Brooklyn-based quartet to headline show at Schmiggity’s Friday night | SteamboatToday.com

Brooklyn-based quartet to headline show at Schmiggity’s Friday night

Members Eli Winderman on keyboards

— Never forgetting their grassroots upbringing, the Brooklyn-based quartet Dopapod has become a burgeoning force of funk to be reckoned with.

Getting their humble start in college basements, members Eli Winderman on keyboards, Rob Compa on guitar, Chuck Jones on bass and Scotty Zwang on drums have gone on to make appearances at festivals like Bonnaroo, Burning Man, Camp Bisco, Wakarusa, Summer Camp and Electric Forest. For the past three years, the group has rocked more than 150 shows a year.

Today, the group is slated to perform a show built on spontaneous combustion and a melding of genres like funk, jazz, soul, rock and afro-beat starting at 10 p.m. at Schmiggity's.

The band's upcoming fourth album, "Never Odd or Even" (out Nov. 11), is said by Compa to be the quartet's most adventurous album to date with shifting tempos and dynamics weaving in a live show energy on each track.

Power, intensity and on-the-spot decisions are just a few ways Dopapod reminds audiences what a live show is all about. Earlier this week Explore Steamboat caught up with Compa during a rehearsal break to talk about Dopapod's unconventional methods of instrumentation, their nonstop touring schedule and constant inspiration for all things music.

Explore Steamboat: You guys started out in college basements with DIY party roots. How do you continue to maintain those grassroots origins while also evolving as musicians and your sound?

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Rob Compa: We started playing shows at venues when we were in college but no one would show up and we couldn't figure out why. Then for maybe a year straight all we did was play in basements and at house parties around Boston. Around that time, we figured out the miracle of merchandise. If people are drunk at some party, they probably won't remember who the band was that night. A fan of ours made stickers and then soon after we noticed people started coming back and the crowds got bigger and bigger. The music also got better because we got down to writing more songs. We had three originals when we first started along with a lot of covers.

When we started actually having songs and a product people could latch onto rather than just a gig, we started feeling something special was happening. We narrowed it down and fully committed. I think the turning point was at Bonaroo earlier this year. It was just surreal. We played for the biggest crowd we've ever play for, and they were there with us enjoying the moment and really excited about our music. That's a point when you get on stage and you have to ask yourself how you got this far. One minute you are playing in basements then the next you are in front of all of these people. But through it all, it's been really gradual. It's like watching the grass grow sometimes; it's an ever-growing thing.

ES: Playing over 150 shows in just a year is no small feat. What's your primary source of motivation for touring so rigorously?

RC: There is always something big on the horizon that we are always excited for and are looking forward to. But it takes a lot of effort because with everyone in the van together, it's like a relationship or a marriage to keep everyone happy. When we were younger, this was our goal — to quit our jobs and start touring and playing shows. Now, we've got that and love it even though it can be hard as hell. But what it comes down to is the music. We appreciate our job, and what we do keeps us coming back and getting out on stage. We just love playing shows. If I didn't do this, I don't know what I would do.

ES: You perform complex music without the benefits of backing tracks or digital enhancements. How do you do that and why did you guys decide to go in that direction?

RC: We just do our thing really. Sometimes we like to speed things up or slow down. It's that natural imperfection that makes our music. We want that human element but we also want to be raw, organic and imperfect. We shoot for spontaneity every time and don't want to play the same show twice. I would rather take a chance rather than do a premeditated set.

ES: What is something you guys have learned over the years? Maybe the top three things?

RC: One of the biggest things about being a professional musician is that you have to be willing to make bad decisions sometimes. It's similar to that saying, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." I remember one of my first Dopapod shows, and they told me you have to rent your own car to get to the gig but we can't pay you back and you won't get paid that much from this gig, oh and you have to take off work for that day to get there. My dad thought it was a terrible idea. But, I did it anyway, and now, here we are.

When you are touring arguments will inevitably happen no matter what. Whether you are right or wrong, say you're sorry because both of you are mad, and that's because you care about the band. That's what it all boils down to.

I would also say another thing I've learned is to not take myself or the band too seriously. I mean really it's not like we are doing open heart surgery every day. If there is a show that isn't perfect, there will always be another show. Those moments when we have the most fun at a show is when we are taking chances, and it's working. There is that sense of telepathy in the air and that magic happens.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Dopapod

When: 10 p.m. Friday, July 24

Where: Schmiggity’s, 821 Lincoln Ave.

Tickets: $12