San Francisco-based indie rock duo The Dodos, consisting of singer-songwriter Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber, are riling up fans and critics everywhere through rhythmic, energetic music with an eclectic feel. Now on a worldwide tour to promote their latest album “Carrier,” Logan sits down with The Eagle for a chat about his history, the passing of a former band member, the origin of the band’s unique style and his love for Prince.
Alejandro Alvarez: Let’s begin with the band’s origins: What were you guys doing before The Dodos, and how did you and Meric first meet?
Logan Kroeber: Before The Dodos happened, Meric and I were both living in the Bay area trying to do some music. Meric had a solo thing going on, he released a little EP. That was around the time that I met him, when he had his Meric Long Dodo Bird EP, and I had just quit a few years prior from the metal band I had been playing with since I had been in high school. He was rooming with my cousin, and my cousin knew I was trying to expand my musical horizons, and said ‘you should check out my roommate, Meric,’ and Meric just happened to be looking for a drummer at the time. Yeah, it seems pretty crazy to think about now.
AA: How did the band’s name come about?
LK: There are a couple of different versions floating around from Meric’s mouth. He had titled the EP as “Dodo Birds,” and that’s what we were called for a while. Then we changed the name to The Dodos, and we attribute that particular mutation to one Red Hunter, who played under the alias of Peter and the Wolf. If people are familiar with his music, it’s pretty awesome. He often got compared to Bill Callahan, or “Smog”, and he hated that comparison, but it was apt. We did our first tour with him, and he kept calling us The Dodos, and we’re like “Damn, that sounds a lot better than Dodo Bird!”
AA: So it was Meric who came up with the original name. Any idea where Dodo Bird came from?
LK: He said a few different things; I don’t which one to believe! But his mom speaks a version of French, and there’s a saying in French called faire dodo which means “to take a little nap”, and I think that somehow that worked its way into his decision.
AA: How would you describe your style to some of my college readers who aren’t familiar with The Dodos?
LK: Well, as we’ve been talking a lot about drumming, our style is very rhythmic, and kind of very precise. We’re very syncopated, very polyrhythmic and very energetic. A lot of our songs are sort of on this grid, or framework, where there’s not a lot of spaciness. We want to introduce all sorts of textures if we can.
AA: How was your songwriting different on your new album?
LK: For me personally, I was playing with a more standard drum kit for the first time with The Dodos. I used to play it when I was younger, and then when The Dodos started I had this hybrid kit that didn’t have a kick drum or a hi-hat and was mostly toms and stuff. Before we wrote “Carrier,” I was spending a lot of time getting back into drum kit, trying to make sure I didn’t lose my skills. When it came time for us to start writing new stuff, Meric was like “Don’t change it, leave the regular kit up, and let’s try and figure out a way to make this work,” and so there’s different kinds of beats on “Carrier” that are me trying to incorporate the rhythmic sensibility that we had with my more weird setups, but putting it on a regular kit. It’s kind of hard, because when you sit down at a regular kit, certain kinds of beats want to come out that are a little more cliché, and I just don’t want to go there.
AA:Do you see yourselves as musicians writing songs, or as songwriters making music?
LK: I see myself as a musician writing a song. Meric might have it turned the other way around because he had a lot of lyrics written beforehand for this album. So maybe he had some concepts that he wanted to express first, you know, concept first and then music second, but I think that was only for a handful of songs. But a lot of time we approach it from a musician’s perspective of trying to create some noises that sound cool, and then shaping it into a song; so I’d say the majority of the time.
AA: I’m sure Chris Reimer’s tragic passing last year had a huge impact on the band; I know he was a close friend of yours. What lasting legacy did he leave behind?
LK: He left behind a legacy of humor. He left behind a legacy of patience. He left behind a legacy of fun-loving professionalism, like the way he approached playing guitar and recording, and being on the road and looking for new guitars and amps. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but just the way he did it, he had this constant search that kind of infected me to look at things the way that he did. But yeah, the first things that I think of when I think about Chris are his innate sense of humor, and his patience as a human being. He was not one to get mad, not one to ever be aggressive, but he also was not a pushover, in any way. He just walked this fine middle ground that’s so hard to do, and that’s a big inspiration to me.
AA: How’s the tour been so far?
LK: It’s good, man. Last night in Chicago was a really great show. It may be my favorite of the tour so far. We were at Lincoln Hall, and Cousins opened up as they had been for the last couple of weeks, and they put on a great show and got me pumped up. The crowd was very energetic, everybody who was in front of me was dancing and singing along and having a good time. Yeah, just good energy, I just want more of that every night, as much as I can get!
The people who are there with us now at the shows, I think, dig the new material. They like hearing stuff that they know already from past records but they’re down to hear stuff off of “Carrier.” Probably some of our biggest reactions are songs from “No Color,” which is rad, because for the longest time everybody just wanted to hear “Visiter” stuff. We still play that too, but it’s rad that when we play “Good” or “Black Night” from “No Color,” people are freaking out. Yeah man, I feel like the people who are coming to the shows are down to hear everything, not just one album.
AA: So, you’ve got a new album out now and a big tour in the works. Looking out beyond that, what’s the next step for The Dodos?
LK: We’ve got another record that’s almost done. We’ve got to maybe record a few more songs for it, so that’ll probably come out next year. We’re probably going to try and do a bunch more touring behind that one! And then who knows, we’ll see if we can do another record after that, but we gotta take it one record at a time. But I’m super stoked on everything that we have for the new one already. We were just teaching one of the new new songs to our new guitarist tonight, and it’s the first time we’ve ever showed it to somebody outside of the recording studio. It was getting me pretty hyped up, like; it’ll be fun to start playing that stuff. But yeah, got a bunch of material!
The Dodos will be playing at the Black Cat on Oct. 1. Their latest album, “Carrier,” is available now.