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An interview with the dopest

Dope Body

Interviewed by Chris Auman

Published August 24, 2012

Baltimore band Dope Body

YO! Don't call 'em Bro Rock! Actually go ahead and call 'em Bro Rock, or Dude Rock, or whatever. Dope Body don't care. Just give 'em a nice basement full of sweat and stink and let 'em work it out. (I think that should suffice as an introduction). So, Ladies and Gentlemen Rockers, from the great city of Baltimore Maryland, a.k.a. Charm City, a.k.a. Bodymore, Murderland (Ha!), the noisy, the danceable, the unbeatable bro's of Dope Body:

Dope Body formed to play a one-off show, but what happened at the practices leading up to the show, or at the show itself, that made you decide to keep going with it?

It was an explosion of ideas. The kind of writing I think Dave and myself (we have been playing together since high school) had always wanted to do. Quick, concise, stupid, progressive and productive. Two riffs and the song was done. Get it over with fast so that we could try something new. Those early practices were like fire. You couldn't put a cap on it. We would jam on too many ideas. I think that was when we realized this band could be our Sergeant Pepper Band of sorts, or just do whatever the fuck you want and string it all together. We started recording it all so that it wouldn't get lost. Dave still has like hours and hours of cassettes tapes of little jams that never materialized. We should probably put those out as our next record.

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Not long after that first show, Andrew went to San Francisco to work with Hamburger Eyes, but moved back to front the band. Was that a hard sell or a no-brainer?

I think he has said it was a no brainer.

Your sound has been compared to heavy, 90s bands (Rage, Lizard, [Rage Lizard?] AmRep stuff, etc.) were those direct influences or is your sound more a product of your environment and created independently of that?

I think the Baltimore noise scene has had a deep impression on all us. The performative aspect of it. The pure punk aesthetic of truly not giving a fuck, even to the point where you are creating literal disdain between the audience and you. The sound of things just seriously falling apart before your eyes but somehow building a groove out of the broke ass pieces of trash. Some of the most influential performances we have ever seen is shit that will never get any blog love or any of that shit. Its pretty fucking sad but probably really great at the same time. That was a gesticular aesthetic and I think we are trying to get back more in touch with that.

Rage was certainly a band we all listened to growing up and it definitely left an impression as well. I don't think it's a direct influence on anything we do beyond just loving a groove and loving to move and feel music live and in turn make others feel it. That being said, seriously has there been a live band since Rage that could command 500,000 people to jump up and down in unison. It felt like they were commanding an army or something. Watch youtube videos of that shit, it still blows my mind. Fuck the haters, Rage rules.

Dope Body band

While all your releases tend to lean towards noisy, abrasive—some might say challenging, arrangements and such, Natural History seems to rock in a more old school way. Was this a natural progression or a decided direction?

I don't think it was decided. We didn't really know what we were doing. When I think about all the time we have played as a band, only about one percent has happened in a recording studio or while being recorded for that matter. We choose to go with J. Robbins because we had heard he was an amazing local producer and had recorded our friends Ponytail and Thank You. The experience of recording with him was the real deal. He is super pro and efficient, very patient and calm. Its not what we were used to. We usually record with our friends and everyone smokes shit loads of weed and kind of zonks out and the whole process becomes a bit wonky as a result. The other records were us trying to find our own sound in the studio while recording with someone who hasn't recorded many bands. We did tons of logistical shit wrong as a result and I think the result was a harsher less polished sound. With J, he already knows how to make a record because he has done it so many times. Hes a classic engineer in the classic sense. That isn't to say it was a bad thing. It was just different for us. That being said, I think this record is a continuation of our streak of not really knowing what we are doing when we go into the studio (beyond knowing how to play the songs).

Natural History is a reference to a basement venue in Baltimore where you guys cut your teeth as a band. Does that scene still exist for you, has it changed now that you’ve gotten some recognition outside of the city?

I think it has changed. The crowds in town are getting a lot younger and more and more we aren't just seeing the same faces at every show. I mean we still see the same faces, but we see new faces. Kids from Dundalk and Bel Air, suburbs like 30 minutes outside the city. I think it changed, but the undercurrent has stayed the same. I think we kind of became a surrogate Double Dagger after they broke up or something. A lot of the rock bands broke up or moved on but the kids were still there looking for somewhere to channel that energy. We got grandfathered in kind of. In a way I think we caught the tail end of that Wham City era hype before people outside the city started to forget about Baltimore again. All of you people should pay attention to Baltimore again, it's still sick!

What other Baltimore basement bands deserve mention?

Roomrunner, Horse Lords, Run DMT, Ed Schrader's Music Beat,

What’s the worst touring experience you’ve had so far?

The most recent one was getting denied at the Canadian border while en route to our first ever show in Montreal (a city we havent been to yet and were stoked to have had been in), one time we were riding in this super beat painters van with no windows and a bolted down bench seat with no seatbelts and cheese grateresque cage gate that seperated the driver and passenger section from the back area with the bench seat.

We were on tour with Ed Schraders Music Beat, and it was four of us in the back with two on the seat and two on the floor laying on this grimy foam fuck pad like sailer sardines. It was like flying down a highway in a beer can. The tour was three weeks long. At one point we got a flat tire and tried to repair it with gauze and chewing gum. The tires were so old that the van would just shake violently if it went above 60 mphs. All of our gear was getting beat to shit as well as our minds.

