We caught up with Toronto-based band Dorene following the release of their brilliant single ‘Eyes Wild’. Read the full interview now!
How did you first get into music?
Vince: I come from a family with a deep history of revelrous acoustic guitar jams. I’m still in the transition stage between the asshole playing ‘Wonderwall’ around a campfire and writing original music. My Dad played bass in bands growing up; my Nan was a wicked guitar player, a lot of my cousins and uncles play.
There was definitely a ton of encouragement on that end; I had a lot of people I looked up to sharing this love. Outside of that, it’s always a particular artist that gets me excited about their instrument, Flea and Les got me to learn bass, Jack White got me playing guitar, Julian Casablancas got me excited about singing. After those initial connections are made, the inspirations just grow exponentially.
Gray: My mother is a musician, and she wanted me to play something when I was younger, and then my brother started drumming. I needed to be good at something that he wasn’t. Guitar it was. Once I discovered Nirvana, it was game over.
What is the first song that captured your attention as a youngster?
Vince: At the age of 3, my older brother played me ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’. For some reason, even though I probably had no concept of the significance of that song’s lyrics, it really struck a nerve. I would walk around all day singing it; I thought I was badass.
Gray: ‘Life is a Highway’ by Tom Cochrane. I first heard it in the movie Cars, and it blew my mind. To this day, it still blows my mind, one of the greatest tunes of all time.
Who influenced your latest release ‘Eyes Wild’?
Vince: In terms of songwriting, I’m still pretty new to the game. I really just hope that I don’t embarrass myself later. A lot of these songs were written pretty spontaneously, and for better or worse a lot of the first draft lyrics just stayed. The first track, ‘Eyes Wild’, was written in a jam between Gray and I. It’s a sexy song with a heavy chorus. That was totally like Chili Peppers meets Audioslave. I think ‘Show Me How To Live’ by Audioslave is a contender for the most powerful chorus of all time, that was definitely an inspiration.
‘Jack’ is the outlier on the EP. That began as a joke. Gray wrote that instrumental and It was just the heaviest thing I’d ever heard from him. I know he was listening to a lot of Soundgarden. I needed some equally aggressive vocals. I watched ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and basically just described Jack Nicholson’s character. Surprisingly we both loved it; we added it to the end of the EP because we didn’t really think other people would be as interested.
For whatever reason, I think we’ve heard more about that song than anything else. The other three songs I wrote entirely in the span of two unusually productive nights back in February after two unusually memorable days at work.
Gray: When I was working on this EP, I did my best to draw from as many influences as I possibly could. I love the polished radio-friendly production a lot of the late 90’s bands were using, like the Foo Fighters or Audioslave, but I like to combine that with the more raw sounds of bands from the 70s like Led Zeppelin and early ZZ Top.
Obviously, I’m not the first to come up with this; I draw ideas from a lot of modern bands that have made this fusion. The Glorious Sons always have a super dirty drum sound and gritty vocals, but it blends with the pristine guitars to make a very polished finished product. And bands like Them Crooked Vultures or the Temperance Movement have pulled their gritty, roomy sounds straight out of the 70s, but run through the higher quality equipment of today it takes on a much fuller, clearer quality.
You are from Ontario in Canada, what’s the music scene like there?
Vince: Going back to the ’60s, Toronto has always had a pretty cool scene. The thing with Canada is that a lot of these bands don’t really break outside the nation, growing up I just assumed that The Tragically Hip were as big as The Beatles. There are a lot of great Canadian bands unknown to the rest of the world. But I don’t know; we come from a town that has a population of 5000. Any city has a cool scene to us. Not a lot is going on here; If I go anywhere and see a busker, I’m like “wow, this place has so much culture.”
You are DIY musicians, what are the biggest challenges you face?
Gray: Being a totally DIY duo, everything is a huge challenge. Between the 2 of us, we have to do everything from creating our songs to marketing the band. Once we’ve practised endlessly and finally recorded all these songs, it’s on me to try to turn them into radio-ready mixes in my basement.
All the while, we are going out and taking band photos on our own, personally writing pitches to blogs, and running all our socials. We’re also young; we’re not seasoned professionals, and we’re basically still learning how to do all of this as we go. It’s a big challenge to manage our time and maintain a consistent high quality in everything that we do.
You cite your influences as coming from modern indie rock bands such as The Strokes and the White Stripes, what draws you to the genre?
Vince: I love the calculated anarchy of these artists, the upfront persona or initial impression is one of raw, unpolished rock and roll. Behind the scenes, they are deceptively meticulous. They will slave over a ton of takes and then maybe take the one that sounds the most chaotic. I really love imperfections in a voice. We’re human; we are not perfect; I appreciate not being lied to. There is this beautiful balance where the music still feels alive and natural. It’s missing in a lot of artists these days.
Neil Young is another example; he’s really passionate about the importance of recording live as a band. You can feel the difference. At the end of the day all they also just write great f*cking songs.
If you could open for any artist/band who would it be?
Vince: I want Nick Cave’s approval.
Gray: I would love to open for King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. More than anything I just feel like I could totally be friends with those guys. They must have the greatest crowds too; Gizzard fans are just there because they love fun music.
What are your other passions aside from music?
Vince: I’m not that funny in person. I’m moderately humorous if I have time. I’ve always wanted to do stand up comedy. Even if it’s just an open mic night and I get booed off in seconds. It would be a fun experiment. The crowd would eat me alive.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Vince: The idea of Music is insane, sounds arranged in a particular order all of a sudden have these powerful transformative abilities. Recorded music is a relatively recent invention, with technology for production and consumption changing at such an unprecedented rate. Any prediction of where it is headed or saying it should go back to how it was in the 70s would be ignorant.
Jack White is leading the vinyl resurgence, and I love it, it’s making people a little more reverential to the music again. At the same time, music will be here forever, who knows what changes will be brought about or what medium will prevail in 50 years time. It’s very exciting. Innovations are crucial in the music business; there’s gonna be instruments in the future that don’t exist now. Just based on history, I would say every step forward has had a way of working out for the better eventually.
What new music are you listening to at the moment?
Vince: Crown Lands are another Ontario band. They put out their debut album this year, and it’s amazing. I’ve been following them from the start, and they put on the best live show I’ve ever seen. Of course the classics, The Strokes, Neil Young, Pearl Jam put out brilliant records this year. I’m just getting into Fiona Apple; we could learn a lot from her.
The Voidz just released one of the most interesting songs I have ever heard, ‘Alien Crime Lord’. It has been on repeat lately. Brendan Benson put out a super uplifting record that proved again that he writes the catchiest songs in Rock. Nick Cave has a new live album of him playing to an empty Alexandra Palace; it really helped me get through some stuff recently.
Gray: I’m a big fan of The Glorious Sons, another Ontario band. They put out an incredible record in 2019, and I believe they’re working on a new one right now. I have high hopes for what their future holds. I’ve also been into IDLES; they have an insanely bold, unapologetic sound. Their new record is one of my favourite releases of 2020.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard just released a new album, and there’s a dancey number on there called ‘Intrasport’ which has probably become my favourite song of theirs. The Queens of the Stone Age’s 2017 release was also a masterpiece, and I’m hoping they’ll put out a new album in 2021, I also have very high expectations for that.
What musical plans do you have for the next two years?
Gray: We have a six-song follow-up EP in the works, which we are super excited about. We also have plans for a potential debut album later in the year; we might hit an actual studio for that. We hope to do a ton of touring next year, depending on the current state of affairs of course. Otherwise, we are just practising, playing and writing as much as possible.
FV Music Blog January 2021
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