Sam Phillips (Dopamine)
Interview by Dylan McArdle
Welsh punk/rock four piece Dopamine are about to embark on a whirlwind tour of Japan and Australia, playing both their own shows and supporting fellow countrymen Funeral for a Friend. But before they arrive on our shores, drummer Sam Phillips took time out to talk to Perth Sounds about their upcoming tour and debut release down under…
Most readers probably aren’t familiar with the band Dopamine. Can you start by telling me a little bit more about your band?
We’re a rock band from a small town called Caerphilly in South Wales. it’s about 10 miles outside Cardiff (the Welsh capitol). We formed in 2001 and have been playing shows through out the UK and Europe ever since. We have 2 albums out, the second of which is called ‘Experiments with Truth’ and is released in Australia in September through DSTAR Records.
How did you come up with/settle on the name Dopamine?
It just kind of stuck really. we needed a name because we had some shows booked. we came up with that and that’s the way it’s been ever since. There’s not a deep meaning behind it or anything!
Will this be your first time in Australia?
Yes, we can’t wait. it’s a pretty big deal for us and we want to make a good impression on the people we meet and perform to. Looking forward to some nice weather also, it’s been raining all summer in Wales…….
Australia has a pretty strong music scene; are you familiar with any of our bands?
We don’t get a lot of Australian bands in the UK. we are aware of the obvious artists like Silverchair and AC/DC. I was given a copy of Missy Higgins first album a few months ago and fell in love with it. as for more underground Australian bands, we know a few such as Angela’s Dish, Burn The City, Bodyjar. I’m looking to check out some bands we we’re over.
How does an overseas band get the word out when touring another country? I’ve seen you used MySpace as one way. How has that worked out for you?
Really well! we’ve had a really positive response. MySpace is such a great tool for a band like us that doesn’t have a major label pumping money into us.
We try not to just add people, we message and try and have a conversation with them. there is no we’re the band your the fan thing going on, we just want to meet people.
You’re touring with Funeral for a Friend, what’s the relationship like with them? You’ve got a bit of history, haven’t you (FfaF bass player Gareth Davies has played in both bands)?
Yeah! Gareth jumped ship a few years ago. I told him he was making the wrong choice and it’s good to see that I was right! only joking, we’re all really good friends and we’re very grateful to them for this chance to play in other parts of the world with them. it will be cool to hang out with them again, we don’t really see a lot of one another because we always so busy touring.
I read on your MySpace blog that your bass player James has left the band. How did that affect the band’s tour preparations? How did you find your replacement bassist in Dan and how is he settling in?
Dan’s a legend. we have our first show with him in a few days, so we’re all super excited about that. James’ heart wasn’t in it anymore and we could all see it coming for a long time. as for tour preparations, it’s been all good, been rehearsing lots and we have a few shows in the UK before we head to Japan then on to Australia.
How is the forthcoming album going along? Will you be demoing any new tracks as part of your setlist?
The album that is being released in September has been out for around 8 months in the UK, Europe and Japan.
so the set is gonna be stuff from that album with a couple thrown from our first release. We are going to be spending some time in the studio while we’re in Australia though. we’ll be writing and recording demos for the next album.
You’re playing 14 shows in 30 days down under – that’s a pretty full-on schedule isn’t it?
It’s gonna be pretty intense, but we all love what we do. If we could we’d play 30 shows in 30 days. but it is nice to have a little time off to see Australia.
Apart the gigs, have you got any promotional dates (radio station & music press interviews, in store appearances) organised?
We won’t know until we get to Australia. Our label will tell us what promo work we have each day. Myself and Neil (singer) have been doing a few phone interviews with music magazines, that’s been cool.
Will that (the tough schedule) leave any time for sightseeing? Is there anything you’d like to see while in Australia?
YES!!! we’ll we hope so. we are gonna try and get in as much as we can on our days off. We want to have a real authentic Australian BBQ, we’ve heard great things. Oh and there’s all the amazing cites we’ll be visiting, many photos will be taking to show my mum back home!
I see there are a few all ages gigs amongst the dates, which is great. Are the under 18’s an important part of your fan base?
For sure, we find that a lot of under 18’s shows are the best. It’s a different atmosphere and we always have fun playing them. The younger fans are the ones who spread the word on MySpace and between their friends.
You’re playing two shows in Perth, but the Leopold show is now longer on the list. Any reason for that?
We don’t arrive in time from Japan.
What can people that come to your shows expect from the band?
A lot of energy, good strong songs with big chorus’.
We want people to have a good time and hopefully leave with our songs stuck in they’re heads!
What else can Australians look out for from Wales on the musical front?
There is so much! You should check out bands like Dignity Dies First, Said Mike, The Blackout and Halflight
What’s on the horizon after the tour – finishing off the new album and them maybe another tour?
Yeah, new album to record, Christmas, then more touring. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
Dopamine play the Leederville HQ on Septmeber 9th (All Ages) and support Funeral for a Friend at Metropolis Fremantle on September 11th. Dopamine’s debut Australian release ‘Experiments With Truth’ is out soon on DSTAR Records through Fist2Face.com.au