DOPE is back - that's right. The classic lineup has reunited for a US tour (and recently announced dates in the UK and Russia) appropriately named the Die Mother Fucker Die tour. Near the end of the tour, Edsel and company have a new disc ready to drop on their fans and an unsuspecting public. While preparing for the tour and new disc release, Edsel was able to give me a call and chat about the new tour, disc(s), video, and much more...
Toddstar: Edsel, thank you so much for taking time out for us. We know you're super-busy right now with the ramp-up for the upcomingtour.
Edsel: No worries man, this is part of the deal, right?
Toddstar: At least you're still out there doing it, right?
Edsel: Yeah, buddy.
Toddstar: Let's talk about the tour - the Die Mother Fucker Die tour featuring the classic lineup. Why now, Edsel? What made 2016 the right time to do this?
Edsel: You know, it really wasn't a planned out thing. This band is, I like to look at the lineup of the band as like a fraternity, because it's really what it is. I've had so many people play and go throughout the years, and I have a very good relationship with practically everybody that's been in the band. I have no enemies. Everybody that's ever played in this band is welcome back at any given time based on scheduling and just whatever's going on. It really is kind of a fraternity-like environment. What happens for me is pending on geographics, pending on logistics and everything else, I have my Rolodex of guys that I scroll through and go, "Hey, I'm looking to do something. Are you available? Do you want be be involved?" Blah blah blah. About a year ago, the band was going over to Russia to play some shows, and I kind of scrolled through my Rolodex and sent out some emails and got a bunch of responses. I noticed in my responses that, wait a minute, Racci replied yes, Virus replied yes, Acey replied yes, and the four of us have not played together on the same stage in fucking forever. I was like, "This is pretty cool." I locked that up. That was really exciting. We all went over to Russia and we did a string of what we were calling the Reunion tour, because it really occurred to myself and to all of us that we had not done this in so long. In the midst of doing that I decided that I wanted to record the band's first-ever live album, because we'd never done a live album and I thought that this would be a pretty momentous occasion to do it on, so that's what we did. Upon returning from Russia and sharing that news with the fans, we put together a pre-order for the live record and set a couple of goals. One of those goals was for this reunion lineup to do a US tour. Again, I checked with everybody and made sure that everybody was available for the time frame that we were going to do it, gave the fans the opportunity to participate in the pre-order of the live record, and we had an amazing turnout for it. We had great success, and the live record ended up turning out great, shipped out to all the fans, everybody's super-excited with it. Even though everybody told me live records were a waste of time, I knew that it wasn't. I knew that it was going to be a really cool piece of product and something that I'm very proud of. Essentially that's what led us here. It was one step at a time, and then through the course of that I've been working on new material since the last release. I've just been trying to have my personal life line up with my professional life in a manner where I was going to be able to take the time to go out and properly support the record. With this reunion tour already being booked, and me being so close to the finish line on the first part of Blood Money, because Blood Money is a two-part album, I put my nose to the grindstone, went back to the studio after the live record was done and finished up the first album of Blood Money, and decided that the fans would have another one. It just kind of kept getting better for the Dope band. It's funny, man. It started out with one show, then it was the live record, then it was the tour and now it's the new album Blood Money. It just has been a perfect storm of momentum. They say when the universe is kind of with you, you just ride it, so that's really how it's been. The cool thing is that this reunion tour is pretty much going to focus on the old stuff and the nostalgia of what this lineup is, and the songs we played on the live record, but of course we'll splash in some new material off Blood Money Part 1. This also leaves us with a wide open door going into 2017 for the next touring opportunity where we can put more focus on the new album, because it will be out by then. The fans will have had a chance to live with it, and we'll be able to go out there and continue the momentum of Blood Money Part 1. Then we'll lead into Blood Money Part 2, which we don't have a release date for yet but will definitely be something that will be coming sooner rather than later.
Toddstar: That's good to know. You keep mentioning Blood Money Part 1, which as you've referenced is the new material and it's slated right now for release on October 28, which will be just about the end of the tour, so like you said, to kind of focus on that nostalgia and on the catalog kind of makes sense, because a lot of the fans aren't going to be able to get their hands on a lot of this material ahead of time.
