BY TONY ABRAHAM Today marks the release of Be The Void, Dr. Dog’s sixth, and arguably best, album. Last week, Phawker got new Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick to talk about the new album as he zig-zagged his way across the city, barely avoiding getting hit by passing vehicles and trying to keep a straight face while discussing the band’s on-tour farting prowess. Having joined up with Dr. Dog two years ago after the band parted ways with drummer Juston Stens, Slick brings a new energy to Dr. Dog, upping the tempo on those classic upbeat, yet slightly dissonant Dr. Dog harmonies. Hard to put my finger on it, but I swear you can hear the Philly in these new songs. Dr. Dog return home to Philadelphia for a triumphant two night stand at the Electric Factory on March 24th and 25th.
PHAWKER: Is Slick your real last name?
ERIC SLICK: It absolutely is, yeah.
PHAWKER: So you replaced Juston Stens in 2010. What happened to Juston?
ERIC SLICK: I think Juston just wanted to pursue his own thing. There’s no animosity or bad blood between the dudes, it was just like Juston’s vision and Dr. Dog’s vision doesn’t really gel. I guess he just wanted to take his own avenue, his own path, you know? The other thing about Juston is he was a guitar player before he was a drummer. He had a band called Odd Normal, he had a punk band in the New Jersey scene. So he was already well established as a songwriter before he played with Dr. Dog so I think he wanted to continue that path.
PHAWKER: So he didn’t spontaneously combust or anything?
ERIC SLICK: I don’t know too much of the story. Or maybe I do and I just can’t tell you.
PHAWKER: What’s a typical day like on the road with Dr. Dog?
ERIC SLICK: I would say a typical day on the road with Dr. Dog would involve a lot of knitting, a lot of high fives, and a lot of positive attitudes. It’s pretty much as funny as it can get. There’s no problems in the band, that actually is the truth. Everybody in the band is really close so whenever we’re on tour together it’s like being on tour with five of your best friends, or as cliché as it is, five of your family members or something.
PHAWKER: How does Be The Void compare to earlier Dr. Dog records?
ERIC SLICK: I don’t really think it compares because of the process of songwriting. Scott and Toby pretty much always come to the table with songs that are in a demo format. They’ll have four tracks and pretty complete versions of the songs ready to go. The only thing that was really different about this one was each one of us was trying to get the band to interpret those demos and inflect a little bit of our own personalities on those songs. As opposed to the cut and dry method before where we basically play the songs like the demo, with this one we were like, ‘Let’s have the band interpret the song in a live setting and try to capture a feeling,’ you know? I think they tried to do that with Shame, Shame but ultimately the recording process of that record was difficult because Juston was on the way out and they were having problems up in Woodstock. I think this is the vision of Shame, Shame but it’s actually been executed with the band and it has that much more raw sound.
PHAWKER: Why is the record called Be The Void? Were there any other titles you guys were kicking around for a while?
ERIC SLICK: Well the record is called Be The Void for a number of reasons. There’s a poem Scott’s been kicking around for years and it actually turned into a song we recorded during the sessions. Three of us thought the song was the best thing Scott has ever done and the rest of the band was not so hot on the idea. Ultimately we would come up with album titles but – uh –
PHAWKER: You there?
ERIC SLICK: I almost got hit by a car. I’m like, “I’m doing a fucking thing on the phone!”
PHAWKER: I’ll just write in GETS HIT BY CAR – RESUMES INTERVIEW.
ERIC SLICK: Ok, so, we had a couple album ideas going around, one of which was Do The Trick, there was actually a pretty heated argument as to whether Do The Trick would be a better a better album title or Be The Void because “Do The Trick” is a song on the album and “Be The Void” didn’t make the album. In the end we like the mystery of having this mysterious title that has nothing to do with any of the lyrics on the record, which sort of represents how we felt in making the record. So I guess Be The Void means lose the ego a little bit, that’s one way of looking at it, you know, the other way is be senseless. It’s just got all different kinds of interpretations. At the end of the day we decided it would be much more mysterious to call something Be The Void than Do The Trick, which kind of sounded a little more cocky and self-assuring, like “Hey, I’m gonna do the trick,” like filling this void in the rock world or something. Really presumptuous but instead Be The Void sounds really positive. In the narcissist-filled world, we can stand a little bit more voids.
PHAWKER: What’s the best thing about being in Dr. Dog and on the converse, what’s the worst?
ERIC SLICK: Ok, the best part about being in Dr. Dog is it is the most diplomatic band situation you could ever be in. If anybody has an idea, it’s given a chance. Creativity is the highest order in the band. Everybody in the band is super creative, just being in that environment generates a positive artistic attitude. That’s my favorite part about being in the band. It inspires me to be so much more creative on my own terms. I think the diplomacy helps us get along. I feel like with a lot of bands it’s so much bullshit. Everyone is so stubborn about their idea, it doesn’t necessarily even get a chance. I’m obviously not gonna name names, I’ve been in a lot of great bands and that doesn’t happen in other situations but it’s definitely a striking feature of Dr. Dog. I don’t know what the worst part of being in Dr. Dog is. Maybe the farting.
PHAWKER: The farting.
ERIC SLICK: Yeah, like on tour there’s a lot of farting. We got sponsored by Taco Bell two years ago, we can’t stop eating Taco Bell. I personally can’t stop eating it. It’s like Requim for a Dream for me. I’m addicted.
PHAWKER: That’s exactly what they wanted…
ERIC SLICK: Yeah, I’m gonna have to go on the record and say farting is the worst part. If you’re touring in a band, sometimes the odors can get pretty funky. Other than that, I guess the other worst thing is people asking us where we got our “T” names from.
PHAWKER: I’m glad I didn’t ask you that, I was thinking about it.
ERIC SLICK: I’m so glad you didn’t either, it’s like, “What’s YOUR name?” I don’t know! I’m new in the band, stop asking me.
PHAWKER: Were you with the band in 2010 at the Bonnaroo show?
ERIC SLICK: Yes.
PHAWKER: I was at that, that was an awesome show.
ERIC SLICK: Thanks man, that was kind of a nightmare for me but I’m glad it was a good time for you. My bass pedal broke, it was a life long dream to play that festival. It was sort of like when you have a nightmare and you’re at school and you’re naked. It was like that.
BE THE VOID IS OUT TODAY