Pop Quiz: The Dodos

Aidin Vaziri | Even the members of the Dodos admit that their previous album, “Time to Die,” felt a bit like a last gasp. But the San Francisco folk-rock duo sounds totally revitalized on its fourth studio recording, “No Color,” which boasts a fresh selection of percussion-heavy songs, backing vocals by country-rock firebrand Neko Case and some old-school determination. The group even survived vibraphone-related strife. We caught up with multi-instrumentalist Meric Long (the band also includes Logan Kroeber) somewhere in the middle of North Dakota, shortly after the Dodos played the South by Southwest music festival in Texas.

Meric Long of the Dodos
Q: You listened to nothing but Neil Young and the Ramones when you wrote these songs. How come none of them sound like a goat singing over two chords?
A: There’s not a direct influence, but there’s a sort of ethos you can take from both those artists. They’re both kind of stubborn. I feel like that feeling of sticking to one’s guts – or guns, or knives, or whatever. I feel like we tried to do that on this record. I started listening to Neil Young really intensely around the time I started reading his biography, “Shakey.” A lot of that book is about his determination to stick to whatever idea he had regardless of anything happening around him. I found that very inspiring.
Q: There was a pretty major vibraphone controversy surrounding the making of this album.
A: Yes. We went into the studio as a trio. We had the vibraphone parts recorded. But when it came time for mixing, we started taking things off and moving things around. We ended up with a record that didn’t have any vibraphone on it. We just wanted to make the songs as good as we could, and the vibraphone disappearing was part of that.
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