There are some bands that critics and naysayers predicted would fade from existence and disappear. If you are one of those fools and predicted the demise of Dope, you have never been more wrong than you are in 2014, as Edsel and his merry band of misfits deliver new music, a new stage show, and a new attitude to their legions of fans... especially in Flint, MI. With the show looming, Edsel took time to give us a call and discuss a myriad of things, including his love of The Machine Shop.
Toddstar: On the line we've got, Edsel Dope of Dope. How are you doing sir?
Edsel: I'm good buddy, how are you?
Toddstar: Good, good, man. You're calling from Minnesota today, eh?
Edsel: Yep, eh, I am.
Toddstar: Figured I'd throw that in as you are a little close to Canada. I'm near Detroit.
Edsel: Yeah, understood. You're in Detroit? Nice.
Toddstar: First of all, let me thank you much for taking time out of your schedule. I know you're heavy out on the road. We appreciate you taking a few minutes out for us.
Edsel: No problem man. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Toddstar: Let's talk about what's on everybody's mind, "Selfish." You guys dropped the video and the song. What can you tell us about it?
Edsel: It's step one, man. We've been working on lots of new material. I'm trying to figure out when I can reach a point to commit to putting out this record and doing the kind of touring that needs to be done around an album release. We've been doing a lot of little regional shows over the last couple years, but gearing up to put out a new album means a big tour. It means a lot of time on the road. This was step one to letting people know that we're starting to put the cart back on the track. It's just a taste, man. This Blood Money album has grown into a monster. It's looking like it's going to be a two-part album to be released separately. We'll release part one here at some point and then do a big tour, and follow it up with the second part shortly after so that we won't have the same issue we had before where we took a big long chunk between records. We plan on dropping a new record and staying busy and dropping another one and just really reestablishing our touring foothold that we had at one time. We just need to be ready to commit to that length of time away from home. As you get a little older and have other things going on in your life it's not like it was when you're a 20 year old kid that can just pick up and tour and not have anybody to answer to. That's where we're at.
Toddstar: Well cool. You've been out on the road. First, you're on this little stretch, which started last Friday. How does the material, the revamped lineup, but also the new song, how is this being received live?
Edsel: It's going over great. We also, if you notice, in that "Selfish" video, there's a bunch of digital LED walls behind us. Those are part of our live show too now. I think people are more enamored by the fact that the show is just completely 2014, digital and crazy. The show, from start to finish, incorporates the electronic elements of the LED screens and everything else. I think that we're bringing the best show that we've ever brought. Lineups are lineups to me. I've been changing out my lineups for years. It's quite humorous to me when I read comments from people that are asking about this or that. Clearly are people that haven't followed the band since the beginning. I've probably had 20 or 25 different touring members at this point. Respectfully, Dope goes where I go. I love and respect everybody who's ever shared the stage with me. I have no bad blood with any of them. Oftentimes people, they come and go and then oftentimes return again. Anybody that I've worked with in the past, don't rule out those people coming back in. It's just, currently, everybody has their own priorities and has other bands and other responsibilities so we're not always able to grab the same lineup every time we go out on tour. By no means does that mean anything big picture. I wouldn't read into that if I were people. Everything's been going great. The shows are good. We love (Hed)PE. They're our friends. They put on a great show. I think the fans, so far, are having a great time. As I said, I'm just excited to be out there with the new production and just giving people a taste of what's to come as we continue to move down the road.
Toddstar: One thing I like about your live show, and even the single, is you seem to grow without losing any of your footing. How do you go about constantly evolving Dope in and of itself without losing any of the footing you've had, as far as your energy and your power in your music?
Edsel: You know, I don't know. I think it's just because it's my brand. I always stay true to myself and stay true to what I feel like the spirit of Dope is supposed to be. That's not real hard for me to do. Especially on a song like Selfish, it sounds like Dope. It's heavy but it's 2014 so it’s got to be four or five years more progressive than what I was doing five years ago. I don't know. I think staying on the pulse of what newer, younger bands are doing helps. I'm a fan of all types of music. I think that you either grow or you die. There's no way that I would put out albums in 2014 that sound like albums that I put out in 1999. To me that would be no progress and no growth. At the same time, because I'm the engine that percolates all this stuff, even though I might be using influences and technology and even production tricks that are modern to bring into the growth of the band, at the core, it's still going through me. I think that's why you say, and I appreciate the compliment, that we're able to continue to push the boundaries and grow the band while it's still sounding like Dope. I think there are a lot of bands that have been able to do that through the years. A band like Sevendust, who's one of my favorite bands from our genre and our time. They've always done that too. You listen to Sevendust and it sounds like Sevendust. I think it's the same thing. You listen to Dope and it sounds like Dope. Hopefully the fans dig it and understand that, again, this is a taste. There's 20 something songs recorded right now for Blood Money. It all sounds like Dope. Some of it's heavier and crazier than "Selfish" and some of it's a little more experimental. Who knows? If you're a fan of Dope, you will like what we're doing. I can assure you that. It's always my Number 1 priority to keep the sentiment of Dope consistent.
