When it comes to opinionated rock frontmen who speak their minds, few come close to DOPE's Edsel Dope. Exuding undeniable charisma and confidence that has often been mistaken for sheer arrogance, Dope has established a reputation for running a tight ship over the course of two well-received full-length major label albums that have seen the group sharing the stage with everyone from KID ROCK to SLIPKNOT. Currently a free agent following a split with Epic Records earlier in the year, DOPE are preparing to sign a new record deal while continuing work on their third album, due sometime in 2003.
Having recently traded verbal jabs with members of Joey Jordison's MURDERDOLLS over the departures of guitarists Tripp Eisen and Acey Slade for the latter outfit, Edsel Dope recently sat down and answered a few questions exclusively for BLABBERMOUTH.NET about his band philosophy, musical vision and reputation for being difficult to get along with.
Q: Your debut album, "Felons and Revolutionaries", was considered a relative commercial success and set the stage for the follow-up, "Life", which a lot of people had expected would take the group to the next level. From your perspective, why didn't this happen?
Edsel Dope: Who cares?! It got out there to our die-hard DOPE fans and a shitload more people have downloaded it. We just got off tour and I feel like our fan base is as strong as it's ever been. I just think maybe we missed that "average Joe" buyer who bought it on a whim, 'cause it was six bucks and there was lots of buzz around the first album with all of the touring and the label support. I can't judge my band's popularity based on an overpriced second album that our label didn't get behind. The new music on "Life" has gotten out there one way or another, and that's all that's important. I think it has been a blessing in disguise. It forced me to take all of the power back into my own hands again. We're almost done recording what will be our third album and we are about to sign a new deal with a new label. It will be a brand new relationship and a chance to start over again on the business side of things. We still have a shitload of DOPE kids out there and we are trying to tour as much as we can to make up for the lack of touring our label allowed us to do on the last album.
Q: At what stage of the songwriting/recording process are you with respect to DOPE's third album?
Edsel Dope: We have a ton of shit recorded. More than ever, actually. Most people know that in the studio I have been sort of a one-man band in the past. All of the musical responsibility has been solely on my shoulders. Since the addition of my guitarist "Virus" to the band, the two of us have built an incredible musical relationship. He writes like crazy and he sings and plays guitar like a fucking god. I finally have someone in this band that is willing and capable of taking on the responsibility of writing and recording songs with me. Between the two of us we have around 40 songs being considered for the new album. Some of it is heavy as fuck and in the typical DOPE sound, and some of it more is experimental and quirky. I think "Life" showed DOPE's ability to venture into places that most people didn't think we had the ability to go. It's very important to me not to make the same album over and over. The new stuff is sort of a combination of both of our previous works, with even more musical growth because we are better musicians and an even better band. It has melody and balls. I think we are moving in the right direction. We will always be heavy, we will always be DOPE, and we will always be pissed off for all the right reasons. We are still a band that came out of NYC, but right now we are living in Chicago working on the record. It's the rock n roll dream for us right now. We have a house with our studio here. And we rehearse and record every day that we aren't on tour. We all live together under one roof. It's the way it should be. A band that is all in it together for the long haul. I'm so happy that we can drink beer and watch football on Sunday and then stumble into the basement and just have fun playing. Even if it's just jamming old MÖTLEY CRÜE songs. Sometimes we don't even sing. We just plug in and jam on some cool stoner riffs. I think the change has brought us back from the corporate music hell we were in with the label's bullshit opinions and the big hot-shot producers and back to the basement where it all began. We are doing this because it's what we love to do and its 100% for ourselves and our fans at this point. We get to write a song and then play it two weeks later on tour just to see the reaction of the fans. We have recorded most of the new record already, with no outside input. It's all self-produced thus far and it sounds a bit rawer and dirtier than the last record. Maybe it should?! It reminds me of the way I recorded the first album. Only I'm doing it with the help of my band and of course my partner Virus. I guess it's refreshing to be in this situation. It's nice to be the underdog. I like to surprise people and I love to fight. Keep your eyes open and your earplugs ready 'cause we got a lot more to do before we wrap all this up.
Q: In light of the recent personnel changes and the rumors that have surrounded the band during the last few months, can you please clarify what the current lineup of the group is?
