After spending this past summer opening for The Lumineers, Dr. Dog is on the road for the second leg of their tour with their new album, B-Room, released in October of 2013.
From his current home in suburban Groton, Connecticut, guitarist and vocalist Scott McMicken said that when the band isn’t together, it makes sense to be wherever is most convenient.
“After being on the road a long time I would have to come back to the city,” McMicken said. “But I kept craving a quieter more remote existence.”
The six-member outfit made their stop in Austin on Friday, February 21st at Stubb’s outdoor stage. With more than 20 tour stops planned throughout the U.S., McMicken said Austin was a bright spot on the band’s map.
“We may have performed more times in Austin than any other city,” McMicken said. “Stubbs is just one of the finest places to play. I think that outdoor at night is the best environment to play in, the sound is incredible. Austin is just a great place to play music.”
Dr. Dog’s sphere of influence has certainly grown much wider since the last time they came to Austin, with their 2012 album release, Be The Void, ranking in the Billboard 200 chart at number 45 in 2012.
With the release of B-Room, however, McMicken explained that gauging their popularity as a band continually proves to be less about the industry and more about the fans.
“I feel like it’s an interesting window in the commerce of the music business,” McMicken said. “On the charts, our current record has sold less than any album we’ve ever made. But on Spotify there’s all these plays. Clearly people are listening to it, but in the business sense it would appear far less are.”
In terms of how this change is shaping Dr. Dog’s live tours, McMicken said despite the hum-drum reactions from critics like Pitchfork, the amount of people coming out to shows is at an all-time high.
“It’s always kind of served us well,” McMicken said. “We don’t give a shit what people think really. We appreciate support, it’s not like we’re indifferent to support. We do what we do for the merits of what it brings us. At the end of the day, the only benchmark of quality is how we feel about what we play.”
“B-Room” drifts aesthetically in a simpler direction from Dr. Dog’s previous albums, in an attempt to produce a record with a heavy emphasis on live shows. According to McMicken, the best moments spent on stage are these raw, sparse songs that make “B-Room” so rewarding to play live.
McMicken, along with vocalist-guitarist Toby Leaman, play together on "Too Weak To Ramble," one of the album’s less accompanied tracks.
“There’s no groundbreaking going on – it’s just two guys with a guitar. But you realize that it’s in that more central context that the true challenge is expression. To make something feel complete with so few tools at your disposal is a really inspiring direction for the band.”
After more than a decade spent playing together, McMicken said it’s important to keep things fresh and new while building off of previous experience – in the case of Dr. Dog, that means spending less time consistently re-recording a track in the studio and more time on stage.
“It’s an interesting paradox, the more you try to dial your experience in and stay consistent, you also want to be creative and confident,” McMicken said. “There’s a much stronger emphasis on the gear, equipment, and crew – but we need the tension of the fact that things can train wreck at any moment. It has to feel new every night. The more you foster the environment of consistency the more you play with ultimately keeping the show inspired and spontaneous.”