Birthed of blues aspirations, The Dough Rollers will certainly surprise you.
Depending on which Dough Rollers configuration you listen to first, you might think you’ve traveled back in time to either a 1920’s low country blues bar or possibly to the Freedom Rock era of 1978.
Original New York based duo Malcolm Ford (vocals, guitar) and Jack Byrne (guitar) have evolved over the past few years- experimenting with a fiddle player for a bit- finally arriving at full-fledged band status with their addition of Josh Barocas (bass) and Kyle Olson (drums).
Photo by Jo McCaughey
Their Third Man Records 2013 single release TMR 216 ‘Little Lily/ The Sailing Song’ features the group in their current state. Sans the sartorial splendor of their early days, they are better equipped to impart their diversified message in a far more relatable way.
Initially they struck me as kind of Chris Robinson meets Little Feat. Reaching further into their back catalog, their vast array of influences becomes more evident. Check out the video for 'Mansion on a Hill'.
(Warning- You may find yourself craving a whiskey sour… or some barbeque… I don’t know, but get you some)
In the meantime, check out what Jack Byrne & Kyle Olson have to say regarding their upcoming EP, SXSW showcases and what it was like to record in Third Man Records.
I know you most frequently perform in NY & LA and have toured with some major musicians such as Bob Dylan and QOTSA. Will this be your first time playing SXSW? What showcases/ venues will you be playing?
Jack Byrne: Malcolm and I played Austin City Limits a few years ago when it was just the two of us, but this is gonna be our first time at SXSW. We're playing at The Museum of Human Achievement for Third Man Records on Saturday the 15th and then at Rusty's for the "See Something Say Something Showcase" also on Saturday. If it's anything like ACL, I'll be ready to sit in traffic for hours, but other than that I don't know what to expect.
Kyle Olson: I played SXSW a couple years ago with another band, Friend Roulette, but yea this will our first time down there as Dough Rollers.
You’ve got a new EP coming out through Third Man Records this spring and Rolling Stone Magazine recently previewed your first single from it, ‘Gone Baby Gone’. What do you feel this EP best represents about your band? Is ‘Gone Baby Gone’ indicative of an overall theme?
JB: I dunno - I guess hopefully that's it's just a good time. That we're playing things that just feel good - not worrying about all the other bullshit. All these people seem to be spending so much time worrying about "am I doing things exactly like the way they say I'm supposed to? blah blah etc. etc." It seems like a lot of music in general, but especially rock has lost that thing - I don't know what it is exactly - fun, sense of humor, whatever it is that made it cool in the first place. Like there's nothing cool or fun about Coldplay, you know? Or like this thing thats shown up in the past few years of all these bullshit, whiny "indie" bands. What happened to Diamond Dave? So many people are so worried they're gonna piss somebody off or some dick on the internet is going to like their record that all this shit just winds up being this kind of stale, safe rehash of the same stale, safe shit we've been hearing for years now. I'm not saying we're trying to reinvent the wheel or anything but I mean come on rock music is supposed to be fun right? Hopefully if you listen close you can tell where we stole all our shit from, you know, "our influences" and hopefully you can just hear the freedom for experimenting that we had in the studio when we made the album.
KO: Yea I think this new EP has a lot to do with the spirit we felt coming out of our "Little Lily" recording session for the Third Man single. Just trying to make forward motion into rock - you know like take where we've been while also honoring a different / fresh set of influences. Maybe "Gone Baby Gone" is indicative of an overall theme - I don't know really. Of just saying fuck it and having a good time.
And it’s my understanding you’ve actually had two albums prior ('The Dough Rollers" self-titled and "Someday Baby") How did you find the process of releasing your own albums?
JB: I mean it was fine. There wasn't really much of a plan or process with those. We just did some recording and needed something to sell on tour so we printed up some albums and sold them. I actually don't think we have any left, which means that fortunately they're now gone forever. It was easy enough but not something that you really want to keep doing forever.
You’ve gone through a few evolutions as a band and your current configuration makes for quite a different sound compared to your earlier style. How did you go from folk/blues duo to a 4-piece rock band? What precipitated the loss of your more ‘costumed’ look?
JB: I guess we just did. You know for some reason now it's like if you do one thing you're not allowed to do anything else or it's going to blow people's minds to the point that they just can't comprehend how the same people could possibly do different shit. We started off with the more acoustic sound because it made sense for us at the time but then like with so many other things, you want to expand your horizons or some shit like that and gradually, maybe without even knowing it, you just kinda move on to something else. There's so much different music, why would you want to just play the same thing over and over again? Where we're at now has just sort of been the natural progression of playing together and listening over the past however many years it's been. Plus when you start bringing different people in and they bring their own background and influences, like when Kyle joined a couple years ago, things are bound to change.