Edsel: That was my way of not trying to muddy the waters too much, too, and to separate the two things, because this is a reunion tour and Blood Money is a new album. They're very different things, so I didn't want to make it the Blood Money tour with the old lineup and the reunion. They're not the same thing. They're two different things. The good thing is that we can use the reunion tour to raise awareness around the Blood Money album, and we can put out content and share it with people and get everyone excited. Everyone can pre-order the album, but the good news as I said is that people will get this album in their hands towards the end of this year and then we can start announcing our plans for next year to go out there and really support the new album and start paving the way towards Blood Money Part 2, because it has been a chunk of time between No Regrets, which is our last album, and now, so that chunk of time I continued writing a massive amount of content, which is why Blood Money is a two-part album because it represents a much larger chunk in my life, because it has been so long. That's why I chose to make it a two-part album, because this collection of songs will all kind of represent the same chapter in Dope, so I wanted to keep them connected and then we'll turn the page after these two releases and move on to whatever the next one is.
Toddstar: Edsel, how much hesitation did you have going into this? Like you said, it's been a long time, about seven years since No Regrets. You are always writing, so you had to have a lot of material built up, but how much reluctance did you have going in, saying, "Let's put an album together," knowing what the flux is like in the recording industry and things like that right now?
Edsel: I don't really understand the question. I mean, you have to put out new content, just because you have to. I don't think that the band is, we're not at that Rolling Stone level, and I'm not even talking about popularity-wise, or the Kiss level, where your fans have completely in many ways checked out from caring about anything new and you've got such a plethora of hits that you can play a two-hour set and never worry about having new music. The band still is current enough to where people expect and anticipate new music, so there was never really an apprehension on whether or not we would put out new records. The apprehension was more on when can I properly support it. That's what a lot of people don't understand. They're like, "Well, why is it taking so long for this album," or "How come it was supposed to come out at one time and it didn't come out and now it's coming out?" Well, because in order to release an album, and leave your home and your family and all of your other businesses for months, sometimes a year at a time, you have to make sure all your ducks are in a row. That's where it's at. I'm not 22 years old anymore where it's like, "Yeah, man, let's just go on fucking tour non-stop, it's going to be a lot of fun!" It's like I'm a grownup. For a grownup to go and do things it takes a little bit more time, and you have to be ready to commit. I've gone through a lot of shit in the last six or seven years since No Regrets, man. I can get into all that if you want, but on a personal level my life could not be more different than it was seven years ago. I was engaged. I lived in Chicago, Illinois. I had a very clear routine of what my life was and where my life was going. Now I live in Los Angeles. I have no fiancée. I have no other commitments to my life, other than my other businesses. My life has changed a lot. Through those changes, those things put pause buttons on things. You think, "Oh, I'm going to do this," and then all of a sudden the bottom drops out of elements of your life and you go, "Well, I can't do that right now. I have to figure this out. I have to move across the country. I have to do 152 other unforeseen things that have happened." As they say, like the T-shirt says, "Shit happens." Well, a lot of shit happened over the last six or seven years that precluded me being able to continue doing it the way I had done in the past, and to be perfectly honest with you, I got burnt out, man. I toured for twelve years straight with no break. It was time to take a break. Really it's just all about making sure that the scheduling works and that I'm capable and able to go out and do what we're trying to do, and it is, and clearly it's all working. Everything's set to go. The album's going to come out. The tour has been booked for a while. It's all good, man. It just takes a little bit of preparation and more than anything, commitment. At earlier times I wasn't able to commit.
Toddstar: That's totally understandable. I appreciate the insight. Earlier this month you guys released the new video, "Hold On," from the new album. What's it like in this day and age, and like you said you're not a kid anymore , how different is your approach towards a video now than you would have done ten or fifteen years ago?
