The birth of the band known to all of us as Dope was made official in 1997 while front man Edsel Dope was living in New York. A life long dream of being in the music industry, Edsel looks back at his childhood quest and states “Having a career in the music business is all I ever dreamed of as a kid – and my whole life has been committed to that childhood dream.”
Dope’s newest album is suitably titled ‘No Regrets” reflecting Edsel’s life while bringing his life long dream to fruition. Busy preparing for a tour with Black Label Society this spring, Edsel took the time to talk with me about how the band began, where they find the drive to keep going and what fans can expect this tour.
TFL: Edsel – how’s it going?
ED: Goin’ alright how bout’ yourself?
TFL: Good – can’t wait to see you guys next month.
ED: Cool – where you at?
ED: Calgary Canada!
TFL: You betcha!
ED: Wow! It’s been awhile since we been there!
TFL: We have over 1.2 million people here Edsel – we’ll make you as deaf as you make us!
ED: That’s what I hear! The shows up there are just out of control nowadays which is very exciting.
TFL: So you looking forward to everything with Zakk & doing this tour?
ED: Absolutely! We’ve got a lot of crazy stuff going on right now trying to get through it, producing some stuff and trying to finish up all of the last minute stuff for this record. The tour should be great, it’s a great opportunity, we’re excited…Zakk has been so gracious to us & just looking forward to a whole new campaign, a new record & some big touring opportunities and some opportunities to go to some places we haven’t been to in awhile.
TFL: So you’re out promoting ‘No Regrets”
TFL: One of my favorite tracks of your is the one you renamed ‘Die Boom Bang Burn F**k
ED: Oh yeah, that one. It’s funny we just took…when we’re doing it live it’s a bunch of tracks you know we just…we stopped playing, mainly older songs we just stopped playing the whole song and just sort of created this medley out of all these silly heavy metal nursery rhymes and fan favorites of the past years & decided to finally record it so we could throw it on there as a bonus track on the record.
TFL: You had said that the major record deal was “life changing” for you guys.
TFL: Can you maybe elaborate a little more on that?
ED: Well I mean, certainly for for me – and we’re going back 10 years now you know it was 1997 and my employment at the time was going from working in nightclubs in New York city to realizing that everybody was asking me where to find drugs and I could make more money if I sold them drugs instead of pointing them to the guy at the end of the bar who would make money off selling them drugs. That sort of became my occupation for awhile in order to make quick money in order to make demos and help to promote the band & so on and so forth. Point being that finally getting a record deal and having a plan where you had now an entity other that yourself willing to fund your art & help you move forward and promote and take your band just out of New York City & point it at the entire country and eventually the entire world certainly changes everything (chuckling).
TFL: Are you guys going to be heading over to Europe to do any of the summer festivals this year?
ED: We’re hoping to, we have nothing locked in right now but certainly something that we want to do & do everything we can to make happen.
TFL: What about about North America – are you looking at any festivals there as well?
You know it’s the same scenario – the only thing we’re locked in for is the BLS tour and we’re starting to put together our summer plans right now. Nowadays everything works a little quicker than it used to. It’s weird – some tours get booked 6 months out and other ones get booked you know real short notice I think for us because we’ve been making a record for awhile & haven’t had a new record in the marketplace for a couple years. We’ve sort of just been waiting for this moment right now – to have the record actually begin being promoted, begin getting on the radio and start making noise again. Now that we’re sort of back on the radar screen of a lot of people, we’ll now start submitting ourselves for involvement in some of those bigger festivals and so on and so forth around the world and see who is interested now that we’re kind of buzzing again.
TFL: tell me about your Idols & Icons – who influenced you to be in this industry?
ED: In the industry in general I was pretty young when this all sort of bit me, so for me it was at the baby age of listening Kiss & watching the big arena show environment and then it graduated from Kiss to Motley Crue, then it graduated from Motley Crue to Nine Inch Nails, Minsitry and Manson & bands like that. It’s really beeen an evolving thing but I think it starts and has always been with the bands that it’s not just about a record, it’s about the entire lifestyle of what the band encompassed – there just was more to it; there was some imagry and there was something more exciting than just 10 song on an LP back then. I was always drawn to bands that had…it was more than just about music & something about the sex, drugs and Rock & Roll and the bigger than life arena shows – that what really what sucked me in. It’s obviously a little different nowadays but I still think that for all the bands that are out there doing what they’re doing I think we’ve certainly carved out our own little niche of what works for us and what’s allowed us to survive this long & not be strapped to any one scene or any one sound really.
TFL: If you look back & you’ve got 5 studio albums now right?
ED: Yes, this is the 5th one.
TFL: When you look back & you look at the writing and you look at the songs – do you notice a maturity or a growth within yourself and within the band as you gone through the past 10 years?