I’m sure you get asked this a ton, but as a long time Third Man Fan and Vaulter, I gotta know- what’s it like to work and record in Third Man Records? How did that initial Blue Series single evolve? You also played the Desert Gold show at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs last year... how fun was that?
KO: They're really just the coolest bunch of people down there. Basically we got the call about doing a single and that kick-started this daily practice routine of writing and tightening - sort of zeroing in on "a sound." Point being though when we got there we were ready to bang the songs out in a couple takes - which was cool because it gave enough time that we got to see Jack White put his own flavor in there. Really inspiring to see how quickly and creatively he works. Palm Springs was a lot of fun - we had a great hang and alcohol fueled bonding session with all our buddies in the Third Man crew at their house. Our old bass player Josh wound up passed out in just a towel outside on a deck chair with people trying to burn him with lighters and shit to wake him up.
JB: It was just a great experience all in all being down there and recording and what not. It was great because it was something we had spoken about a few years ago and then we all ended up hanging out when we were playing in Nashville on the Queens tour. Out of the blue a couple years later we got a call about doing a record. When we got down there it was a great fit right off the bat. Like when you meet cousins you didn't even know you have or something and you just hit it off. Everybody got along really great and they just treated us really well. I don't know what to say about the Coachella - Palm Springs thing....From what I remember it was really fun though.
You’ve spent some time recently playing in Nashville- have you started to notice any of that ‘Nashville influence’ in your music?
JB: I'm not really sure about what that "Nashville influence is" - I mean country music is great and it's definitely something that's influenced us over the years but so much of what I hear in Nashville now is like this weird hybrid of rock, pop and rap with maybe some pedal steel or a southern accent thrown in just for good measure. So in that regard, no I don't think so. Though at the same time it's hard not be influenced in one way or another when you hear something no matter what it is. But it's not like we were in Nashville so all of the sudden we started copping things from George Jones records - we've always done that anyway.
KO: Plus it's not like we've really spent that much time down there anyway. Just a few days or a weekend here and there. Obviously touring and playing around makes you tighter as a band so I guess in that way it does change you but not into a bunch of Nashville session guys.
For someone who has never heard your band, describe your sound.
KO: Like a car crash only everyone comes out a better person.
JB: Uh - I always say four corny white dudes who play too loud and you do with that what you will. Somebody said "biker-soul" once. We all thought that was pretty funny.
Jack & Kyle answer our Top Five WaxO’s Gotta Know Questions
1) First vinyl memory?
KO: Finding my dad's records in the basement of our house. It was a lot of Kris Kristofferson and Hall and Oates.
JB: Not totally sure. I think it was in the 7th grade I walked the 30 minutes from school to the closest record store to get these albums because they hadn't been re-released on CD or whatever. It was this tiny little place but who knows I could just be making this all up. I'm really only guessing because that was around the time that I made the switch over to actual records.
2) What is an album you regularly spin for your own enjoyment?
KO: Culture "International Herb"
JB: I guess it depends on the weather and the time of day. But I can always listen to Ray Charles, early Louis Armstrong too. Shit like that. I like to listen to "Prisoner of Love" by James Brown a lot and "Cosa Nuestra" by Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe if it's nice outside.
3) What was the last album you added to your collection?
JB: I have no idea. I try to listen to at least one new thing a day so it's kind of hard to keep track. "Master Musician of India" by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan is on the top of my pile from today.
KO: Mine was "Let It Be"
4) What was your favorite album or new artist from last year?
JB: Who can keep track? There's so much new music now and so much of it is only readily available on somebody's website or something that it's really impossible to remember everything. Prince's new band 3rd Eye Girl is fucking great. I've really been digging on that stuff as it's becoming available. But then like I'm saying there's so much music out there. There are things that may still be escaping the public at large - like our old buddy Oliver Ignatius has been doing some great things with his band, Ghost Pal and he's also been recording some great music by other people at his studio MCFK in Brooklyn. Oh also the new Friend Roulette album is pretty awesome....
KO: "20/20" by Justin Timberlake has been pretty cool to take in.
5) What artists are you looking forward to hearing more of this coming year?
JB: Definitely really excited to hear more from Prince and 3rd Eye Girl. Also our good friend Elvis Perkins is finally putting out a new album and I can't wait for that. It''s gonna be some really great shit.
KO: Hanne Huckleberg from Norway.
Thanks so much to Jack & Kyle for participating in this Q&A!
The Dough Rollers will be performing at SXSW on March 15th at the Third Man Records Showcase at The Museum of Human Achievement & March 16th at the 'See Something Say Something Showcase' at Rusty's.