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By: Sheena Lyonnais
February 3, 2008

Dodger’s show at the Sound Academy last night proved not only that their latest album Musth is a huge hit amongst their head-banging, skank induced following, but also that opening bands can totally own a crowd. You never would have known there was anyone else on the bill (especially not Goldfinger!) based on their energetic, overwhelming performance, but what else can you expect from a band who named their album after aggressive, horny elephants.

They’ll be heading into the studio next month to record five new songs and they’re already in talks of playing Canadian dates on Warped Tour, Wakestock and possibly Edgefest 2 this summer. It’s no surprise Dodger’s unique brand of “hardcore reggae” is slowly leaving its mark on Toronto and Hamilton…literally.

“Four or five people have come up to me and have had the elephant that is on the cover of the record tattooed on them,” said singer/guitarist Matt Drake after their set. “I was like that’s awesome man, fuck you guys are die hard. I’ll put them on guest list. If you have a tattoo of Dodger you get in free for the rest of your life.”

Drake and his bandmates guitarist Luke “Billy” Muldoon, keyboardist Andy Russell, drummer Stu Fazekas and bassist Ryan “Reggie” Regimbal have a DIY attitude that is changing the face of indie music today. Like many other bands, Dodger are beginning to abandon the idea of releasing full-length albums and are instead transitioning into the online, iTunes distribution method.

“The reality [is] that kids aren’t buying CDs as much, so we’re not worried about doing 20 song CDs anymore, it’s all about let’s do four or five songs every couple months and get them on the net and let people buy the songs and make their own records out of our stuff,” Drake said.

“So our next step is to record five songs and let people buy it off iTunes and download it, steal it, get people coming to shows. Then in five months drop another five, so instead of waiting every two years for a record that would be 18 songs long, you’re going to get it every six months to a year, five or six songs. I’m hoping that’s the way to go because labels these days, people are losing so much money trying to fill these full-length records that in this day and age people just don’t buy.”

Dodger’s decision to do things this way was backed by producer Jag Tanna of Upper Left Side Music (I Mother Earth). Between Drake and Tanna, the majority of the tracks are recorded in their separate houses. The only aspect that is recorded in outside studios are the drum tracks. Aside from an acoustic set next weekend at the Sound Academy, Dodger is taking a few weeks off to focus on these new songs, which will be released on iTunes shortly thereafter.

Back in 2004, Dodger played five gigs in the States opening up for Britney Spears to 18,000 to 20,000 people a night. “It was a pretty good opportunity, over 100,000 people in the States heard our music,” Drake said. “Britney was really nice, I have to admit she was really nice and she really liked our band. It’s the only time we’ve ever really played the States. It was really overwhelming, but I’d do it again.”
The Goldfinger show was ridiculously fun and upbeat, and provided a good indication of great things to come for the Hamilton natives. Dodger has quickly become a Toronto Music Scene favourite and we’ll be watching them in the upcoming months.



