Published Jul 23, 2011"Whirlwind" doesn't begin to describe what Worcester, MA native Dom (no last name) has experienced in the last year, considering two years ago he was still bouncing around boarding houses. But after last year's lo-fi pop masterpiece, Sun Bronzed Greek Gods, turned heads, it was picked up, remixed and re-released by Astralwerks earlier this year. Dom have followed that EP with another, which again will be released with two different mixes. Recorded in a proper studio with Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors), the four-piece have gone all-out with the trickery, adding a scandalous amount of layers to their already kaleidoscopic pop. Carbonated opener "Telephone," for instance, uses the titular device for not just melodies but also a full-on solo, and the title track calls upon a Fun Machine to add a whimsical stroke to the song's lyrical sentiment. "Some Boys" has the biggest left turn, calling upon a singer named Emma to deliver graceful vocals to a crass "dear diary" about how boys just want to get in her pants. But with Dom, it's all about the hooks, and so far in their brief existence they have yet to produce a dud. The elementary approach to songwriting, such as "Happy Birthday Party," may come off as maladroit, but there's no denying Dom's songs would be just as irresistible on nothing but an acoustic.
You grew up in boarding houses. Does the EP's title have any relation to your situation?
It's about where I've been over the past year with these dudes and how much they mean to me. Actually having people that I know will be in my life indefinitely is a very awesome feeling, but also kind of an odd feeling. It can be a bit uneasy sometimes; I get scared I might lose them. It's mostly about the family I built around myself.
You've been quite open about keeping your full name a secret because of financial troubles. Are things any better now that you're signed to a label like Astralwerks?
Yes. Things definitely could be better though. I've only been at it for a year, but we all understand that it's been good. I'm very impatient and need immediate results. All our bills are paid and we're kind of comfortable, but I want to start buying racecars and shit, y'know? Touring is a really important part since it's where we make most of our money.
What was it like for you before the band started?
I was living in a boarding house in Worcester, MA. It was pretty terrible. I was trying to go to school, so I'd wake up at 6:30 a.m. and get to school. Leave at 3:30 p.m. for work at this sushi restaurant or at a telemarketing job or a wings joint. I had all of these crazy jobs that I couldn't hold down for more than a month. I wouldn't get out from work at the sushi place or wings until two a.m. and then I'd have to walk home and go to bed and do it all over again. I was making rap beats and selling them, but failing at trying to sell weed because I was selling to a different demographic. I couldn't make much money and was barely making it. Then I moved out of the boarding house and began living with some other kids and pretty much found a more creative living situation and then just started writing.
How did you begin writing the music that would become Dom?
I'm not sure really. I've always had a love for pop music. When Bobby [no last name] and I got together, we wanted to make something like Daft Punk, do the electronic music thing. But I wrote "Jesus" and it came out different. We used that method to write more songs and that's just how they came out.
And then Burning Mill came along and put out Sun Bronzed Greek Gods. How did that come about?
Vinny [Milburn] was a friend of a friend. After we wrote "Jesus" and put it out, it got a big response, so we decided to pick up real instruments and do it more often. He wanted to put out our seven-inch. We ended up writing more songs so we put out a ten-inch instead.
Sun Bronzed Greek Gods was remixed for the Astralwerks re-release. Were you happy with how clean it sounded compared to the original?
I was happy about the less compression because the original was so squeaky and lo-fi, with all high-end and little dynamics to it. I feel the re-release's remixing and remastering didn't do anything too drastic; it made it somewhat better in some areas and worse in others. I really didn't even care because I think we sold a lot more on our own than we did with Astralwerks.
That record is still impossible to find in Canada.
Maybe they had a recall because they put some woman's phone number on the back of it instead of my party line number. That was a major fail. Wasn't happy about that. Man, I feel so sorry for that woman. So fucked up. Unacceptable.
Tell me about this toll-free hotline of yours. What do people call about?
They ask for relationship advice. They hit me up to talk to me and see if it's real ― people from all over the world just calling to see what it's all about. I answer whenever I can and text back. When we went on tour with Ratatat, we gave away ten free tickets a night through the number. It was pretty funny how it all came together. I was tripping on acid and thought I would put out this free Google number that we could use to sext random people off Twitter.
What are some of the weirdest calls you've received?
There are so many things. We get weird shit all the time. I'll just kid around and sext jokingly and it will get to a point where the person isn't kidding! Then after that they send nudes to the email. Like, "chill out!" But it's pretty funny.
You went into a studio to record the new EP, Family of Love. What was that experience like?
It was more fun than anything, making the record. It didn't feel like work; it felt more like doing a cool project. We're actually mixing it right now at the house with help from Erik. We have different mixes coming out. The mixes that Astralwerks sent will be on the physical version. But then we have different mixes coming out for the digital, which are my mixes. And then for Modular in Australia, they'll have my mixes on the physical, as well as a new song.
The mix that Astralwerks sent me isn't the only mix that will come out? Why change it?
Those mixes didn't really sound like us ― liked them, liked them a lot, but they just didn't sound like us. Listening to the first EP and listening to that, I think people would be confused. The mixes we are doing right now are just a lot of fun. They're more "coagulated," would be a good way of putting it ― more cohesive and together, and there's a bit more going on. I feel a lot of the hooks I brought into the studio were eliminated and as a result, the vision that I had for the songs didn't really come across. In essence, they're the same songs, but they're also totally different songs at the same time. I'm really confident they're going to be completely different.
I read that you're working on a third EP. Why release EPs instead of one LP?
That's just the way I like to write songs. I prefer to release music more frequently than artists who make full-lengths. I'd rather not have to meet a quota and put out five good songs instead of ten songs, where you're confused about which ones are good and which ones aren't. I just like the idea of coming out with EPs. They're more fun ― there's more artwork, they're more collectable.
How did you come up with using a telephone on "Telephone"?
I wanted to mimic telephone sounds with a lot of the textures: from the busy tone, all of the keys playing on it, the feedback from the Farfisa, the weird vocal parts with the harmonies, I wanted them to be like a ring back. And I wanted the keys in the chorus to be more like button mashing. At first it was more mashing, but then we decided to make it more melodic.
Finally, the Boston Bruins recently won the Stanley Cup. You must have been happy seeing as you guys had your song, "Bonchicha," adopted as the theme song for the Worcester Sharks?
I was bullshitting. That was a complete lie. It was funny because it seems like it was a hockey arena anthem. (Astralwerks/EMI)