Edsel Dope: DOPE is Edsel Dope (vox/gtrs), Virus (lead gtr/keys), Racci Shay (drums), Sloane "Mosey" Jentry (bass), and Simon Dope (keys). My brother [Simon] has been absent from shows lately. He's been moonlighting as a video game producer for Activision. He just finished up the new Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. My bro's not really a musician in the traditional sense of the word and this is a great creative outlet for him so I am backing him all the way.
Q: You recently had some harsh words for SLIPKNOT drummer and MURDERDOLLS guitarist Joey Jordison over the way he secured the services of your last guitarist, Acey Slade, after you were apparently told that he was going to be in the group only temporarily. What was it about the way Joey handled this situation that made you feel so betrayed by him?
Edsel Dope: I don't feel like I said anything harsh about Joey. I just told the truth of what happened. I don't think Joey betrayed me, and I still consider him to be as much my friend today as he was before this all went down. He just offered something to one of my guys that I couldn't offer at the time. DOPE was in a transitional period and Joey had a hot new thing with lots of financial backing and hype behind it. It's not Joey's fault. If Acey was loyal to the DOPE cause, he would have made a different decision. People often forget what got them where they are, and loyalty is a very hard thing to find in this business.
Q: You were also quite vocal about the fact that you felt that the MURDERDOLLS' image was patterned after that of DOPE. I quote your previous statement: "It's obvious that Joey knows where to go to find what he's looking for and by the looks of his new band, minus the 12 pounds of makeup, he's been eyeballing us for quite some time. I can only take this as the highest form of flattery." MURDERDOLLS frontman Wednesday 13 recently addressed this issue, stating in reference to you: "His guitarist Acey quit DOPE to join MURDERDOLLS. He now claims to have copyrights on dreadlocks, the color black, people holding microphones, walking upright, and middle fingers...because 'he did it first.' " What is your response to this?
Edsel Dope: When I said, "Joey knows where to come to get what he's looking for," it was in reference to the fact that he needed to replace one guitarist that was from DOPE and who else would he call but another DOPE guitar player. It was a reference to the irony that you have a band that two former DOPE guitarists have been in and their DOPE image seems to fit perfectly with what Joey's band is doing. I don't think Joey would deny being a fan of DOPE and what we do… as I am a big fan of Joey and his work with SLIPKNOT. As far as the other shit is concerned: I don't want to get into a pissing match with these guys. I wish Acey well. I really do. The way he quit the band was fucked up, and he left us hanging. By doing that, he acted like a punk and I think he knows it was shitty. But at the end of the day, I know he's not a bad guy and I don't hate him for what he did. I am sure one day we will see each other and everything will be cool. I know he doesn't want this to make us enemies and neither do I… Acey, If you're out there, we ain't gunnin' for ya, bro… As far as his singer's comments... What did you expect him to say? He can take a photo of me with my black dreadlocks and my two middle fingers (pat. pending) and hang it up on his wall right next to the autographed DOPE poster I signed for him in North Carolina when he came to see DOPE play a couple of years ago. Oddly enough, I don't remember him resembling me quite as much back then. Remember, bro, I brought Tripp into the big game and he brought you in when he hooked you up with Joey. So in some weird, fucked-up way, we are connected... Don't start talking shit about me or pretend that you don't like my band... It's all a bunch of bullshit, and it's only gonna lead to more nonsense. I promise you we will cross paths some day.
Q: Tripp Eisen was booted from DOPE under acrimonious circumstances, with both sides claiming that personal differences were largely to blame for the split. Do you still have a friendship with Tripp and what do you think about his decision to give up a spot in the MURDERDOLLS so that he can focus exclusively on STATIC-X?
Edsel Dope: I think he made the right decision. Sometimes you have to put your personal agenda aside for the better of the band. He was faced with the same decision on a smaller scale with DOPE and he made the opposite choice. We live and we learn... To answer your question about friendship. We never had a friendship and that was the other half of the problem. So, no, we are not friends. He talks all kinds of shit to the kids on tour about me and my band and spends way too much time and energy on me and his dislike of the things I do. Let it go, bro. Sorry that you are reminded of me every time you look in the mirror. It's been like two years, and it's old fucking news. Get over it and shut the fuck up before you wind up picking your teeth up off the floor. I don't have anything else to say about that guy, good or bad. It's such a waste of energy. I'm so sick of hearing about what he said about me this week or what t-shirt he wore that said this or that about my band. I'm done with him. I was done with him two years ago. He's like a chick I dumped that won't go away. I think even Acey will back me up on this one.