- Toronto Music Scene


A sudden illness lifted the Hamilton band dodger from obcurity to opening for megastar Britney Spears. Dodger frontman Matt Drake took a break from his Hamilton based band to take a job as lead guitarist for 15-year-old Bolton Ont. pop star Skye Sweetnam's opening spots on Spear's current Onyx Hotel tour.
It was an easy decision for Drake. He'd make some important connections and, more importantly, pick up some needed cash. But he never imagined that within two weeks his own band, Dodger, would also be under Spear's spotlights.
It started out simple enough. All Drake had to do was stand at the side of the stage playing guitar while Sweetnam did her 15-minute teeny-bopper thing for crowds of more than 15,000. After Sweetnam, sexy New York hip-hop star Kelis would take the stage for a 30-minute set highlighted by her pop hit, Milkshake.
Then Britney would take over, the main attraction. Everything went like clockwork until the tour reached Atlanta. Word came down that Kelis had a touch of bronchitis. Sweetnam would be moved into Kelis' spot, but who would take Sweetnam's place as the opener. Shortly before showtime, Drake was asked if he could fill the spot.
Luckily, the rest of Sweetnams band were also from Hamilton. Drummer Stew Fazekas was a regular with Dodger. Keyboardist Vince Sciara had helped engineer Dodger's CD. Bassist Ken Corke was an old friend. "So all these guys knew the material," says Drake, 25, still giddy from the experience. "We sat on the tour bus for 20 minutes figuring it out and then 30 minutes later we were onstage. It was kind of crazy, I almost puked."
The jitters disappeared as soon as Drake took center stage. He introduced the band as Dodger from Hamilton Ontario.
"They probably didn't know what I was talking about, but it doesn't matter. We're from the Hammer, a steel-town band. The crowd was going nuts and we just did our thing."
The Dodger "thing" is urban reggae. They played four songs Drake wrote for Dodger's upcoming independent album. One song is so new, it doesn't even have a name. The Britney crowd responded enthusiastically, so much so that Drake was able to lead all 15,000 in a Dodger chant.
"I had a disposable camera with me and I told them that I wanted to take a picture of them chanting Dodger," Drake says. "The picture isn't so good, but it worked. I got them all chanting our name. It was incredible, the best. I've done it every show since."
Kelis, the Milkshake girl, wasn't well enough to make the next two shows and Dodger met with the same responses from audiences in Columbia, NC, and Jacksonville, Fla. During the past week, Dodger was added to the lineup when Spears played makeup concerts in Detroit and Chicago. Being asked to do these two shows meant far more to Drake then being asked to fill in at a moments notice. Spears' tour management had plenty of time to get a higher profile act, but chose to stick with Dodger.
"Britney's band has been great to us," Drake says. " They're awesome musicians, ringers every one of them, and they really support our music.
Her guitar player even came up and did a song with us at the shows in Chicago and Detroit. He just came out and wailed on the guitar while I sang."
And what about Britney?
"Britney's totally nice. We didn't sit down, chat or go drinking and get married or anything like that, but she's nice."
Drake arrived back in Hamilton on Thursday for a two week rest before leaving for Europe to rejoin the Sweetnam band and resume the European leg of Britney's tour.
While back, Dodger will play one show Saturday at the Casbah in Hamilton(Queen at King West)
Dodger will be headlining and the cost will only be $5.

- The Hamilton Spectator, Pop Culture


Hamilton isn't exactly known for its reggae bands. That's why its surprising to hear a relatively new sound coming from steel town - the rock/reggae of Dodger. Dodger singer/songwriter Matt Drake a.k.a. "Dodger," recently told me about the genesis of the band and their unique sound.
"I was always into punk rock," he says, "and played in a band called Henry's Volunteer. We toured all around Canada and, back then, we played with bands like Sum 41. I got bored of the genre though and the band broke up. That's when I moved to Toronto and started to expand musically."
In his search for new sounds and genres, Dodger started to revisit a band from his youth The Police.
"I grew up with the Police but didn't understand what they were doing back then. Then when I was 19 I was like 'Holy fuck this is awesome!' I went out and bought the entire collection on vinyl and was playing it over and over."
The Caribbean rhtthms that Copeland, Summers and Sting put together inspired Dodger to search out more reggae and he ended up with Bob Marley, Bad Brains, and Sublime.
"With this band I take an urban or Caribbean beat and fuse it with lots of weird stuff like hardcore, Spanish music and hip hop." says Dodger, who is also a hip hop producer.
Armed with two solid EPs (available form the bands site www.dodger.ca) Dodger (the band) is actively searching a bigger market for their music. Their most recent release came about
by a windfall one night while the band was playing at The Reverb.
"Walter Sobczak happened to be passing by the club while why we were playing," remembers Dodger. He like what he heard and offered to record us."
It just so happens that Sobcak has production credits with Maestro, Dream Warriors, and Raggadeath. Dodger says he's very interested in the band and has made the new EP sound amazing.
Check out Dodger this Sunday at the Trash when they open for The Planet Smashers and Mustard Plug. It's an early show (doors at 6:30, bands at 7) and tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door.
- SCENE


Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
About a year ago Matt "Dodger" Drake (Dodger), Ken Corke (Familiars, Kents,
Kazzer), Stuart Fazekas (Smoother, Dodger) and Vince Sciara (Breathe), became Capitol Recording artist Skye Sweetnams backing band- a great gig for
musicians wanting to make a living from their musical ability. With her
first single from the Mandy Moore movie, How to Deal, gaining attention, these Hamiltonians were riding high, with Skye opening for Britney Spears across North America and even Asia. But it was a chance virus that offered Matt "Dodger" Drake the oppurtunity of a lifetime.
"Halfway through the tour, Kelis, another Britney opener) got
bronchitis and our road manager asked if they'd want to try out Dodger as the opener," explains Drake. "We hadn't prepared for this, but Stew joined the band a while back and Vince has been recording our new album (The Bordello Studios) so wasn't hard to show them the parts. We
showed Ken the riffs and they let me go up in Atlanta and it went over huge."
With the thumbs up from Britney herself, Dodger followed up with four dates to stadiums of 15 to 18 thousand people each. The Dodger crew saw opportunity, stepped up to the plate and hit a musical homerun.
It was crazy," laughs Drake, "We're talking about a band without a
label or a manager or an agent. In five dates we introduced the band
to almost 60,000 people. Our website and email are going nuts. People are calling us from North Carolina and Florida asking us to send them our stuff."
Set to do another month touring with Sweetnam in Europe, Dodger may get the chance to expose their hip hop laced rock and reggae across the pond.
Meanwhile Drake and Dodger band members Luke Muldoon, Ryan Regimbal, Andrew Russell and Stu Fazekas are taking their regular places this weekend with the intent of adding live footage to an upcoming Dodger DVD as a precursor to a new album.
"I'm a changed man in the way of seeing how it goes for a big, big,
show in a concert venue," says Drake, "I've got a lot of respect for
the people that put on these shows worth a half million dollars each. I respect people like Skye that are going out and getting on these shows. I'm thrilled about getting the exposure although the record labels don't interest me. It'd be cool to get our DVD and the album out and then if a label wants to support me, then great. Realistically the best thing to do is eliminate the middle man and do everything myself. With the exposure I've gotten, things seem to be going in the right direction. I'd rather spend 10 years building it up then becoming a one hit wonder."
Dodger returns home to The Casbah this Saturday with Breathe and The Next Best Thing.
- THE VIEW


Being a band in this era is not much different than being part of
an epidemic. With dozens of new groups popping up on a
seemingly daily basis, those who find themselves within the indie
music strand have to find a healthy artistic approach in order to
provide a cure to those who make music their medicine.
For Toronto rock collective Dodger, getting healthy within
the Canadian independent music scene took some time and a
whole lot of sonic tinkering. Comprised of Matt Drake (vocals,
guitar), Luke Muldoon (guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Regimbal
(bass), Andrew Russell (keyboards), and Stu Fazekas (drums),
Dodger spent the early years of their career seeking out an
identity to call their own — not such an easy task when you
consider the number of club shows that are booked in a genre-
specific way.
So instead of playing the game and locking their sound into
one formulaic approach, Dodger did the exact opposite by
incorporating as many of their musical interests into their tracks
in hopes of keeping whatever audience they’d find on its toes.
“Back in the day when we first started the band, I was doing
all punk rock,” concedes Dodger front man and primary
songwriter Matt Drake. “I was into bands from the Sex Pistols to
NOFX, and all of those typical punk bands that were out there.
When I got a little older I just got sick of it, I got bored, and then I
started listening to The Police and that got me checking out more
reggae. So I started playing reggae, checking out bands like Bob Marley and Sublime. I thought about every kind of genre that I
was really into which was hardcore music, to punk rock, to reggae
and hip-hop, and just threw it all together to see what would
happen.
“The band’s been together for 4 to 5 years and it’s taken
that much time to really define what I think sounds like us now —
like our sound. My main thing is that I don’t want to be stuck to
one genre,” he adds. “If somebody comes and sees us play right
now it’s that kind of music, but two years from now I don’t
necessarily think that our records are going to sound the same. I
want to be able to go wherever with [our sound] and I want
people to expect that. So by writing songs that have really
hardcore riffs, then go really soft in spots, and have some hip hop
spots, it leaves the fans to expect something pretty diverse.”
After much creative debate, here we are in 2007 finally baring witness to Dodger’s debut album Musth, a true labour of love. Over the last 18 months or so, Dodger went from having a 15 song album with producer Vinnie Sciara to pretty well scrapping that project as soon as the band received an offer to work with brothers, and members of I Mother Earth, Jag and Christian Tanna. Having just developed their own record label/
management company Upper Left Side Music, the two Canadian
rock veterans took Drake and company under their wings to fully
help Dodger fulfill their musical ambitions.
On a musical level at least, Jag’s role was huge. With a
couple of Juno Awards already in his possession, this particular
Tanna had a lot of influence as to how Musth would turn out.
Along with the artistic and business advice that he’d provide for
Dodger, he’d also offer his time as producer and engineer for
free. The only catch, though, is that the band would have to slow
the wheels a little bit and wait for Tanna to finish up studio
sessions for other artists in which he was taking part.
With all of the recording obligations out of the way for the time being, now Dodger and the Tannas have to find the right method in which to break the group to a larger audience without going into debt, or pandering to methods of business that don’t match Dodger’s ideology.
“This day in age it’s more and more about being independent anyways. I don’t really care if the radio [doesn’t] pick up our music anyways just because it doesn’t necessarily play in the Top 40 — that doesn’t mean we’re not going to sell. You can have radio play and have nothing happen,” feels Drake.
“Right now, I have to admit, our label is pushing towards radio play, but I don’t really care if that happens, that’s not my issue. Our main thing is to just build up the crowd right now. We have this independent CD, we’re not going to get distribution from anybody right now, we don’t see the point — I don’t see the point of getting a company to buy into this, to put the album in stores, so that our albums are stuck in stores, because people aren’t buying CD’s anymore anyways.
“To me, the only way you’re going to make any money, is
through the die–hards, the real fans, the people who are going to
come and see this live,” he elaborates. “They’re going to buy the t–shirts, they’re going to buy the CD and they’re going to pay [for the ticket] to see us.”
While the album was only officially released just over a month ago, the strategy that Dodger and the Tannas have employed appears to be working - View Magazine: GREATER HAMILTON'S WEEKLY ALTERNATIVE


