The Dopamines are back! And we still love ‘em. Even if they kept us waiting for new tunes since 2012. But the good news is that there finally is a new album in the form of "Tales Of Interest". It will be out in a couple of days via Rad Girlfriend Records (US) and via our buds over at Bearded Punk Records (EU), so we figured it was about time we caught up with Jon Lewis to talk about cocktails, having the ability to fly and the new album.
PRT: Let’s start with a typical music interview question: your last record was released in 2012. How come it took you five years to release this album?
Jon: Mostly scheduling. In 2012 my son was born, and Jon Weiner co-opened a bar in Cincinnati [Northside], Northside Yacht Club. Also I had just signed on full time with an Architectural firm I was doing contract work for. So I was immediately locked down to 2 weeks of vacation a year, so no more touring. Michael finally had the opportunity to work consistently, we made it kind of hard for him to keep jobs over the years when we were touring more heavily. Josh was in the picture, but he was still just a touring member at the time. I think what happened is maybe we all needed a minute to lay some foundations for ourselves. We certainly weren’t trying to do this band for a living, at least I wasn’t. But I stayed relatively productive in terms of songwriting. Technically half of Tales of Interest was written before 2013. It just took time to take it seriously again. We made multiple attempts at getting back on a consistent practice schedule to work on all this new shit, but it fell apart every time, up until sometime in late 2015.
PRT: I noticed that the material on "Tales of Interest" is darker and heavier than your previous work. What prompted this change?
Jon: It kind of happened naturally. Our lyrics are almost always dark and, and then we plug them into an upbeat melody. And even though we certainly have a “sound”, an umbrella of sorts that we kind of place ourselves under to keep everything sounding like a Dopamines song, we’ve always given ourselves the freedom to write whatever and however we want at that particular time. And I’d say from 2010 to now, I’ve pretty much exclusively listened to nothing but metal, and every sub-genre of metal under the moon. I really fell in love with Torche, Kvelertak, At the Gates, Darkthrone and Dissection, and I desperately wanted to write music that was a mashup of all those bands. So I would write music for Dopamines, and those influences would sneak in on every single track. And then I’d play it for Jon and Michael and they’d be like “This is good, except for this weird metal part. It’s ok, but it doesn’t belong here” it stuck out like a fucking sore thumb. But the songs were still good. So we stripped the metal off some of the early shit I wrote, and what was left was still pretty dark. And then we’re like, “ok, let’s just keep writing like this because it’s kind of fun.” Hyper aggressive but it still sounds like Dopamines. Just sticking our toes out from under the umbrella.
PRT: The new album is Josh Goldman’s first appearance on a Dopamines release. What made you want to add a second guitarist? And why Josh?
Jon: Josh pretty much just stepped in and kind of insisted that we get our shit together and do this record. I mean he didn’t say it like that, but in hindsight that’s pretty much what happened. If he didn’t step in, I highly doubt this record would have happened. I tried to break up The Dopamines like 3 times between 2013 and 2016. Like I literally sat down with Michael and Jon at a bar and was like “Lets schedule some final shows and just be done.” And I had no real reason other than just “Hey lets go out with a bang and not just kind of fade away”. And we had more or less considered that as an option. And Josh was aware of all this, and thought it was a horrible idea. Him and our friend Pat, who has drummed for the Dopamines when Michael couldn’t, didn’t understand why I wanted to stop. So basically Josh just kept being all like “hey when are we practicing next?” enough times that we actually started practicing regularly, and then in early 2016 it became clear that we were really in love with a lot of this new material , so we buckled down and learned the fuck out of it.
PRT: “Tales Of Interest” will be released through Josh’s label, Rad Girlfriend Records. What are some of the pros and cons that come with having the label owner in the band?
Jon: You know, Josh and I have actually butted heads a lot since we locked in releasing the Record on RGF. But in a good way. I have a close relationship with him [obviously], and we’re real honest with each other. I don’t feel like I have to hold anything back in terms of how I feel the Label/Band relationship should work, and he doesn’t have any qualms with his side of it. I mean, The Dopamines by no means are a band that makes real money, but when you have a member of the band that also owns the label, it’s easy to perceive that as getting to dip your hand in the pot twice. But josh and I have been extremely transparent on how to handle that relationship, and it’s nice. As far as how he got in, why him? Jon Weiner always says that he’s just the right kind of maladjusted to fit in with the three of us. Couldn’t agree more.
PRT: And I have to ask… does it ever get confusing to have two guys named Jon in the band?
Jon: Not really. Within the band, he goes by Weiner, I go by Lewis. Same with whoever we’re touring with, eventually we get called by last names, or by our first if the other isn’t around.
PRT: For people out there who haven’t heard you yet… if The Dopamines were a cocktail, what would it be called, what would be in it and what time of day should it be heavily consumed?
Jon: It would be called a “Fucking Whamburger” and it’s just an IV bag filled with Redbull, Jag, and Liquid Adderall, 31% by volume, or 15mL per pint. It should be consumed by IV 24 hours a day. You know on one of those roller IV rigs.
PRT: I originally heard "Business Papers" on the 2012 compilation, "The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore". How did you guys get involved with that comp?
Jon: Larry called and was like “Hey you should be on this.” and we were like “K.” Seriously that’s actually what happened. We had already established a relationship with Larry early on. He’s very much tapped into the pop punk scene, especially in the years we started playing shows. Super kind, and we’re thankful he reached out to us for that comp. It was extremely flattering.
PRT: Speaking of Larry Livermore, he said you have ‘a well-won reputation as a party band, and for leaving a trail of destruction, heartbreak, frustration and despair in their wake’. What did you do to earn such praise?
Jon: We blew his fucking mind with our hard acid rock.
PRT: I saw on your Facebook page The Dopamines are doing a small tour this summer. Any more touring plans in the works?
Jon: Europe/UK Spring 2018, maybe some west coast late 2018.
PRT: Last question, would you rather have the ability to fly, but no more than 5 feet off the floor for 2 hours a day or eat 68 bananas every morning before you can drink coffee?
Jon: The first one, flying. Only because that one is a reward. The banana one is a punishment right? Like, if I pick the flying one, does that mean I can’t drink coffee anymore? I don’t know, seems like the banana thing is kind of a raw deal. And wouldn’t your body just shut down after like 10 bananas? That much Potassium can’t be good for your body.