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An interview with Edsel Dope of Dope

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Thursday, September 8, 2005 @ 11:15 AM


A Smart Dope

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I’m very, very serious about what I do and I work really hard and I want to make sure that whatever I put out I’m proud of. But, dude, do I think that I’m doing something that’s never been done before? Give me a break, dude. We want to rock, man, and we want to do rock shows. And why people go to rock shows? To have fucking fun! At least, that’s what I went to rock shows for when I was younger, and even to this day. So, for me, it’s about going to a rock show and having a good time and having the band basically be your spokesperson of the night. – Edsel Dope July, 2005

Dope has just released their fourth, all-new studio album, American Apathy, and have hit the road, co-headling the Music for Freedom tour with Mushroomhead. Their high-powered, pumping rhythms and crushing grooves are sure to make the packed houses move and the pits are sure to form. That’s what always seems to happen whenever Dope’s around.

Dope’s singer and frontman, Edsel Dope speaks about his band, the ever-changing landscape of the music scene and keeping it fun, seriously. No matter fucking what.

So, hit this …

KNAC.COM: Hi, Edsel.

Edsel Dope: Yo, dude. What’s up?

KNAC.COM: Alright, man, where you at? Back East?

Edsel Dope: No. Chicago. Yeah, that’s where we live.

KNAC.COM: What part?

Edsel Dope: A few minutes outside the city, in the suburbs. We got a house, where our studio’s at. We all live there and our studio’s set up there.

KNAC.COM: Your new album hits the streets on July 26th.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, this Tuesday.

KNAC.COM: So, you’re going to launch a tour?

Edsel Dope: Yep. We’re going to go out with Mushroomhead and Dope on the Music for Freedom tour. Jagermeister is sponsoring it. It’s gonna’ be eight weeks and we’re hitting the whole country, and the premise of the tour is that anybody from the military with a military ID gets in free.

KNAC.COM: What a good campaign.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, man, we’ve always had this cool relationship with the soldiers; especially ever since our “Die Motherfucker Die” song came out {laughs}. It’s crazy, man. We had so many veterans and so many soldiers coming to the shows just going, like, “Dude, you don’t know, man. When it’s dark black outside and I got my night vision on, and all I got crankin’ in my head is Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” and Dope’s “Die Motherfucker Die”, man, it’s like we’re just primed to have our senses ready to rock.” It’s always been like a weird connection we’ve had. We’ve always put our name in the hat to be in there to perform on those tours in Iraq – we’re just never considered because of our name. You know, this is an opportunity for us to at least give something back to those guys and girls that have continued to fight for us.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, no kidding. So it’s probably not likely that you would ever go back to the name Edsel Dope or any other thing. That’s just not happening, I mean we know you as Dope and that’s where you’re gonna’ stay. Even if you don’t get to do a WSO tour, or whatever.

Edsel Dope: No, I mean the band is Dope. I’m sure I’ll do things outside of Dope, but I don’t think that they’ll be very reminiscent of Dope. Anything that’s got the Dope sound and the craziness of what Dope represents, it is Dope. I think that this band has just continued to just identify ourselves as what everybody thinks we are.

KNAC.COM: The stuff that I’ve listened to of yours is definitely motivational music.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, right!

KNAC.COM: It’s not like you’re doing a departure in your sound with the new record, American Apathy, right?

Edsel Dope: I think that on the last record we definitely took a little bit of a turn, and it was definitely intentional and I think the motivation that was for ourselves and also to prove everybody else that this band has a lot more depth than I think we were known for having, and that was really important to us as musicians and artists-- to show that we could do that, and that was great. And then after touring on that record for a couple years to put together the material for the new album, it was sort of a real natural progression for us to slide back into the dirtier, more groove–oriented departure that sounded good, because we wanted to make sure that every song on this record felt like something that we would want to play live. And that’s what really kept our fan base alive and built that energetic live band, so I really feel like anybody that goes to see this band play live and they walk out going “Man, the energy and the insanity of Dope”, they’re gonna take this CD and put it in their CD player and go “Oh, yeah, here it is, it’s continued on, let’s drive really fast all the way home.”

{laughs}

KNAC.COM: You’re familiar with KNAC.COM, right?

Edsel Dope:Definitely.

KNAC.COM: It’s great. One of our anthem songs is “Bitch”.

Edsel Dope: ! That’s one of my favorite tunes, man.

