Jam Factory

Jam Factory

Jam Factory

In an Oct. 13, 2011, interview with, keys player Eli Winderman blew Dopapod’s cover. Their name, among other song and album titles, is a palindrome—a word that reads the same backward—but not one the fourpiece slaved over.

According to Winderman, “There’s actually a bunch of websites that have lots of them. Like, thousands of them. That’s how I found ‘Radar’ and ‘Drawn Onward.’ It’s not as cool as if I thought of them.”

In a recent interview with the Syracuse New Times, bassist Chuck Jones had little to say on the subject.

“I don’t care at all about palindromes,” he says honestly. “Eli loves symmetry, and he spearheads it. He’s the leader behind that movement. I go with this flow, don’t really care. It’s a fun little game, I get it. But it’s not my favorite thing.”

Most of the interview is spent talking about things that are at Jones’ speed: recording an album in a barn, learning the ropes of jam improv and understanding what the hell this East Coast jam scene is all about now that he’s in a band that’s becoming a bigger player within it.

“Growing up on the West Coast . ..even until I came to Berklee {College of Music, in Boston}, I’d never heard of Phish,” Jones admits. “I didn’t even know that this scene still existed. I thought this died out with Woodstock. Personally, I feel foreign sometimes. I don’t always feel super-comfortable with big festivals.”

Jones is the son of two Juilliard grads.

While his parents are classically trained, Jones didn’t connect with that music. His California upbringing instead steered him toward the likes of Sublime, and it was college that brought him together with his future bandmates, including Winderman, drummer Neal Evans and guitarist Rob Compa.

The band started in 2007 as a duo with Winderman and another drummer. Compa joined the fold in 2009, and Jones, who had played with Winderman, was asked to sit in. Evans was soon added, and the quartet of Dopapod was born.

After the band members graduated in 2010, they started raking in up to 200 shows a year. The tours became more organized, as prominent destinations such as the Peach Music Festival, Electric Forest and the Summer Camp Music Festival piled on the list.

The group’s inclusive approach to music blends the tastes and backgrounds of its players, making the wild jams all the more interesting. “There are so many influences from different members,” Jones says. “To keep each other individually happy, we let every idea in. It’s not as cohesive as a pop song on the radio, but it’s comfortable to us.”

Winderman went to Berklee on a jazz scholarship and listened to The Band, Bob Dylan, Phish and Clapton, while Jones started out with a Korn CD when he was 11 and progressed to Primus, the Dead Kennedys and Jurassic 5. The music preferences of Evans and Compa lie somewhere in between, with a few favorites shared among the band.

“Snarky Puppy is a big influence now,” Jones says. “It’s very real music. A little intimidating at times. The whole band is outrageously good. It’s intelligent, but not dorky.”

For Dopapod’s latest album, Redivider, the band traveled to Tyrone Farm, in Connecticut, and brought all of their own equipment to the solar-powered barn. Rather than forking over the money for studio time, the group took two weeks to relax, experiment and enjoy the scenery.

“It was a very inspiring environment,” Jones recalls. “We had two full weeks to make whatever happen. That’s a long time to experiment with sounds and arrangements. More than before.”

To Jones’ surprise, the fans keep coming back for more. “We never thought our project. . . that we’d write this crazy music and people would like it. Sometimes I don’t even understand how there are people out there liking it. We’re lucky. It’s a chemistry thing. You can’t really explain it. But the four of us understood we had something special and kept going.”


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