For lead singer Matt Drake there is no choice; his band Dodger must succeed in the music industry. After all, Drake has the band’s name tattooed across his forearm. For most people that kind of commitment may seem foolish, but after witnessing Dodger play live for their CD release party at Lee’s Palace, it made sense why Drake had fearlessly inked the name.

Before the show even started, the tone for the night had been set when a yellow school bus packed with Dodger fans from Hamilton came roaring past Lee’s. Every fan aboard was there for two reasons: to party and to pick up a copy of Dodgers debut album Musth produced by Jagori Tanna.

Bolton's Skye Sweetnam started things off playing with her new band. Her set started off rather confusing with the song “Into Action”, which for the most part reminded me a little too much like Sam The Shams classic “Wooly Bully.” However, after that Skye and company kicked things up a notch with her brand of power pop punk. With her raw charisma it was obvious why this girl was signed to a record contract at the tender age of 14.

By the time Burlington’s Walk Off The Earth took the stage, more people had milled into Lee’s. Walk Off The Earth’s vibe of Bob Marley meets Dave Matthews was unfortunately treated as background music to most, possibly since everyone was anticipating Dodger hitting the stage.

Dodger was well worth the wait. Their version of ska/reggae/hardcore rocked the full house at the Palace. By the time they played their single “Stomp” the place was being torn apart. Between songs crazed fans chanting “Dodger, Dodger, Dodger” and the chanting became louder after every song. By the time Dodger had finished their set, the crowd still hadn’t had enough and they were already screaming for an encore. Even though they had been rocking out for over an hour and were drenched in sweat, Dodger came out to do a few more songs for the rabid crowd.

After the work, money and dedication that went into recording Musth, Dodger couldn’t have asked for a better record release party. Even Mista D from the Salads tried to catch as much of the band as he could before rushing off to play his own set at The Funhaus. Its no wonder why he almost missed his own show, Dodger really did rock the shit out of Lee’s Palace.

TJ Liebgott

- TorontoMusicScene.ca


Discography

'Musth'
2007 Upper Left Side Music

'ABombANation'
2009 Upper Left Side Music

'In Us We Trust'
2011 release

Photos

Bio

dodger is comprised of a hybrid group of musicians led by lead singer/song writer and founding member, Matt Drake, guitarist/vocalist Luke Muldoon, keyboardist Andrew Russell, drummer Stewart Fazekas and bass player Ryan Regimbal. The band’s top 40 sounds are influenced by an unmistakable progressive urban/rock sound with a subtle dancehall/reggae flow.

dodger’s roots are in self releasing EPs and self booking tours. An obsessive fan base in Southern Ontario soon develops from dodger’s renowned rowdy performances that are unpredictable and piercing loud.

dodger’s reputation of intense live shows and a rabid following soon catches the attention of Juno award winning producer Jag Tanna (I Mother Earth), They record 2 albums, Musth and Abombation, play dates on Warped Tour and Wakestock and follow up with tours in Eastern and Western Canada. They share the stage Finger 11, Goldfinger, Silverstein, Hot Water Music, Rza and Gza from The Wu-Tang Clan, and ill Scarlett.

Along with bands such as Metric and Broken Social Scene, Dodger star in a one hour episode of The Rawside of – a television series on the International Film Channel showcasing the less-than-glamorous aspects of being in a band. Dodger’s song Stomp was selected to be the leadoff track on Big Rock brewery’s Untapped Compilation, with 50 000 promotional copies released in Western Canada. Their music has been featured on the extremely influential Toronto radio station, 102.1 the Edge. Look for the new dodger record In Us We Trust in 2011!

www.dodger.ca
dodger@dodger.ca