Contributor’s Note: We want to thank Dolphin Pal for taking the time to interview with us! Check out their music video for “The Hows” at the link provided.
I feel that your music has a lot of DIY influences. I hear a lot of Beat Happening in your production and the lyrics on ‘The Hows’ feels like it could have been penned by Daniel Johnson. Can you talk a little about your aesthetic and who are some of your influences?
We’ve been really inspired by DIY communities all over the country and feel really lucky that we’ve gotten to participate in some of those communities. We formed at Skidmore College so that definitely played a big role in our aesthetic. Historically, Skidmore has always had a strong DIY scene, so a lot of cool bands would often come through student’s basements or our on-campus venue, Falstaffs. A lot of us were introduced to bands like gobbinjr, Mitski, Diane Coffee, Porches, Free Cake For Every Creature, Frankie Cosmos at Falstaffs. We’ve been invited to play in some DIY venues that we really love, and some of our favorite shows have been with bands that we consider staples of the Northeast underground music community—Tiny Hazard, Peaer, Hypoluxo, Birthing Hips, Vundabar, Wydeyed, Slight, and more. We love every show!
Some other acts that have really inspired us recently are Andy Shauf and Mothers. We’re also really amazed by how influential Palm has become in the past couple years because we’ve been fans of theirs since the beginning. Mike was obsessed with Yucky Duster (R.I.P.) for a while and a lot of us hold tiny DIY bands from different eras really close to our heart—so yes, I guess we do have a lot of DIY influences!
Your music has a dreamlike quality and you seem to use a lot of sounds and textures that could be described as rough and abrasive. I see this rawness to reflect your lyrical content on ‘The Hows.’ What’s your song writing process like? What comes first for you guys, lyrics or music?
Most of the time our songs stem from a musical idea that we enjoy playing together and then lyrics come once the form of the song is a bit more defined. The Hows is a unique track for us because we originally got that song together for an acoustic open mic night that we were asked to play. But we really liked it so we decided to try recording it. The raw and abrasive sound is mostly intentional but, admittedly, sometimes it’s not—we’re fine with that though. The recording process was really new to us, so things didn’t always come out as expected (which was sometimes for the best) and we learned a lot as we worked to complete the record. With that, we’re hopefully going to approach our next album with a more understanding perspective in that sense.
Tell us a little about your music video for ‘The Hows.’ How did you guys come up with such a weird and strange idea for the video?
Ethan directed the video for The Hows. He’s a really weird guy. There’s not too much behind it other than trying to capture a really intense build up of emotion/energy in some way. The punch motif is less reflective of the actual lyrics in the song and more reflective of our feelings in regards to big changes in our lives—both how these changes impact us and how we attempt to address them.
Who plays that amazing horn solo at the end of the song?
The horn solo at the end of The Hows is our friend Eric Stilwell playing the trombone. We asked Eric to comment on this he said, “that’s my masters degree paying for itself.” Mike has known Eric for years and we’ve always been a huge fan of his work. Eric has his own project that you should check out called Gridlock—there’s no recorded history of them but (for those reading in Boston) you can probably find them in a basement somewhere around Allston or Jamaica Plain very soon. We had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Gridlock and (former Boston legends) Birthing Hips at a venue near Skidmore some time around Winter ’17. Eric also recorded and toured with a bunch of other cool bands like Beaverton and The World Is A Beautiful Place And We Are No Longer Afraid To Die, both of which we love.
What are your live shows like? What can people expect when they go to see you?
Our live show is really important to us—our priority was always the live show over any sort of recordings. Recording ‘Slight Exhale’ was more of an afterthought that came once we realized we’ve been performing the these songs for a while and we should probably record them so that we feel fully comfortable moving onto different/newer material that we’ve been creating. To be honest, we’re generally more stoked about iPhone recordings of the tour we did in August with Modern Vices over any of our studio recordings. Most of the shows on that tour were in DIY spots and certain nights are pretty cool to listen back on. We occasionally leak clips of audio from tour/past shows on our Instagram, too.
So what’s next for you guys?
Most of us just moved into a house in Bushwick together and we’re starting to record new material. We’re hoping to do at least one more tour in the Spring before our new recordings are ready to be released. Like we were saying earlier, the DIY music communities are really special to us and we’d like to continue contributing to those communities however we can.
- Photo Credit: Omari Spears
And there you have it! Check out Dolphin Pal at the following locations: