Dog Drive Mantis is the eclectic Toronto based band comprised of Derek Serbin, Mike Papaloni, Carmen Haines, and Neilroy Miranda. Their use of multiple genres, diverse soundscapes and textures, and being unafraid to bend the rules when it comes to music and sound, have made them an exciting new band. You can learn more about them with my interview with Derek Serbin who plays the Sax (yes that’s what I said) in the band below.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: I always start off with a fun icebreaker question. So CD or Vinyl?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Haha, I am definitely the wrong band member to be asked this question. I personally don’t have a vinyl player and only own a handful of vinyls… like under 10. I know, sad. All of my other bandmates own players and a decent collection! Digital is easy nowadays I guess.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: So how did Dog Drive Mantis get started? Was there a specific impetus or did things just naturally come together?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Mike (Guitar) and Carmen (Bass) have been childhood friends forever and were involved in some other projects before Dog Drive Mantis. After those ended, they discovered Neilroy (Drums) through a Kijiji ad and started jamming. They came up with 5 rough ideas for songs and eventually they wanted to add a fourth member to complete the sound. They were looking for a unique instrument like violin, cello or any kind of brass or woodwind horns. By coincidence I posted a Kijiji ad searching for other musicians to jam with and hopefully join or start a new band. Mike emailed me a few days later and we met up for the first time to jam one of the 5 tracks. The rest is history, because that track ended up being the title track of our debut album ‘How Did We Get Here?’.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Being a band that fuses together quite a few genres. Including Post Rock and Jazz Fusion. How do you think this current single best incorporates that? Also what was your inspiration behind “Volta”?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: I feel like the atmosphere we place ourselves in with our pedals/effects and our individual timbres really gives it that Post-Rock vibe. Also just the way the song progresses, with the epic finish and all. This was all paired with the modulation in all of the verses and some crazy polyrhythmic lines from Neilroy to give it the Jazz Fusion edge. The concept and early rough idea of “Volta” came from a bassline by Carmen, who had envisioned a dark, ominous scene of rough ocean and a lighthouse beaming light through the night sky. We were trying something new with our songwriting process where we base the creative direction of the song on the theme and story we’re trying to portray—easier said than done with instrumental music. Our last album was more focused on creating songs that were dynamic, interesting, and brought out emotions in some way. We wanted to focus more on storytelling through instrumental music.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Expounding upon my previous question what’s a normal writing and recording process like for you as band?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: We basically just do a long improvised jam before each practice and record it on our phones as a voice memo. Sometimes these jams can last up to 20 consecutive minutes and can get insanely wild. We later play back the jams and highlight key parts and start constructing a song through our improvised snippets.
We continuously try different recording methods, but lately we have found just clearing out a basement to the bare walls and recording everyone live through a good pre-amp is the best sound we’ve achieved yet believe it or not!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can we talk about the “Volta” album art? Besides it being super cool looking how does it tie in to the lyrics or music?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Open up the video for Volta (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQlq3KaHC6o), go pause it at 2:37. If you look closely at the overlayed transparent video, the art was based off of this scene with the two planets colliding. I threw the screenshot into photoshop and just started playing around to make it look hand drawn. Honestly most of my art is accidental and purely improvised. This was no different haha.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was the inspiration behind the “Volta” music video?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: We just set up a static camera on Neilroy and asked one of our close friends to run a main camera with closeups of ourselves and our instruments. At first we weren’t even planning to release the video. The footage came out super dark and dingy looking, and we didn’t exactly plan any of the camera angles. But I noticed we got some great shots so I decided to see if I could color grade it and give it some life (and make it look at least somewhat visible). I managed to fix it and lighten it up. Then once again I improvised the editing and started to mess around, constantly adding new elements and effects over the span of 5 months until we had the finished product.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: In what part do you feel that social media has played in your growth as an artist? Do you think social media is something that hampers artists as whole or is there a middle ground?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Social media is the most powerful tool for any artist! Most don’t realize how great of a time it is right now to be an artist. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook give us artists the opportunity to basically advertise ourselves for free, and connect to a specific audience through hashtags and paid ads. Also discovering and networking with other people in the industry through these platforms is super simple and makes it easy to connect. Not only can we share our content and make announcements internationally, we can also discover other bands to play bills with or other pages and blogs who will be willing to share our music with their followers. I see no downside to it in any way to be honest, so not sure how it would hamper any artist!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you could collaborate with any artist past or present who would you collab with and why?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: There is another fantastic Post-Rock band that we’ve had the pleasure of playing with a few times called ‘Gung-Ho Catalyst’. I think it would be so sick if we got together and created a track with both full bands. Although they are not instrumental, I feel as if both bands share a similar style where the melodic and rhythmic ideas intertwine within a super deep groovy pocket. It has been a great matchup being on the same bill at shows, so it would be super dope to connect even further and create!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Are there any artists that have been “On Repeat” for you guys lately? What music have you guys been digging?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Believe it or not I have been listening to Post Malone’s new album ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ non-stop. I really like Posty. He has a lot of variety and has no problem releasing a song that isn’t even close to rap/hip-hop. He’s also a super modest and chill dude so I respect that. I also love Anderson .Pakk. Literally every album and everything he’s done. He is a creative genius, an amazing musician (and drummer!) and feels like the next Prince. We need more humans like him, asap. In the last two years I’ve really tried to branch out to new genres, and hip-hop/rap/RnB is currently the top genres I’m really trying to venture through at the moment (I’m mainly a Rock and Jazz guy).
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And what’s next on the horizon for you guys as a band?
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: For now we’ll just keep chipping away at the next full length, perhaps throw in a single or two as we go, and then hit the road to promote. We hope to focus on storytelling through instrumental compositions for our next release, in line with what we did with “Volta”.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Anything else you would like to add? Thanks for your time! 🙂
DOG DRIVE MANTIS: Our new single Volta is out now along with the video! This is the newest taste from us since our debut album! Check it out on our YouTube page and if you dig it, check out that full-length album ‘How Did We Get Here?’ on Spotify or any other streaming platform. Thanks for having us!
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