Big Dopes publish destination wedding on November shows

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The four members of the Big Dopes have started recording their new album, Destination marriage, with an “almost stupidly cliché” retreat in a cabin in the woods, says singer Eddie Schmid. They did two weekends in late summer 2019 to “live in the songs”, experiment with found sounds, and have fun – seriously.

The group favors serious play and playful seriousness. “I want it both ways,” says Schmid. “I can do nothing.” And while the pandemic caused the group members to focus on the professional and more detailed side of moving their project forward, they didn’t want to lose their convivial essence. Instead, they turned to friends in Denver’s music and arts scene for help, creating a Big Dopes community.

“With this album, we went from recording in the room to recording in the studio,” notes Schmid. Destination marriage releases on Friday November 5th and Big Dopes will perform a Broadway Roxy release show on November 13th.

Big Dopes started as a side project in 2016, when Schmid met bassist Justin Catanzaro at an open mic; the two bonded over long existential discussions and soon began to collaborate musically. Their duo became a trio in 2017, when Ricky Brewer joined the band as a backup drummer for a one night gig; he’s been their “temporary drummer,” Schmid jokes.

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Simmons joined Big Dopes in 2019 after producing the group’s debut album, Crimes Against Gratitude.

Schmid began to think differently about the potential of Big Dopes during the pandemic. Her main project, the dream-pop group Oxeye Daisy, broke up and some of the members moved to Los Angeles. In the meantime, Catanzaro and Brewer have also left, moving to Grand Junction and Rockford, Illinois, respectively.

But Big Dopes stayed connected through Zoom sessions, during which band members discussed ways to move their project forward. And in November 2020, with their booth demos and a few new songs in hand, they entered Denver’s TBC Recording with producer Mark Anderson (Paper Bird, The Still Tide).
Registration Destination marriage was a bright spot in the heart of pandemic winter, Schmid recalls. It was something to look forward to and a tonic for the “general daily malaise” and the “maelstrom of life changes happening at the same time”.

But the album’s light sound doesn’t reflect anything of the era, instead oscillating between chord progressions from the 60s and numbers that stay true to the band’s more famous alternative rock vibe from the 90s.

Schmid notes that the influence of the ’60s, while unanticipated, was a natural result of growing up with parents who listened to old stations and set up a sanctuary for the Beatles and Rolling Stones in their basement. And while he’s aware that tapping into well-known genres gives rise to elements that are familiar to him, he says Big Dopes’ goal was to imprint his own identity on the tracks and “let it shine more than all”.

Schmid’s handwriting can be a bit obtuse, but the style lends itself to some playful poetry like a scene in “Distant Friend” where he describes a child needing to tell jokes in order to receive Halloween candy. “A little extra when you stick the landing,” he sings. “You can stop me if you’ve heard this one before.” Despite the ironic side, the song reflects the miles between the singer and his “distant friend”. It is a reflection of Schmid’s desire for connection and the reality that many people dear to him do not live in this city.

Schmid, who moved to Denver in 2015, says he still finds his place in his relatively new home. During the pandemic, he spent a lot of time thinking about his place here.

He tackles the same subject in different ways on songs such as “Aimee Avenue”, which quotes a poem by Baby Doe’s Ballad – an opera based on the Horace Tabor family’s tale of riches and riches. “I am drawn to these stories; I want to know more about it, ”says Schmid. “I don’t want to be just another transplant.”

Click to enlarge The four members prioritize fun and play in their music and business.  - JAKE COX

The four members prioritize fun and play in their music and business.

Jake cox

These same words – “So flee from the works of man / Return to earth / All things old and holy / They fade away like a dream” – reflect the fleeting nature of life, a notion that continues in “High Street”, a song about a college dorm where someone stole a “High Street” sign and posted it next to a Bob Marley poster.

“I live near the University of Denver, where all the students are and where they all do their college education,” Schmid explains. “I’m not that kind of person anymore, and I don’t want that now.” It seems so new and so long ago.

The song mixes nostalgia for the past with appreciation for the present, including a deep sense of gratitude for the Denver music community. Despite the limits of the pandemic, Big Dopes made an effort to include friends and fellow artists in the creation of Destination marriage. Whether Simmons’ parent Alayne Simmons playing saxophone on the record, or Jake Cox, With Tiana Graves and John Treash helping with the visuals, or even recording in a professional studio, the band were happy to maintain a bigger circle around their music.

“For a very long time, I thought DIY meant you had to do everything yourself,” says Schmid. “If you don’t do everything yourself, then you are failing. It is a false belief. Instead, he replaced the idea with “decide it yourself”. For example: “You decide who helps you and who you want to include in the album.”

True to their priorities, Big Dopes musicians will continue to create spaces for people to meet, work together and have fun. This is also how they like to play their concerts. “Putting on a show,” says Schmid, “is like planning a party.”

Destination marriage will be available on Spotify and Bandcamp on Friday, November 5th. Big Dopes will perform at Lulu’s Downstairs in Colorado Springs on November 12, Broadway Roxy, 554 South Broadway in Denver on November 13, and Surfside 7 in Fort Collins on November 14. Visit the website to find tickets.



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