No wait... Sorry, that's supposed to be The Dopamines on 'Hard Pass,' the band's recently released singles & rarities collection. Clocking in at over an hour long, 'Hard Pass' spans the band's entire career in mostly reverse chronological order. It contains all of their EPs and tracks found previously only on long lost cassettes, compilations and limited edition 7"s along with many awesome never before heard songs from album sessions of all 4 of their LPs. That's a whole lot of pop punk for one album, courtesy of Cincinatti's finest.
We caught up with Josh Goldman and Jon Lewis to talk about all things 'Hard Pass,' out now on Rad Girlfriend Records, Josh's label that previously released 2017's 'Tales of Interest' and the 10th anniversary re-issue of the Dopamines' acclaimed album 'Expect The Worst' late last year.
PRT: You just released the ‘Hard Pass’ rarities collection. Is that the result of the pandemic? Or were you already planning on putting this together at some point?
Josh: Originally Jon had the idea to try to get Soap and Lampshades EP on a 12”. We’d thought about how to do it for quite some time. We kicked around the idea of doing it as a singles collection. Then Record Store Day was happening and I had to give them my submissions. So I brought it up again and after a few different forms and incarnations we ended up settling on a complete 73 minute collections record of every Dopamines b-side, 7” track, cover and rarity. It did not get accepted as a record store day release by the way.
Jon: Yeah, we were pushed out for a 46th repress of 'London Calling'.
PRT: Speaking of the pandemic, what has the last year been like for you?
Jon: Josh spent most of.his time in his basement arranging jars of pee. I had a mental breakdown, lost my job, got a new one, played with my son a bunch. And arranged jars of Josh's pee.
PRT: Creatively speaking, did being at home and having more time on your hands spark a lot of new songs? Or has it been the exact opposite?
Josh: For me, being at home and having a space to demo songs has been amazing. I was able to work on Jon’s demos and even write some Dopamines tunes of my own. Writing for the Dopamines was a challenge for me though because I’m not used to taking the lead in terms of writing with this band. So it was awesome to write one and have everyone be like “yes, this”.
Jon: We didn't have the heart to tell him he was just writing a cover of "Hey ya". I've been slowly writing demos, I'm up to like 7 or 8 over the last year or so. I just did a demo.of an ELO cover.that I'm particularly stoked on. I've also been listening to Bloodhound Gang for 30 minutes prior to writing any new material so that should upset a few people.
PRT: Did you have a hard time tracking all of the songs down for 'Hard Pass'?
Josh: No, Jon had the songs but there were some challenges along the way in terms of some of the older labels giving us their blessing to use the tunes from some of those 7”s. So we used them anyways, because we are just fucking COLD DUCK like that, you know what I mean? Also there was no possible way we weren’t going to fuck this up somehow. So the first pressing actually has the song “soap and lampshades” on it twice because the audio for “Worstest Case Scenario” was mislabeled. We all missed it. From us to the mastering engineer and lacquer cutting to test pressings... even when the actual fucking record arrived no one noticed until I got a call from the distributor letting me know it was getting held up digitally because there was a duplicate song. The problem's been fixed and all subsequent pressings will have the right track list. Maybe the record collector nerds will turn the first pressing into some rare expensive record. And in our defense, if you had to listen to this shit for more than an hour you’d probably have missed it too!
Jon: How cute you think more.than 500 people want to buy a Dopamines record. Also... sorry, that whole mishap started with me so hit me up and I'll personally send you some monopoly money. Also, in reality I obsessively organize every song/demo we've ever done. There's easily 5-10 more tracks that didn't make the cut, mostly because they're unlistenable. There's an old demo of fun tags where I try to sing like Ray from TBR. Like not to be funny I was really trying to push my vocals in that direction. It's so cringe.
PRT: Speaking of which, were there any tracks were you were like ‘wow, don’t actually remember recording this’? Or more songs were you were more like ‘wow, wish we hadn’t recorded that’?
Josh: Yeah I don’t remember recording 25 of them.
Jon: Yeah, most of this shit was recorded before Josh joined. There are only 1 or 2 I have no recollection of recording. And about 4 or 5 I wish we never recorded. Shoulder shrug emoji
PRT: Suppose you run into someone who has never heard the Dopamines before. Which track of ‘Hard Pass’ would you play them? After talking for a bit obviously. Would be weird if you just started blasting punkrock in their face. But which song do you feel would give them the best idea of what the Dopamines are about?
Josh: I’d just play them a Copyrights record.
Jon: And then the Warren Zevon song "lawyers, guns, and money." Fuck our band.
PRT: You have been a band for 15 years now. How has the place that the Dopamines takes in your life evolved over the years?
Josh: In all seriousness, the Dopamines have been responsible for some of the best times of my life and some of the worst hangovers. There’s definitely and energy and connection I think that we share that really has only strengthened and gotten deeper, at least since I’ve been in the band. Like I get jealous when they talk about all the stuff they did before I was in the band.
Jon: The Dopamines has been the ultimate shocker in my life. We're obviously not super well known but somehow we've been able to do so much. We've always been very honest about who we are and why we're doing it: show up, hang out, have fun, make friends, maybe play a few songs correctly. Very proud of all of us. Personally the band takes a heavy back seat to my career and family these days, I think everyone in the band shares that sentiment to a degree. But honestly, The Dopamines has meant more to me in the last few years than it ever has and I want to continue upsetting dozens of people with our obnoxious bullshit until I'm blind. I can't believe I ever wanted us to quit.
PRT: Now that there is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, what is the first thing the Dopamines are going to do? Hit the road or hit the studio?
Josh: Big Pink.
Jon: It's the only gum with the breath freshening power of ham. 2022.