“Every seven years this guy closes his design firm and everyone who works for the company works on their own projects for the year,” says keyboardist and singer/songwriter Eli Winderman. “When they come back, everyone is inspired and working with a newfound sense of excitement.”
Listening closely to MEGAGEM provides a window into the band’s roving headspace over the last few years. There’s a rich tradition of songs about life on the road, but very few of them spend time exploring the inner dialogue that results from that lifestyle.
Choosing to record MEGAGEM’s instrumentals at the solar-powered Mountain Star Studios in Black Hawk, Colorado during the dead of winter, Dopapod found an optimal opportunity to unplug from all other noise. “The lack of oxygen led to some crazy ideas,” says guitarist Rob Compa. “When combined with the lack of phone service, human contact, or any other distractions, it allowed us to have the freedom to make a lot of that weird inspiration become reality.”
Compa and Winderman knocked out the vocals soon after, in two days, at More Sound Recording Studios in Syracuse, NY.
“A lot of these songs are also reactions to how the world is changing, about living your life in the present moment and the inner dialogues of the mind,” says Winderman. “MEGAGEM could be the brain, or it could also be a cell phone, controlling your subconscious thoughts and, thus, changing your habits.. I think a lot of people are feeling this way because of the boost in technology, with everybody addicted and attached to their phones.”
Being in that present moment took work, personal reflection and a new perspective on the power of silence. Former drummer Neal “Fro” Evans reconnected with Dopapod after sharing his experience on a ten-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat that brought him great clarity. Inspired by this trip and the changes they brought him, Winderman followed suit and embarked on the sojourn himself. Evans rejoined Dopapod last year, following the band’s three-year stretch with drummer Scotty Zwang.
When the band pushed on after parting ways with Neal the first time, Winderman says, they were operating out of fear. When they continued to tour past the point of good health, it was for fear that slowing down would render them irrelevant. Identifying the root emotion that drives big band decisions has been yet another fruit borne from meditation and self-improvement, and Winderman’s careful not to let fear drive any more big life decisions ever again.
“The seed of the lyrics living in the present moment stemmed from this whole,” he says. “That’s what every meditation practice trains us to teach.”
The fruits of this practice illuminate MEGAGEM’s joyous journey of self-understanding, as its buoyant compositions make space for lessons of personal growth and embracing the now.
If there’s another benefit to the sabbatical, it’s an investment toward their faith in MEGAGEM. Being confident enough to let the songs seep into the world for a while, to let people chew on it, and not worry about being sustained by the visceral or immediate rush of seeing Dopapod live is an exercise in the confidence that comes with thoughtful decision making that ensures the creative juices will keep flowing for years to come.
“MEGAGEM and the fall tour are our way of seeing everyone before we take some time to work on other parts of our lives,” says Winderman. “In doing so, we hope the progress we make in our personal lives will cross over into Dopapod. From all of the other bands who we’ve come up with, to all of the music fans that have shown us such incredible support over the years, we just want to say thank you. Dopapod would be nothing without you."
Dopapod Tour Dates
Oct 26 — Philadelphia, PA — Theater of Living Arts
Oct 27 — New York, NY — Irving Plaza
Oct 28 — New Haven, CT — College Street Music Hall
Oct 29 — Burlington, VT — Higher Ground Ballroom
Oct 31 — Saratoga Springs, NY — Putnam Den
Nov 01 — Buffalo, NY — Buffalo Iron Works
Nov 02 — Ann Arbor, MI — The Blind Pig
Nov 03 — Kalamazoo, MI — Bells Eccentric Cafe Back Room
Nov 04 — Indianapolis, IN — The Vogue Theatre
Nov 07 — Iowa City, IA — Gabe’s
Nov 08 — Minneapolis, MN — Skyway Theatre
Nov 09 — Milwaukee, WI — Turner Hall
Nov 10 — Chicago, IL — Park West
Nov 11 — Cincinnati, OH — Bogart’s
Nov 12 — Morgantown, WV — 123 Pleasant Street
Nov 15 — Richmond, VA — The National
Nov 16 — Raleigh, NC — Lincoln Theatre
Nov 17 — Asheville, NC — Salvage Station
Nov 18 — Atlanta, GA — Variety Playhouse
Nov 19 — Charleston, SC — Charleston Pourhouse
Nov 30 — Ft. Collins, CO — Aggie Theatre
Dec 01 — Denver, CO — Bluebird Theater
Dec 02 — Denver, CO — Bluebird Theater
Dec 05 — Fayetteville, AR — George’s Majestic Lounge
Dec 07 — Lexington, KY — Cosmic Charlies
Dec 08 — Columbus, OH — Woodlands Tavern
Dec 09 — Columbus, OH — Woodlands Tavern
Dec 10 — Columbus, OH — Woodlands Tavern
Dec 13 — Pittsburgh, PA — Rex Theater
Dec 14 — Washington, D.C. — Gypsy Sally’s
Dec 15 — Stroudsburg, PA — Sherman Theater
Dec 16 — Syracuse, NY — The Wescott Theater
Dec 30 — Providence, RI — Fete Ballroom
Dec 31 — Boston, MA — Paradise