Tell me about the American Apathy tour, man.
It started October 7 in Minneapolis with Ministry and Thrill Kill Kult. That was our first date out. That was a good way to kick it off. We’ll be on the road until December 21, I think. It’s 11 weeks. We’ll come in for the holidays and then who knows. I’m sure halfway through the tour we’ll start figuring out what’s in store for next year. We’ll probably be right back out in January. That’s what we do, ya know?
How are you treating the new material on this tour?
I think we’re gonna do quite a few. The new album’s pretty much done now. I think a lot of the thought process for this record is really writing one we’d like to play all of it live, or at least the majority of it. I think we’re gonna play several new songs. We’ll probably interchange different ones throughout different dates to fell the vibe of the new stuff.
How long is your set this time out?
We usually do about an hour. Maybe we’ll go a little longer this time around, just depending on night to night. We’re on our fourth record at this point. We gotta play the new material but we still gotta play the older material. It could make for a long one.
It must be nice to have enough material to know you could play for a while if you wanted to.
Sure. It’s crazy. You look around at each other on stage and think, “Wow! This is the fourth Dope record! Jeezus!” It’s good to know. This will be our fourth full length record and I’m sure number five is just right around the corner.
Some of the original plans for the American Apathy tour changed after Adema dropped off the bill. Was that a big hassle or was it pretty easy to recover from?
At the beginning it was just frustrating because we had to figure out what we were going to do. They were real lax about letting us know. They didn’t let us know until the last minute. We reached out to Motograter and let them know there was a chance for them to take Adema’s spot. That started exciting us because we know had a tour that was the same from the beginning to the end. We started thinking about other things we could do to make some of the shows even bigger. We made some calls and Powerman 5000 came on to do a couple of west coast shows and Mushroomhead for a couple of the mid-west shows. The tour just continues to grow. I’m also super psyched that all three bands on the bill have built their fanbases by touring. Motograter is a great live touring band and that’s the way a lot of people have found out about them. Twisted Method too, obviously. And that’s how we do our whole thing. I’m all about bands that entertain. I love Motograter’s show. Twisted Method is great. Powerman has always been an awesome live band. Mushroomhead, we all know what they do. It’s cool to know that every band that’s a part of the tour is a kickass live band.
When it comes to booking tours do you decide who you tour with or does somebody else help make those decisions?
It depends. If we’re going out supporting somebody else it’s just a matter of who’s available and who wants to take us out. In this particular case, Motograter was a band I’ve wanted to do some shows with for a long time. Twisted Method, we’ve got a killer relationship with them. I’m producing their next record. Those kids have been living at my house for weeks on end. They’re like my little brothers. Adema was actually something that was brought to us from the agent. I’m actually good friends with Kris Kohls, the drummer from that band. It’s such an irony that the situation that was brought from the business people was the one that fell apart. Everything else was just me calling somebody I know and saying, “Hey, do you wanna do this?” That seemed to work out. That’s the same thing with Mushroomhead and Powerman. I called ’em up and asked if they wanted to do a show. They said, “Hell yeah.”
I guess to take out people you know makes it cooler because you know you’ll probably have a pretty smooth run.
Sure. We’ve toured with just about everybody under the sun. We’ve honestly gotten along with just about everybody fantastically. We’ve got a lot of good relationships with people who dig what we do. We just got done doing some dates with Saliva a little while back. We’re always on tour, writing songs, and making records. What else are we supposed to do?
The new record will be out in February, right? Still the same record label?
Yeah, February or March. Last time we were under two labels and now we just have one. We’re solely on Artemis now. Artemis bought the independent label that was started for the last Dope record. The guy that funded the label just wasn’t quite sure of how the music business worked. He was making a bunch of bad business decisions because he was handling the money. Danny Goldberg at Artemis stepped in and bought him out so Danny could have control of the band so we could do this record with him and put it out right. We’re looking forward to a nice long campaign in going out and promoting this record. The last record we only put out a year ago and man – here we are with a new record.
The last record was one hell of a project, too. A video for every song…
Tell me about it!
What’s up with the new stuff? Is it something we’re going to expect or are there things that will surprise us a little?
