Remember that girl in high school that you already liked before, but then one year you go back to school after summer and all of a sudden she’s become the prettiest girl you’ve ever laid eyes upon? Same thing with Dowsing. I already liked this Chicago-based band when they released “It’s Still Pretty Terrible” and “I Don’t Even Care Anymore”, but their new album “Okay” takes things to a whole new level. Here’s an interview with vocalist/guitarist Erik Hunter Czaja.
PRT: “Okay” is your first album for Asian Man Records. How did you end up with them?
Erik: I met Mike Park through my other band Pet Symmetry. He put out an EP and an LP for us. I would talk to Mike frequently and he met all of Dowsing, in the Summer of 2014, when we stayed with him at his house in San Jose, CA. We recorded the new LP and I sent it to Mike and he loved it and we couldn’t say no, because we love him too! Which reminds me… Love you, Mike!
PRT: Is it just me or are the new songs way more punch-y than on your previous releases?
Erik: Yes, these songs have a lot more oomph to them. We definitely took our time to make sure this record was everything we wanted it to be. In the past we’d record in 3 days and that was it. Recording 10+ songs in 3 days is a terrible terrible idea. I can’t stress that enough unless that’s what you want and at the time… it was!
PRT: Do you think the line-up changes you went through had anything to do with that change? Or was it more of a natural progression?
Erik: A little of both. I still wrote these songs alone and later showed them to the band. I personally wanted it to be more aggressive, and the rest of the band really pushed me to make sure I kept my part of the bargain. Mike P (Bass/Vocals) and Will (Drums/Vocals) really add a new dynamic to the band and this record really shined because of that. Also, it was Mikey’s (Guitar/Vocals) second LP with the band, but this time he was way more comfortable to explore and the record is all the better for it. I love these guys. They really stepped up and made this record!
PRT: You recorded “Okay” with Mike Bardzik, who also produced Spraynard’s latest album. Which also is their best album to date. Is it fair to say that he knows how to bring out the best in bands?
Erik: Mable is one of my favorite modern punk records. Mike’s work is incredible. He has worked with a lot of bands I look up to and admire. He also knows that killer bass tone. Mike had a lot of great input for this record and you could say he was the 3rd Mike of Dowsing for our 10 days plus back and forth mixing days. He worked so hard on this record and his studio. Please everyone go to Noisy Little Critter in Downington, PA, it’s just the best. He is the best!
PRT: Besides being my favorite song on the album, “I’m Sorry You’re Great” also jumps out because it clocks in at just under 5 minutes. Can you tell me a bit more about where that song comes from?
Erik: This song is most certainly a standout track for us as well. It says a lot about our band’s past and a lot about where we want to be. It’s the slowest song of the record and longest due to the guitar and fan noise in the beginning and end. The song really bridges the band into present time. A reflection on what happened within the band and the unpleasantness it created from the time half the band left or was asked to leave until now. It’s a statement of genuine love for those people and not being there for them when it mattered most. Everything is better now.
PRT: You have already released splits with the likes of Annabel, Parker,… If you could choose any band in the world (past or present) to release a split with, who would it be and why?
Erik: Usually we do splits with bands we go on tour with. It’s pretty standard fare at this point for us. We don’t usually approach random bands or people about things like that. Not opposed to it, but it’s just not our style. So without further ado… Bands that we need to do splits with because we toured with them: Donovan Wolfington, The Sidekicks, Sundials, Free Throw, Kittyhawk, Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), and so on and so on. If any of them see this let’s fucking do the damn thing already, okay? Thanks, xoxo.
PRT: Speaking of Annabel, did you know there is a fashion designer called Annabel Dowsing? If that doesn’t ask for a collaboration, I don’t know what does. If you ever go on tour together again, she could design the stage outfits! It’s women’s clothing, but hey… details, right?
Erik: You have no idea. I’ve followed her on twitter. I’ve tweeted. I think we are facebook friends? She just doesn’t want to be my friend AND I CAN’T BLAME HER. We found her on the Dowsing Annabel Euro/UK tour and it was mind-blowing to all of us. Only have love and respect for Annabel Dowsing. May she be fruitful in all her endeavors <3 We will continue to Guest-List you on all our UK dates even though you will never come.
PRT: With all of you being in other bands as well, how hard is it to figure out the logistics for recording and touring?
Erik: Actually not as bad as you’d think. Technology has made our lives easier. We are active in all our slack accounts and iPhone message groups on what is going on, and make sure to use our google calendars to make everything work. It just usually winds up being fine somehow *knocks on wood*
PRT: As far as I know you have only toured in Europe once and that was three years ago… how about coming back for another round?
Erik: We went to Europe a second time the Fall of 2014 with my other band Kittyhawk. We did about 34 days and went all over the dang place. We are currently booking another Fall European/UK tour with Ratboys. Stay tuned. It will be our 3rd time out! Looking forward to it.
PRT: What is the one thing you would still like to achieve with Dowsing?
Erik: We want to go to Japan and Australia so bad. It be so cool. Everyone seems to be going now… Please someone ask us to go. We love Koalas and we love to rock.