Blood Money, Part 1 is Dope‘s highly anticipated sixth studio album, and the band’s first album in seven years. The album will be released on October 28th via eOne Music. Fans can Pre-Order the record, along with a plethora of bundle packages, meet and greets, and exclusive new merch designs at www.DopeTheBand.com.
Dope is currently on their Revolver Magazine sponsored “Die Mother Fucker Die” Reunion Tour, featuring support from the bands Flaw and Motograter. The Dope reunion tour features the classic line up of Edsel Dope, Acey Slade, Virus, & Racci Shay. The U.S. portion of the tour goes until October 30th with the final show at the legendary Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. From there the band is off to play 5 shows in Russia and their final show of the tour in London, UK, their only UK date of 2016. I had the recent opportunity to catch up with Edsel ahead of the new album release.
I began by asking Edsel what he had been doing in the intervening period since the last album, as it was quite a time ago. “You know man, I just needed a little break, the band for a period of around 12 years did nothing but release albums and tour. It got to the point where we needed a little break for a bit and focus on life outside the band for a little while-focus on other priorities. The band have been working on some new music and the album will be in two parts. Each part will represent a more sizable chunk of my life,and we are getting ready here to launch part one. Then we will continue to tour, and then we will finish up part two. There will definitely be a shorter gap between these two albums and we will continue to do what we do.”
To promote the album the band have quite an extensive range of merchandise packages available. I asked Edsel if that was something that the band had direct involvement with. “Yeah, I am kind of a crazy person. I am involved in everything, you know. I direct the music videos, produce the albums. A lot of the T-shirt designs I actually do, so yeah I am involved in everything.” With regard to the album release itself I wondered if it would be through a regular record label as bands these days were turning to alternative methods. Edsel replied, “No, we have the same record label for quite some time in America. We will also be distributing it in the UK and Europe.”
You had earlier previously touched on this, but what specifically is the difference between Blood Money parts one and two? “I think that there are a few different ways to look at it. Ultimately even though this is art and I truly live art first and foremost. I think that there is a subtle reference to exactly what I need to do for my art. I think that there is also a sign of the type of career that I have had, society as a whole and how we value ourselves and what we are willing to do for the almighty dollar. They cover such a significant portion of my life like 6-7 years and there has been a large amount happen during that time. I needed to make the collection of songs represent one body of work rather than separate them into two because they represent one episode of my life. I want to keep it together as one body of work.”
I then asked Edsel specifically regarding the new songs if they represented a significant change in sound for the band to mark a new era. He replied, “I don’t think that it is much different. I think that I think that we have always had a very wide sound. We have always had very progressive, heavy songs. We have also always had more melodic songs. I call them middle fingers and heart – a lot of our songs have middle fingers and a lot of our songs have heart. This record is probably a little bit more personal than some of the past records. It opens a bit more on the personal side. It represents a chunk of my life .I am a little bit older and gone through a lot of personal stuff in the last several years that is reflected on the album. I think that it very much picks up where our last album, No Regrets, left off. The musicianship continues to develop over the scope and width of the album. I think that it is very similar to other albums – it’s very heavy aggressive stuff. There is also some heartfelt melodic stuff which is always what we have done.”
Previous Dope albums have featured some cover versions of eighties pop hits. I questioned Edsel if that was a genuine musical genre that he was a fan of. Or instead, if it was an attempt to broaden the appeal of the band? He replied, “No, as you near the end of recording an album, you want to write or record a couple more songs. Covers are a good way to take a little bit of pressure off. To put your own spin on something that you already like. I think that it is more of a fun creative thing. Some of them have worked out really well for us. Our cover of “Rebel Yell” to me is very reflective of a Dope song. I think that when you listen to that both live and on record, it very much feels like Dope. You can hear us in the musicianship and in the vocals. So sometimes it really works out and that the song almost feels like your own.”
One of my girlfriend’s favourite songs is the family-friendly “Die Mother-Fucker Die,” so I just wondered if the band still possessed that youthful anger and angst? Or have the fires of passion been put out with maturity? Edsel responded that it was one of the bands really old songs from back in 2001 when it was written. “I think that it was a sign of the times and also a sign of all the touring that we were doing. It is a very progressive but very fun ‘tongue in cheek’ song. The real amazement to me is the power that song took on over the years and how many things it’s done beyond way more than I ever thought it would. Apparently that song was used as kind of a battle cry for lots of soldiers as they went into the Iraq war and was used in training. There have been other rumours that they have used it when they have interrogated Iraqi POWs. It is kind of an aggressive song for people to lose their minds. It took on a whole other life that I had never ever imagined.”
You played in the band with your brother for the first few years – was that easy or difficult to have a sibling in Dope? “It was a great partnership; my brother was not really the issue it was more he was my partner and the supportive element. All the times that my brother was in the band I really treasured. He has gone on and done his own thing. He wasn’t really a musician as I say he was my partner. It was great to do something with him that changed our lives. All the travel and we did a lot of cool stuff together.”
I asked Edsel if he could recall his first introduction to music, what was it that triggered off his future career path? Edsel responded, “It was KISS, with the crazy visual energy – the fire and the blood. Just everything that KISS was about in the late seventies was what grabbed me and sucked me in to it.”
In conclusion, I asked Edsel what was he personally most proud of in his life. He replied, “I mean, I am proud of my career, I have been able to travel the world and to follow my dream of playing in a rock band. That would probably be the clearest cut thing that I have done. I am probably most proud that I have grown up and become what I think is a decent man. I overcome a lot of the things that this business and being in a band can do to you. I have grown way beyond having a boyish ego and thinking that because you are in a band and that I have toured the world playing music to people that it makes you special. I think being humble and what I consider being a solid man. Being there for my nephew and being a man of my word-being hard-working and a transparent honest man.”