Toddstar: I can't wait to hear some of your additional stuff. The beauty of it is, and I know there's a shitload of people up in Flint, Michigan that cannot wait till this Saturday to see you at the world famous Machine Shop (http://www.themachineshop.info/).
Edsel: We love The Machine Shop. It is my favorite rock bar in the country, man. No question about it. This is fun for us because we've been coming to The Machine Shop for a long time. We're rooted in Chicago for the last many, many years so The Machine Shop is a very, very easy trip for us. We play there quite often. It's been a long time since we played The Machine Shop and brought new material with us and a new production. The people at The Machine Shop that have seen Dope more times than most people in this country have over the last five years are finally going to get a taste of the future. That's exciting to me because if anybody deserves it, it's them.
Toddstar: And they appreciate it. You seem to be one of the true staples up there. That being said, and you mentioned how much you love it, what about The Machine Shop, or the crowds, make it so special that it's one of the venues that Dope just seems to come to time and time again?
Edsel: Well, I'm going to say, just like Dope starts with Edsel Dope, The Machine Shop starts with the Zink brothers, man. You've got two awesome dudes that run their own business and run it like it should be run. Personal relationships with the bands. Kevin, who's pretty much the front of the place, he is one of the greatest guys I've ever met. Just a super cool guy. Always does good, fair business and he always has a smile on his face. I texted Kevin a week ago, "Hey man, can't wait to see you." He's like, "Yeah, me too." We're just friends so it's not just like going to play a House of Blues. You're going to play your buddy's bar and your buddy's bar just so happens to be the coolest rock bar in the country. That's just that. Now let's get to the fans that are blessed to live close enough to a cool bar like that that supports this kind of music and helps to put on great shows. The fans are awesome there. We always get to hang out after the show and drink until they throw everybody out. Whereas, a lot of places you play, as soon as you're done playing, the bar shuts down and they can't wait to get everybody out of there. At The Machine Shop, there's a lot more of just a cool vibe. Everybody hangs out and has a good time. Unless you've been there, you don't know. I tell people that all the time. I'm like, "You've got to figure it out. You've got get to The Machine Shop; it's a great, great vibe."
Toddstar: I agree with you. I live closer to Detroit than I do Flint and I'll drive to The Machine Shop any time over most of those clubs in Detroit.
Edsel: Absolutely, 100% agree.
Toddstar: You talk about the new production and you've got the new single, "Selfish." Is there any other new music that you're busting out and treating the crowds to on this little stretch?
Edsel: No. It's the only new song that we're playing right now. I kind of have an issue with playing new material before it's released. I feel like with everybody having their iPhones and every show you play is recorded every night and up on YouTube before you're even up and out of the city, I don't like the idea of people hearing new music like that. I would prefer to put out the produced, studio version of a track and then go out and play it. "Selfish" is the only song that we've released at this point. It's the only new song that we're currently playing. As I said before, the production of this show and the LED walls, and everything that's coming with it, I feel like if you've seen Dope 100 times, you're going to feel like you're seeing Dope for the first time on Saturday night.
Toddstar: Very cool. Let's talk about you for a minute. You're talking about taking this stuff out on the road and going out on the road. When Edsel looks around the room before he gets on the bus, what are the couple things from home that you just can't leave without?
Edsel: You know, my ability to continue to work and make progress is probably Number 1. I've always got some form of recording devices around me and some form of ability to continue making progress on the records while I'm on the road. Other than that, I've got my little lunch box that I've had for 15 years. It's a little Taxi lunchbox that's full of all my weed. I can't live without that. That's pretty much it, man. I'm pretty simple. I need my cell phone. I need my group of solid friends. We're like pirates, man, sailing the seas. I've got my crew. I've got myself. I've got my cell phone. I've got my ability to continue to progress the record with my recording devices. My weed, of course. That's all I need.