We’re trying to make it a really long record. It’s going to be about 17 or 18 tracks. We’re gonna have some unreleased older stuff on there as some bonus tracks and maybe a live track or two. The new material that’s on the record, there’s 12 or 13. The biggest difference in this record and the past couple of records we’ve put out is it’s more of a record that’s put out to play live. Me and Virus strived to continue to stretch the boundaries of what Dope’s sound was to prove to ourselves and everybody else that we have the ability to be much more of a wide sounding band than I think most people expected. This record we sorta went back into the box a little and just worked on material that we thought would be kickass to go out there and play live in front of the kids and get the pit movin’. Not that the last couple of records haven’t been heavy but this record’s definitely geared toward playing live.
How long did it take to put the material together for the new record?
We kinda started right after we were done with the last one. We weren’t really sure when we were going to put out a record or what we were gonna do. We looked at each other and realized we had a whole record here. It usually takes us a while to where we feel like we have a body of work that we feel like is worthy of being called a new Dope album. It just all sounded right. We just felt like we had it. We put it in our mind that we wanted to put it out as soon as possible. If we’re gonna go out there and keep touring why not put out another record to give us that many more songs to play. The fans that we were talking to were asking us about a new record. It just kinda came to be. We’re real happy with where this one’s going. It’s more in the box of the typical Dope sound than the last couple of records. It’s a little more “in your face” and just gets right down to business.
So is the record completely finished or do you need to finish some stuff up?
It’s technically finished. Since I don’t have to hand it in for a little while we’re still messing with stuff. We’re looking for some cool stuff to throw on that you wouldn’t expect to have as a bonus track. There’s a couple of more songs that have to get mixed still, but for the most part the record’s finished. Who knows? I could turn on the computer and sit back with my band and we might have another track for the record. If the inspiration is there who in the hell knows what’s going to happen. We’re happy with it the way it is. We’re psyched and it’s killer.
How involved are you in the art direction and the packaging?
I’m kinda crazy man. I’ve got my hands in all of it. I work along with the guy that does our website just to make sure that the record looks the way we want it to look. I think it’s gonna be good. That’s a big part of what this band does. We try to present a package that’s kinda like the lifestyle of what Dope is. Obviously people are into this band because of the music we make but, unlike most bands, there is a lifestyle that goes along with it. You can tell a Dope fan when you look at ’em. There’s Dope Kids out there, man. We put our heart and soul into what we do and I think that’s why we’re still around. There’s a lot of bands that keep dropping like flies. It’s a lot to say that we’re still around after four albums and being on an independent label. We didn’t have a single that sold us a million records. This is a band that’s continued to stick around based on our ability to have fans that have really clung to what we do. The lifestyle and the music and the whole attitude of the band…The two middle fingers in the air don’t hurt! I’m thankful that we’ve been able to survive be the band that doesn’t need that song on the radio to still be around.
What do you think about the music biz these days?
I think when I first got into it I had no idea what radio was about because I don’t listen to radio. I didn’t realize how much emphasis was put on that by record companies. It was a whole new thing to me. The business changes so fast in what they think is gonna work. Everybody has their own opinion on what’s hurting the business and honestly I don’t even pay attention to that crap anymore. Nobody has a crystal ball and nobody has the answer. The only think I do know for sure is that you’ve got to make the best record you can and stay true in what you feel and put your best foot forward. In order for you to be a huge band and sell a million records you have to be a little bit lucky. The stars have to line up for you and the right people are going to have to push you out there and spend millions of dollars to make those things happen. It’s a business just like anything else. If there was a surefire formula for success, believe me, someone would have it and everything they did would be successful. There’s not a record company or a…what’s the word I’m looking for? A suit wearing motherfucker! There’s not a record company or a suit wearing motherfucker out there that has a perfect track record. It’s just a matter of doing what you have to do. I really don’t care about trying to keep up with that kinda shit anymore. Music is so much less important to people that it was six or seven years ago because there’s just so many more things out there that are just more dimensional. You’ve got the internet which gives you something to look at while you’re listening to music. You’ve got video games. Whatever it is, you’ve got more grabbing at people and the attention spans are so much shorter. The music business just doesn’t generate the kind of money it used to anymore. It makes the investors that much more cautious and unwilling to work with acts for long lengths of time without seeing a huge return.
Whaddya wanna say to the readers and the Dope fans out there?
Do what’s right for you man. I love Rock Confidential, man. I dig the fact that you guys are into all aspects of everything. There’s music, there’s chicks, it’s a pretty sick place. I’m glad people hang out there. I’ve said it all before, man. Go to the shows. If you like entertaining rock shows that bring it then you’ll like this tour. If you want to stand there and watch four guys that look like they just finished working on their car, don’t come to this tour. You won’t get what you want. It will be loud, too. I can guarantee that!