Today’s Feature: December 11th-12th, Doug Does Decaydance

December 12, 2007 at 10:12 pm (Today's Feature)

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Certainly not your typical megastar stage name, eh? But then again, Doug didn’t arrive on the music scene in any typical fashion either. He actually started out as your representative average Joe (or Doug), working for Crush Management, a firm based out of New York that manages acts such as Fall Out Boy, Charlotte Sometimes, Butch Walker and Panic! At the Disco.

But working for the company wasn’t the only thing that Doug had in mind… after all he had the tools to become a star, graduating from the Berklee College of Music just before landing the job. At the office, Doug constantly showcased his talents with impromptu performances for his boss, Bob McLynn. Grabbing his guitar “between e-mails,” Doug was nearly fired until Bob gave him this ultimatum: “record an album free of profit or lose your job.” 12 songs later, Doug had created a collection paying homage to the artists of the record label Decaydance, home of bands like Gym Class Heroes and Cobra Starship.

The album titled, “Does Decaydance,” (Doug Does Decaydance – get it?) is full of “jazz arrangements of songs from each of the label’s artists complete with drums, bass, piano, horns and Doug’s own guitar and vocals.” Songs such as the Fall Out Boy hit “Dance Dance” are covered on the album, this time with a more classical approach, upbeat and definitely swinging. Doug is out now on select dates of the “Really Really Ridiculously Good Looking Tour” with Cobra Starship, Metro Station, We the Kings and The Cab. Get out to the show and check out the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Doug Does Decaydance

Pen’s Eye View: How and when did you first get involved in music?

Doug: I was about 11 years old when I started picking up the guitar and it was because pretty much my brother, who is older than me, was jamming out every night in the room next to mine so when I was trying to fall asleep he was playing, trying to play, some metal. I was like, “I don’t want to be like my big brother” so that’s when I picked up the guitar but mine was an acoustic.

PEV: Was there a certain point when you knew you wanted music to be your career rather than just a hobby?

Doug: Actually yeah. One of my good friends was signed, this was about when I was in high school, and I saw him go through the whole process of putting out a record and he actually wound up getting screwed and the album never came out, and that’s actually when I decided, hey, I want to get into music in whatever capacity possible and it seemed I was very interested in the business end. So I went to Berkley College of Music and studied music business management, which is my day gig, and we recently put together this album which is covering all the Decaydance bands that I work with and it’s just jazz renditions of all the songs. It’s kind of like I wear two different hats. I’m general manager of Crush Management by day and then by night I’m Doug Does Decaydance, you know.

PEV: What were those days like back at Berkley?

Doug: It was really cool. That’s where I learned jazz. That’s where I learned all the jazz chords and my brother took me to see Frank Sinatra when I was 15 and from that moment on I was big jazz standards fan so Berkley was the perfect place for me to get into that culture musically and performance-wise. I took some vocal classes, and you have to take a certain amount of guitar courses, and it really just threw me in it. I learned everything I needed to know, pretty much.

PEV: You talk about working with Crush Management and I read on your site how you talk a lot about how you were just sitting there in the beginning and you’d pop out your guitar between e-mails and at work and stuff.

Doug: Yeah. I’m always singing, whether people like it or not around me, in the office. I’ll just bust into a song and sing and not even really realize it. I’ll just be going along doing my thing on the computer and one day I had a guitar and I was just playing some music and Bob, one of the artists, was like “You know what get in the back. Let’s record” because I was fooling around with dance bands and I turned it a little jazzier. So we went in the back and I just recorded it acoustically and we put it up onto MySpace and it got a reaction.

PEV: What was that like when you first recorded the music that would become the album?

Doug: That was a little later than that initial recording but that was an amazing experience. I went out to a studio in Brooklyn the producer owns. His name is Joel Hamburger, and it was a really neat experience. I had been studios with our other bands of course, but never on the other side of the glass. I went in for 4 days and the first few were just getting drums and bass down but I was playing along so they could get a feel for all the songs and then the following 2 days I laid down all the guitars and all the vocals and there was another extra day thrown in there for horns and other parts like organ. But it was quite the experience. It was a lot of fun. I was nervous at first, for the minute, and then everything else was just a joy.

PEV: What was it like the first time you ever played live?