Q: You personally have developed a reputation for yourself as a difficult person to be in a band with and to tour with. How much of that is justified, and how much of that do you think is simply a consequence of false rumors and innuendos generated by people who have an "ax to grind"?
Edsel Dope: I live 100 percent for this band, and I expect a lot from anyone that is in it with me. I don't say "please" all the time, and sure, sometimes I can be a dick. That's a difficult thing for a lot of people to deal with. I'm extremely focused to the point of being a bit insane at times, but that's what makes this DOPE ship sail. If you put the band first, or you're on my team, I'm actually pretty easy. If you don't, or you're not on my team, I guess I'm not so easy. I stand up for what I believe in and I don't take shit... I think its what a lot of people relate to in our music. Considering the fact that the people making most of these claims about me would still be back home playing in their half-assed shitty local bands if they never joined DOPE, I can't put much stock in anything negative that they say about me. I gave these guys the opportunity to play in front of thousands of people. They played songs that I wrote and I recorded in a band that I created both musically and visually all by myself. And if you haven't noticed, the ones who bitch the most haven't strayed very far from where I brought them since parting ways from DOPE. I accomplished with my band what they never could on their own, and I was resented, because I didn't need them like they needed me. If that makes me a dick, then so be it. I'm a dick. No one complained when people started asking for them to autograph a record they didn't have anything to do with creating. No one bitched or questioned anything about anything until they felt like they were rock stars. Just 'cause everyone knows your name, doesn't mean you're important. Everyone wants their share of the glory but when the chips are down they cut and run. I've never been unclear about the way I am. I don't cut and run. I bust my ass 24-7 for this band. I make no apologies for making shit happen. As far as being difficult to tour with, I don't know, I think I'm a lot of fun to tour with. I've toured with lots of bands that love me and I love them. I've toured with all of the guys currently in my band and some who are not anymore, and got along just fine. I mean, shit, Racci's been offered 'bout every gig under the sun in the last two years, and he chooses to tour with me, "the most difficult frontman in rock and roll." I think I have a reputation for being difficult because I take responsibility for all DOPE-related issues. If I have something to say, or if I need something, I say it or I do it. I don't send my tour manager to do my dirty work. Or say "yes" to someone's face and tell my manager to tell them no in order for me to save face. That's plastic Hollywood bullshit and I won't play that game. I don't act like your friend and then go behind your back and change my tune. With me, what you see is what you get. I think a lot of people are intimidated by honesty. Now, as far as rumors go, if five people have it out for you and they set their mind to spreading bad things on the internet, they can create the illusion of a situation being far larger than it is. They just blow everything out of proportion. Those people can blow me. I don't have time to acknowledge useless people that have nothing better to live for than spreading bullshit gossip about me. I got a news flash for them: I didn't start playing music to be accepted by all. The majority of the people that hate me are the exact people that I want to hate me. That means I'm doing a fine job.
Q: You are about to embark on the "12 Dollar Riot Tour" with SKINLAB, PRIMER 55 and SOCIETY 1. How did the idea for this package come about?
Edsel Dope: Our label only supported one tour for us on the "Life" record. After touring non-stop on "Felons…" it was a shitty situation for us to be in. We were supposed to do a tour with MACHINE HEAD at the end of last year, but our label pulled the plug on it at the last minute. We were so pissed and I know that bummed out a lot of kids. Knowing you have tons of fans out there that want to see you play and not being able to do anything about it really sucks!!! As soon as we knew we were leaving our label, we started recording a new record and we started touring. And we reassured ourselves that we were right. We need to be out there playing these songs to our fans night after night. Nothing's cooler to me then hearing a room full of kids yell "Fuck Tha Police". I put this tour together in order to show the kids that not only are we still around but that we never left. I grabbed three other kick-ass bands to help make the show an all round smash. The next step was getting everyone to agree to keep the costs down without compromising the impact of the show. I found that if everyone is willing to inconvenience themselves a little bit, we can deliver this show to the fans for next to nothing. I wanted to give something back to all of our fans that have stuck by us throughout all this shit.