Shawn Economaki is known for bass. He’s known for the rusty butcher knife murder spree sound that takes angelic form in the band Stone Sour and a classic Slipknot-seeming approach in the band Deadfront. He has now joined a project, Dogs of Neptune, that has taken his bloody Iowa roots and infused them to the spine of something that would make Geddy Lee turn his head. I sat down with the guys last week and we discussed this latest project.
Tell me about Iowa, that place gives me the creeps. Every project that emerges has some massacre soundtrack to sport. What is it like being a local Iowa band? What is Iowa’s metal scene like?
Iowa should creep you out. We Iowans are very sheltered, literally and figuratively. We are geographically off the map, so really we are a pretty good place for fledgling or seasoned psychopaths to hide out and stay low key until they are ready for their ritual slaughter. We are a state of slaughter. We feed the world via slaughter. In fact, I think Sargent Slaughter may originally be from smalltown Iowa, don’t fact check that, but let’s go with that.
There is a distinct element of boredom here if you let the tranquility of wideopen space get to you. For those of us who gravitate toward the arts, I think we tend to lean more on internal creativity since there are fewer stimuli engaging us at all times. This probably helps to explain Slipknot’s very dramatic approach to metal, as well as the school of metal that followed their ascension. I guess you could say that this metal scene here is in one way or another influenced by that group of guys; I mean they pretty much did the impossible, they came out of fucking Des Moines, Iowa and conquered the four corners of the earth. They put on their crazy, over the top show and said, “look here motherfuckers, this is Iowa”, and it was` loud enough that the world heard them loud and clear.
Metal is important here though, and was before Slipknot. The local metal scene has always been more attractive to concert goers than other genres. The scene has always been ambitious and alive, full of very hard working people. It does better than our local hip hop or country scene, I’ll just say that. With that being said, this lineup that fell in place for Dogs of Neptune isn’t actively conscious of any of that. We just get in the spot and let the vibe guide us. We definitely don’t think of where we are from, or how we are compared to other Iowa Metal. We just do us. We’ve gone in a more classic metal direction, but the vocals over those classic metal riffs make the whole composite something different all together.
This project seems fairly low key, and I hate asking this now because now I know why, but how do you view this project against your others? Define just a little better.
Honestly, I don’t really view this project in the context of my other projects. All I know is that I heard the music, I liked it and I had the opportunity to be a part of it, so I seized it and now I’m doing what I am comfortable doing; writing and performing music.
Your vocalist is refreshing. The classic in his voice reminded me that there’s a song called Subdivisions that exists and it’s amazing. Why did you guys choose him opposed to the traditional heavy sort of vocalist that we’re used to?
I actually didn’t choose the vocalist per se. I chose to be in a band with the vocalist because I liked what he was doin but Jarod and Dan had the music from One Taste of Blood written and the rest of us joined on to consummate their vision. Spencer had a lot of experience with writing and took a different approach than most vocalists of this area would have, so we were happy to have him come in and put a voice and lyrical content to the music. I think people expect heavy vocals in this area especially, and defying expectations is always a good thing.
Tell me about the album One Taste of Blood, beginning with the Giger art on the front…. What does the cover say about you guys and the music? Who did it?
One Taste of Blood, as you may have gathered, is a concept album dealing with the end of mankind as we know it, and how the powers that be went about assuring that a plan was in place to continue the existence of consciousness on a decimated planet. The album is a dismal outlook on our future, but there is an undertone of fighting for the preservation of love.
When we took a look at a very large variety of art from freelance artists all over the world, the art of Markus Vogt resonated best with the concept. In this fiscally conscious stage of the game where our budget is tight, we opted to find the art that matched the concept rather than contract an artist to build something from the ground up. It worked out really well for us. There are a ton of amazing artists out there who are at the same stage with their art as we are with our music and just want to work with other artists without charging a dick and a tit.
What instruments do you all play and what was the recording process like on this album?
Lineup is as follows:
Jarod Embree: founding member, lead guitar
Dan Spain: founding member, drums
Shawn Economaki: Bass
Josh Brainard: Guitar.
Spencer Fenimore: Vocals.
The recording process was, again, financially conservative. We went with a very reputable local producer named GriffinLanda at the Establishment, also from The Acacia Strain. He’s very effective on a limited budget. He can do in a four day span, with a fraction of the cost, what very high dollar studios do in a few months with a profligate sum of money. Everyone knocked out their parts in a day or so and Griffin went to work. He outsourced the mastering to Zeuss, who has done a ton of big time work for national metal acts on Roadrunner and Universal. With how stripped down this process was in comparison to say going out of the state and holding up in a studio as a band, leaving the fam and the jobs behind and spending a ton of time and money, it could not have turned out any better.
The band is pretty seasoned as individual players at this point and came in with a “let’s not fuck around” attitude. Everyone knew their role and executed. The real time, energy and love went into the songs during the writing process, so the recording was smooth, new peanut butter style.
What is in the future for Dogs of Neptune?
We’ve all been around the block enough times to leave potholes in the pavement. At this point our main goal is to have have fun and write music that we enjoy. Not being on a level is something we are all going to take advantage of. We have full creative control of our music and take in every dime generated by it, albeit pretty normal at this point! But this band is as fresh as bands come. Jarod, lead guitar, and Dan, drums, sat on this material for probably three years before they found a lineup they were happy with. Then shit happened at a fast and furious pace with no help from the ghost of Paul Walker and certainly no help from the currently animated Vin Diesel. As a matter of fact. I’m sorry I brought that guy up. Really the line was solidified in August of 2015 and the first show was in October. Then the CD was released last month so we are still babies; babies with senior citizen discounts. Right now we are just continuing to work hard, promote ourselves through the avenues we have available and just trying to build this thing from the ground up.
The obvious advantage we have is that we are all established enough to have avenues available. It’s not like we are the outofhighschool band scraping our way into the local promoters pocket. We are having fun. We have a great environment to write music and we are all still very passionate about music. I think we are all very excited to see see where we can take this thing. The music is there. We just need to put some smart business and hard work behind it and who knows, maybe we will be the next big “thing” on some hipster’s cool list, in some exotic farm-to-table coffee shop in some far away, cutting edge hip town somewhere on a coast full of expensive dogs wearing sweaters and trends that end before they even really begin. Right now we are new. There is only one time we can say that.