KNAC.COM: It’s kind of tongue-in-cheeky, it’s fun, it’s funny and you can dance to it.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, and then you can also mosh to it, ya’ know? It’s that heavy, groovy, chunky, dirty song, but the chicks dig it and it’s sexual. I don’t know, man, I think that song really does define our band, because there are so few hard rock, heavy metal bands that incorporate the sex side of things into their music and incorporate girls into their music and it’s so much more testosterone-driven anger, and I think that that’s one thing that’s always set Dope apart from a lot of our contemporaries is that we bring a little bit of that old school Motley Crue Shout at the Devil 80’s element into what we do because that’s what we all grew up on.

KNAC.COM: I agree. And it seems anymore that there are all these sub-genres of rock, and people would probably throw you in the pool of Nu-Metal. A lot of music now is very doom and gloom, sign of the times, here comes the end, the devil n’shit, where Dope probably incorporates all of that here and there, but chicks dig it. The troops would take it to war. I mean, how fuckin’ cool is that?

Edsel Dope: Yeah, to be honest, dude, a big part of it for me is that we don’t take ourselves that goddamned seriously. I’m very, very serious about what I do and I work really hard and I want to make sure that whatever I put out I’m proud of. But, dude, do I think that I’m doing something that’s never been done before? Give me a break, dude. We want to rock, man, and we want to do rock shows. And why people go to rock shows? To have fucking fun! At least, that’s what I went to rock shows for when I was younger, and even to this day. So, for me, it’s about going to a rock show and having a good time and having the band basically be your spokesperson of the night. And we’re gonna’ be up there being your master of ceremonies because, at the end of the day, it’s a fuckin’ party, man, and you wanna’ crank it up and you wanna’ drink and party with chicks and you wanna’ have a good time. And that’s always meant more to us than thinking that we have some ever-so-meaningful message that we must get across {laughs} and the world is coming to an end and Satan is our leader. Fuck all that bullshit!

KNAC.COM: Yeah, there’s enough of that already.

Edsel Dope: Give me a fuckin’ break, dude. Anybody that takes themselves that seriously and that thinks their music is that important or prolific is a fuckin’ bonehead.

KNAC.COM: Give them the gun now.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, exactly, dude. Do us all a favor and shoot yourselves, you know, if you need to shoot a few people at the same time -“Okay, dude, your cool, I’ll remember you, whatever.

KNAC.COM: Cleansing.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, whatever, man.

KNAC.COM: So with Artemis you’re on with Black Label Society.

Edsel Dope: The last record we sort of did our own indie thing, we put the record out on our own and Artemis distributed that record for us. They acquired Black Label Society and, through the course of that, Danny Goldberg gave me a call, and said that he had always been a big fan of the band and said that he wanted this record to himself, you know? He said he was really trying to take the Artemis label to the next level. They really were very strong in their feelings of letting us let them have this record. And my relationship with Danny was getting stronger and that was what led us to doing the straight up Artemis deal.

KNAC.COM: How long is the Music for Freedom tour going to be?

Edsel Dope: I believe eight weeks, and then we may stay out for another week or so just to hit some of the smaller markets because there are some little cool towns that are really rockin’ us right now that aren’t where you would normally stop along the way on a tour. So we’re considering maybe trying to go to some of these little places where nobody goes. That’s always been a part odf what we do, too. We’re the band that goes to Montana. Where nobody else will go.

KNAC.COM: The guerilla small club tour band!

Edsel Dope: Yeah, man, it’s always been fun and it just allows you to reach more fans. This band’s been around for a really long time, so for us to go out with no support [other bands], and be able to reach new fans is great, because generally the only way that you’re able to reach new people is by supporting bands that you’ve never toured with before or opening for bands, or what have you. So we’ve always tried –whenever we’ve had the opportunity –to go to some small towns that we’ve never been to in order to do that.

KNAC.COM: The next tour you do after this one with Mushroomhead will be on a bigger scale, as far as the venue goes, right?

Edsel Dope: Yeah, this Mushroomhead tour that we’re doing-- we’ve kept the same size rooms because we like to make sure that it’s all squashed in and, just … sick. Mushroomhead and Dope is crazy, too. That’s one of the reasons that we get along so well with those guys and we’ve partnered up with them as many times as we have, because they have the same mentality we have when it comes to putting everything into a live show, so that’s the first place we connected with them, and then more so than that –they don’t have a competitive attitude, and neither do we. A lot of times when you’re a band that likes to use production and put on a show, bands that you’re touring with can take that the wrong way and think that you’re trying to upstage them and want to try to limit the amount of production and lights you have—and that’s really not the case, it’s just that we have a particular vision for what we want to put across and Mushroomhead does as well. That’s worked out really good for us all because we’re trying to figure out a way that both bands can accommodate one another so that we can both use our full show and not be worried about whether or not one band can stand out more so than the other band, because, shit, who’s going to confuse Mushroomhead and Dope? (laughs) We’re totally different, but for some reason …because we both have the heavy roots and our underground fan base our fans dig them and their fans like us and we share a lot of fans as well, so it works really good.

