Interview: A chat with Baltimore Maryland’s Grunge band Dosser


Words: Letty Sharp. Photo credits: Amanda Adams / Michael York.

Dosser are a grunge band based in Baltimore, Maryland,
Washington DC. The band are currently getting ready to release their
new album, ‘Violent Picture//Violent Sound’, which is out the 20th of
January. Guitarists and Co-Vocalists William Teague and Bret Lanahan
sat down with Letty to answer a few questions.

LS- How did the band start?

WT- We all played in different bands around Baltimore. I think the first
time I had a real conversation with Bret was when I booked him and
Max’s (drummer) old band, Bested, at my house. I was throwing this
house show. I just thought their band was really cool and I always
thought it would be cool to do kind of like a grunge revival thing that
they were doing and just one night Max was kind of like, ‘Hey I think
this band is on the outs. I really wanna start a new project with you and
Bret’. So, we all kind of got together and started jamming and it clicked
immediately and made sense.

BL- Yeah, we kinda all come from very similar music backgrounds as
far as bands we’ve all previously been in. We’re all products of the 90’s,
so we are very much into a lot of y’know the grungy stuff, but we all
like the underground bands that influenced bands like Nirvana a lot and
yeah we were all playing in bands that sounded similar and then when
the bands that we used to play in as far as our bands would play shows
together, they both kinda broke up at the same time and we just started
hanging out and playing guitar together in 2018, was it?

WT- Yeah, I think that’s right. 2018 was when we had our first practice.

BL- Yeah, it was a pretty slow-moving ball. It wasn’t like, ‘We’re gonna
start a band, and start playing shows and record stuff’, it was just kinda,
‘This is fun’. [laughs].

LS- Joining forces, that’s great, I love to hear stories like that. You guys
are getting ready for the release of your album, ‘Violent Picture//Violent
Sound’, where did that title come from?

BL- So, that title came from me. It didn’t really come from anywhere
specifically. Like, ‘Violent Picture, Violent Sound’, that was floating
around in my head for years. That little sentence, tag line, I didn’t know
what I was going to use it for. It came out of, I was the worlds scaredest
kid. I was scared of everything as a little kid. I had such terrible anxiety
and I didn’t know what that was as a little kid. All my friends wanted to
watch all these horror movies, watch all this crazy stuff, or do all these
crazy things and I was the kid that would run out of the room if a scary
scene came on. Growing up, anything that had anything to do with
violence or anything freaked me out beyond belief. Then as I grew up
and now in my adult years, I am now obsessed with the things that used
to freak me out terribly. I can’t get enough, I’m really into true crime
stuff and horror movies. Now the things that used to terrify out that
kinda brings me comfort. It’s a weird little sentence that floats around in
my head. Things could be terrible, but also you can enjoy the terrible
things at the same time.

LS- It is a really cool title. How was the recording process for that
album?

WT- Yeah it was awesome. I met Jon, again with previous band stuff,
our bands played together. And he just kinda came up and said, ‘I really
like sonically the sound you’re going for’.

BL- Jon is the guy that recorded our album.

WR-Yeah Jon Markson.

BL- He’s most well-known for recording the band Drug Church. There
kind of a bigger band in the scene that we would be loosely tied to. We
really like how big and lush and thick those records sounded. Will can
take over, but he met him first, previously playing in one of his old
bands.

WR- Yeah, I don’t even know if he fully remembered me, but he came
up to me and said it to me at a house show, a small DIY thing. I looked
him up and realised he was this incredibly talented engineer. We did a
record with Kevin which was fun, but we just like, ‘Oh let’s try
something different and see how this goes’. We showed up and it was on
this Animal Sanctuary in rural New Jersey and endless amounts of fear [laughs]

BL- Literally just a farm in the middle of nowhere and they rescued
animals. Any animals really but farm animals as well. And then this old
barn, this guy converted it into a really nice studio with an apartment
attached so bands can stay there while they’re recording. We went out
there, we had demoed all the songs previously. These songs have been
floating around for years as we started writing them all right before the
pandemic. We didn’t know what to do with them, so we just practiced
them a lot and then- [sneezes]. So, we demoed all the songs, went there.
Jon likes a lot of the same music we like so when we got in there, he was
full on stoked. I mean, I’ve never worked with somebody recording that
was just as pumped for being part of the songs as we were. He was like
hyped up [laughs] it was really enjoyable because he would like chime
in and write little, tiny parts he thought would sound cool on top of stuff
and sometimes we would use them and sometimes we wouldn’t. As far
as a band, we’re very small in the grand scheme of things as we’re still
pretty new. So, it was cool to have somebody that wanted to make us
sound good as there’s nothing really in it for him, especially not money.
We’re not on a huge label that was gonna throw him thousands of
dollars for recording. He helped us out a lot. The record comes out next
week and we’re very excited for people to hear it. It’s, as far as me, I’m
sure I can speak for the rest of the guys, it’s the best sounding record any
of us has probably ever recorded.