Toddstar: Cool, cool. You mention your cell phone. Everybody's got music with them these days; they're always listening to something new. If you left your phone or your iPod behind at The Machine Shop when the bus pulled out, what would be the oddest piece of music that a fan might find in your possession?
Edsel: That's going to be funny too because I recently got a new phone because I dropped mine in the swimming pool. Since I got it, the only thing that's on it is all of the new Dope stuff. They would be pleasantly surprised because they'd have all the Dope stuff. That's all that's on it right now. It's all the Dope stuff and nothing else. Traditionally speaking, if you were to find my laptop, what would you find? You know, I love a lot of 70's funk, man. I love the Delfonics. One of my favorite records of all time is The Jackie Brown Soundtrack. I think the reason for that is a lot of the music that I really enjoy just listening to is music that was made before I became a producer. It means that I found the music and I listened to the music the same way, with young ears, that aren't listening to it from a technical standpoint. I can just really appreciate it and enjoy it. Most music nowadays that I listen to, it's hard for me to listen to it without listening to the production and maybe even being curious about, "Hmm, I wonder what they're using to do that? That snare drum sounds like it's at X Y Z frequency," or whatever it is. I have such a producer head on my shoulders that new music doesn't get listened to in that same innocent way as music that found me when I was younger. I was say, probably be most surprised that I listen to lots of old stuff. Truthfully, I don't listen to a lot of music because I'm always working on music. I listen to a lot of sports radio and talk radio and, what do you call them, podcasts of that sort. I love listening to Joe Rogan's podcast and just things that allow my mind to just get away from music for a while because I'm so consumed by it.
Toddstar: Oh, cool. Listen, I know you're a busy man. I know you've got stuff to do up there in Minnesota. I've got one more for you before I let you go. Everything seems to be going your way right now. You've got a killer single out with an even bigger video. This thing's just over the top. It's going to impress the fans. You've got the new stage show. You've got this tour with (Hed)PE. You've got a gig at your home away from home, The Machine Shop, coming up. Everything's coming up roses for Edsel Dope. At this point, what is the meaning of life for you?
Edsel: That's a good question. I wish I looked at things the way that you do, kind sir. I'm kind of a dark guy. I always have been. My whole life has been running away ... not necessarily running away from things, but running to a better day. I don't enjoy the moment much. I'm one of those guys that's always focused on where I'm trying to go. For me, I would say that I'm still focused on the goal. I'm still focused on I'm looking forward to next year and releasing this album and doing some significant tours and opening for bigger bands again. I'd love to go out with Black Label Society again. That was the last big tour that we did before we took our hiatus. I love playing the big rooms too, and being part of things that are bigger than I am. That's what I'm looking forward to. The meaning of life for Edsel, man, I haven't figured that out yet. I'm still trying to figure it out. I have the same demons that everybody else does. I've got the same depression, the same irritability, and the same insecurities. I'm not different than anybody else except for that my whole life, whatever I've wanted to do, I've found ways to sacrifice myself and my happiness and whatever I had to do to get to that end goal. Most of the time that's had to do with my band. I'm very grateful that I've been able to be as successful as I've been with it. There's a lot more things that I want to do and those are the things that keep me going. I do wish that I stopped and smelled the roses a little bit more. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love The Machine Shop so much, because every time I go there we play a great show but I also recognize a lot of the faces and I get shitfaced and have a really good time no matter what. Hopefully that answers your question. I'm definitely a little bit of a twisted up anomaly. I'm not a simple man. I'm a simple man in my needs on tour. I don't need to bring a lot of things with me. Psychologically, I'm a fucking basket case. Ask anyone around me, they'll tell you.
Toddstar: I don't think anyone would have it any other way if it meant changing one thing about Dope.
Edsel: Well I appreciate that. I appreciate that and I appreciate all the fans and all the people that have found something in Dope that they dig. All I want to do is continue to improve that. As I said before, I genuinely believe anybody that is at The Machine Shop on Saturday night, that has seen us once or 10 times before, is going to go, "Holy shit, that was unlike any Dope show I ever saw." I can promise you that.
Toddstar: Awesome. We can't wait to see you take over The Machine Shop one more time Edsel.
Edsel: It's coming, it's coming. A couple days from now.
Toddstar: All right, brother, we'll talk to you soon.
Edsel: Thank you very much for your time, man. Thank you.