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Dopapod has been a staple performance at The Big Up festival since the first “official” Big Up in 2010 at Sunnyview Farm in Ghent, New York. Since then, the band has exploded onto the festival circuit, continuing to tour extensively in-between festivals with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
This year’s Big Up goes down August 8-10 at Hemlock Hollow Farm in Claverack, New York and is one of the most anticipated festivals of the summer. On hiatus in 2012, the Big Up is back and better than ever, boasting a lineup of more than thirty eclectic acts including Holy Fuck, The Egg, The Special, Orchard Lounge, Consider the Source, Kung Fu, and of course, Dopapod.
“I think that it’s a highly anticipated comeback,” said Dopapod drummer Neal Evans, “The Big Up has been for us, a great festival… I think that with last year being on hiatus or whatever, everyone was really bummed, so this time coming back it’s going to be awesome.”
Dopapod first began playing festivals by showing up, setting up, and jamming out, whether they were on the bill or not. Nowadays, the band is a regular on the festival circuit. “For me, my favorite thing about festivals is that everybody is there, all the different bands and everything, so that creates the possibilities for people in different bands to play together,” said Evans, “That and playing outside, I just like playing outside. When we don’t have to think about the weather at all, that’s the best.”
This year, Evans kicks off The Big Up with a special performance by Elephant Wrecking Ball at 4:30 p.m., offering attendees the chance to get their experience off to the right start with the drums, bass and trombone of the eclectic group. “We play science,” said Evans. Members of Elephant Wrecking Ball are Neal Evans (drums, Dopapod), Scott Flynn (trombone, John Brown’s Body) and Dan Africano (bass, Dub Apocalypse).
While Dopapod is big in the jam scene they are not necessarily of the jam scene, but that doesn’t stop the jam kids from liking them. “We didn’t really know that the jam scene existed until we started experiencing all the smaller ones [festivals] and seeing the festival and jam culture,” said Evans, whose personal taste in music runs a wide arc including heavy metal and hard rock. But it’s the band members’ varied taste in music that creates the blend of open jazz, hard rock and funk that is the Dopapod sound. “It’s kind of like hard rock funk, with a jazz mindset,” explained Evans. Because all the members of Dopapod have had different musical influences it’s all about finding common threads. Evans names the avant-jazz-funk trio Medeski, Martin & Wood as one of those common musical threads but hints that he’d also like to see some heavier acts on the festival circuit.
“Gwar is one I’d like to see at a festival,” said Evans, who names Cornelius as another act he’d love to see on the festival circuit. “I think the festival kids would eat him up.”
Evans also suggests adding more high-energy acts to festival lineups. “I’m a metal dude anyway so I’d like to see some heavier acts, maybe more high-energy rock, even punk rock. I feel like we see a lot of jam, jamtronica, and DJs. When it comes to bands, there’s not too much that gets me as fired up [as a high-energy rock act].”
Staying sane while on the road is no easy task. “We do all right,” laughs Evans, “We all have our moments, everyone cracks every once in a while.” Which is why Evans made it a point to do a northeast run of shows in his own car. “Driving is very therapeutic for me. Alone time doesn’t come very often.”
So what’s next on the horizon for these rolling stones other than the neverending tour? Evans says they’ll be taking some time in the next month or two to get some new music written. “That’s always the best thing for us to keep it fresh, and that’s one thing that helps maintain sanity,” Evans said. Any tips for readers and festivalgoers? “First thing that comes to mind is buy a reusable water bottle and shopping bag,” said Evans, who sees the real toll of the travel lifestyle every day. “Plastic water bottles and plastic bags are some of the most frivolous commodities that exist.”
Dopapod is: Rob Compa – Guitar, Neal Evans – Drums, Eli Winderman – Keys, Chuck Jones – Bass
Story originally published 8/8/2013 on Tri-State Indie.