If you’ve lived in Western Montana for a few years, you’ve probably heard of them… Dodgy Mountain Men have been belting out their own special brand of “stompgrass” since 2011. They’ve consistently toured up and down the West Coast, played shows all around Montana and the PNW, and have recorded two full length albums. Since they’re playing at the Top Hat on Friday, November 1st, we thought now would be the perfect time to have a quick chat with with Dodgy’s mandolinist, guitarist and vocalist, Jed Nussbaum.
Y’all have been playing together for nearly a decade. What’s the secret to sticking together for that long?
I think the key is actually liking each other and being able to get along! It’s not always easy, particularly on extended road trips, but we’ve been doing it long enough to know when to give each other space and how to work with each other, and for the most part we have a blast together onstage and off so it helps us roll through tougher times.
How did you originally meet?
Eric and I met because I was a fan of his last band, Cottonwood Draw, which also included the original bassist and percussionist of the Dodgies. We found a common bond in how we played/wrote music and took it from there. Josh joined the band after the original bassist left and proved to be a pretty natural fit despite not really being a bassist when he first joined up, and Christian and I had been in a band previously so when our percussionist left we called him up to do a few shows with us, and he’s been with us for five years now.
How has your sound evolved since the early days?
We were initially pretty folky, albeit still on the weird, untraditional side with the tabla player and electric bass and me occasionally playing electric guitar. The show definitely got a lot more high energy as time went on and while we still have a lot of bluegrass themes and rhythms, we’re a pretty full fledged rock and roll jamband these days.
Do you think you’ll be releasing any new music in the near future?
We’re working on it! We had intentions to record an EP last winter but our van breaking down last tour took a lot of our funds, and honestly we need to look a little bit at time management to spend less time relentlessly gigging and more time writing music and finding time to actually record it. Since unfortunately our van broke down AGAIN on this fall tour, our funds are still hurting, so we also need to look at some potential crowd-funding in order to actually release the new music we do have.
Unfortunately, we did see your old van Betty White broke down. How long did you have it? Are you trying to get it fixed or thinking about getting another?
We’ve only had Betty a few years but she’s an old bird and we run her pretty ragged. We had a transmission failure about a year ago that we fixed, but we’ve put about 30,000 hard, weighed down miles on her in the last year and she obviously didn’t take it that well. She’s getting shipped back to Missoula currently where we have a spare transmission waiting, but at some point we need to consider if continuing to fix her is our best option. She’s been pretty good to us and suits our needs so well, it’s kind of hard to turn our back on her.
Who are a few of the big influences on your sound?
We have such a wide variety of influences in the band that it’s hard to pin down influences that we all pay attention to collectively! Early influences were Devil Makes Three, Fruition, Greensky Bluegrass, bands like that. But just like then, a lot of times it’s bands that we open for or meet at festivals that have the most influence. We listen to a lot of Yak Attack and Dirty Revival and a few others, and while we have a very different sound we find those influences creeping in for sure.
If you had to pick three of your songs to describe your sound, which would they be?
That’s super hard. I think in a live setting the newest single “Steady” captures our dancy jamminess as well as the road song theme that gets into a lot of our songs, “Sleep When I’m Dead” captures the raw “stompgrass” approach, and “Mama Pray” has more of an expansive electric guitar thing going that can get pretty rockin’ and funky as well.
Besides Missoula, is there anywhere you’re particularly fond of playing?
We’ve found some incredible audiences in Sandpoint and Boise Idaho that have become like family to us and really have blown us away with their support.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played at the Top Hat?
Most likely shutting down the old Top Hat before the remodel, as well as opening for the Devil Makes Three, which was one of our first big shows, and a show we did with the Cigarette Girls and this band 17 Mile from up North.
What advice would you give to bands just starting out?
It just depends on what you want for your band I guess – but whatever that is I’d say just go for it. Be ambitious, don’t let the hard times keep you from pushing just as hard. Have faith in yourself and your vision.
What’s your favorite part about Missoula?
The community that seems to still have a vibrant beating heart despite the continuous growth of the town.
Do you see the band remaining in Missoula?
Dodgy has shared the stage with many bands like The Devil Makes Three, Greensky Bluegrass, The White Buffalo, Leftover Salmon, etc… Is there a band that you’d love to open for that you haven’t yet?
I think sharing a stage with Billy Strings would be a blast. Personally I’d love to do a show with Banshee Tree out of Colorado and while we’ve hung out plenty and done festivals and the like with them, I think it’s high time we do a small bill with Kitchen Dwellers. Christian would probably lose his mind if we got a chance to open for Umphrey’s Mcgee.
What about Dodgy sets you apart from other Americana bands the most?
We’re a little more…rockin? We yell too much? Haha I don’t know, come to the show and tell me yourself.
What should the crowd do to make it the best possible show at the Top Hat?
Dance, stomp and holler. Seems like drinking seems to help with those too, so be sure to tip your bartenders.
Anything else you’d like to let people know?
This Friday is the last Friday until next Friday, so you should make the most of it and spend it with us.