Dopapod Look to Immerse The Warehouse in a Multi-Dimensional Sound

Dopapod (Photo: Dopapod)


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The jam music scene around New England is as vibrant as it is diverse. Each band and musician within this community brings something a little different while possessing an approach that incorporates a variety of elements. Initially formed at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Dopapod are one of the leading acts in this artistic realm while touching upon a ton of styles whenever they perform. Folks around Connecticut will get to experience this for themselves when the quartet of keyboardist & co-vocalist Eli Winderman, guitarist & co-vocalist Rob Compa, bassist Chuck Jones and drummer Neal “Fro” Evans take the stage at The Warehouse in Fairfield on March 29. Nashville progressive bluegrass dynamos Sicard Hollow will be opening up the evening at 8pm. 

I had a talk with both Winderman and Compa ahead of the show about how the band initially began as a duo, having various musical influences and a big announcement that folks should pay attention to next month. 

RD: This year marks 16 years since Dopapod originally started as a duo with Eli performing with drummer Michaelangelo Carubba. Eli, what would you say was the initial catalyst for you and Michaelangelo getting together to create some music?

EW: For me, it was actually kind of imitating both the Benevento/Russo Duo and Soulive because they both have a keyboard player. It was just an excuse to be able to play shows where we could just fit everything in my car and go to play at all of these different random bars all over the place. We used to drive four hours into Upstate New York once a month to do these really fun shows, we’d fit everything in one car and go play a raging bar, it was really fun. 

RD: Rob, you joined up with Eli and Michaelangelo a year later, so how did you initially get involved? Was it just through sitting in with them and jamming or was it more complex than that?

RC: It was kind of just sitting in and jamming. I met Eli when we were both at Berklee in a reggae ensemble, we would take these extra classes where it was a band and a teacher would come in to coach the whole band in class. Then we would play a recital at the end of the semester, I did a reggae one and Eli was the keyboardist in it. I eventually left school while looking for gigs and I got one as part of the backing band for a reggae open jam. There would be a backing band playing grooves, these reggae singers would hop up and sing and Eli was also the keyboardist in that.  

He was giving me a ride home one night and I was saying “This is great, but I wish we could play stuff where we could improvise more and be a little more experimental.” Eli was like “Well, I have this other band where we can do whatever we want, you should come sit in.” That was Dopapod in its duo stages, so I went to sit in at this little bar. Usually when you sit in it’s for a song or two, but I think I played the entire set. I didn’t even know the songs so when I didn’t know what was going on I didn’t play anything for a minute. 

Our bass player actually sat in for that night too and he wasn’t in the band at the time either so it started like that. They would have me out for other shows as a guest and then after a while it became permanent. It was clear that it was working. 

RD: That’s awesome. When it comes to the songwriting process, does Dopapod’s music still build off of the initial dynamic that’s created from the keyboards and drums or has it evolved in different ways?

EW: I’d say that it’s definitely evolved. We’ve always kind of had a thing where we’d take an original idea and then everyone learns it while incorporating their own ideas to change it or make their part specific to how they want to do it and it takes its own life. There’s pretty much a few ways that we do it, if it either starts as a demo or it starts as just an idea with all of us and we each kind of do our thing with it. Other songs have happened just in the moment, but a lot of times it’ll be something that Rob is playing from the other side of the room. For whatever reason it’ll strike my interest, I’ll record it, I’ll make a demo out of it or we’ll just mess with the idea and see where it goes. 

RD: Very cool. Dopapod’s music touches upon a wide range of styles as well while incorporating elements of funk, jazz fusion, heavy metal and country. Would you say that this is a conscious thing when it comes to making new material or does it come from a more organic way of creating?

RC: I would say it’s sort of all four of us having different influences and everybody gets a little bit of what they want. By being that way, all that stuff sort of ends up in there pretty naturally. I wouldn’t say that it’s us thinking that we consciously need to play more metal grooves to be a little different, Neal just loves metal so it happens. The same with the country thing, I was kind of into that and I would write these weird little country songs. The rest of the band would be like “That’s all right, but what if we add chicken noises to it and speed up the recording so it sounds like chipmunks?” So everybody manipulates things to get a little bit of their personality in it and at the end of it, it’s a little more personal and unique. 

RD: You guys got this show coming up at The Warehouse, but what are your plans going into the spring and summer? Can we expect a new album at some point?

EW: We do have a very big thing coming. I don’t want to ruin it, but there’s definitely something coming, so people should check our social media on 4/20. That’s all I’ll say.

RC: I don’t even know what Eli is talking about, this is exciting!

EW: You don’t know what it is?

RC: Yeah, maybe it’s because there’s more than one exciting thing and I’m not sure which one it could be. This is great! This makes me happy.

EW: There’s a lot coming in this next chapter of the band. Not anything pertaining to a change in the lineup or something, it’s just a really exciting new thing that we’re about to release.

Who: Dopapod

When: March 29, 2024 at 8 p.m.

Where: The Warehouse at FTC, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield, CT 06824

Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of the Connecticut Examiner, he also writes for DigBoston, The Aquarian Weekly, The Providence Journal, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.