Edsel: It's really the same. I direct the videos, as I have for the majority of my career. I produce them, a lot of times I'm holding the fucking camera if I'm not in front of it, so it's not a lot different. We've put three videos out for this record already. Most bands don't put three videos out for a record, period, and we've put out three videos before the album's even come out. There's never been a question about Dope's commitment to our artistic expression and to the visual and visual element that has always gone with the music. It's always been a big part of what we do. The first video that we dropped was for a song called "Selfish" that we dropped a year or so back, just to start kind of giving fans something to start chewing on. Then the real drop was for the "Blood Money" video, which really encompasses the Dope energy and the spirit of the album. One of my favorite videos that I've ever made. I put a tremendous amount of effort and energy into that video and it speaks to what the song is about very clearly and what the message is about very clearly. Then the follow-up to that one was the video for "Hold On," which couldn't be more different than the "Blood Money" video, but the energy and the spirit of the song couldn't be more different than the "Blood Money" song, so the video's supposed to be different because you're evoking a completely different emotion and a completely different expression. Again, a significant amount of time and effort was put into that video to tell the story and to evoke the emotional response that is intended. For me, it's all about just being honest with my art and with my feelings and what I'm trying to convey. To me, it's no different than it always has been. I think if you've been a fan of Dope or if you are familiar with the catalog of Dope, we've always been an extremely wide band when it comes to our sound. You can go back to our earliest albums. Our first record had "Fuck the Police" on it and it had "Pig Society" and it also had "You Spin Me Round Like a Fucking Record." There's big difference in that style. Then the second record had "Die Mother Fucker Die" and had songs like "With or Without You," really melodic power ballads if you will. We continued to keep that same theme from there. Every album has had incredibly brutal songs with middle fingers, and then two songs later a song that couldn't be further from that, being either a very melodic song with a very personal message to it, or an acoustic song. I mean, the band has always been extremely wide with our delivery of content. I make no apologies for that. I think it's funny sometimes that people get mixed up and they hear a song from Dope that isn't brutal and they go, "What the fuck," and you go, "Dude, how long have you been paying attention to this band? If you haven't gotten used to that by now, turn the fucking channel, dude. If you think that my only emotional expression is middle fingers, well you've got me all wrong." Like, yeah, I do that and I do that pretty well, but I'm a fucking grown-ass man who's lived on this planet for three-plus decades and has experienced a lot, and that has to come through in my art. If you are only looking for a one-dimensional artist that's just going to be fucking balls-to-the-wall metal all the time, you probably want to go listen to somebody else. But if you want to take a ride and you want to feel different things, and you want to have a band that delivers music that you can listen to in multiple different stages of your mental existence, well, I think that's more of what I'm trying to do and more of what I've always tried to do. I won't apologize for it. I might correct people from time to time because they say some stupid shit which makes it clear that they're ignorant as to what it is that we do, but hey man, if you like what I do I appreciate it. If you don't, all I can do is say, "Sorry." Nothing has changed. That's the clearest message. The band continues to do what we've always done. We stack records with all types of content on them, and hope that the listener appreciates that journey with us.
Toddstar: That's cool, but one of the things that Dope's always known for is, among other things, is your consistency, but also the fact that you guys tour incessantly. You are definitely road dogs. Lucky for me, you play one of my favorite venues as often as you can, and I'd like to get your opinion on what makes it so special when Dope is booking a tour that you make sure that The Machine Shop, in Flint in Michigan, is on that list.
Edsel: I don't think I'm the only one that does that. I think that Kevin and his brother have built a really cool place that really gets it, and they do a great job taking care of taking the band, and they do a great job taking care of the fans. It's an option to go to Detroit or Flint. You can't really go to both on any given tour. At least it doesn't really seem fair to either promoter. Flint has, the venue itself and the people that run the venue and of course the fans. When you play the Machine Shop, a great deal of the fans are from Flint, but you get a lot of surrounding neighboring cities too. You get people coming from Detroit and sometimes you get people coming from Toronto. Michigan has always been a great market for us, but really again it's a great room, and it provides the fans and the band with a great experience. I'm not the only one that feels this way. There's lots of bands that look forward to The Machine Shop when they see it on their itinerary. Am I biased? Do I certainly tell my agent to make sure we're at The Machine Shop? Yeah, of course I do, but again, I don't think I'm special for that. I think that the credit goes to The Machine Shop and the people that own it and run it, and to the fans that show up and make that place bounce.
