No longer solo, singer/songwriter Dodd Lede forms superb rootsy modern rockers the DML Cartel

Written by Carson James

When we last heard from singer/songwriter Dodd Lede, he released an album called Sophomore Jinx that, given a major-label financial push, could’ve found its way alongside John Mayer and Jack Johnson on commercial AAA radio stations. Since then, Lede has formed the DML Cartel, a rootsy modern-rock outfit that was once Lede’s covers band Bare Necessity. Lede discusses their consistently good debut album Word of Mouth and how the DML Cartel enabled him to finally achieve the bigger sound he had been aiming for. 

Carson James: The DML Cartel sounds like a full band effort, but then again so did your last solo album, Sophomore Jinx. Did your approach to songwriting change with having a group backing you up?

Dodd Lede: No. My approach to songwriting is pretty consistent. It was a little easier to record with the same group of musicians, but it didn’t start out that way. The musician process changed on me a few times throughout this recording until all the pieces finally fell together. In the end, the same musicians played together on about 80% of the entire CD. Of course, I expect the next CD to go much easier.

James: The guitars are a little louder and crunchier here than on your solo efforts. Did you feel back then, acting alone, that you were limited in terms of how rocking the tunes could be?

Lede: The original working title for this CD was going to be Twice Removed; since I never got the sound I wanted on the first two CDs, this was going to represent that sound twice removed. I thought it would have been a cool title, but no one else seemed to get it. This was the sound that I originally wanted for the both CDs, but since I didn’t have a permanent band at the time, I chose to scale it down. The decision was made since I was performing more solo acoustic shows. I wanted to be able to successfully pull off the songs live without the band aspect missing too much.

James: Your band used to perform covers with you. Was it an easy transition to go from remakes to original material?

Lede: I had already released Whatever Happened To You and Sophomore Jinx when I joined Bare Necessity. I was hesitant about joining a cover band in the first place and was pretty adamant that I would never do it, but Derek [Prather] is such a phenomenal guitarist and friend that I really wanted to work with him. The idea was that I would help his band out, and he would record in the studio with me. I even put a time limitation on how long I would stay with the band. I think it was supposed to be for one year. It didn’t exactly turn out like that, but it became pretty cool playing to packed houses that were very much into what we were doing. I’ve been with Bare Necessity for almost four years now. It’s still a lot of fun. But as things go, I eventually wanted to release some new original material. The band, at that point, did not want me to quit so they opted to assist me in completing what I had already started with John [Rinkus], Mark [Head], and Richard [Magallanes] .

James: What made you decide to turn Bare Necessity into a full-blown recording group?

Lede: I didn’t actually turn Bare Necessity into a full-blown recording group. It was an idea that never really panned out. Bare Necessity’s bass player, Fred [Morecraft], was not interested in pursuing the originals as much as the rest of us. He was happier just doing the cover songs. Instead, Derek and I are in both Bare Necessity and the DML Cartel. The chain of events goes like this. John had been jamming with us over the past year doing the originals, but he did not want to be a part of the cover band.  So he started jamming with Mark and Richard, whom had both been in the studio recording Word Of Mouth with me before Bare Necessity. They were working on songs that will probably be part of John’s solo project. They didn’t have a singer, so I went out to jam with them while Bare Necessity was on break. We booked a couple shows and asked Derek to come and play with us. That is how the DML Cartel became a separate entity altogether.

James: The opening track, “Best of Monday Night,” recalls the Gin Blossoms. Were they an influence on you?

Lede: It is a safe assumption that I am influenced by the Gin Blossoms although I get more comparisons to Bon Jovi on that song. I’m glad someone else can see the similarities and influence.

http://www.dmlcartel.com

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