Dr. Dog's Twist Of 'Fate'

The band Dr. Dog stopped by the Bryant Park Project studios last week to chat and play a few songs from their new album, "Fate."

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ALISON STEWART, host:

All right. "Fate" is the name of a kid-friendly computer game. Fate is the name of a magazine about strange and unknown things, like UFOs. "Fate" is the title of the new release from the Philadelphia-based band, Dr. Dog. When Dr. Dog stopped by the studios last week to talk to BPP swing-host Mike Pesca, the front man, Scott McMicken, stepped up to the mic and he and Pesca discussed the difficulty of having some pretty ubiquitous musical influences.

(Soundbite of reverse playback)

MIKE PESCA: I think I've read, but you know, you guys can fill me in. Some of the influences are the really melodic groups like the Beach Boys and the Beatles, but you - I also read Tom Waits - but who wants to talk about being a big fan of those groups?

Mr. SCOTT MCMICKEN (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Dr. Dog): Nobody on this planet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Why, it's been talked about too much?

Mr. MCMICKEN: Well, yeah, it's hard to say something interesting about loving the Beatles and the Beach Boys. But it is true, you know, they just sort of get in your consciousness and they really inform your ears. I think it happens for a lot of musicians. You know, it's hard to deny the impact that those bands had on pop music. And so, you know, they kind of go in there and they sit in your shoulders and they tell you what sounds right and what doesn't. And it's a really good, in my opinion, it's a really good kind of fallback kind of influence, you know, because there's such intelligence and efficiency and talent and subtlety to those bands that, in many ways, I feel like the Beach Boys and the Beatles are underrated bands, oddly enough.

PESCA: They are - I think what they are is taken for granted.

Mr. MCMICKEN: Yeah.

Unidentified Band Member: That's right.

PESCA: And they are really important. OK, let's, you know, play a song. What's the first one up you want to share with us?

Mr. MCMICKEN: It's called "Uncovering the Old."

PESCA: All right, "Uncovering the Old" from the new album by Dr. Dog, "Fate." Let's give a listen.

Mr. MCMICKEN: One, two, three, four.

(Soundbite of ding)

(Soundbite of song "Uncovering the Old")

Mr. MCMICKEN: (Singing) Turn it down. Start it over. Alone is such an ugly game. Pay it back. Pay it forward. Nothing means nothing to me.

So, they went down to the station. They were looking for a ride. They were running out of ink. They were running out of time. Yeah.

And with the color of a whistle, With the sounding of the smoke, I repeat it in a picture. I repeat it in a joke. Yeah. Yeah.

Loud clothes, quiet earrings, Black lights, white shadows, A bone, and a key. Old flames, ex widows. Someone's been dying to me.

So, they believed that their conductor Is the leader of the pack, Killing time and too conductive, They were never looking back. Yeah.

And the table had to chase it, And the time hollered back, And the thanks that cut the cable, And they're running out of tracks. Yeah. Yeah.

So, they kissed the farmer's daughters, With their pockets full of gold. And they draw the shades of markets, On the corner of the window.

And the kid under the kitchen, In an unmarked grave, They're uncovering the old.

(Soundbite of ding)

PESCA: All right, that was "Uncovering the Old." Now, I read this thing - this album is called "Fate" because it's a concept album, but it was sort of a retroactive concept album. You didn't realize it was a concept album until all the songs were done, and you were like, hey, they are all about fate. Scott, you wrote all the songs, or most of the songs?

Mr. MCMICKEN: Half the songs.

PESCA: OK.

Mr. MCMICKEN: Toby and I always write about half the songs per album. We keep it about 50/50. But I mean, that is a valid point, in a sense, in very general terms. But it wasn't so retroactive. I mean, it was that we started making the album and then within few weeks realized that, you know, having opened ourselves up to these ideas that were unintentionally coming back at us from speakers, at that point, we then, you know, put forth more intent into what we were already observing. And so, at that point we did, you know, kind of craft it around what we were starting to notice.

This process became this kind of manifestation of fate, or something you could see as, wow, we are witnessing this fated event. I mean, we've become this certain band at this certain point, and there's so much involved in that that we need to bring to this, and as soon as we did, the process itself started to bring as much to us. It's the kind of thing that I look for in an album. It's not the kind of thing you always get.

PESCA: All right, the guys from Dr. Dog. The new album and life in general is "Fate." Thanks guys.

Mr. MCMICKEN: Thanks for having us.

PESCA: All right, that was great. Thanks a lot.

STEWART: Hey, big thanks to Dr. Dog for joining Mike Pesca in our studios last week. We'll post a longer version of that interview with another in studio song performance. That, of course, will be on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: Next up on this here program, the BPP's Caitlin Kenney is in the studio for our next stage of grief, bargaining. This is the BPP from NPR News.

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