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The Dismemberment Plan
by: jay 14 Mar 2003
The Dismemberment Plan

After ten years of delivering their own unique blend of rock, r&b, freak out jazz, and electronic samples, the Dismemberment Plan have decided to end the band after a healthy string of touring in 2003. Those of us who relished in the fact that a new Plan album (the band were signed to Interscope for a hot minute, before finding a lasting home on Desoto, a label put together by ex-Jawbox members Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot) meant you never knew what you were getting will have to make due with the obscenely energetic and riveting live performance one last time. The band - Travis Morrison (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Joe Easly (drums), Eric Axelson (bass, keyboards), and Jason Caddell (guitar, keyboards) - have became a constant reference point in underground rock reviews of all kinds. It seems that it's now pretty clear that all their wayward experiments were not the dicking around of inexplicable oddballs on the fringes, but the behavior of a bonafide Great Band that isn't afraid of failure, knows there's plenty of time, and knows anything worthwhile isn't going to be immediately understood. On the heels of what will probably be their second to last show in Boston, a town that has in many ways been their second home over the years, I caught up with bassist/keyboardist Eric Axelson.

Lab: Starting with what seems to be the hot topic with the Plan these days, what lead to the ultimate decision to call it quits this fall?

Eric Axelson: Well, we did those last couple of tours, and then came back and realized we hadn't had a break in a while. In general, if we're not touring, we're practicing four days a week, hitting it hard all the time. So we decided to take four to six weeks off from each other, kind of lay low, and just see how we all felt when we got back together. I think the time apart allowed everyone to think about the next record and what we were going to do. When we got back together, for various reasons, we decided it would be best to not do the songs as a foursome. I'm not psyched we're breaking up, but all things considered, it makes sense. With four people, everyone has to be happy. We didn't want to replace a member or anything like that either. I think breaking up gives us a chance to do things we haven't been able to. We're in our thirties now, and have been playing music for the past ten years.

Lab: What are the band's plans, touring wise, for the rest of the year?

EA: We are definitely going to do a big tour in the summer. I'm the scheduler for the band, and gave them a few options, and for some reason everyone picked the longest run. We're doing a west coast tour for three weeks, and then a two and a half week east coast tour. We'll do a final show in DC, and then hopefully go overseas for a while in August. When fall comes we'll go our separate ways.

Lab: As far as new material already written, will any of it see the light of day?

EA: We decided to bequeath all the songs to Travis, and if he wants to use them for his solo record, he can. What he doesn't use, we might record and release as a single or an EP.

Lab: And the remix record?

EA: Almost there. We're so close to getting it done. We're waiting on a few bands, Dalek among them. Realistically, it will probably be out by the end of summer/fall. With so much going on in the summer, we will probably have it all together by spring.

Lab: How has it been working with Desoto over the years?

EA: Awesome. It's been so good. The stint on Interscope was fun, but you miss being able to go over to Kim Coletta's house and hang out, play with the dogs, as opposed to talking to secretaries at Interscope and being put on hold. You know, they call you back at all weird hours. Desoto has given us a lot of liberty and been very supportive.

Lab: How did the band initially come together ten years ago?

EA: Jason and I were friends in college; Travis and I were friends in high school. Every summer Travis and I would get together and talk about these crazy bands we were going to put together. Jason and I played in a punk cover band in college, and one day Travis called up and said he had these songs he'd written, I should come over and play. Jason found out we were playing and asked if he could sit in, and we said sure. The three of us started writing songs, and after a couple of months of that, we called up a friend of mine that I grew up with to play drums. He recorded the first record with us, and on New Year's 1993 we all got up hung over, went over to Travis' place, and said let's start playing.

Lab: Was there a certain point where you knew that music was what you wanted to do as your full time job?

The Dismemberment PlanEA: I don't really know how it happened. At first, we were so excited to get our first record out in stores. I think when we signed with Interscope it started feeling more like a career. When Interscope dropped us and Emergency & I came out, it was a really busy year for us. We toured for about six months that year, and when April came around we realized we were just too busy and we should quit our jobs. We figured we wouldn't be making a lot of money, but would never be home to really spend any of it. By the end of that year we saw that we had enough of a fan base to get salaries together for the band. We're not loaded by any means, but I make as much as I would as an entry level temp, and I get to travel all over the world.

Lab: On the topic of travel, how have the overseas shows been?

EA: Good in some places. Japan is awesome, in the larger cities. In Europe, the better places have been Holland and England. Germany and some of the places in the south have not been quite as good, though Spain was pretty cool. The US is far and away still the best place for us.

Lab: Is the band still going to be playing the occasional gig in DC, or doing benefit shows here and there?

EA: We left that kind of open. We didn't want to constrict things too much. If everyone is in town and feeling it, or if it's a benefit and they need a band, we'll get together and play. I certainly hope it happens every now and then. I don't foresee us getting together and doing reunion records or tours though.

Lab: On a personal level, what are you going to do once the band winds down?

EA: I'll probably start looking for some bass-for-hire jobs, more touring than session work. I'm also going to look for some tour management positions, only because that's my role in this band as well. Ultimately, it would be interesting to see how it would be doing both when it's not my band. You know, play bass and not have to worry about money or scheduling, or handle the scheduling and money and not have to get on stage.

Lab: Have you always been tour manager for the band?

EA: Yeah. When I was in college I was a promoter for my campus, so I knew a lot about contracts. When we started doing shows, I would be the one handling scheduling, routing, and working the money deals.

Lab: Changing gears a little, what have you been listening to lately?

EA: Lately, the new El Guapo record, which is coming out on Dischord in April. The last Flaming Lips record. London Calling ever since Joe Strummer died, probably a couple times a week. I've been digging the new Talib Kweli record a lot. I brought some Marvin Gaye on this trip as well. More mellow stuff, less rock this time around.

Lab: The Plan seems to hit Boston quite a bit year after year. How did the city become so popular for you to play?

EA: We have a lot of friends up here. Around '95 or so, this band we knew from DC, Vehicle Birth, moved up to Boston. I booked our first couple tours, and they helped us out with shows around Boston. We had a good time and made a lot of friends up here. Boston and Chicago were our second homes for a long time. For our first couple years of touring, Boston was much like DC, in that the kids knew all the words and people really cut loose. We definitely love playing in Boston.

For more information on the Dismemberment Plan:

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