- Posted on Mar 7th 2011 6:00PM by Joe Tacopino
Collin Erie for AOL
Your new album, 'No Color,' comes out in a few weeks. What can we expect?
It's sort of a mix of our last two albums. We definitely wanted to have an energetic sound to the songs, and to have things sound thrashy, in a way. I think we figured out ways to flush things out. There was a lot more overdubbing on this record, but it's in a way that you don't really notice it as much. [The 2008 album] 'Visiter' kind of came together just sloppily and [2009's] 'Time to Die' was a really thought-out methodical record, and this one is a little of both.
What was Neko Case's contribution to the record?
She's on about five songs. She came in for two days, so there really wasn't a lot of time, but she did a lot, worked on a lot of stuff -- we just kind of pummeled. We went through the songs, and she would sing over them. Two of the songs feature her more than the others. She's more of a back-up thing, but she takes a song to a whole other level, that's for sure. Her voice is really incredible on record, but it's even more incredible when you get to work with her in the studio.
The band's lineup has changed a few times. What will the current setup look like at SXSW?
We're going to have a touring member with us. He's going to play electric guitar, and I've made the crossover into electric guitar from acoustic so I think it's gonna be a pretty rocking set.
What prompted that switch?
Playing electric guitar is super fun. I had started out on the electric guitar when I was 12. I spent so much time playing the acoustic that I had forgotten what it was like. During the recording of this record, we had a lot more time at the studio than we had in the past. We got to experiment more.
Once we laid down all the acoustic parts and all the drums, I started playing electric over a lot of stuff. Every time I was playing electric, I would get these super '90s tones out of my pedal. It wasn't intentional, but than I started to realize, well, this makes perfect sense, because I pretty much started playing guitar learning Nirvana songs and Billy Corgan solos in my room after school. It took me back there in a way that was super fun.
With all the finger-picking you do, is it difficult transferring your sound to the electric?
It's not necessarily more difficult on the electric. Everything's basically easier on the electric. The acoustic guitar fights back when you attack it a certain way and the electric doesn't. I'm so used to that sort of tension in the acoustic. On the electric, I started to understand how to play it better and use that to my advantage. I'm still figuring it out, but it's basically like I'm sacrificing that tension for something else, which is being able to control the sound a lot more and put a super-drive grunge distortion pedal on and just be heard.
It's not the same as an acoustic, of course, but there's things you can do to emulate those qualities that I got attached to early on. It's just a lot of nerding out on my guitar tone in a way that I haven't done before.
You also have a unique approach to syncopation that you don't hear in with a lot of bands these days.
Yeah, totally. It's hard to emulate that, and when you start adding stuff, all that gets sort of buried but it's super important. Take a song like 'Black Night' -- there's a lot of finger-picking I do that's basically like a techno beat. There are probably 10 other ways to play that song that would be way easier and I wouldn't have to work as hard, but there's something about that sort of urgency and over-working of the strings. It's intense to play something that should actually be played by a machine.
For a festival like SXSW, is it hard to play all those show with the intensity and style the Dodos are known for?
It's been a few years since we did SXSW. The last time we did it, it was definitely pretty maniacal. We did a few shows a day, and I think we needed a break from it. It's one of those things that it's better not thinking about. I know our schedule this year is gonna be pretty intense. We definitely want to make an impact over there and we want to have some really great shows, but if I think about the task at hand I will probably puke in my mouth.
Catch the Dodos' SXSW Set on Wednesday, March 16 at The Parish (214C E 6th St.) 1AM, and Friday, March 18 at Cedar Street Courtyard (208 W 4th St.) 10PM.
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