LS- I’ve been keeping up with the singles, I’m very excited to hear the
full thing myself.

Jointly- Thank you.

LS- one of my favourite songs, coming onto our next question, is, ‘Joy
Thief’, is there a story behind that song?

BL- Yeah, so, I’ll try to make it short but it’s kinda funny. The riff that
is Joy Thief, the main riff that it comes into. The very first thing me and
Will ever started jamming on. We started hanging out; he had a song,
and I had a song. We we’re like, ‘Eh, this sounds kind of cool’, like they
would go together, and we started making a couple of things for Joy
Thief, going back and forth and we totally ditched the song and we
weren’t going to use it and that was before the first record that came out.
Come to writing songs for this record which is coming out now and I
was like, ‘Well, let me try to bring that song back to life’, and so the first
part stayed the same but the chorus and everything, I wrote completely
new and that morphed into the song is now on this record. As far as what
this song kind of means. So, again, this is a pretty big theme lyrically for
me and Will, I’m sure. We both have pretty big problems with
depression and anxiety. Mental health stuff I’ve been dealing with my
entire life and y’know, you can keep it under control and blah blah blah,
but it’s always, you wake up everyday and trying to make sure your not
losing your shit and you can get through the day. So Joy Thief, is kind of
a song for me about not feeling like I exist and trying my best to get up
and go to work and trying to do the normal things I have to, even though
I feel like nothing at all [laughs] so, y’know it’s kind an ode to, ‘Hey
man, shit sucks but you can still get through it, you can still do your
thing’, and for me that comes in the form of medication [laughs]. I don’t
know, I feel like I wanted to throw something out there as like a comfort
to somebody else listening to it like, ‘Hey man, have a hug from my
band to you’, [laughs].

LS- That’s a great story behind a great song. If you could collaborate
with any musician dead or alive, who would it be?

WR- That’s a tough one [laughs]

BL- Dead or alive?

WR- I feel more modern and I feel like we’d share it. I think Taylor
from Super Heaven or Webbed Wing. Always like that guy’s tone.

BL-Yeah, I’m obsessed with the band Webbed Wing. I believe they’re
from Philly yeah? They’re out of Philly?

WR- Yeah.

BL- Yeah, they’re just like, they’re killing whatever sort of, part of the
90’s revival they want to be in. It’s the catchiest stuff I’ve heard in
years. And maybe for someone who’s not here, there’s this band Sparkle
Horse. I’m really into this band Sparkle Horse and there’s this guy
named Mark Lincos, who’s not around anymore. He wrote some of the
weirdest, most beautiful stuff, Will, do you agree?

WR- Yeah, I would say he would be another one that would be just
complete outsider music and he did all of it himself and he had such a
unique way of recording and everything and mixing stuff. If you haven’t
heard of him, I definitely recommend check him out. He would be a
fantastic person to collaborate with.

BL- Last one, Trent Reznor. I’m completely obsessed with Nine Inch
Nails so and I have been for a long time. That will be top tier but
ultimately unattainable. I would like to give Trent Reznor a hug.

LS- He seems like to even meet and I have 2 new bands to check out
now. So, 2022 has just ended, did you have any favourite releases from
last year or any that your looking forward to this year?

WR- I mean, I think, I feel like I get stuck in paying attention to things
locally so much. I really dug the End It Ep that they put out, ‘Unpleasant
Living’. I feel like it brought back all the fun and energy of Baltimore
hardcore. It’s very straight to the point, no bullshit and I like every live
performance I see everyone is having so much fun. It’s like wild, I got
kicked in the face at the release show, and I was still smiling. That was
one of the most funniest shows I’ve been to.

BL- They’re like a huge Baltimore hardcore band right now.

WR- Yeah, totally great, nice dude, even though they look like dudes
that would kick the shit out of you but they’re all really good dues
[laughs]

BL- Our music is pretty different from theirs, but we also enjoy a lot
more aggressive stuff.

WR- What was your favourite release?

