Can a two-legged dog still run?
That's the question that Seth Smith and Nancy Urich, the husband-and-wife duo that makes up Dog Day, faced as half their band disintegrated---and just as the success of Concentration had them seemingly poised for a breakthrough.
Now comes Deformer, Dog Day's first album as a two-piece, and with it, their answer: The dog runs on its own terms.
Though they'd always taken an active role in making their own videos and artwork, Smith and Urich went back to their do- it-yourself roots to self-record and self-release the new album.
"It's just a natural progression from the direction we've been kind of going: DIY, handling everything and having a bit more control over all that we do," says Smith over coffee earlier this month. "It's a lot more work, but there's a certain freedom you get with that. That's the sort of thing we got into music for in the first place. It makes it more real, that feeling of doing it for fun."
Smith and Urich took the re- routing of their band quite literally: they left city living behind, purchasing a house about 30 kilometres off the peninsula to build a life, a home studio and a record together.
"We both grew up in rural places," explains Urich. "I wanted to have animals, and Seth wanted to be by the ocean. I didn't think we'd ever get both things, but we did."
Most importantly, they got the freedom to record their album away from external pressures. They had no producer, no deadlines and only their seven-year-old border collie, Woofy, listening in on the sessions. (That's him howling on opening track "Daydream"--- "He's kind of a singing dog," explains Smith, "but the problem is that he won't do it in public because he has anxiety.")
They recorded off the floor embracing the new arrangement by cutting their aesthetic down to its brutally efficient core: guitar, drums and killer pop hooks.
And as great as Deformer sounds, it's the car-stereo catchiness of its songs that sticks with you, with highlights like "Eurozone" and "Mr. Freeze" sneaking their way into your summer soundtrack time and time again. Like Guided by Voices before them, Dog Day fuses garage rock minimalism with rock-solid songwriting and makes each element more impressive through the process.
"I think that's kind of the theme we had, just to make a very relaxed record: no tight deadline, no one telling us how many songs we need or how we need to mix it," says Smith.
"But that's also the weird part: you have no one saying anything to you at all," Urich chimes in. "You have no feedback."
"Exactly," says Smith. "You just listen to the record and talk together, 'Uh, I think this is good, is this good?' Sometimes it's better that way. You capture the birth of a song instead of the death of it. Sometimes when you're recording, you've already played it 10 million times---something gets lost."
Deformer comes out Tuesday on the duo's own Fundog Records, and Smith and Urich will celebrate the record's release on Friday, August 5, at the Seahorse with Vancouver's Apollo Ghosts sharing the bill. Following the bands' short Maritimes tour, Dog Day hopes to hit the road and tour the rest of Canada this fall.
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