Artist: Dog Drive Mantis
Location: Mississauga, ON, Canada
Peanut Gallery: Sound
Hello hello! We have been well-acquainted recently, but for the good people of Splendid Industries, who is Dog Drive Mantis (DDM)?
Dog Drive Mantis is Carmen Haines (Bass), Derek Serbin (Sax, Clarinet, EWI), Neil Miranda (Drums), and Mike Papaloni (Guitar). We like turtles.
Where did the band name come from? Three different things that sounds oddly unusual yet fits right together.
It took about a year and a half for us to come up with a band name at all. Back in 2015, we would throw our own house parties and play (early versions of what would later become the tracks on How Did We Get Here? [HDWGH?]) for our friends as an untitled band, hoping that one of them would come up with an epic name for us or something. We had some good suggestions, but nothing that stuck.
One day Carmen tells us at a practice that he always keeps a notepad by his bed, and the night prior he woke up and wrote “DOG DRIVE MANTIS” and has no idea what it means. “Band name?” We had a good laugh and then forgot about it… Until it came up again in band name pitches six months later. At this point, somehow, it seemed to be more humorous and even more promising than anything we came up with before.
How would you describe your music? I hear some proggy goodness coursing through your musical veins!
We have no idea where we fit. We’ve taken a stab at it though, throwing around the genres of “horn-fronted mathy jazz fusion” or “prog-jazz” but when in doubt, “indie”. Our sound comes from a blend of influences from surrounding genres, but none of us really listen to music like ours so we’re not too sure what to compare it to or what we’re emulating.
What are each of your musical influences? Do you guys share love together for a particular artist?
Carmen : Broken Social Scene and The Beatles.
Mike: Toe, Julian Lage and Khruangbin.
Neil: Tool, Tony Williams, Vinnie Colaiuta.
Derek: Supertramp, Streetlight Manifesto, Chris Potter and Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)
How did you boys meet up with each other?
Carmen and I (Mike) have known each other for probably 20 years now. We started writing things together in high school and had played together in a few bands before deciding to start a new project in 2014. We put a few Kijiji ads out, met a few serial killers and sociopaths, a few nice guys with different visions, and then eventually came across Neil (drums).
We played as a three piece for a year or so and eventually came across Derek’s Kijiji ad, looking to join a band. He mentioned his influences, and I was stoked to have finally come across an ad that wasn’t someone starting a metal band or classic rock cover band.
How would you describe the band chemistry amongst each other? Has it been smooth sailing thus far, or have you rammed heads?
Writing our first full length album was a smooth yet VERY slow process. We started each of the earlier practices with completely improvised jams (often a loud and sweaty 20 minute clusterflub) that we’d record onto a phone or sound recorder. We’d then sift through the lo-fi improvised recordings to pick out the gems and spend weeks (or even months in some cases) slow cooking a song. This is how we wrote the bulk of the songs on HDWGH?
The main ramming of heads comes with the fact that my guitar is tuned a full step down from Carmen’s standard-tuned bass, and Derek’s wind instruments all have their own keys to transpose our notes into. Neil is on a completely different planet with his sense of time signatures and metric modulations.
Because our writing process is largely collaborative, we are mindful of getting too attached to our own individual ideas of where a song should go, and would rather let the synergy of our combined ideas take the song to new Narnias. The sum is greater than the parts for us. This isn’t easy, but we remove a lot of the friction of our clashing egos when well-executed. It’s an essential practice for any band’s sustainability.
We all call Mississauga our home city. What are you thoughts on Sauga as a whole? What about its local music scene?
Mississauga is as solid as suburbia gets in general. If we were a cover band, we’d have no problem thriving in Mississauga as there are plenty of local venues to play. But most Mississauga bars and restaurants do not want our post-avant garde prog jazz devil hymns anywhere near their customers. We once got asked to “play quieter” by staff at a venue in Port Credit.
As a result, we often look to surrounding areas for more welcoming shows, which usually ends up being downtown Toronto, but we enjoy Hamilton and Guelph as well.
What kind of human_friend pleasures do you all indulge in?
Shawarma is the glue that keeps our lives whole and fulfilled.
Dog Drive Mantis @ Brothers Brewing Company, Guelph - Photos by Nicholas Cooper
How did you first come into contact with Splendid Industries? Why did you decide to join this new community, and what are your hopes for it?
We are members of the "Math Rock/Post Rock Instrumental Exchange“ group on Facebook and I think that’s where I first saw them pop up. I really see the potential in a community like this one as there is a huge gap on the internet for something like it.
I think as fans and musicians of such a niche genre, we tend to think we are isolated cases of outcasts with no market for what we do. The average North American has no idea what the fuck a “math rock” is. But with internet communities on Facebook, and now with Splendid, we connect with tons of people around the world who share the same interests- they’re often closer than you think.
What can we expect from you in 2019? We actually have something planned together coming quite soon!
As you know, we’re doing a live interview and session with our pals at The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope on CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph on Monday February 25th. For the rest of the year, we are going to focus more on creating video content for our YouTube channel and Instagram, and keeping folks more in the loop with what we’re up to.
We spent the better part of 2018 working on an interpretation of music from the Nintendo classic “Mario Kart 64” which ended up becoming a 7 or 8 minute piece of theme music spanning from the moment you turn on the console to the end of a race, and everything in between. We’re in the post-production process now and stoked to get it released.
We’re also looking to pick up a few summer festivals and do a little bit of short-run touring to bring our music to other communities in Ontario and Quebec.
The rest of our time will be spent writing our second full length album which is already in the works.