Original Writeup

HIGH PRAISE: The Roof Dogs Mature on Newest Releases “Summer In Algeria B/W Devotion”

by Dean Tartaglia

These tracks are smart, unexpected, disciplined and high brow, while still being equal parts visceral, bombastic, punk, party music. That’s a seriously rare balance to pull off and they do it so well.

Hello! Happy Monday and last day before the 2020 election, and potentially more civil unrest (fun)! I couldn’t think of a better time to focus on something else haha.. so let’s dig into the newest tunes by a great midwest band The Roof Dogs. Born in Columbus and recently moving their way up in the world as Chicago residents, The Roof Dogs are pulling off a really genuine feat on their newest double single “Summer In Algeria B/W Devotion”, that is, honing and maturing their sound without losing the loose and raw edge they started with. So let’s talk about what I love most about these guys on their new tunes!

I really dig bands like Parquet Courts, especially 2018’s “Wide Awake” and I definitely hear some of that piece-y, guit-angular writing and deliberate restraint that makes music like this so enjoyable. But what strikes me sometimes is how much of a coastal mindset some of those types of bands can have. For those of you who know me, I probably wouldn’t describe myself as “intellectual” haha, and music that airs too far in this direction (that “I’m not in the know enough to get these references” direction) has always been a bit of a put off. And I’m sure in part I’m wrong in thinking that way, I probably should be a little more worldly! But hey, The Roof Dogs just happen to be scratching this specific itch right in between my shoulder blades that I usually have a really hard time reaching; these tracks are smart, unexpected, disciplined and high brow, while still being equal parts visceral, bombastic, punk, party music. That’s a seriously rare balance to pull off and they do it well.

I love the lyrics on “Summer In Algeria”, a play on old money, rich parents, F-U bank accounts, meaningless travel, and overall uncertainty. “I’ve got a plastic credit card and no one can stop me!” we’ve all said as we check our bank account the morning after a night on the town, only to see the bright red warning of an overdraft fee. Mixed with the “Walk Like An Egyptian” style quacking guitar line, it’s a fun and cute nod to the fact that we actually are still living in the midwest, even on those days we wish we weren’t.

“Devotion” is certainly the more metered of the two tracks, with a little more 90’s influence (whatever that overused phrase even means anymore) but certainly the more sincere. Synth blips make a nice accent to the simple yet unexpected little chord progression lifts that remind me of those cool moments on the Foo Fighters debut LP where you can tell Dave has really been listening to The Beatles. This is 60’s by way of the 90’s, kind of how The Sonics influenced the post-Nirvana mid 90’s Seattle scene, or how the B-sides on Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness feel. To me, this sounds like your cool older cousin’s band who have a synth player and opened for the Flaming Lips once. The Roof Dogs prove their music is dignified yet accessible, they have pretense without being pretentious, it’s refreshing.

Below is our exclusive interview with The Roof Dogs themselves, add these two tracks as a must listen before you make your year end list!

-Catch us up on the past year for The Roof Dogs, a move to Chicago, covid lockdowns, honing your sound on these latest tracks.. how has it all been going?

Andrew: We spent the first half year or so before quarantine going to shows and meeting bands, becoming acquainted with the city. We were fairly established in our old home of Columbus with a base of people that regularly came to our shows, so we definitely had some fear that it would take a while to build the same following in Chicago and find our niche. Things moved a bit quicker than I think we expected, and had some nice momentum leading into the start of 2020. We finished recording these two tracks at Strange Magic at the beginning of the year, and had this big east coast tour booked for April that was obviously canceled because of the pandemic. That was initially kinda tough morale-wise. In terms of the development of our sound, we kind of discussed how these tracks were our “thesis statement” as a band. I don’t think we had a conscious desire to shift our sound any certain way. 

-Do you actually spend your summers in Algeria? Haha, in a sense what I’m asking is, that comes across as a very “old money/prep school” line, what’s the motivation for this hook?

Andrew: I have never actually been to Algeria, haha. But yes, it definitely came from a place of making fun of those prep school sorts of people, and maybe about that youth and wealth giving one a false sense of immortality, particularly in a place as beautiful as Algieria.

-I love the tones you chose on these tracks, especially Algeria, it’s mature and thoughtful, clearly you’ve grown quite a bit as a band, but all while still keeping that punky chemistry from your earlier works. What was the intent going into the studio and did these come out how you heard them in your heads?

Andrew: I think the songs came out really well. Robbie Hamilton at Strange Magic did an amazing job. The studio had lots of great gear for us to play with, so while we had some stuff demo’d out and a general plan, we were able to experiment quite a bit. I think there are 4-5 different synths on these two songs, which is definitely the most synthesis we’ve done as a band haha.

-“Devotion” is certainly the more low key or B-side track, but I think it really shows your growth and control as songwriters. What inspired this track, what are the lyrics about

Jesse: Devotion is sort of about being bewildered by your own actions, trying to run away from decisions you’ve made in the past. In that sense the choruses are supposed to be ironic I guess. There were times in my life where I’ve wondered if I could ever be devoted to anything, so its really a call out song directed at myself. A lot of times I use writing to exorcise my demons. It’s about anxiety and the way anxiety can snowball into something paralyzing, fight or flight and all that.

-Let’s leave it off here; what are you potentially looking forward to the most in 2021 if things return to even a sliver of normalcy hah

Jesse: Looking into something long form next, we’ve got a number of new songs written during the pandemic that we’ll hopefully be able to work on soon once it’s safer to practice again. Ideally that will become the next album.Andrew: We’ve been working on a couple songs that we may have scrapped in the past, because they would be difficult to pull off in a live setting, but with live shows up in the air for the next year or two, we’re going to continue to experiment and not worry about that kind of stuff. 

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