Dogbane – Kings of Karma

Saturday, 31st October 2015

Dead Rhetoric: As for the new album, the hooks are stronger than Residual Alcatraz. What was the goal this time out with the songwriting? 

Rinehart:  I think we wanted this album to be stronger musically, again spreading our wings from what was started as a solid foundation on the first album.  Being the “new kid,” I realized I had very big shoes to fill, but felt a profound sense of maintaining the consistent feel of Dogbane with anything I offered musically to the table for the band.  It was my goal to contribute and bring out some of my influences into this album.  I felt encouraged and excited that I had a lot of common ground with things I brought, which while compatible stylistically, were either not necessarily explored yet musically or lyrically, but could be seen as natural progressions from the influences which had surfaced on the first album.

Allred:  I think there was a conscious effort to streamline things a little more with Karma. We tried to keep all the tracks between three and five minutes.  Hopefully to give our songs more punch, and leave folks wanting more.  On our first album the songs ranged between five and nine minutes.  This was a point of criticism for some that reviewed “Residual” and we tried to address that this go around.

Dead Rhetoric: Does the album title have a deeper meaning? “Karma” is a commonly used term in metal that can be applied to most instances in life. Is it open for interpretation? 

Rinehart: The title of the album When Karma Comes Calling, along with the lyrics for the song were written by our drummer, Jerry Cloer.  The title and lyrics were personal and cathartic for him, but I think the lyrics are broad enough that the listener can read their own interpretation into them, which is sort of the appeal that having different songwriting styles in our band has for many listeners.  I tend to write songs that tell a story, though occasionally branch into more personal, philosophical, or metaphorical lyrics, while Jeff Neal (our vocalist) and Jerry tend to write personal lyrics that can be metaphorical and open to listener’s personal interpretation.

Allred: I don’t want to speak for Jerry, but I think for him there was a deeper meaning, because “When Karma Comes Calling” was the last song he and David worked on before David’s passing.  Speaking for myself, I always like to leave things more open ended.  I believe you reach more people that way.  I would like the subject matter to make them think.

Dead Rhetoric: How much time do the members of the band devote to Dogbane? Would you say it’s a very serious hobby? 

Rinehart: Well, in terms of time spent with Dogbane, we usually only have time to get together and rehearse as a whole band one day per week.  On rare occasions we might get together more than once a week if we are recording, or a few of us get together to hash out an idea musically with drums and guitar and or vocals.  We all work full time and are spread out with the farthest members living about an hour or so apart, so it is a serious hobby, though we try to run it fairly business-like and democratically in terms of using the money earned from shows and merchandise to put back into the band for various band expenses.  We communicate by phone or email at least weekly if not every few days outside of our practice time.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the most satisfying element of being in a band like this? 

Rinehart:  I would say the most satisfying part of being in the band is having as much creative control as we have and doing much of what we do “in-house.”

Allred:  For myself the most satisfying part is making “real” albums. My previous twenty years were spent playing in good bands, but we had no label support or distribution. Dogbane has changed that for me.  It’s also enjoyable to watch our music have somewhat an impact the world over. We’re not huge by any means, but we have our supporters all over the globe and that is very satisfying. We’ve also had the opportunity to play with some great bands and bands that were childhood influences of ours. You can’t put a price on that.

Dead Rhetoric: Are live shows easy to come by in North Carolina? Or, are you more selective when it comes to playing live? 

Rinehart:  That is really a tricky question, that I could oversimplify and say “yes” to both. However, I would have to qualify, that there are opportunities we have been offered to play shows which we have had to turn down because of timing or other conflicts not being right, but then we are still certainly trying to network and get into venues/towns across the state and neighboring states, which we haven’t realized fully yet.  So we certainly are not resting on our laurels, but do try to be strategic about shows we try to play.  It is definitely a balancing act.

Allred:  There are some good venues to play here in N.C., but there is usually a lot of travel distance involved.  We’re located in the middle of the state, and most of us live in very rural communities.  Like Jeff said, it is a balancing act.  Locally there are only a small handful of places to play, and you do have to be somewhat selective on the frequency that you play them in order for them to be successful.

Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2015, going into 2016? 

Rinehart:  Well, the remainder of this year we are trying to rehearse for an annual show we have been fortunate enough to be invited to play, as it is a local favorite in December.  We are also trying to work up new material in preparation for our third album.  Once we have the songs worked up, we like to road test them and continue fine tuning them after getting some audience response to them.  So, I imagine if possible we will spend 2016 continuing to work on the new material, play live shows ideally in some new venues and return to some old favorites, continue to play with some great local bands and meet new ones, play in support of some national acts, and possibly play a national festival or two, if we can.

Allred:  We definitely want to strike while the iron is hot. There was a three and a half year period between our first two albums. Personally, I would like to close that gap a little.  Out of sight also means out of mind.  I think we are at the stage where we can’t afford for that to happen.

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