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Dope Body frontman talks shows, albums and future

Baltimore noise-rock quartet plays March 30 at the Metro Gallery with rapper Mykki Blanco

By Wesley Case, The Baltimore Sun

9:00 AM EDT, March 27, 2013

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At first glance, the Metro Gallery's Saturday night bill seems like an odd pairing: Dope Body — one of Baltimore's noisiest, most abrasive bands in years — and Mykki Blanco, a gender-bending, impressively nimble rapper from New York.

But watch some live YouTube clips of each act, and the show makes more sense. Dope Body and Mykki Blanco command attention immediately, and both are capable of consistently winning over new audiences through sheer force and charisma. It doesn't matter that their albums would be categorized at opposite ends of the store.

Interestingly enough, Dope Body frontman Andrew Laumann and Blanco, born Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., have been friends for years. While traveling through Chicago in 2007, Laumann crashed on Blanco's couch one weekend and ended up staying much longer.

"I stayed there for four months," Laumann said. "We've been homies forever."

Even if they weren't friends, the 25-year-old Waverly resident said Dope Body — who just released a new 7-inch single on Drag City titled "Saturday" — would rather perform with fringe acts like Blanco than shoehorn themselves into a scene that doesn't want them.

"We're not a hardcore band. Metal guys don't like us," he said, noting Dope Body would rather challenge new, open-minded audiences than play to listeners only interested in genre-labels. "It's not about preaching to the choir. That's why we always play with weird bands."

Before Saturday's show, Laumann spoke about the band taking its time on the follow-up to last year's "Natural History," not making money and more.

What's the latest with the next album?
We've been writing for the past couple months. We'll probably record in September for the next album. Everything has been moving so fast the past couple years. Once we get 10 songs done, we put it out. We're trying to craft it a lot more this time. ... Our environments in where we play and practice influence us a lot so we're trying to think about that a lot more.

In a short period of time, Dope Body has forged a reputation as Baltimore's must-see live act. How have recent shows been?

The shows in Baltimore have been crazy. But everywhere else is a tough sell. We still go crazy but it's usually just a bunch of people staring at us. It's more about if we can get people to dance — that's how to measure a good show. It's been an uphill battle.

(Above: "Leather Head," the latest video from Dope Body. The song comes from the "Saturday" 7-inch.)

Any memorable shows stick out from the past year?

Every year it gets better, in terms of opportunities. We're still relatively unknown to the rest of the world. But we opened for Godspeed [You! Black Emperor] in front of 2,000 in France. That was an amazing experience. At the same time, some of the basement shows we've played have been the most insane, sweaty, two-inches-of-water-on-the-floor experiences.

In your new songs, where do you hear the progression most from "Natural History"?

I think everything is getting a little less goofy. We're becoming better songwriters and learning how to use dynamics a little more. It's not balls-to-the-wall punk all the time. We're learning how to craft the songs better.

Is the goal to eventually do music full-time?

We do music full-time. I work part-time. I made $10,000 last year. I don't know how that's livable but that's what I did. We're not surviving off of it. We tour and come home and immediately start working. It'd be nice to have [the band's earnings] be comparable to some sort of job. If we went on tour and were able to pay rent when we got back, that'd be cool.

If you go

Dope Body performs March 30 at the Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St. in Station North. Ages 18+. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call 410-244-0899 or go to themetrogallery.net.