Alex Stoitsiadis and bandmates balance spontaneity, meticulous planning in building to forthcoming full-length debut
A cartwheel that started as a spontaneous display of exuberance for Dogleg singer/guitarist (and childhood gymnast) Alex Stoitsiadis has now become a nightly routine that, depending on the size of the stage, might even require a bit of forethought.
“One time I did it on a much smaller stage and almost kicked Chase [Macinski], our bassist, in the head,” Stoitsiadis said of the move, which he typically does one-handed and mid-song, his guitar clasped in his other hand. The cartwheel even features in the video for new Dogleg single “Fox,” which you can watch below (pay attention at the 2:34 mark). “So I’ll keep doing it, but I have to gauge it now sometimes."
It’s a decent metaphor for the band, which has toed the line between unplanned, energetic bursts (its live shows are typically unhinged) and more meticulous planning, a trait that has revealed itself in the slow, steady approach the musicians have taken to their forthcoming full-length debut — an album that has been in the works since the release of 2016 EP Remember Alderaan?
“With this new album, I was definitely looking to make something as good as possible for a home recording, and for something that’s essentially just us making songs in a basement,” said Stoitsiadis, who will join his bandmates, all of whom met playing punk covers at the School of Rock in high school, in concert at Rumba Cafe on Saturday, Jan. 18. “Unfortunately, we took a little more time than we wanted to, and we went through a couple of different producers, and then we got the [label offer] from Triple Crown, which slowed everything down. But we found some ups, where it was good for us to really sit with [the record] some more and really understand what we wanted from it. … With the EP it was like, ‘OK, we’re just going to bash it out and do what we feel and not really take that deep dive into the whole process,' whereas with this [full-length] we’ve been able to take that time to make it perfect.”Andy has never attempted a cartwheel but as a kid he did break his arm doing the Moonwalk. Sign up for our daily newsletter
Not that this pursuit for perfection should be confused with a more polished presentation. Stoitsiadis said preserving a degree of rawness in the recordings was of pivotal importance, including leaving in notes that might sound like mistakes in order to “make it like we’re playing right in front of you.”
“There’s parts where I’m like, ‘Oh, this solo sounds dirty and raw and awesome. Do I want to go back and prettify it and make it all neat and nice?’” continued the singer, who pointed to producers like Steve Albini as sources of sonic inspiration. “No, not really. Because that’s not how this band is supposed to sound. Making things clean and nice seems like it would take away that edge, to me.”
Lyrically, Dogleg is equally unpolished, with Stoitsiadis adopting an approach similar to a line he barks in “Fox”: “Stuck in a time when my mind came out of my mouth.” The musician said he writes unfiltered and often stream-of-conscious, essentially opening his mind and letting the thoughts pour onto the page. Many times, he won’t even realize precisely what he’s processing in a song until much later, when time and distance bring those emotions into starker relief.
“They’re very much from my head and off the cuff, which is why they can be a little haphazard. They’re not the most detailed, story-oriented thing, but I definitely relate to them, because I see them as kind of a part of me,” Stoitsiadis said. “There was one song where I was worried because it felt like complete gibberish, but it was so intense because it felt like I was just going off of the rails. Then I listened to the demo recording and it was like, ‘OK, I’m making some sense of this,’ and now I’m connecting with it more because I finally have a better idea of what I was saying.”
Watch the video for "Fox"