Toddstar: I couldn't agree with you more. I think Kevin's really put together a class rock joint. I know you're a busy man, Edsel, I know you've got a lot to do gearing up for the tour. I've got one more for you. With all you've done professionally - and again, this isn't your first rodeo , you've been at this a long time - if there's one thing that you can look back and think was a misstep, what would it be and how would you correct it, if you did want to correct it?
Edsel: Well, the truth is I don't really think that I could point to a misstep. I think more than anything I just wish that I could have released things in a different order. It's a tough business, and there's an old saying that timing is everything, and there's a lot of bands that are huge bands that, man, had the label pick a different song for them, or had another band at the time had a song that was resonating with the public in the same way. It could have changed everything for them. A great example, and I'm a big Aaron Lewis fan, I'm a big Stain fan, and I respect the fuck out of what those guys do, but let's take for example the song "It's Been a While," which is a phenomenal song. But clearly when that thing hit the airwaves there wasn't a whole lot else like it, and it really was able to sink its teeth into radio and really help Stain take that next step. Imagine if six months before that another big band with a great singer had released an amazing acoustic-type style song, would "It's Been a While" been able to connect as well? Would it have been the powerhouse for the band that it was? The question, or the answer, to that is who knows? The timing for it was so fucking perfect that it allowed them to just shoot for the top. For me, I don't look at things as being missteps, but I can look back and go, "When you have a major label behind you and they push something, what they push, it's very important that they get it right." In our case, I feel like there were a couple of times where we actually had a pretty good push behind something, but for whatever reason it just didn't stick. The timing just wasn't right or maybe the wrong track was picked. You can't do anything about that. You can't blame anybody. You can't be bitter. That's the roll of the dice, but I think that knowing what I know now, if I was able to go back in time and I was able to change the order or the timing to which some things were released, I think hindsight's 20/20 and I probably could have fit a Dope song out there at a different timing with a different song that could have helped us have a much bigger impact. Because there's no question, we have some songs that are monsters, and when we play them, whether it's to 500 people at The Machine Shop or to 20,000 people at a radio festival, people ignite to it. But those songs maybe didn't get the same showcase position, and therefore they just never became hits, if you will. That's an ugly word to me, hits, just because it's kind of a weird word. I've never had a hit, which is fine. We've had more of a cult, punk-rock kind of existence. Yeah, so that's it. I don't really think there were any missteps. I just think that timing is everything, and if hindsight if I could go back and adjust some timing and adjust some things like that, I could probably set a better result for the band than what we've had. At the same time, I really can't complain, man. It's like, I set out when I was young to play music and to have a tour bus, and to have my record in record stores and to be on MTV, and to travel and to have fans. I've exceeded all of that in all of those expectations by a long shot, so any additional goal or additional ambition that I would have is just that. It's an ambition and it's a goal, and if you achieve it, then God bless you, but if you don't you can't be bitter. You can't feel negative about it because, again, what I set out to do with my career has been done 10 times over and has been exceeded by the army of cult fans that we have and the zillions of fucking T-shirts that people wear with my face on them and the countless magazines. My band was one of those bands back in 2000 where kids would come home from school and they're turn on MTV and we were on. It's insane. So I got no complaints, I got no regrets. I think you just keep doing what you do until it's not fun anymore, and then you do something else.
Toddstar: Awesome. Well, listen, it's always an informational and insightful chat when we get you on the phone, Edsel. I appreciate the time. I wish you safe travels when you kick this thing off September 13, and especially until you make it to Flint, Michigan, on October 1 [TICKETS].
Edsel: You got it, man. I appreciate you as well, and I look forward to seeing you here in a bit.
Toddstar: Sounds good, Edsel. We'll talk to you soon.
Edsel: All right, dude. Be good.