Philadelphia rock band Dr. Dog‘s upcoming album Critical Equation is out April 27, and now, their latest single is premiering exclusively on Billboard.
“Buzzing in the Light” is a laid-back track with soft guitar strumming and “mellow vibes,” as guitarist Scott McMicken told us. “With every record, we try our hand at a few laid-back tunes.” The dreamy lyrics — “Seems to me I’m watching someone else’s dream, only in the light, buzzing in the light of this world” — are hummed over a slow drumbeat and keyboard.
The album as a whole features a handful of relaxed songs, the perfect soundtrack for the hazy days of late spring/ early summer. We spoke to McMicken about the single and their album, and what the new direction means for the band. Listen to their newest track and read our interview below.
The track is definitely a slower, softer vibe compared to your other music. What inspired you guys to go this route?
In general, as a band over the years, we’ve been turning our attention more and more mellower stuff. We’ve been trying to get better at playing slower and deeper songs, ands till try to find a beauty in that. We’re accustomed to a denser arrangement, that’s something we’ve been doing for years. But we’ve been letting in other influences, listening to a lot mellower artists. With every record, we try our hand at a few laid back tunes. It’s something we’ve been really interested in as a band for a while.
Who have you guys been listening to for help getting to that mellow vibe?
Floating Action, Twain…a lot of our friends. If I were to give you a list of all my favorite contemporary songwriters, they’d all be in the mellow realm. The thing I find most exciting about contemporary music is the more mellow side of what’s going on in music right now.
Is there a reason the band decided to make that mellow shift?
I think it’s more the natural progression. We’ve been working together for so long. Every year that goes by, you change, you shift, your tastes shift, and things that were exciting to you a few years ago, they run their course. You start to take on new ones. The primary principle beneath our growth for a long time now, and one that we were able to explore further with our new album is generally just doing less and saying more. Simplifying and trying to get to a simpler approach to making music. The more I go along in life and make music, the more I realize that overworking is not always what’s best for the music. Sometimes you’re done [with a song] and you just keep working on it because it’s fun to do. But we’ve been trying discipline ourselves not to overwork stuff and over complicate things.
So how was recording this album different than your older stuff? Was it different?
In many ways it was. We had been making our own albums in our own studios for so long it’s our place, we don’t’ have to book it or worry about how much it costs. So it allows us to really stretch out and take our time. But because we went to Gus Seyffert’s place, there was a much more of a set parameter, like “we’re here now, and in two weeks, we’ve gotta be done.” Sometimes those deadlines are good for the recording process. So it was good in that way, to get out of our studio and work with someone new. We got together for about a month before we went out to LA, and we just played the songs and worked on the songs as a live band , so that when we showed up, we were prepared to lay the songs down. Normally, we just start the process of arranging the song when we’re recording. So this time, we just made it so we were a lot more prepared. All in all, it was good for us. It gave us time to focus on things. Like, let’s know what we’re making, before we make it. [We were] focused on the live element, and getting the songs defined and able to be played as a live band. That was a measure of wanting things to stay simpler, rather than just put down a scratch track and throw a bunch of songs at it.
What do you want fans to know about this album?
We as a band are really excited about the work we’ve done. We’re excited to continue that work by taking the album out on the road. We’re trying to change and grow, it’s not clear exactly what that means, but there is a lot of excitement and ambition from within the band to just get out there. We’re really excited and proud of our album, and really excited to find out how these songs resonate with people, and how they translate to the live show.
Do you have any interesting tour stories?
It’s like 14 years of madness out there. One thing that stands out, one time we played a show out in Chicago, we were all in our van, and this whole fleet of cops surrounded us, out of nowhere. It was this really crowded intersection at like 2 am. It turned out that were on the prowl for some burglary that had just gone down, and the perpetrators were in a van identical to ours. They thought we were those guys. They pulled the doors open, there was all this chaos. It all took like a split second, once they opened the doors, they were like “oh sorry, we’re looking for someone in a van just like yours. Bye.” That was intense.