The Dopes
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The Dopes


Band Rock Punk


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The best kept secret in music


The Dopes pop up on *Cloud Ten*

by Robert Downes

September 26, 2002 - Any new CD from The Dopes is a cause for dancing in the streets, and with the release of their fifth album, *Cloud Ten,* on JetSpeed Records, the Petoskey/Traverse-based band has issued its most commercially-accessible offering yet with 11 hard-driving songs that combine the frenetic mastery of their instruments (think rattlesnakes dancing with firecrackers) with a sophisticated pop sound.

In their 10 years together, The Dopes have always offered dance music that gets crowds on their feet from the first whipcrack issued by vocalist/guitarist Joe McCarthy, guitarist/vocalist Mark Camp, bassist Roy Truax and drummer Travis Harret. On their new CD, we hear more of their songwriting talents coming to the fore in terms of melody and vocals, including some of their best from other releases, such as "Rockstar" (a '90s take on paeans such as "So You Want to Be A Rock & Roll Star" by The Byrds).

In the pantheon of modern rock, The Dopes might rub elbows with the likes of Everclear, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sugar Ray, with a similar mix of irony, sensuality and wit married to a runaway nail gun delivery that plays well on college radio.

The Dopes rachet that mix several notches higher with their intense fusion of postmodern musical styles. Just as wines are described by their subtle flavorings and bouquets ranging from chocolate to blackberries, so too do The Dopes serve up a pinot noir flavored with ska, polka, island, funk and western swing music -- without too much of any genre overwhelming the imbiber. Fans of "serious" music (whatever that is) will be challenged to identify strains and phrases interstitching The Dopes' music with everything from the drawl of the high plains to calypso's pinging resonance. And, at times the excellence of their vocals compare with those of the Beach Boys on this album.

Plus, they're pretty damned funny and sexy in a way that moves with a fast shuffle on "Fireball" ("She gets what she wants, she's a little fireball"), "Trampoline" and "Beer Cart Girl." Like most serious songwriters, The Dopes have profound things to say, yet they deliver their message in an offhand way, like a cherry bomb in a mailbox, before speeding on to the next address.

Gripes? The Dopes live up to their name when it comes to marketing their music. There's a (very) good looking nude in the liner notes, but no song list (?) or lyrics, just a paragraph of thank-yous to local friends that makes the band look parochial and clubby, as in a big frog in a small pond w-a-y up in Northern Michigan. The Dopes have a nice website, but if you set your search engine to find them, you'll run into another band by the same name.

As mentioned before in the Express, the biggest mystery about The Dopes is, why aren't they a national touring band? Why aren't they on the air from Laguna to Lauderdale? They're more musically gifted than Everclear and write more intelligent songs than the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as a quick listen of *Cloud Ten* will reveal. So, why not The Dopes? Maybe this disc will be the one that kicks the band into gear in the nation's musical consciousness.

Downes is editor of Northern Express and Express Weekly

- Northern Express and Express Weekly


"Cloud Ten" - 2003
JetSpeed Records Enterprises


Feeling a bit camera shy


What do you get when you throw together 4 guys, instruments, talent, and a little bit of humor? You get the Dopes! The Dopes were originally formed on the Central Michigan University campus in 1989, by singer and songwriter Joe McCarthy and fellow student, Cliff Brown. These two Dopes put an ad in the paper for a rhythm section to complete their four-piece band.
Thanks to this ad, Roy Truax and Travis Harrett became Dopes as well. Roy plays bass and has been playing since he was thirteen. He has played in many different bands during his career and has been written up in Guitar Player Magazine. Travis, the drummer, is the youngest member of the Dopes. He also has had a lot of experience playing with other bands before joining the Dopes. Cliff later left the band and gave the Dopes the opportunity to add a new guitarist. After a few tries, they added Mark Camp to their roster. Mark, who sings, writes songs, and plays guitar, toured and played with many bands in the punk circuit before joining the Dopes.

Since their start, the Dopes have enjoyed an instant, loyal audience. Their first album, Cow, sold over 6000 copies in a little over a year. After Cow, the Dopes released their second album, My Ass Is A Dragon. This album also did very well. With their third album, Cloud 10, the Dopes will continue to surprise and thrill their expanding audience.