BL- My favourite release of 2022 was a band called Mister Goblin, that,
it’s this guy Sam from a band that one of my old bands used to play with
a lot. They were called, Two Inch Astronaut. He went off and did a solo
thing that was just acoustic and then this year he put out, I guess it’s a
solo thing but it’s more of a band as he got a full band to play behind
him and now it’s like a heavier thing. So it went from acoustic to full
band to heavier thing he just put out a record in 2022, I’m pretty sure it’s
2022 it’s called Mister Goblin, I can’t remember the name of the album
(Bunny) but it’s the newest one and if you like cool, it’s got like a 90’s
vibe but he kind of writes like Elliot Smithy way on guitar translated to
loud music, so, it’s the bets record of 2022 for me for sure, so check out
Mister Goblin.

LS- I will for sure. So, how would you describe the creative process for
writing a song?

WR- I mean, ours is somewhat similar and different, I guess. My way, I
guess I’ll go first and then Bret can say what he does as we are 50/50
with it. I mostly, I have this silly background now, but I jam on my
acoustic in my sunroom, and I come up with chord progressions and
song ideas and then just bring them to practice and let the other guys like
fill in the blanks. Sometimes lyrics come first, sometimes they come
later. I’m a big fan of just playing a part of a song for like 20-minutes
until everyone kind of comes up with like their own thing. Sometimes
it’s like I know it, but other times it’s like Bret or Eric (bassist) or Max
will be like slow it down or speed it up or play this art longer or shorter.
It’s always kind of how I’ve done it, kind of loose, I write the bare bones
of it and the others guys fill in the blanks kind of as they go.

BL- Yeah, it’s the same for me as I was saying in the beginning. Will
and I kind of, it’s pretty much split down the middle as far as song
writing. I’ll write a song and I’ll sing on it; he’ll write a song and sing on
it. But we also throw each others parts onto each others songs that we
have written. So, it’s the same, I write songs kind of home or most of
songs and I’ll come to practice and somebody will throw something else
on top of a riff I have that sounds coo. It starts out with me and Will
usually and we get into practice and it morphs out to something totally
different with the guys input. But, again, we all kind of come from the
same musical background so it’s pretty effortless once we bring
something to the full band.

LS- All the pieces just come together.

BL-Yeah, we’ve all known each other for a while now so it’s not too
hard to see the end point once it starts.

LS- Our last question, you describe yourselves still as a new band, do
you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a band in 2023?

WR- I guess we can both go with something. Don’t be afraid to go out
of your comfort zone and like play out a lot and just see what sticks. We
played so many shows I feel like in the beginning before we found the
people that vibed with it and who were looking for that. You can also
learn from the ones that are like goofy and embarrassing or even when
or shit doesn’t land you bomb. Don’t be afraid. Go out and share your
music with everybody and eventually you’ll find your people who enjoy
it and you’ll become friends with.

BL- Yeah, you gotta bomb hard for a while [laughs] before it starts to
sound totally cohesive and work out. We’ve all been playing in bands
for years and toured in other bands for years and all that stuff. I would
just feel like playing guitar, even if I’m not in a band or just at home I
would just be playing guitar. If it feels good, you gotta do it.

WR- Yeah, and if you like a band a lot, chances are, especially in this
community you can just message them on Instagram and be like, ‘Hey,
when are you touring through my town?’, and you can probably just
contact your local clubs and bars and book it yourself. Like, I love this
band, Pope. I guess they kind of deserve an honourable mention for their
EP, they out a few singles like 3 or 4 songs. They’re called Pope and
they’re from New Orleans. I’ve been listening to them for 5 years and I
just messaged them on Instagram or I tagged them like, ‘Hey we need a
date’, and it just happened. It’s just that easy, anyone can do it.
LS- That’s how I organised this interview, it’s all about reaching out
[laughs]

WR- [laughs]

BL- 99% of the time, people are in the same boat as you are and
everybody just wants to share their music because who doesn’t want to
hear a cool new band. I mean, that’s how we found out about Webbed
Wing. I didn’t find them until our bassist Eric was like, ‘Aw yeah, we
should try and play a song called Webbed Wing’, and now they’re like
my favourite band.

LS- Yeah, you guys popped up in my YouTube recommendation and I
found you on Instagram and was like, ‘Oh, these guys are pretty cool’.

BL- That’s pretty cool.

WR- Sorry we’ve been hard to schedule with, we’re all pretty insane
right now from the holidays and all the stuff at the end of the year.

LS- Time zones don’t help either.
BL- Yeah, what time is it over there?

LS- 7:56

BL- P.m.?

LS- Yes.

BL- I was gonna say, your pretty bold for doing it at 7 in the morning.

LS- I mean I would do it at 7 in the morning either

BL- Whatever works right.

LS- Bret and William thanks so much for joining me.

Jointly- Thank you.

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