We had to eventually get four new tires which cost all the money we had. A week later we played an epic show in Baltimore and made all the money back but then the same van got towed the night of the show which cost us all the money we had just made to get it out. That sucked. Baltimore is an awful place to park for the most part.

What do you guys listen to in the van?

Lots of stuff! John usually brings a big iPhone bag of weird techno made by one of the members of CAN or something, which always makes the rest of be like "Who is this, John?" because I think that no one outside of John really listens to all that much music that they haven't already heard. I'm probably speaking for myself. Dave and I are mostly content to listen to the same five or six songs over and over again, musical Aspergers sort of. I am always content to put on Mr. Big''s "I'm the One Who Wants to Be With You". Love that song, it never gets old. Also "Hold Me Now" by the Thompson Twins, great song!

Are you familiar with the Original Booty Burglars and their song, “Dope Ass Body”?

No, just tried to find it to listen to it but had no luck. Have you ever heard that song "Hoogie-Boogie Land" by that band Complete? It's what all the most known unknown best bands in Baltimore are sounding like these days.

Complete this sentence, a dope body is:

a. A rad physique
b. an assembly of facts
c. collection of contraband
d. an association of freaks

An association of Collection Freaks.... :D

According to reports, Utz is a guitar teacher, but the rest of you guys work in the restaurant industry. As a grizzled veteran of that industry myself, I’m interested to know, who does what, where? What restaurants in Baltimore should we stay the hell out of?

Dave and Andrew work at the Dogwood Restaurant in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, which deserves a huge shout out for its outstanding food and management and everything! Definitely stay in that place. I sell them super fresh crab meat from the Eastern Shore of Maryland (You can't get fresher or better or more locally sourced crab meat anywhere, serious bumpkin ballmer side job to have).

Dave is a bartender, Andrew is a busser. They are in good standing with the management who is sympathetic to our kind of pathetic dreams of making it in a rock band and therefore both of them have job security. I think I will probably have to get a job there in the fall once I undoubtedly will have to quit or get fired from my guitar lessons gig at MUSIC AND ARTS CENTER!

John is an art handler I believe, I don't know though. John is tenacious about personal information. I don't know how many hours or days he works. He used to work in a crepe shop. They were pretty decent. Kind of a bastardized Big Mac version on the crepe, but good and affordable :) I think he quit for the band though.....serious dedication.

These places rule:

Go to the Dogwood and Brewers Art (Only on Sunday nights, hit up Joe, he is the shit), Indigma (for Indian food) Thai Arroy (for Thai), Mr. Rains Funhouse, but only on Valentine's day (Can't vouch for it otherwise) Iggie's (for Pizza), Sabatino's (heady Italian Rigatoni) Blue Moon Cafe and Golden West (for breakfast)

Don't go anywhere in the Inner Harbor, that place is a joke minus the Aquarium, which is sick

Speaking of your cassette release, you are younger men—perhaps of a post-cassette generation, if we may call it that—anybody remember the first cassette they owned?

God, I have no idea

How does a Natty Boh bender usually end?

This is a really good question and the answer is a serious amount of awful farting and painful long lasting liquid baseball sized shits. I take back that earlier answer about the worst tour experience. The worst is the out of town Natty Boh Bender, since they have Natty Boh at so many place these days. I fucking hate Natty Boh and I think I have Crohn's Disease

Who is the cover model for the Nupping record?

The superintendent of the Copycat, where we all used to live (in the same apartment). His name is Frank, he is a swell guy. Very important in the development of our band. I made a YouTube video compilation of him a few years back. If you want to check it out:

Pitchfork has insinuated that you guys are “bro rock” and “dude rock” are those real things or are they just funny names to call music by bands with guys that sweat a lot on stage?

I think ultimately our band is best represented and understood live. Recording has been tough for us because it forces us out of our natural element. For instance, I like standing directly in front of my amp when we play live and I have constructed my guitar sound around that. I think all of us have our own versions of that dilemma when it comes to recording.

When we record everything is isolated and blah blah blah. It's not natural. I think we definitely come off as "dude" sometimes because you can dissect the sound on the record, its the only thing you are hearing. You aren't hearing the acoustics of a shitty warehouse or the crowd talking or yelling or cursing or whatever, you aren't hearing the fuck ups and how Andrew has to go completely crazy with his voice to be even audible over the sound.

I think we had to go to the "dude rock" plateau to look off the side and realize we want to be more of a raw, primal, repetitive, doomy, noisey, junkyard, freak force rock band. I think we feel misunderstood with those labels because with Natural History our songs are being presented in the way classic songs are presented (vocals up front, close mics of the drums and guitars, mixed and mastered etc.)

It's not what we really sound like. Not to say we don't sweat a lot on stage or that we take ourselves super seriously. There is a ton of humor that goes into the sound of this band and we do try to go completely to the limit with our live energy. But I think we have a sound that hasn't been captured on record yet and most people only know us through the record. ONE DAY THEY WILL REALLY KNOW!

But yeah I think we can all acknowledge mostly bros get down with our music.

Read more band interviews:

Blasted Diplomats
Bad Cop
Kaspar Hauser
Lamb of God
Radar Eyes
Reading Rainbow
Summer Girlfriends
Voice of Addiction


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