Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms
Close

Sign up for our mailing list

Press

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Dr. Dog Bio (2016)

In the waning days of our previous millennium, an envelope arrived at the Dr. Dog Bungalow. Initially misplaced among credit card solicitations and clothing catalogs, it had no postage and smelled of a fusty funk, as if it had once been wet. The return address said simply “Phrases from the Psychedelic Swap.”

Inside was a cassette tape. “Play me,” it said. So they did, and they grew 10 feet tall — tall enough to reach the key but too big to fit through the door.

Phrases, they learned, was a man who had been neither happy nor sad, neither success nor failure, during his time on Earth. He just kind of was. Or wasn’t. Was or wasn’t, depending. In his quest for satisfaction, he found himself susceptible to hollow promises. He drank Coke, but it did not make him smile. He used Old Spice, but beautiful women did not whistle at him. He wore Air Jordans, but jumped no higher. And one day he awoke from a beautiful dream to find himself still lying next to the wife he neither loved nor hated. Lying still, still lying. Same gray room, same gray life. He knew he had to slip away. It took only a slight turn of the wheel.

Life in the Psychedelic Swamp, a refracted reflection of reality, gave Phrases all that he was looking for. Music took on new dimensions. Food tasted better. Love was sweeter. At least initially. The swamp was draped heavily with abstraction, where there was nothing too garbled, random or chaotic to be separated from the absolute need for meaning.

But soon the same old hollowness crept back into his soul. The romance of harvesting dry rot and herding acorn weevils under the swamp’s moon-sun had dulled into a humdrum kind of workaday existence. He began to regret his decision to leave Earth for the Psychedelic Swamp. Things were not really better there, only different. Remember what the old swamp folks say: The bladderwort is always yellower on the other side of the schist. This was his epiphany. Life, flawed as it is, is meant to embraced.

It was this message, more or less, that came through on that funky old cassette tape in the mail. And “Play Me,” didn’t mean simply “Listen to Me,” but literally “Play Me!” It was a call to action, urging Dr. Dog to record a great pop album, to give meaning to Phrases, backed by oohs and ahhs and layered harmonies, to top the charts, capture the imagination and bring joy to the people.

Why us, the band wondered. They were so young, mostly just a cover band, sort of lost in their own verdant vegetative environment, fiddling around in the basement with a loose assemblage of chords and riffs, on equipment held together with duct tape and rust. They were not ready. To do justice to “The Psychedelic Swamp,” they first had to find themselves as a band. They were flawed, reluctant messengers, like Spider-Man or Siddhartha, bestowed with a responsibility they did not yet accept. They needed to face the trials and tribulations of life on the road, to hone their skills as songwriters and performers.

Years went by, and the band became bogged down in life of a recording-touring rock’n’roll operation. The tape was often lost, only to be found in dusty corners or falling out of a seldom used guitar case. Someday, the band vowed, we will get back to “The Psychedelic Swamp.”

That day is now. Swamp is on. Phrases will be heard.

Dr. Dog's artist page

Browse by Artist

1854All Artists 60Mavis Staples 56Dr. Dog 55The Milk Carton Kids 51Sean Rowe 50Tinariwen 49Neko Case 45Son Little
43Lost In The Trees 36Saintseneca 34Glen Hansard 33Galactic 33Michael Franti and Spe... 31Jolie Holland 28Andy Shauf 28Doe Paoro 28William Elliott Whitmo... 27Man Man 25Bettye LaVette 24Calexico 23Jason Lytle 23Christopher Paul Stell... 22Tom Waits 22Gary V 22Booker T. Jones 22Sage Francis 22Delicate Steve 22Xenia Rubinos 21Islands 20The Drums 20Daniel Lanois 20DeVotchKa 19The Antlers 19The Dream Syndicate 18Girlpool 18Joe Henry 18Wilco 18So Much Light 17Tim Fite 17Grinderman 17Cass McCombs 16Jade Jackson 16Porter Wagoner 16Peter Silberman 15Yann Tiersen 15Lido Pimienta 15Yves Jarvis 14Japandroids 14John K. Samson 13Busdriver 13Rain Machine 13The Coup 12Richard Reed Parry 12Ben Harper 12Jeremy Ivey 12Deafheaven 12The Melodic 11Kelly Hogan 11M. Ward 11Ryan Pollie 11Beth Orton 11Keaton Henson 10Roky Erickson 10Os Mutantes 10Beat Connection 10Bob Mould 10Xavier Rudd 10Ben Harper and Charlie... 10Rafiq Bhatia 10Dead Man's Bones 9Darrin Bradbury 9Mose Allison 9Kate Bush 9Cameron Avery 9Marketa Irglova 9The Locust 8Deradoorian 8Wynonna 8The Frames 8Boy Scouts 8Greg Graffin 8A Girl Called Eddy 8Purr 7Combo Chimbita 7Fleet Foxes 7Alec Ounsworth 7Foxwarren 7Solillaquists of Sound 7Josiah Johnson 7The Field 6Ramblin Jack Elliott 6Pops Staples 6Christian Lee Hutson 6Glitterer 6Half Waif 6The Good Ones 6Hey, King! 6N.A.S.A. 6Broken Twin 6Kronos Quartet with Br... 5Tweedy 5Marc Ribot 5The Weakerthans 5Walter Wolfman Washing... 5The Swell Season 5Cadence Weapon 5Mothers 4Muggs 4case/lang/veirs 4Arc Iris 4Eddie Izzard 4Antibalas 4One Day As A Lion 4Curtis Harding 4Petra Haden 3Simian Mobile Disco 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3The Book Of Knots 3Danny Cohen 3Marianne Faithfull 3Danny Elfman 2Blackalicious 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Chuck E. Weiss 2Jeff Tweedy 2Title Fight 2Savath & Savalas 2Spoon (Europe only) 2Billy Bragg 2Lyrics Born 2Screaming Lights (Euro... 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 1Rogue's Gallery
See Full List+