Doc Robinson: Interview & Feature

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Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the duo of Jon Elliot and Nick D’Andrea that is Doc Robinson have debuted their first single, “It’s Over” today. The two combined their past experience in separate projects to bring a fresh sound- self-described as “backyard BBQ breakup music”- to the local music scene. I had the pleasure of talking with the two men about their passion and goals for the new-found collaboration.


The Indie Sound: You guys are a local band from Columbus. How did the group come about?

Nick: We’re both in other groups in town and we were both working on writing songs just for the sake of writing songs. So, our first time writing together, we both wrote a song we were really excited about. We got together a few more times and felt better and better about the songs and working together. By the time we got four done, we were like “we gotta put this out, it’s kind of its own thing.” It stands apart from what either of us usually do in our other bands. It just kind of made sense.

TIS: Obviously, you guys are in other bands so you’ve both had some previous experience. How are you going to use your previous experience to push Doc Robinson forward?

Jon: I think when you’re in a band- like mine for instance, we’re a six person band- that means there’s always six people making decisions and there’s six people putting together a setlist. It’s definitely a big melting pot of sound, we do a lot of different things. With this band, and this particular project, we’ve kind of had something really specific in mind that we wanted to pull off and it’s just two songwriters, so what you get is a direct collaboration between Nick and myself. So, the context is immediately different. Whereas, in comparison- nick is the principal songwriter in both of his projects, so maybe not for him, but for me- it’s allowed me to put my producer hat on a little bit, try to call some shots, and have more of an input in, ultimately, how things are going to sound.

Nick: To add to that, just from a technical standpoint, both of us already have experience being in a band. It’s kind of easier for us to get the ball rolling right away and know what we need to do to put something out. And we already had the relationship established with the radio stations, so we don’t have to stumble around in the dark so much at first. It helps a lot.

TIS: You guys describe yourselves as “backyard BBQ breakup music.” That’s a very distinctly labeled sound. What made you guys draw that conclusion?

Jon: Honestly, we didn’t go 100% with this at first, but I am kind of glad that we finally did because it’s usually the first question people ask, and people specifically ask us questions about the group because of how we labeled it. But really, it’s kind of a funny thing. We were writing these songs conceptually as breakup songs, but they have edgy-ish material/subject matter, but yet the songs sound like a great time. They sound like a party. So we were like “man, this sounds like some killer bbq breakup music.” I’m pretty sure we just randomly said that outloud and we were like “yup, that’s what this is.”

TIS: So, if you’re sad about a breakup, just eat some good BBQ and have a party and you’ll be great.

Jon: Yeah, honestly. And spin this record.

Nick: We were kind of conceptualizing the first video as how they have divorce parties now, for when marriages breakup. And having it be at like this divorce backyard pool party. Just people having a good time after someone breakups up.

TIS: Is that what was the inspiration for “It’s Over?”

Jon: With “It’s Over,” it’s a total narrative. The difference between writing a record in your twenties and writing a record when you’re however old we are, it’s one of those things where we have a little bit more under our belt and a little bit more fire power underway of experience with this kind of stuff. As much as they are narratives, they are also real life.

TIS: How was working with Mike Landlot? Since he has some big credentials (i.e. Maroon 5, O.A.R, Spin Doctors).

Jon: Landy’s the man.

Nick: He’s like the most laid back dude on earth. When we went in to talk to him for the first time- we had known him before that- we just kind of wanted to feel it out. By the end of like an hour talking to him, we had already totally rearranged the song and made a bunch of bad jokes and felt right at home. It was kind of off to the races from there. He brought even more experience to the equation and you really need that producer input because, as the writers of songs, they’re like your baby and you get attached to them. It’s really hard to point out what’s ugly about your baby. But a producer can come in and be like “that’s not the chorus, this is the chorus” and mike is great about that. It can be kind of hard to express what kind of sound you wanna hear and Mike is really good about translating our incoherent thoughts.

TIS: It’s good that he can make the process and transition much easier for your guys.

Jon: We couldn’t imagine doing this with somebody different. The only reason I say that, is that I’ve had the opposite in my life. There’s been times where I’d think “why are we doing this set of songs like this?” and it would definitely be different if we self produced this- like if Nick and I were supposed to go with what we had on these demos. Knowing what I know now, from our first demo to the track that we’ve already produced, I just can’t say enough about Mike. He has really helped us make this thing great. He’s a really good dude.

TIS: How is the EP coming along?

Nick: Great.

Jon: It’s coming, yeah.

Nick: We just got in the studio last week and got the ball rolling on three tunes. We’re in pretty good shape.

TIS: You guys are embracing the entity of local music. Since I’ve started working with this site, I’ve noticed that local music is getting bigger and bigger, and it’s extremely exciting. With Doc Robinson releasing “It’s Over” and the Ep in the fall, are you going to continue to embrace being an entity of local music or expand if the opportunity arose?

Jon: We’re kind of open to anything. It’s just one of those things where we can’t really tell until we put the songs out and hear people’s response, but we definitely feel good about how all of the tunes are coming along.

Nick: It does help that the guys we are playing with are people we typically work with. You know, George and Jake and those guys. I’ve been playing music with them for ten years and we are in projects that I’ve always considered “brother bands” and that kind of thing. To be honest with you, when we write songs that we feel are kind of badass, we’re going to start playing shows; and playing your music live is so much different than spinning a record and watching their reaction. Sitting there watching someone listen to your recording is a lot different than going balls out on a stage in front of all your friends/your friends being on stage with you. We haven’t even gotten a chance to take it for granted yet because we’re still kind of immersed in it. It’s crazy. This city is perfectly integrated. There are a lot of things that everyone does together. But, of course, we would take it on the road if the opportunity arose.


Jon Elliot is also in collaboration with The Floorwalkers and Nick D’Andrea is also in collaboration with Nick D’ and The Believers. Their first single, “It’s Over,” debuted today and their upcoming fall EP is sponsored by Columbus’ very own Brothers Drake Meadery. They will be playing a show on August 12th at Columbus’s Food Truck Festival.

CHECK OUT

Doc Robinson’s website and Facebook.

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