Dogbreth: Phoenix's Most Unlikely Motivational Pop Punkers
"I think Tristan's [Jemsek, guitars/vocals] Craigslist addiction is the biggest influence on the band," says Dogbreth bassist Erin Caldwell.
Dogbreth -- the long running downtown pop punk combo -- has been around for a while, but 2012 has been a year of growth for the band, seeing it make a big transformation from a modest and lo-fi pop punk act into a loud, four-piece band with a presence in the greater Phoenix scene.
Nowhere is the band's growth more quantifiable than the expansion Jemsek's ever-growing pedalboard, a process which often finds him probing the depths of Craigslist for deals on equipment that will modify his guitar tone.
His most recent acquisition, a Turbo Rat distortion pedal, brought him to the apartment of the owner of a Gilbert coffee shop where he had played years before. The coffee shop owner remembered Jemsek as a young boy playing acoustic diddlies about his unrequited love for Kate Winslet. That boy has returned a grizzled and rat-tailed young man who may still love Kate Winslet, but loves feedback and fuzz even more.
"There's only so many sounds you can get from the genre of pop punk before you start getting bored with it," Jemsek says. "You have the sound at your fingertips with your guitar, but with the pedalboard, the sound is at your toes. It's like you have more control over it. It's kind of like taking the 'insane' button that's on your [Line 6 practice] amplifier and putting it at your feet."
2012 was an especially busy year for the band. Following 2011's full-length Chookie, the crew released Get Out via Anxiety Machine Records, a split cassette called Buzz Ballads with Falsetto Boy, and a cassette split with Dragons via Tago Bella Records. You can hear the broadening of the band's palette on these releases, which seem to take equal cues from "heavier" indie bands like Superchunk and more twee notes from bands like Tullycraft.
Jemsek has emerged as one of the most poignant lyricists in the Valley, able to craft small vignettes with each song that point to more universal meaning: "Guest House," from Get Out, flips the classic slacker format on its head, winding up a powerful self-motivation jam (minus the cheese, plus a killer guitar solo and synths).
Jemsek says 2013 will find the band recording another full-length record, as well as a contribution to Abe Gill's next volume of the Phoenix/L.A. compilation Bringing it Together Like Pangea compilation (the first installment dropped in 2012).
2013 will be a year for big amps and bigger ideas for Dogbreth as the band tries to perfect its tone.
Dogbeth is scheduled to perform tonight with Diners and iji at the Trunk Space.