Vinnie Donatelle of Friend Dog talks about opening for John Mayer, gigging with his new band, and The Last Revel's life-changing resurgence
Flip Rushmore is celebrating the release of their new EP, Choose Your Villains Wisely, at the 7th St Entry on Wed., Aug. 10. Friend Dog, comprised of Vinnie Donatelle, Lauren Anderson, and Nate LeBrun, is a featured guest on the bill. Vinnie, who spoke with us in 2021, got on the phone with Flip's Alex Smith for a follow-up interview as he balances between Friend Dog and his much more high-profile Americana trio, The Last Revel.
Alex: Alright, we need to talk about the John Mayer thing. The Last Revel is opening for him [Aug. 21] in Wyoming? I know you have a big following out there. How did the booking come together?
Vinnie: That was out of the blue. There’s a venue in Paradise Valley called Pine Creek Lodge, where the show is happening, that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts. We’ve hosted a couple mini music festivals out there. And Ryan [Acker, of The Last Revel] actually met his now-wife at Pine Creek.
The day after we played there this summer, there was some massive flooding along the Yellowstone River that destroyed a lot of property and basically closed West Yellowstone for the season, which really throws a wrench in the economy out there. All the folks who depend on that tourism are kinda SOL for the season again after getting beat up by COVID, too.
So John Mayer, who has a ranch out there, decided to put together this show and hit up our friend, Chip, who owns Pine Creek Lodge, and asked if he could set up a couple shows there to fundraise. Chip, of course, said, “of course,” [laughs] and that led to John Mayer’s team to say, “Ask two of of your favorite bands to play,” so Chip called Ryan.
Alex: I assume you knew you weren’t getting pranked because it was Chip calling you, but what was your reaction to the news?
Vinnie: Well, he tried to call us at like 2 in the morning, when we were driving home from a festival. And we were, like, dude, slow your role. We don’t know what this is about, but it can wait until tomorrow. So when Ryan talked to him the next day, we all just kind of froze and said, “that’s insane. There’s no way that’s actually happening.” But sure enough…
Alex: What kind of venue are we talking about? What’s the cap on that place?
I think it’s 1,000.
Alex: So pretty intimate for something like that.
Vinnie: Yeah, and 1,000 is a lot of people in that space. We played to 500 or 600 people before. That felt really packed. It’s basically a small little resort with a nice kitchen that has a bunch of storage container rooms surrounding a stage. People rent out these cabins if they want, or just drive up to the shows. That’s the gist of it.
Lazenlow discusses new album, forthcoming wedding, and performing dark indie pop for children ahead of 7th St Entry debut
Flip Rushmore is celebrating the release of their new EP, Choose Your Villains Wisely, at the 7th St Entry on Wed., Aug. 10. Lazenlow, comprised of Gillian Needham, Mike "Ghost Channels" Ryerse, and Mo Bluntz, is a featured guest on the bill. Gillian and Mike got on the phone with Flip's Alex Smith to discuss Lazenlow's Entry debut and much more.
Alex: I’ve seen allusions to an album being mixed.
Mike: I’m in the finishing process. Which many know: five percent finishing takes 95 percent of the time. I’ve been fine-tuning stuff, then putting it away for a week, then fine-tuning stuff. Right now, it’s 10 songs. We worked on around 20 songs for this particular batch and cut it down to 10 we feel really strongly about. It’s definitely our most electronic-leaning record. We put the guitar to the side. It’s still there, but it’s electronic first. Four to the floor. Beats and stuff. But still very much our dark style. We’re super excited about it.
Alex: Do you track everything at home?
Mike: Yeah, so, Gillian and I are engaged. We live together, and I built a studio in one of our guest bedrooms.
Mike: Thank you.
Alex: When did that go down?
Gillian: He asked me on New Year’s Day, actually. The first day of our vacation. We’re getting married next year in September. So, we’re excited. We’re having our engagement party tomorrow [before press time].
Alex: So, if you’re tracking everything in your own studio, doing all the mixing work. Do you need to step away for awhile before re-listening, or are you listening to the same song for several days in a row?
Mike: No. I think the first few weeks when you’re doing the intense stuff, yes, it’s every day. But it’s been a really important part of my process, to stop listening to it for a couple weeks. Don’t even think about it. Then pick a weird scenario. Put it on headphones. Listen in the car. Our lil’ old record player we have. Bluetooth. It’s important to switch things up because it keeps it fresh, like you’re hearing it for the first time. It’s very important to shelve stuff, and then come back to it, because you don’t know what it sounds like when you’re too close to it.
Alex: That makes sense. You guys seem very invested in visual content. TikTok. Twitter videos. Which, you know, OK, other people do that, too, but I feel like it’s something you emphasize.
Gillian: We’ve gotten some coaching from Mark Mallman. He’s been a mentor for us, as far as creating content and how to corner that market. “At this point, if you’re not using TikTok to promote your music, you’re doing it wrong,” is how he presented it to us. There isn’t a lot of original music getting posted on there. It’s not necessarily to promote our own music all the time, but to get peoples’ attention of who we are. Mark says if you use your own music, it shoves you down to the bottom of the algorithm [laughs], so it’s just another way we’ve tried to gain traction with people who don’t know us.