Before their mammoth headline set at the Camden Underworld in September, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dopethrone. The band were lovely, offering a free drink beforehand as a thank you and were keen to chat about their music, the industry, touring and their signature spice.
Jack: So firstly can you introduce yourselves?
Vincent Houde (Guitar/Vocals): I’m Vince from Dopethrone and I play guitar and vocals.
Vyk (Bass): I’m Vik and I play bass and backing vocals.
Carl (Drums): I’m Carl and I play hockey. [Laughs]
Jack: How is tour going so far?
Vince: Pretty good, really good actually. Good turnout and people loving it. Having a blast visiting new places and getting fucked up, it’s great.
Jack: This is your third time touring with Gurt. What do you like about Gurt?
Vince: I mean they’re awesome dudes.
Vyk: Great friends as well.
Vince: A great band.
Vyk: Can’t ask for more actually.
Vince: They’re amazing.
Vyk: It’s perfect.
Jack: Supporting you tonight is Limb and Wizard Fight, have you heard of these bands before?
Vince: I did not.
Carl: I did not hear Wizard Fight, sorry Wizard Fight sorry.
Jack: You’ve played the Underworld a few times, what do you like about this venue?
Vince: Fucking everything, the sound is amazing, there is always a shit ton of people here, it’s always packed.
Carl: There’s always a load of friends here so it’s party time all the time.
Vince: Patrice (Nightshift Promotions) is awesome as well.
Jack: I agree. A lot of bands have said Europe is different to North America, would you agree?
Vince: Yeah you’re treated better. Plus in North America you just drive for longer and some up somewhere and there’s less people. Especially in Canada you end up doing the pay to play thing. Well sometimes, not anymore now but we did it for a long time. They were like come to BC, or come to Edmonton or New Brunswick. Yeah I’m going to drive 12 hours to have 80 people show up. But Europe is fucking awesome and we love it and apparently they love us so that’s good.
Jack: We love you over here.
Jack: I saw footage from your various tours gets uploaded on YouTube and sometimes there are full sets. Are you happy people to film your sets.
Vince: Yeah, I don’t really care.
Vyk: We’re used to it, it’s been happening since the beginning.
Carl: It’s free promotion and we look good.
Vince: We don’t look amazing.
Jack: This rescheduled tour due to injury. Is it hard to tour Europe for a DIY band with day jobs?
Carl: We’re poor as hell.
Vince: We try to make money on the side. I try to hustle and stuff, I opened an illegal underground restaurant pretty much, I don’t have any permits but it’s at the side of my house. It’s like a pop up, or something I put ads on Facebook by running a dumpling house. So that’s how I make money when I get home, I used the little bit of money and I make more money by selling miso soup and dumplings.
Carl: I dance in gay bars.
Jack: You’ve just released a free EP called 1312, why did you decide to release it for free?
Vince: If people want it they’re going to download it for free somewhere else so I’d rather it pass by our Bandcamp than on some other website. So if they pass our Bandcamp they might be like “ah hell you know what I might pass these guys a couple of bucks for doing it for free as they’re awesome.”
Vyk: Basic generosity as well.
Vince: I don’t know… the industry has changed as well so we have to adapt to it.
Carl: I notice when people post it for free is that a lot of people go “ah it’s free” so they share it, so everyone on their Facebook sees that the music it’s for free and so we get new fans.
Vince: It’s pay what you want, so they’ll give us some money.
Carl: And it’s pay as you want so some people give us money even if it’s free.
Vince: People are also like “ah the music is free so I’ll buy a t-shirt.” Sometimes it’s going to go better than if you sell your album for two dollars. You know people see the word free and fucking go for it.
Jack: Would you say you’re a band that in someways isn’t concerned by making money?
Carl: Ha ha money.
Jack: Is money a big motivator?
Dopethrone: Hell no.
Vince: Fucking hell no.
Vyk: We’re losing money.
Vince: Sometimes we’re losing money but that’s not the point, we’re not doing this for money we’re doing this for the fun of it and to travel.
Vyk: For the experience too.
Vince: We don’t want to get rich off of it. Well we wish we could live off of it though so we don’t have to fucking work and hustle and find shit jobs on the side.
Vyk: It would be perfect actually.
Vince: But we’re not there yet, we’re just touring and when we go home we go back to our jobs and shit.
Carl: I actually stopped working November last year, and I’ve never been as poor as I am right now, I am very very poor; and I love it. I really do.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of making your past albums?
Vince: Like the recordings?
Jack: Yeah the recordings.
Vince: Yeah I have fun memories of them.
Vyk: If we remember.
Vince: I get really fucked up when I record. [Laughs]. One time I showed up the wrong studio hungover the next day and that was funny. [Laughs].
Vyk: I remember mostly the year of the creation of the album rather than the studio itself.
Carl: I like recording I just don’t like setting up. When it’s time to set up the drums and everything I hate it, I fucking hate it. Then I play drums and then it’s done. I’d rather play live, live is cool.
