. Last time we went a lot of our career was started there and a lot of good things came out of it. It's one of those things, I've sort of lodged it in my brain, it's coming up, I'm not going to think about it and I'm not even going to think about what we're going to do. It's kind of like you just go there and you just do it and you go through it and you bust your ass. At the end of the week you're probably going to get sick, you're probably going to feel like a half-human but you can't really think about it too much. I can't at least. I got our schedule for the week and it's pretty daunting; a lot of running around, a lot of shows. But I'm actually really excited for it because it's been a while and I've had enough time to wipe the slate clean of my past memories and just come into it excited to basically ruin my body and hopefully see some amazing music.

UOTS: Are there any band in particular that you're looking forward to seeing?

ML: I honestly don't know what's going to be there. I know from past experiences that you can't plan ahead too much, especially when you have your own schedule to run around to. It's one of those things where I will probably see an amazing band that I've wanted to see for years and never had a chance to, but it'll just happen in passing and totally unexpectedly.

UOTS: You guys have the new record coming out next week and a tour ahead of you, do you have anything else planned after that?

ML: No, we have a new lineup for this tour, the band definitely has a new kind of approach. We're going to have our hands full for a while so we're just going to focus on that. We'll see what happens after that.

UOTS: Are you guys touring as a duo or are you bringing someone else along for the tour?

ML: We are going to have a touring member, a third guy, he's going to be playing electric guitar. So it's going to be two electric and drum, which is new for me, I've only played acoustic guitar in the past and this time around it's going to be a double dose of electric. It should be very different. I'm very excited to see how our new fans adapt to the new setup.

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Mike Escoto