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INTERVIEW: Dog Drive Mantis

Pic by Zarrar Salik

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’ve been very well, thanks! Feels good to release some new music after more than a year of anticipation. After we put out ‘How Did We Get Here’ in 2018, we played shows locally and did a Canadian East Coast tour and we had played the heck out of those tunes. It was time for some new tunes, so out came “Volta” and our Mariokart 64 cover.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Volta”?

“Volta” was the first original song we had finished writing after the release of our full length album ‘How Did We Get Here’ in 2018.

There was some debate and resistance about naming the song “Lighthouse”, which was the working title. Shortly before the song was released, Carmen was travelling alone in Italy and came across a lighthouse that read “Volta” above the main entrance. We liked it.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The concept and early composition idea of “Volta” came from our bassist Carmen, who had envisioned a dark, ominous scene of rough ocean and a lighthouse beaming light through the night sky. We were trying something new with our songwriting process where we base the creative direction of the song on the theme and story we’re trying to portray—easier said than done with instrumental music. Our last album was more focused on creating songs that were dynamic, interesting, and brought out emotions in some way. We wanted to focus more on storytelling through instrumental music.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

After looking into the perfect studio to film an epic live video in, and all the headache that came along with that, we had decided to embrace the DIY spirit with this one, and I think I can speak for the collective when I say that the final result exceeded our expectations.

We filmed this video in Mike’s basement on the same day that we filmed the Mariokart video. We already had the gear set up and summoned our friend and producer Josh Correia (recorded our previous full length with us) to help us out, along with a few friends to help out with camera work.

We spent a lot of our day working on the Mariokart video as there was a lot more to it—lighting, screen cues, and a longer, more challenging song altogether. We were all physically exhausted by the time it came around to filming and recording “Volta”, but there was an energy in the room as soon as we started recording that connected us within a flow state.

How was the recording and writing process?

The song was recorded live and on camera, which we had never done before. Our first album was mostly tracked separately, which gave us room to experiment more during the recording process, add double parts (e.g., two guitar parts, Neil playing a drum solo and didgeridoo at the same time, etc.). There is also a bit more pressure to get in the zone and focus when recording live, which of course makes the whole thing more challenging. However, we’ve always believed our musical style and fluidity lends itself well to live recording. Neil (drums) is a human metronome when he wants to be, so this worked out well for us.

What role does Toronto play in your music?

Toronto provides a wealth of opportunity for musicians to perform and grow with other local or touring bands. We have had the chance to share the stage with some incredible bands who we can exchange knowledge, inspiration, industry tips, etc. Being close to such a well-known music hub connects us to the opportunity to express ourselves in front of a greater number of people.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

There was a three-year gap between when we formed as a band and when our first album came out. Our writing process has traditionally been slow and steady, and we can spend months on a single song—sometimes a single HALF of a song. I believe this is what makes our music unique and contributes to our sound. We enjoy spending that extra time adding nuance while refining parts down to the most concise they can be. The extra time spent goes a long way. It is tough to say when we will have new stuff recorded. For now, we write. 

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Titles are something we often butt heads over, so those definitely won’t be decided any time soon. If I had to estimate, we may have something cooked up by late 2020.

Any plans to hit the road?

As soon as we get that next release out, we plan on heading over the border to our US neighbours (erhm… “neighbors”…. eh?). Although we don’t consider ourselves math rock, there are certain patches in the States that have such strong math communities that also show interest in our music.

What else is happening next in Dog Drive Mantis’ world?

For now we’ll just keep chipping away at the next full length, perhaps throw in a single or two as we go, and then hit the road to promote. We hope to focus on storytelling through instrumental compositions for our next release, in line with what we did with “Volta”.

Thanks for having us, Vents!

Watch “Volta” here:


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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