Vince: I play rhythm and leads right. I have a general idea of what I’m doing, but in the studio I improvise it. I know where I’m going and I have an idea and I always play a different as I like to. I don’t want people to see a show and feel like their listening to the record. Sometimes it’s a little faster and sometimes a little bit different, it’s the blues man.
Jack: So improvisation is a big key for you guys live then?
Vince: That’s how we compose, when we write songs we just kinda get together, get fucked up and just improvise. I don’t sit down with my headphones alone at like 2pm and write riffs. We eat Barbecue and shit, we make a shit ton of food get fucking hammered, a little high and we fucking jam out and go “oh shit that’s a good riff,” then we take out our cellphones to record it to remember as we’re so fucking hammered. Then the next day we go “keep that one, keep that part.”
Vyk: We should get one of these actually. [Points at my dictaphone].
Vince: We can’t afford that man.
Jack: Do you have a favourite album?
Vince: Of ours?
Vince: Oh fuck no.
Vyk: That’s a hard question.
Vince: I don’t like my band.
Carl: I don’t listen to our albums.
Vyk: I never listen to it.
Jack: A lot of bands don’t listen to their own work as they get sick of it in a way.
Vince: Yes and plus I work with our friend Jean Baptiste when it comes to mixing and he sends me drafts. So he sends me a draft, and he’s like “what do you think of this mix.” I say “ah it needs a bit more snare or turn down the vocals a bit.” So there’s this back and forth thing. Plus when I work on the samples and all that shit, I get to hear the so many times that when the record is done I don’t want to fucking listen to it. I don’t know if I have a favourite album, if someone would ask me, “I want to listen to Dopethrone what would I listen to?” I would listen to Hochelaga, not that because it’s my favourite just because that’s more where the band is and more of a general…
Vyk: More balance.
Vince: Yeah it’s not my favourite but if you were to listen to one of our records, you would listen to Hochelaga.
Jack: You also did a split with Fister, how did this come about?
Vince: Just I know Kenny from Fister online, chatting and sending each other fucked up memes at 5am, shit like that. He brought up the idea of like “hey man could we maybe do a split” and I was like “fuck, yeah why not.” We figured we’d do a split with a band that kicks ass and Fister kicks ass.
Jack: Last year you also released Hochelaga Blackening Spice & Seasoning, what was behind this decision?
Vince: Because I’m broke and I’m a cook so I decided to make that basically. I’ve been working on the recipe for like two years, cajun spice, eight kind of peppers, there’s paprika, smoked paprika, a lot of garlic. I just decided to that as I think it’s good merch, cool merch, it’s original plus you know you got to pay them bills. [Laughs]
Jack: Lots of bands are releasing food related products such as hot sauces, seasoning, alcoholic drinks. Is this the future for band merch?
Vince: Maybe. But the different is that most bands that have hot sauces, don’t make them. It’s not like the guys from High on Fire make the hot sauce at their house. We’re making this at my house in my kitchen, we’re wearing masks and gloves it looks like Breaking Bad in there. It’s 100% DIY, we’re not hiring some company to do it. It’s perfectly legal too which is pretty cool.
Jack: I’ve also saw you shared on Facebook a meme of Hank Hill listening to’Shot Down’ by Riff Lord. Do you think this is a modern way of promoting music?
Vince: I mean that wasn’t our decision, someone just made it and we thought it was funny so we shared it. We didn’t just go “lets go make some Hank Hill meme.” It might be, I’m figured if someone is making a meme like that, it’s because people are digging it so that’s good.
Jack: What do you have coming up after this tour?
Vince: We’re finishing the tour and then we’re doing some shows in Quebec and Ontario and then we’ve got two weeks off then we’re going back to Europe for a third tour in 2016, this one’s a Eastern European tour. Where are we going Carl?
Carl: Don’t know. Somewhere.
Carl: We’re doing some new places we’ve never been, Italy, I think we have Budapest, Serbia and places like that. It’s places we’ve never done before so that’s cool.
Vince: We’re going to pretty much take over Europe.
Jack: Finally I’ve always wanted to know, one of your most famous songs is your cover of ‘Aint No Sunshine,’ why did you decide to cover this?
Vince: Firstly, I’d rather the interview call it because of copyright reasons call it ‘Anal Sunshine.’ Just kidding. [Laughs]. It was during the Dark Foil times, I was dating this girl that’s passed away now, and she was gone in many ways a lot of times and there was no sunshine when she was gone. So this song really spoke to me at the time and I spoke to the boys about it and they were all for making a cover of it, and it just became that.
Jack: Will you do any more covers like this?
Vince: Not yet but we’re thinking about it.
Carl: I was thinking of doing a Lionel Ritchie cover but they don’t want to.
Jack: I think that would be great personally.
Vince: Yeah that’d be pretty cool.
Carl: Maybe we should try something.
Vince: We should try something.
Carl: Lionel Ritchie would be cool.
Vince: Yeah we should try.
Jack: Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you on stage.
Carl: Oh Yeah!
Vince: Thank you man, raise hell!
Vyk: Thank you.
Vince: This is probably the most professional interview we’ve ever done.