Published Jan 01, 2006Dave Azzolini isn't sure how he feels about being another "buzz band" from Toronto. It was only a few years ago that he and several of his compadres made the arduous trek south from Thunder Bay and formed the Golden Dogs. Now their meticulously crafted debut album, Everything In 3 Parts, and frenzied live shows, have become the toast of the town.
"There's a slight mistrust of all this attention we've been getting," Azzolini says. "I'm bracing myself for opposite reaction to start happening because it doesn't make sense for everybody to like what we've done."
Azzolini can be excused for not being able to accurately gauge his band's progress, since 3 Parts' creation encompassed several false starts and many long hours in the studio getting his wide-reaching power pop vision onto tape. "The album title really just stands for the three stages this album took to get to this point," he says. "When I met [guitarist] Michael Chambers in 2002, he was also learning how to engineer, so we actually started with this old 8-track reel-to-reel machine he had. Then we did some real studio sessions after the 8-track broke down and put out the independent version last September, which I still like. But when we signed with True North, they had us go in and master everything right. So in that way, I think the album is a pretty good representation of our first few awkward years together."
Azzolini speaks of recording with the confidence of a true pop auteur in the mould of XTC's Andy Partridge or Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, and while he has the capability to craft everything on his own, fellow T-Bay refugees Jessica Grassia on keys, Micah Goldstein on bass, and Toronto's Beau Stocker on drums have equally important roles, especially in anchoring Azzolini's manic on-stage persona.
"It took us a while to figure out our sound when we started playing live," Azzolini says. "When we started to get a handle on it, I think we consciously wanted to play the smallest places we could, like the Cameron House [in Toronto], just to generate that energy you only get when you play a really intimate gathering. Things started to make more sense once we made connections with audiences on that kind of personal level."
Although the Dogs' musical reputation has so far been based on the hi-octane hooks of tunes like "Birdsong" and first single "Can't Get Your Face Out Of My Head," Azzolini hopes that those are only introductions into the album's wider sonic spectrum. He seems more proud when speaking of subdued moments like "Anniversary Waltz" and "I Don't Sleep."
"I had a bit of an eye-opening experience when I saw Wilco during the tour for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I was originally going to do 'Anniversary Waltz' as just a vocal and acoustic guitar thing, but after I saw that show, it inspired me to take what I always thought was a simple approach to songwriting and push it to its limits. We were a little afraid at first to get that experimental, but after a while we realised it was really just the freedom to do anything we wanted with our music."
However, Azzolini makes no apologies either when it comes to his love for sugary pop. "All of my favourite pop albums have that one song that's like a doorway that leads you in to discovering the rest of the album. I think 'Can't Get Your Face Out Of My Head' works that way and in that respect it made sense to have that be the first single. I don't think any one song on this record truly represents what we're all about."