Updog - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Updog. We discussed thoughts on past EP ‘Getting Better’, musical inspiration, songwriting, new music, the current ska scene, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

Thank you for the opportunity!

Can you tell me how you formed the band for those who may be unfamiliar with it?  How did you initially become interested in music?

Updog started as a solo project when I lived in Houston around 2017. Played solo acoustic shows. Sometimes I had an iPod with backing tracks. It was when the pandemic kicked off that I started putting more focus into it and started working on songs that would be on the Getting Better EP. I did a couple of solo shows after shows started coming back. The last solo show I got to do was with Joystick! back sometimes around December 2021. Around that time I was in the talks with my friend Jeremy who currently plays bass and our friend Nathan who plays drums, but left the band to move to Salem August of 2022. 

Full band Updog became a reality and we played our first show early 2022. We have had some lineup changes since then and went from a 3 piece to  a 6 piece. I first got my interest in music in high school due to discovering the D.I.Y scene here in town. I already played guitar, but experiencing the community in my teens and wanting to be part of it really gave me the drive to start a band with friends and start playing shows.

I really like your sound and how you work various styles into the music. What were some of your biggest influences stylistically?

One of the biggest influences as a band is definitely Bomb The Music Industry. We for the most part love B.T.M.I and any Jeff Rosenstock adjacent projects. I personally really loved how they were able to mix different aspects of genres into their music and just make it sound like beautiful chaos. They inspired us to do the emo/ska approach to our music. They had songs that could be categorized as emo and pop punk, but weren’t afraid to throw ska in every few songs just because they liked ska. We also definitely take inspiration from ska bands like Big D and The Kids table, MU330, Slapstick, and a bunch of other 3rd wave bands, as well as bands like Glocca Mora, Dowsing, Hard Girls, Latterman and Violent Soho.

You released your ‘Getting Better’ EP a while ago. Were you pleased with the response it received? What are your thoughts looking back on it now? 

The response totally got me by surprise. I didn’t expect anyone to really get into it. During the recording process. I was in the mindset that Updog was just going to be a bedroom project. It was pandemic, and the uncertainty of not knowing if shows were coming back made me doubt that anything would ever come out of Updog other than just recording at my friends house and releasing music on the Internet. I was content with that. 

At some point I thought about not releasing it at all, but my friend Steven Jolly of this band in town called Oldie Hawn really encouraged me to put it out. People started hearing it and liking it in the local scene, and I was caught off guard cause I didn’t really expect people to care that much about an emo/ska project. I’m also really grateful for the homies in Breathwish, Drunk Uncle, Rookie Park, New Ends, and Will from Full Blown Meltdown for really hyping up Updog and always encouraging us. 

They really made it easy to get through self-doubt. I feel like the self-doubt started finally going away when we played Philly Cheeseskate Fest in Austin that our friend Matt throws up there. That was the first time we played in another city where people were singing songs back at us. At that point I was like, “Wow, people do like our music.”

I really like “I’m Tired”. Can you tell me about writing that song specifically? 

That song started off as a leftover from my band called Being Frank that broke up pre-pandemic. The song was totally different back then, but ended up being a good starting point. Was really trying to go for what I thought what it would sound like if B.T.M.I and Latterman combined sounds. I wrote the lyrics about how it’s like navigating life with Autism, trying to self-medicate with weed, and my hyper focus on music and spending more time in my room writing songs and playing shows really affected my personal relationships at one point. The lyrics were written like a journal entry. That’s why I didn't write a chorus for it, there’s a melody that I try to use for a hook, but no lyrics repeat themselves outside the section they are written for. It’s something I definitely took influence from a lot of 4th wave emo bands.

Is there any chance that you’ll release cassettes or vinyl for the EP at some point? 

We thought about it, but probably not. We have had offers, but we wanna release something on cassette or vinyl as a full band. On the EP it’s me playing all the instruments. We did re-record the songs as a full band though for an LP we’re working on.

I know you’ve been working on some new music. What can you tell me about it so far? 

We’re about to wrap up our debut LP. We have been working on it for a year. We’re really excited for it. We have been playing the songs live and it’s been crazy cause people will sing some of the parts back at hometown shows just from watching us and remembering the parts. We have been talking to a few people about releasing it on cassette and vinyl, so that will definitely be a thing. We’re also about to go back in the studio soon to record a couple songs for a split and a cover for a comp. I’m excited for the split and comp cause we finally have a horn section, so those will be the first recordings with them.

Ska has had such an interesting resurgence with bands and artists like Catbite, Joystick, Jer, etc… Your band is a part of that as well. What are your thoughts on the current ska scene?

The ska scene is awesome. It’s honestly filled with some of the most honest and supportive people. I’ve always loved ska and I'm really happy that we’re in the 4th wave right now. Bands like Sad Snack who have put out my favorite new tone song of the year so far, and Texas’s own Hans Gruber And The Die Hards and Young Costello are some of my favorite bands I’ve been listening to lately. There’s also Common Sense Kid, Plastic Presidents, and Poindexter who have put out really awesome music this year. I also really like the boundaries the 4th wave is pushing. Eichlers for example. I never thought hyper ska would ever be a thing, but they’re doing it and killing it at the moment. I’m really excited for the future of ska and to see where it goes.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you so much for asking us to be a part of this! Be on the lookout for some new music and tour announcements later this year.

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