KNAC.COM: Keeping the ego factor down some, right?

Edsel Dope: Well, I think there’s a humble factor too, due to the fact that Mushroomhead’s a band that’s been extremely independent. Even though they’ve been on a major label, they’ve been around a long time and they’ve been beating extremes on the tour, touring the country for so long on their own, even without label support, just like we have. And I think when you’ve done that as long as we all have –you’ve been in the headlining slot and had the lines wrapped around the place. You’ve been in the opening slot, where you’re very grateful and thankful that you would be on the bill. And once you’ve gone through those ups-and-downs it’s very humbling, and I think that both bands are extremely humble. What are we gonna do? Are we gonna argue about who gets more lights? Give me a fuckin’ break, dude! (laughs) Let’s play a show for the kids that are paying to see the show …because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about, because without the fans and without the kids we wouldn’t be doing this anyway. So we want to all put on the best show that we can so the kids walk away going “Wow, that fuckin’ Music for Freedom tour with Dope and Mushroomhead was the best tour all year!” That’s what we want. We could care less who shines more than the other. I don’t know …I never really understood that mentality.

KNAC.COM: So it sounds like your whole motivation is to keep heavy music going, perpetuate that, make people happy and let ‘em escape for a night.

Edsel Dope: Yeah, man, and nowadays it’s even more important than ever because -- you know it’s places like yourself [KNAC.COM] and bands like us that are able to keep this community thriving, because the mainstream is not supporting this kind of music right now …

KNAC.COM: Not even …

Edsel Dope: …the media, the mainstream radio and everything else –it really dictates what is pushed down everybody’s throat. They couldn’t give two flying fucks about any of this stuff right now, so the fact that bands are still going out there and doing what they have to do to put it together to make it work for the kids, and the fact that places like yourself [KNAC.COM] are still covering this kind of music and embracing it …it makes us all that much more important to each other than we’ve ever been. And we’re all in it together if we want this thing to continue going.

KNAC.COM: That’s the attitude, man. I think that some of these bands-- and I’m speaking about the bands on the indie labels, the ones that play the small clubs-- they’re packing their own equipment; they’re selling their own merchandise, their shirts, their CD’s and whatever, and they would be doing it if they were living in a van down by the river.

Edsel Dope: As Chris Farley would say.

KNAC.COM: Exactly. I’ll save the imitation for when I see you in person.

Edsel Dope: Please do. Can you go through a table?

(laughs)

KNAC.COM: What are you releasing as video and what is the first single going to be?

Edsel Dope: I’m into the heavier part of the record, which really is the whole record. There’s only one or two songs that aren’t that “live, in your face” kind of sound. The song that got picked up to rock radio is the song “Always”, which is actually doing really well for us, but the song we’re really pushing worldwide and we’re pushing on the tour and we shot the video for is the song “Survive.” It kinda, just encompasses the attitude of this band after four records and being around as long as we’ve been around, with all the ups-and-downs that we’ve faced. This song has really captured the kind of spirit of where we’re at. The video came out great, Headbangers Ball and Fuse have both accepted it, and they’re going to start playing it really soon. It’s a combination of a trip we just did in Japan, with a bunch of live footage from Japan, mixed together with clips of every video that we’ve ever shot. So, it just really kind of walks the timeline and sort of reminds people, that maybe haven’t checked us out in a while, how long we’ve been around and how much we’ve been able to accomplish and stick around through the ever changing trends and through the music business that continues to keep going down the tubes.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, it sure has plummeted, but it’s kind of neat to turn on some show like Headbangers Ball or Fuse TV and see Juliya pumping videos out. I imagine Dope will have a saeat up there and get interviewed by her. I can see that happening.

Edsel Dope: I would imagine. I know we’re going to do The Ball. Like, we did The Ball last year. Jamey [Jasta] has always been really cool and supportive of us, and Juliya, we’ve known her forever, too, so I’m sure we’ll be on both networks doing our dog and pony show. We love that kind of shit. It’s like being able to be part of the Howard Stern show for fifteen minutes. It’s not supposed to be like that …that’s what I’m turning it into. I find myself talking less and less about the record and less and less about the music and more about telling stories and just fuckin’ off, because it’s more fun and it’s who we really are.

KNAC.COM: That’s what I do. I go way off the path. Sometimes I don’t say “Who are your influences?” or “Hey, I heard you were a drummer, Edsel.” We know that by the bios we read. I wanna know …are you going to do the same thing that Zakk Wylde did on Fuse and say to Juliya “Spank my ass”, and hang a moon? That’s the most important stuff, you know?

