Dr. Dog obeys its master’s voice.
A band from Philadelphia that’s playing the Civic Theatre Wednesday, Feb. 19, Dr. Dog heeds whatever stylistic direction its songs command.
Case in point, the group’s third studio album, “B Room.” A fun, fresh, creative peak for Dr. Dog, “B Room” jumps from classic Philly soul to psychedelic pop.
“We don’t really have a genre,” singer-songwriter-bassist Toby Leaman explained on the way to a show in Cincinnati. “We serve the songs.”
If a song wants to be disco meets a spaghetti-western movie soundtrack, for instance, such as “Love,” or feature a cappella harmony singing, such as “Mt. Slippery,” so be it.
Rather than follow the conventional method of tracking individual parts and overdubbing, much of the recording for “B Room” was done with all of the six band members in the studio together.
“What happens naturally in that situation is we play to a feeling,” Leaman said. “We don’t have the luxury of sitting there alone and coming up with the coolest part that we can possibly think of, a part that might walk all over other people’s ideas.”
Earlier in Dr. Dog’s recording career, Leaman said, “there were times when just me and Scott McMicken worked on something late at night. When everybody else came in the next day, they had never heard the song that we were showing them how to play.”
The group-effort ethic also applies to the construction of Dr. Dog’s new recording studio. Although Leaman, who once worked for a general contractor and his construction-savvy brother led the work, everyone in Dr. Dog pitched in.
The band is thrilled with the almost finished product.
“We love it so much,” Leaman said.
Building the studio was fun, but it’s ultimately a place for work. In contrast to the band’s former studio, Meth Beach, there’s no couch in the control room and nothing stays in the A room except microphones and a piano.
Meth Beach, Leaman recalled, “it started to get really stale and small. And people would be sitting on the couch in the control room, not doing anything, on phones, reading. There are plenty of places to chill in the new studio, so you don’t need to be in the control room unless you’re working.”
New studio or not, Dr. Dog, originally Leaman and McMicken’s studio-only project, hasn’t changed its artistic philosophy since it 2002 debut, “The Psychedelic Swamp.”
“We still don’t follow trends,” Leaman said. “That’s probably one of the reasons why we’ve been able to continue. And we’re not a band that thinks our next record is going to break us. We just do our thing.”