Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Track-by-track: Dogleg - Melee

Detroit-based Dogleg recently released one of the best emo-punk records in a pretty long time, so I was very excited when bassist Chase Macinsky agreed to give a detailed tour through all ten songs on 'Melee'. Here's his story.

Kawasaki Backflip 

This song was written pretty early into the album writing process. Alex first came up with the chorus riff with Parker while waiting for me (Chase) to show up to practice. Parker didn't like it at first because he thought it sounded to pop-punky but we fleshed it out into something we're happy with! It's the shortest song on the album, but we decided it was the perfect opener because it has this "buckle up Mother fucker" energy we wanted people to experience early on in the album.


We had a couple different variations of bueno circling around before we came up with this final version. Before, the little brother vocal part was actually just us playing random notes and breakdowns on a 4 count before jumping into the ending. We actually tried shifting that same concept over to Cannonball when we decided to use the little brother part, but that didn't stick either. Funny enough, Alex doesn't even have a little brother and the lyrics a just to represent someone who is supposed to look up to you. I wrote the lyrics for my vocal parts on the song and they don't have too much reason I just thought they fit really well. Recording group vocals was pretty straight forward for the track (all group vocals were done in one day in our garage with I think 12 people in the summer).

Prom Hell

We flirted with the idea of naming a song Prom Hell for a long time, but I never really thought it fit but when we wrote this song I said "alright, this one at least makes sense". I probably took the longest to record bass on this song than any other songs because I wanted to get the bends on my notes during the song just perfect. I was also using alex's pedal board because my tube screamer was broken at the time and when I was playing a take during the final chorus I accidentally hit his overdrive on too which makes the high pitch feedback you hear at 3:21. We decided it sounded really cool and kept it haha. 


Believe it or not this was the last song we wrote for the album. We had 9 songs written and we still wanted to tweak the pre-chorus of Prom Hell. So we messed around with things and Alex started playing the chorus riff to what would be come Fox and he said "woah woah woah, this riff is too good to be a pre-chorus. This is it's own song" and like lightening we hammered out the song in about 10 minutes into what it was today. It was an awesome rush bouncing ideas off each other so quickly, and we were happy to have 10 songs finally written (our goal for the album), but we were then still left unsure what to do with Prom Hell haha. We eventually decided to go with the complete slow down part we do now because it fits with other musical aspects of the album and introduces them early on.


I remember Alex and I were practicing for an acoustic show we were doing just the two of us and he showed me this intro guitar riff he wrote on his phone. He said he didn't have any ideas for it, but immediately I was like "woah woah woah, this song is going to be fucking sick" and I told him my ideas for it which eventually became the verse and chorus that you hear. We think this song goes harder than probably any other song on the album, and I'm honestly shocked not to see it as more people's favorite track. Headfirst was also written waaaaaaay before anything else on the album, and almost got included on the Remember Alderaan EP, but I felt like it wasn't completely finished by the time we wanted to roll out that EP. I'm glad we saved it for this album, because I feel it fits in a lot better.


I honestly forget how we started writing Hotlines, but I remember we wanted something that reminded us of Crimes on the Remember Alderaan EP. I remember feeling like the intro progression reminds me of driving down Miami at like 120 MPH in the middle of the night with your headlights off. We struggled a fair bit coming up with transitions between the verses and choruses until I said "Why don't we just play F at a lower octave." Parker thought that idea was immediately really stupid haha, but I convinced them to just try it and we all ended up actually liking it so score one for me.


Probably the poppiest song on the album, Wartortle was like a fresh of breath air for us to write and we thought it was a great mix to throw into the album. We tried to make it sound like if we wrote a 2000s indie pop song because we're huge fans of bands from that era, but wanted to have our own little twist on it. Alex and I co-wrote the opening lyrics and when I told him to make it "couldn't wake up before noon, i know to some that's kind of early" he questioned it because that doesn't make sense for noon to be early, and I told him "Exactly, that's what makes it feel so messed up. If noon is early, then who the hell knows how late you slept it." He thought that was clever.


Wrist is probably my favorite song on the album. I've always described it as "a song MCR wish they wrote" jokingly. I'm proud that I came up with the key change idea for the song because I feel like it really hammers home the song into an amazing outro. Alex basically had Wrist almost completely written when he showed us a demo of it he made years ago. He was mainly concerned about having the chorus of the song be completely instrumental, but I told him it was cool and do it. We made some tweeks to Alex's demo, and introduced the new outro and bada boom the song was done. Doing group vocals for the song was pretty cool because the last group vocals are in stereo with half the group saying one thing and the other half saying something different.


We started writing Cannonball when one day during practice I was waiting around for either Alex or Parker and I started playing the main riff/progression (A to C) in the rhythm of what became the song. Alex said "woah, what's that!?" and I was confused why he was so interested in what I was just randomly playing, but he saw potential in it so we decided to start working on it. It turned out pretty damn good, and surprisingly its a lot of our friends favorite track. The name Cannonball was chosen because when we started thinking of titles Parker said "this song is like the first cannonball of the summer" (referencing diving into a pool).


We knew with the songs we were writing that we would need a fucking killer ending to the album. The name Ender just comes from us saying "We need a good ender" so many times. This song probably took us the longest to finish writing because I always felt like we had to make it bigger and bigger. Honestly, I don't know if the song is completely finished in my book. There are some things I would have liked to mess with and thrashed out. The song is heavily influenced by the Killers from my perspective and we tried to make something as dramatic and monumental as their best songs. It was pretty difficult to record because there are so many tempo shifts in the song. We didn't even realize that my solo bass part after the first chorus was a different tempo than the rest of the song until like a week after recording it. It was really fun having our friends come in and do strings and horns for us. We're incredibly grateful to have such talented friends in our life. Honestly, they played the parts so well we were worried people would think we used a software to generate those noises instead of having them recorded. Horns and strings are also hidden throughout the album on Bueno and Cannonball which is a fun fact.

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