Edsel Dope: (laughs) Let’s just say I won’t do that because Zakk did it, but I’ll have my own. Last time I went on Headbangers Ball I took my screaming rubber chicken with me. It was great, because we all did the old school cartoon gimmick where we all had big, giant tall-boy Budweisers and had ‘em wrapped in brown paper bags with the big triple X’s written on ‘em. (laughs) Big, giant brown bags with X’s on ‘em, because they wouldn’t let us drink beer on-the-air. We’re like, “Fuck this, it’s nine o’clock in the morning, man. We’re not here to sit here and be tight and wound up.” “Let’s talk about the record and influences …” Fuck that!

KNAC.COM: It’s our day off!

Edsel Dope: Yeah, let’s have fun.

KNAC.COM: I know this is probably a “no fly” zone, but I’m gonna ask it anyway: what’s up with Tripp [Eisen]?

Edsel Dope: You know, dude, let’s me just say that I haven’t had a relationship with that guy in years. Obviously we’ve had a lot of words and we haven’t been on the best of terms since I replaced him in Dope many, many moons ago. If there was ever a time that I should bury that guy, now is the time, and the fact that I haven’t done it, hopefully will make a lot of people out there that were very biased see that I’m not the dick that you might think I am. I’m still an asshole and I still speak my mind, and if there’s a problem I’ll be the first one to let you know, but …this is a time where it’s really not my place to go and give my two cents. All I can say is that it’s a shame, I guess, because I wouldn’t have wished that shit on anybody. Going to prison is the worst fuckin’ thing in the world, but in this life you have to be responsible for your actions and held accountable, and I guess he got himself into some shit that wans’t exactly the smartest thing to do and he’s paying the piper, man. Hopefully he’ll come through it alright and he’ll figure out a way to put his pieces back together and not go batshit, but you gotta use your head, dude.

KNAC.COM: There’s plenty of nubile, eighteen and over, girls out there, but that’s my two cents, you know?

Edsel Dope: I agree with you. I think it was deeper than that. From what I understand-- it wasn’t like, “Oh, I got caught with a young girl in the back of my tourbus. Oops.” It was like you don’t look for it …you don’t seek it out on the Internet, dude. I don’t know …like I said, I hope that he comes through it alright and I hope he doesn’t have too long a time in the can, you know, I would definitely not drop the soap …

KNAC.COM: In the can. (laughs)

Edsel Dope: That ain’t the right place to be, man. Let me tell ya –he ain’t got a “doing time” kind of disposition. But, obviously everybody was blown away when they heard about it. But, like I said before, this is a guy that has gone way out of his way many times to try to hurt me and this band say a lot of really terrible things, and we’ve had a lot of words.

KNAC.COM: Koichi’s back in Static-X and their doing great, and life goes on, right?

Edsel Dope: Well, maybe it’s humbling, man, you know, because those have been a lot of the issues that I’ve had with people in the past –it’s like you run around and act like you’re super valuable and important. You don’t realize what is important until you get into a position where you’re able to step back and look. For example, a band like Static-X –we know why Static-X is successful, because Wayne Static is a bad motherfucker, and wrote some great songs and the band was platinum on the first record, and “Push It” was a great song and they have a great live show. You can interchange members like that band has done as many times as my band at this point, and they’re still going strong and people still love them. And Dope is on a very similar path, you know, we have to change a band member every album, just like Static-X seems to have to change a band member, and it doesn’t really slow the band’s momentum down. Marilyn Manson has done the same thing. Rob Zombie has done the same thing and Nine Inch Nails has done the same thing and now Soil has done the same thing and Drowning Pool. It’s so funny to me when people come to me and say “How come your band’s been through so many members?” Who the fuck …what planet are you living on? We’re not the only band that’s gone through this and at the end of the day, I think, what’s proven, is that there are certain individuals that see thing and make shit happen and work their asses off, and they believe in an idea. And these people are not always surrounded by people that have the same agendas, so sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t, but as long as you have that drive where you’re willing to continue to make a situation happen, then the band is going to continue on, and with every single band that I’ve mentioned, that’s been the case. Every single one of those guys, including myself, work as hard as they work and continue to make these bands survive through the ups-and-downs because it’s not easy, and it’s not getting any easier through these years, you know? It’s just a matter of continuing to do what you do, stick to your guns and perservere. A career is what this is about. It’s not about one record and one song on the radio. To me it’s always been about a career and this is our fourth album and we’ll just keep doing it.

KNAC.COM: James Brown was once touted as being the hardest working man in showbiz -- you’re right up there, man. Edsel, thanks for your time.

Edsel Dope: Alright, brother …later on.


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