Interview: Eli Winderman of Dopapod October 9, 2015 11:02

Photo by Ken Jones
Dopapod has come a long way from their college basement, DIY party roots. While maintaining to be as grassroots as their humble beginnings, the group has earned praise from Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, The Boston Herald and Relix, all the while tending to their ever expanding community of devoted listeners.  We recently caught up with Eli Winderman (keyboards) to gain some additional insight, as well as his thoughts on this weekend's Creatures of the Night Music & Art Festival in Adams, TN.
Dopapod is...
ROB COMPA - Guitar
LUKE STRATTON - Sound & Lights
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Dopapod was born Boston, while attending Berklee College of Music.  What led to the formation of the band?  When did you guys start to realize this would become much more than a college band?
Eli:  The band started basically as a vehicle to play house parties and other random gigs we could get together.  We used to play basement house parties and renegade festival sets all the time.  As well as all over New England.  We did that for about a year or two until one day I got a call from our first booking agent.  Once that happened, we began touring pretty heavily and haven’t really slowed down too much until now.  We’ve had breaks here and there, but for the most part we’ve been touring pretty heavily for 4 or 5 years now.
The sound of Dopapod is truly unique, from your unique sound/creativity on the Moog, to Rob's heavy but funky style of guitar playing.  Who were some of your biggest influences that helped shape your style of play?
Eli:  I suppose I should just speak for myself here, but my original keyboard influences were John Medeski, Herbie Hancock, Rick Wakeman (Yes), Neal Evans (Soulive), Bill Evans, and Brad Mehldau.  Basically, when I was 15 I was introduced to a lot of the funk stuff from the 70’s, as well as the new age jam/funk stuff.  It was the first time I realized I could really be a keyboard player.  
Photo by Amanda Sandwicch - CSMPromo
We're approaching one year since the release of your fourth studio album, Never Odd of Even.  Have you guys had a different approach towards each studio release?    How do you ultimately decide on the tracks and their placement within each album?
Eli:  It feels like more than a year to be honest.  Each album has a bit of its own approach because our tastes are constantly changing and our abilities are becoming more mature.  Every time you make a record you learn a lot about the process as well as yourself.  We usually write constantly, and try to get songs going in the live rotation so they can get some road time.  We’ve found that songs develop over time and eventually we have enough songs for a new record so we can begin the process.  This time around, we have a lot of music stored up that we haven’t played live.  We’re starting off next year with a long writing/rehearsal time and aiming to come back in 2016 with a lot of new music.
I'm always interested to hear how the songwriting process works within the bands I follow.  How is the songwriting balanced within the band?  Can you share an example from a song in the current catalog?
Eli:  A lot of our music starts with a demo that I make.  I share it with the guys and if they like it then we start learning as the band.  The parts always come to life once we learn them, and everyone throws in their individual ideas for the song.  Then we play it live and figure out what parts are good and what parts need to be changed.  
Dopapod has grown drastically in recent years.  The venues are bigger.  The festival spots are prime.  The van even turned into a bus.  Has the total amount of dates continued to increase?  How does the band balance out the rigorous tour schedule?
Eli:  The dates have actually gone down a little bit, so we’re able to attempt to balance our lives a bit more than in the past.  We all have our routines to balance out the tour schedule, but it’s definitely not easy.  Lack of sleep is a hell of a drug.
You guys are scheduled to headline Creatures of the Night in Adams, TN on Sunday night.  Every band seems to have their own unique way of planning a set.  How do you guys go about the process?
Eli:  Rob writes most of our set lists, but we usually end up ditching it and calling out tunes live.  Either that, or segues just naturally happen.  That’s always my favorite and one of the coolest parts about this scene of music.  There are no rules and it’s pretty freeing to go into a concert with that mentality.
Creatures of the Night is one of the many new music festivals to surface in 2015.  The lineup is stacked with many of the jam scenes biggest acts.  While many new festivals surface each year, we seem to lose several as well.  How do you feel that Creatures can solidify itself as a mainstay in the festival circuit?
Eli:  That’s probably a question that a lot of festival promoters would love to know the answer to.  I think what makes festivals have longevity is the community.  If the festival has a strong and supportive community then you can’t even get rid of that festival.  If you look at festivals like Gathering of the Vibes, High Sierra, and Burning man (kind of a festival?), these are all events that have been going on for 2 almost 3 decades.  It’s more than just a music and art festival.  It’s tradition for thousands of people.  
Catch Dopapod on Sunday night at 8:15 PM on the Main Stage at Creatures of the Night Music & Arts Festival in Adams, TN.
Dopapod Tour Dates:
Oct 09 - Kalamazoo, MI - Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Oct 10 - Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue Theatre*
Oct 11 - Adams, TN - Creatures Of the Night Festival
Oct 13 - Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic Lounge
Oct 15 - Frisco, CO - Barkley Ballroom
Oct 16 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up
Oct 17 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre*#
Oct 18 - Fort Collins, CO - Hodi's Half Note
Oct 21 - Dallas, TX - Trees
Oct 22 - Rockdale, TX - Art Outside
Oct 23 - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
Oct 24 - New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's
Oct 27 - Jackson, MS - Duling Hall
Oct 28 - Huntsville, AL - VBC Playhouse
Oct 29 - Birmingham, AL - Zydeco
Oct 30 - Live Oak, FL - Hulaween
Nov 12 - Providence, RI - The Spot Underground
Nov 13 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
Nov 14 - Woodstock, NY - Bearsville Theater
Nov 18 - Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall
Nov 20 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza
Nov 21 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts
Dec 02 - Wilmington, NC - Ziggy's
Dec 03 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre
Dec 04 - Charleston, SC - The Pourhouse
Dec 05 - Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
Dec 08 - Chattanooga, TN - Revelry Room
Dec 09 - Nashville, TN - Exit In
Dec 10 - Asheville, NC - New Mountain
Dec 11 - Raleigh, NC - Lincoln Theatre
Dec 12 - Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java
Dec 13 - Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java*
Dec 31 - Worcester, MA - The Palladium w/ Turkuaz + Kung Fu (The Ball Drop)
* - No Nth Power
# - w/ Moon Hooch