ED: Sure I mean we’ve certainly gotten better as players and gotten more musical and so on and so forth but I think the one thing that I think has really gotten clearer is the direction. This is a band, the first record for all intensive purposes was a demo that I made in my bedroom, got a record deal and sort of re-mixed it and went from there. From there, really started to expand the band – like you mentioned earlier, I’m not just a fan of one type of music & I don’t just write one type of music and neither does my guitar player who is a big influence on where we go so saying all that, if you go back and you trace the 5 albums that we’ve have you’re certainly going to find songs that are undeniably the sound of what people think of when the think of ‘Dope’ – you’ll also find songs that in a lot of regard have no business being on ‘Dope’ albums. They are just completely out of left field and will surprise you & I think what has happened through the years has probably been the most glaring growth sign for me at least is that we’ve sort of defined what we want Dope to be over the last couple of albums. The songs that we normally would sort of jam on to a Dope album because we felt like it’s our music & we’re Dope so it doesn’t really matter if it sounds like what people expect Dope to sound like, we’ve sort of taken those influences and tried to find other places for them to live. Introducing other bands or having side projects and so on and so forth and really tried to focus in on what we think Dope does best & really just Dope be what it was really meant to be from the start. I think this record we did a really good job of that, I think “American Apathy’ the previous record we did a really good job of that and I think what we really tried to do on this one is not just continue to re identify and define the sound of Dope but we wanted to make it a little smarter & we wanted to show the musicianship of the band a little bit more than we have in the past.
TFL: I think music fans appreciate that because I’ve sai for years that so many new bands were lacking the substance you know whether it was a guitar solo or a bit of a drum solo or SOMETHING! Besides your normal 1-2 count on the drum or a quick little riff being called a solo – whoop-de-doo!
ED: ( laughing)
TFL: Give me something! Give me music that is going to make me sit back and go YAH!… THAT is what I’m talking about! Zakk’s done it, Disturbed has done it & Dope has done it! It’s just so refreshing to see bands going back and going ‘you know what we really need to give more to ourselves as a band but to our fans as well’. That has been missing for the past 10 years, it’s been boring hum-drum BLAH in a lot of different genres. What I like, especially about Dope is you go out on stage & it’s all about the passion for the music – you are very ballsy in what you do.
ED: (chuckling) You know we’ve sort of just done what we’ve done for so long and evolved in such a way that there is always going to be haters, there is always going to be people who want to put you in a box and want to say ‘you do this or you do that’ and like I said just write hate on it and I expect that & I actually kind of enjoy that to be honest with you. More than anything, man I’ve played so many live shows with this band, we’ve been around for so long you would be hard pressed to find a hard rock/metal fan & to mention our band name and not have them some what familiar with something that we’ve done. The most important thing that I think I’ve come to really realize is that there is a lot of bands out there playing a lot of different kinds of Rock & Roll or Heavy Metal and some of it has extreme substance & message to it and some people take their music & their lyric extremely seriously and I might be guilty of that myself at times – but the one thing I always try to do is leave that stuff in the studio because when it’s time to go on tour even though you might be on stage singing lyrics that have some meaning or message & people in the crowd are feeling it…at the end of the day a Rock & Roll concert is about getting away from all of the serious shit in your life & having a really good time. It’s one thing that we always bring – it’s always about we’re at a party tonight and you guys left your house and drove in the snow or what ever you did to come and hang out & party so let’s make sure that gets done! That has always been our battle cry – the songs are important and the record is important but to me it’s so much more about the show, the energy and about people leaving with a sense of man this is why I came out because I had a really great time tonight and I can’t wait for the next time that band comes to town because I know I’m going to go and party again and have a really great time.
TFL: That’s what I say – if my ears don’t ring for 2 days and I have a voice the next day…it wasn’t loud enough or I didn’t party hard enough.
TFL: I actually had an interview with Zakk just a few days ago Edsel and he’s invited me backstage so I do hope I get the chance to see you & put a face to the voice – it would be a pleasure to meet you.
ED: It would be a pleasure and we’re very easy to find. Just throw something at me and say ‘Edsel BEER!’
TFL: I’m pretty easy to find apparently as well (laughing)
ED: (laughing) Looking forward to it!
TFL: Any message you want to put out to your fans at all?
ED: Just you know, we wouldn’t be here without the support of the people that have sort of stuck with this band through so many years. We are excited to do exactly what you just said – to go out there and re-introduce ourselves to a lot of people that may not be aware that we’re still an active band. At the same time, we have a really great hard core underground fan base that make us feel welcome in all the cities that we continue to tour on a regular basis but there is a lot of places that we haven’t been able to go to as frequently as we would like and Canada is one of those places – we are super excited to see our fans and we’re super excited to re-introduce a lot of people to a band that they may never have heard of or they may have just forgotten about and I think with this record and with Zakk’s blessings that a lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised.
This rocker cannot wait for the show – the new album is packed with songs that will without a doubt rock your world and make you drive faster than you ever thought you would. ‘No Regrets’ is certainly enjoyed best with the loudest f***ing stereo you can get your hands on or driving down the highway at the speed of light.
Dope – opening for Black Label Society this spring – watch for tour listings & GO SEE THEM LIVE!! It will be time well spent..TRUST ME!
Backstage Live welcomes Edsel and the rest of the band Dope into our rocking family & stand by every ounce of Metal they ooze out of their pours.
Photo Credit – Live photos from Calgary concert – Tracy Forsyth-Lundy