“There’s a big theme of two with us,” Ralph Alexander explains as we sit in the lobby of the New York Public Library. “Two in Spanish is dos but we spell it d-o-s-e because there’s two of us and you get a dose at every show of all of our styles and sounds.” Ralph is the drummer of a band called The Dose along with his friend and musical counterpart Indio Downey.
The Dose initially started as a trio of musicians coming together to play and write music. Eventually, they acquired a permanent bass player and started gigging around LA and booked a show at the well-known venue, Molly Malone’s. The bass player ended up not showing up and Ralph and Indio were forced to play the show as a two-piece.
The two found a way to create a unique sound without including anyone else in the band, using backing tracks or resorting to digital playback. They had been thinking about using bass synth pedals for a while and took this as an opportunity to give it a try. Now, every show, Ralph plays the bass synth pedals with his feet while he drums.
“There was a fresh element that we both really liked so we kind of stuck with it,” Indio says. “Ever since then, we’ve been playing as a two piece.”
The Dose’s sound is infused with 90’s rock and roll nostalgia from the grittiness of the strain in Indio’s voice to the carefully executed guitar riffs to the head banging, hair whipping drum beats. Indio even resembles a modern Kurt Cobain – talk about nostalgia.
When asked about musical influences, Indio gave me an essay-length list including the likes of Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age and The Strokes – he’s clearly someone who knows what kind of music he likes and listens to it a lot.
“I would say that our music is definitely music that is inspired by two people who listen to a lot of music,” Indio says. “It’s music that’s very much inspired by other rock and roll.”
The two guys had been playing music in different bands for many years before they started The Dose but this musical endeavor has more of their hearts than what they have done in the past.
“All those other bands I was in had rehearsal two to three times a week,” Ralph remembers. “You had other things you were doing, but I think for the two of us it’s all we ever do.”
Indio and Ralph currently live together in LA so, for them, it’s music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They play a little music every day and are currently working on their new record.
“I think the difference now is I take it seriously whereas before I was doing it solely for the purpose of just playing and having fun,” Indio says. “I’m still doing it for [that reason] but also it’s kind of more of a passion.”
As The Dose grow as a band, Indio and Ralph utilize all that LA has to offer. Indio believes that LA has a great music scene, describing all the different venues that they’ve been able to play at from favorites like The Music Box and The Hotel Café to dive-ier venues like The Satellite.
“Growing up in LA, I think a lot of people may disagree but I think that in terms of being a musician, if you look for it, there’s a lot of stuff to get inspired by and ways to meet new people to collaborate with and make music with,” Indio explains.
For their self-titled EP that came out in April, the guys took themselves out of the LA scene and went down south. They wrote the songs in Atlanta and recorded in Nashville – one song at Third Man Records and the other five at Welcome to 1979 Studios.
Most of the inspiration for the EP stemmed from being in love, having a story to tell and trying to stay positive during a hard time.
“Music always helps me with that,” Indio explains. “If I’m going through a bad situation and I put on the right song, I can snap out of it and so I think one of the things I’ve wanted to achieve with our music is that – is being able to kind of help someone cheer up and write something positive so that people will stay positive.”
Ralph explains that Indio usually writes most of the vocals, but the two come to each other with full ideas of a song when going into a writing session.
“In that process, the other person kind of puts a spin on it,” Ralph says. “I don’t think either of us is the kind of writer where it’s ‘this is my song don’t fuck with it,’ we’re both pretty open to ideas.”
Lucky for them, with only two people in the band, there are less people to clash heads with if one person doesn’t like how a song is turning out.
“To be completely honest, I’m definitely happier playing in this band than I have been in any other band and I don’t know if that’s a direct result that it’s a two-piece, but that’s just how I feel,” Indio says.
Ralph has also been in a band dynamic he didn’t like before where there were five guys and when someone presented an idea and someone else didn’t like it, it went to a vote, usually splitting the band and causing unnecessary drama.
“It’s nice neither of us has an ego so if I presented an idea to [Indio] and he’s like, ‘I don’t really like that,’ it’s fine, we don’t have to do it,” Ralph adds.
One stage, they create an environment where the two of them are able to thrive off of each other as they play.
“Usually we’re both in front, very kind of symmetrical, almost at an angle so that we can both see each other,” Ralph explains. “We’re kind of facing each other but still facing the audience a little bit and it makes the dynamic so much better.”
They’re stage dynamic is strengthened by being able to see each other and make faces and feed off one another’s energy. Being on stage is the main reason that both guys got into music to begin with so it’s important that they’re able to perform the best they can.
“There’s just something about [being on stage] that’s so surreal that it’s indifferent from anything else I’ve ever experienced,” Indio says.
Ralph is in the same boat and says that he feels more comfortable on stage than anywhere else.
“I know a lot of people who do it for a living – bands that are 20 times the size of ours – and they get really nervous about being onstage,” Ralph explains. “For me it’s the opposite.”
He feels like the stage is his natural habitat and just sitting across from these two, I can tell that’s where they belong: belting their hearts out in front of a crowd of people feeling the same emotions and wanting the same thing – happiness through music.
Check out The Dose’s self titled EP HERE
Article: Merissa Blitz