Tristan Jemsek of Dogbreth
Talks Tours, Classic Rock, More
Fresh Off An International Tour With Andrew Jackson Jihad, The DIY Phoenix-Based Outfit Shares That Some Of The Members Have A Love For Classic Rock Luminaries Such As Pink Floyd, The Eagles And The Boss
By Clipper Arnold
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Nov. 25, 2014 —Dogbreth are a Phoenix-based indie-rock and pop-punk band. The band has a couple of full lengths and other releases under their belt on relatively influential DIY labels. They deliver an overwhelmingly kind and saccharine, honest and authentic brand of rock and roll. The quartet’s current lineup consists of Tyler Broderick, Tristan Jemsek, Erin Caldwell, and Liam Murtagh. Despite a recent national tour with fellow Phoenix DIY titans Andrew Jackson Jihad, Tristan remains humble, optimistic and even shy.
Plato’s concept of the “philosopher king” dictated that the ideal leader would be a person bound by integrity and sound moral philosophy. However, paradoxically, this ideal leader would be someone who wouldn’t actively seek out such a position because of his distaste for narcissism and power. Similarly, Tristan and Dogbreth, despite possibly being on the cusp of relative rock-stardom, take a very humanistic and holistic approach to their music--one that emphasizes community, authenticity, sincerity, and fun over artifice, reckless posturing, money, and fame. Tristan and I talked for a while, even after the interview was over, about the importance of music, DIY ethos, and having an organic and genuine approach to all things.
Modern Times Magazine: Dogbreth has recordings on Bandcamp dating back to 2011 with “Chookie”. What was the genesis of Dogbreth as an entity in and of itself? How and when did you all start writing music together?
Tristan Jemsek: It started out as a solo project around 2009. I was playing in a few pop-punk bands that played my songs. It was kind of too hard to get a live band together, so I started writing a lot of music around then by myself. I just sort of played a lot of solo shows for about a year. And then in the summer of 2010 I went on tour with two bands--iji and Mega Bog. They ended up backing me up on a couple of songs for a Dogbreth set and after that some of us started playing together. It’s just a lot more fun playing with a full band. I think the first show was in Flagstaff. Tyler Broderick (the current guitarist) actually started on drums, and he’s been the other constant member. But yeah, the past few years it’s been a solid lineup of me, Tyler Broderick, Erin Caldwell, and Nathan Leach. Nathan’s starting grad school in January, so he’s not going to be participating as much, but we’re hoping to have him go on a couple of summer tours with us.
MTM: I was reading that Dogbreth originally was an acoustic project. Do you have any old acoustic demos?
TJ: Oh, yeah...I recorded like an acoustic EP one day a while back at my friend’s studio in a few hours. A few of the songs have kind of stayed in the rotation here and there, but some of them...not so much. The songs that I liked best off of that EP ended up on “Chookie” anyways and I sort of think of “Chookie” as the first real Dogbreth release.
MTM: How did the Andrew Jackson Jihad tour come about? What was that tour like?
TJ: They just asked us! We’ve been friends with those guys for a long time. It just kind of came out of nowhere. Actually, there was this miscommunication at first where their agent asked us first, but they wanted to be the ones to do it. After we got the email, we texted Ben Gallaty (from AJJ) and we were like, “Is this real?” and he was like, “Oh, crap--I wanted to be the one to ask you guys!” But yeah, it was definitely different from any other tour that we’d ever done. It was two legs of three weeks, so six weeks total. It was pretty much a full U.S. tour and some of Canada. We all had to get our passports in order and everything.
MTM: At the last house show I saw you at, you guys played all Thin Lizzy covers. There's a very saccharine, nostalgic vibe to a lot of Dogbreth songs--which sometimes are teased out even further by guitar solos. Are there any other "classic rock" artists that Dogbreth draws a wealth of inspiration from? Like is Tyler really into Bruce Springsteen by any chance?
TJ: Tyler and I are both really into Bruce Springsteen--definitely both big Boss fans for sure. We love Thin Lizzy. I think the majority of what Tyler and I listen to is either our friends’ bands or classic rock. Lots of Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell...not necessarily classic rock but that kind of older stuff. You know, Pink Floyd, Eagles, etc. Those guitars are just so fun, so we try to have fun with it. Every band that has two guitarists is obligated to do classic rock “guitarmonies” at least a couple of times.
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