Doug: Well, that was a long time ago. That was probably when I was 14 or 15. I played at a coffee shop in New Jersey and it was a thrill. I had a lot of family out and it was a really exciting event for me. There’s nothing like playing and getting applause. And getting paid for it too. It’s a pretty neat deal. Then flip that to my experience this past week. I joined the Young Wild Things Tour with Fallout Boy, headlining tour. I’ve done 4 out of 9 thus far and the last 9 are LA until the end of the tour so it’s basically West Coast dates and I stepped out there. The first show was in Tsongas Arena up in Lowell, Massachusetts, and there must have been at that point, because I played early on, close to 3000 people, and I had a dry mouth going walking up to the stage. A little bit of nerves, well actually, I was fairly nervous but as soon as I got up to the microphone everyone just kind of erupted in applause and I had tingles all over my body and just chills everywhere and right at that point I knew everything was going to be fun.

PEV: What can people expect from a live performance now?

Doug: Right now I’m doing all the songs on the album which is fun for a lot of the kids on the tour because they know all the Decaydance bands. The know of course, Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes are on the tour. And also Panic at the Disco, The Academy, Hush Sound, and Cobra Starship. So everyone recognizes songs and they really get into it. Now when I play a tour, it’s just me solo, just me, the guitar, my voice and my renditions of the songs. It’s a neat twist to it. It’s funny ’cause I get a lot of parents coming up to me in the arena and a lot of kids, and they both are into it. It’s kind of like one of those things where younger kids and adults can enjoy it and actually listen to the same CD in the car and not hate it!

PEV: How is Doug Does Decaydance different than other albums out today?

Doug: Well, the concept alone is pretty different. Taking a pop song and arranging it for jazz is not anything new, but doing it all from one label’s artists, Decaydance primarily, and so many relevant bands out today, they’re all the people I work with and it’s kind of a unique situation that we have going. Everyone’s really into it. Everyone supports it so much. Everyone would have been on it if we had more time. People are scattered and that’s just how it was. Maybe for the next one. It’s a pretty solid album as far as the musicians that we had and the studio. They were amazing. They are great local musicians who have played on many albums. It’s just a solid piece of art, I guess.

PEV: What do you like about touring right now?

Doug: The best part about touring is definitely is just getting up on the stage and hearing everyone erupt in applause. That’s what you’re out there for and it’s just so satisfying. Even walking off the stage after you killed it, you know, or after people really enjoyed what you did up there. That’s what you do it for. It’s been a really interesting experience, getting back there on the road. The catering sucks, whatever, you eat crappy food. But lying in the tour bus, just sleeping, waking up in another city. It’s amazing.

PEV: Who are you currently listening to? Who’s in your CD player or on your iPod?

Doug: I’ve been listening to a lot of Ray Lamontagne recently, and Nick Drake, because to me it’s kind of fall, early winter music and The Format as an album I can’t stop listening to. I’ve been listening to that for a while. Of course all the bands I work with. I still can’t get off the new Fall Out Boy album and Gym Class album, everyone. There’s so much good stuff out there right now. The new Radiohead.

PEV: Is there an upcoming band right now you think we should all be looking into?

Doug: Yeah, there are a few. The Hush Sound is going to be putting out another album soon. Cobra Starship, their new album is pretty amazing.

PEV: We’ve had them on PensEyeView. They’re awesome. Doug: Yeah. The Academy Is, as well. I’m really into that album, too. But if you haven’t checked out The Format, I would say get that album. That’s pretty amazing.

PEV: When you’re not traveling, and you’re not working, and you’re not performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

Doug: I live in New York City so I hang out at, we own a bar called Angels & Kings, and usually any given weekend that I’m in New York. Any given night on that weekend at some point I’m in that bar, hanging out. I actually joined a soccer league, which is a charity league. I have fun doing that. I check out museum’s a lot. My girlfriend’s an artist so we go to a lot of art shows and stuff, which is a lot of fun.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, or getting ready to music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

Doug: My tiny-ass apartment. (Laughs.) I live in the East Village so space is not abundant and I just arrange everything in my room. I sit on my bed, I plug in my iPod, figure out the initial song and then rearrange everything right there and then and work it out. So everything pretty much happens in my room, sitting on my bed.

PEV: What one word best describes you?

Doug: I work my butt off so…workaholic.

PEV: Do you think jazz is something you’re probably going to end up going back to at some point in your career?

Doug: Yes. And the ult for me, I’d like to have a nice jazz band in New York where I can play every once in a while, or if it gets to a bigger level, do some dates here and there all over the country.

PEV: Finally, what’s next for Doug?

Doug: Next for me, well the album comes out November 20th, Does Decaydance, and obviously the artist’s name is Doug. So I’ll be joining some other tours I’m sure, that will be coming around. I have a release party at the bar Angels & Kings in the East Village, that’s on the 19th. So I just can’t wait for it to get out there and see what people think and hop on some more tours and play some more dates. If this one goes well, either I’m going to do another concept album or I’ll start going over to the jazz standards and make one of those albums, see how it does.

For more information on Doug, check out www.DougDoes.com

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