Charleston based lo-fi punk rockers Dumb Doctors are slated to release their new self-titled album on cassette at the 2017 Summer Shindig at The Royal American this Saturday (6/24). This album marks an important milestone for the band, as it was the first effort to be recorded with the full lineup (Scott Dence, Jim Faust, Brett Nash, Kain Naylor). In the past, frontman Scott Dence had played all the instruments himself and recorded in his West Ashley basement studio, nicknamed The Dumgeon. For their self-titled album the whole band got together over a period of five days in February and banged out this full-length release on a 4-track cassette recorder, in the now-famed basement Dumgeon of Dumb Doctors’ past recordings.
The reptilian cover art was designed by Dennis Hickman, one of Charleston’s most respected tattoo artists. You can find him at Holy City Tattooing Collective Tuesday through Saturday from 1 until 9. We linked up with Scott to talk about the new album, which is available for an exclusive stream at the bottom of this page. Scroll down and press play and then scroll back up to read our interview with Scott, and pick up your copy on cassette this Saturday’s Summer Shindig at The Royal American, where Dumb Doctors will play alongside a slew of awesome local and regional acts for a day-long parking lot festival. You can also pre-order the album via Bandcamp for $7.
Can you tell me a little about how Dumb Doctors got started? How did you assemble the lineup?
I started Dumb Doctors in the summer of 2013 as a solo recording project while my other bands (boring portals, sans Jose) were on hiatus. Jim (Faust, bass in dum dox) and I had been in a couple of bands together already so he was the first person I asked to be a part of the band. Later I asked Brett to play drums and the three of us were line up for our first album, ONE, which was released in 2015. Kain had played in a Charleston band called Bath Salts and i was a huge fan. We ended up working together and got him to fill in for Brett at a show at Big Gun Burger Shoppe sometime in the winter of 2015 and decided to ask him to join the band full-time. We’ve been a 4-piece more or less since then.
What was the best part about having the full lineup present during the recording process, instead of your usual method of recording the songs yourself?
It was a lot of fun recording this album together. We recorded every Sunday in February and spent a couple of hours each time trying to get the best performances we could get. We would record in my basement studio then hangout in my carport afterward. It was very relaxed, ya know? We listened back to the recordings every week and then decided if we needed to redo’em or if they were good enough to keep. I always wanted to be the guy that could churn out music constantly and that’s why I would record by myself. Plus I’ve always been pretty impatient when it comes to recording, waiting on other people’s schedules would drive me crazy. Doing it as a band is slower paced but it’s worth it tho. When I look back at a lot of the stuff I did by myself, they all seem unfinished or demo-y. When we play the songs as a band, they sound real and fleshed out. More like a band is playing them instead of someone trying to rush through a song by themselves. We’ve been playing a lot of these songs for a while and planned out our sessions so when Sunday would come we were ready to knock them out.
Did you do most of the writing, or was it more of a collaborative effort?
I had all of the music written when we started this one. But we kinda re-envisioned them as we’ve been playing them in the last 6 months, making them ours instead of just an idea I have. We collaborate mostly on the flow of the songs and try to figure out how to make them exciting when we play them live.
Why the choice to record on cassette in your basement studio, as opposed to at a recording studio or on a computer? Was it for the grunge?
I think everything sounds better on tape. I’ve been a longtime fan of DIY, Lo-Fi esthetic, Like Guided by Voices or The Oblivions or The Gories. It’s fuzzy and lower quality but it makes the music weird. You have to embrace mistakes and just try to rock as hard as possible. I don’t like the idea of being so unlimited with digital recording. Not that I’m against it completely tho. If I were to go to a studio or something it would be cool to go digital but if we make it at my house I would rather do it on the 4-track. Also recording 4-track style is fascinating to me. Just how it all works. It’s so simple and complicated at the same time. So you really have to know how they work to get a good sound of them. There’s a level of actual engineering that goes into it that really excites me.
How much creative input did you have in Dennis Hickman’s cover design?
I was trying to rush out a shirt last year and mentioned it to Dennis who’s an old buddy. I sent him the song “The Reptile” which I wrote about the South Carolina legend the Lizard Man of Ore Country. I really like weird occult phenomena like that. They said that the lizard man lived in the swamp in Bishopville or something and would eat peoples cars late at night. There were even sightings and shit. At the time it was such a sensational story that people started making merch like shirts and other junk you would find at South Of the Border or truck stops. Me and Dennis talked about that too and I think he used that as inspiration. He’s the best! He actually hand-drew the cover and looking at the detail in it is so intense. Hopefully soon I can get that shirt going too.
Which one of you is going to get the cover design tatted on your body?
I think we should all get it tattooed. When this whole cassette thing makes Dumb Docs a household name I’ll get Dennis to go on tour with us so he can sell the tattoo at the merch table.
What are you looking forward to most about the Summer Shindig?
I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Monday. He always kills it and is probably one of the best performers I’ve seen in Charleston. I also want to see Riot Stares because I haven’t heard’em live yet. Then of course there’s all the homies in all of the other bands too. I’m sure it’s gonna be good times!
Stream the new self-titled album by Dumb Doctors below, and snag a copy on cassette at the Summer Shindig on Saturday.
DUMB DOCTORS by DUMB DOCTORS (Exclusive Stream)