San Francisco indie-rock duo The Dodos release “Grizzly Peak”

Meric Long and Logan Kroeber’s eighth album coincides with a concert at The Chapel

At first, when the 2020 lockdown kicked in, Dodos singer/guitarist Meric Long wasn’t certain he wanted to make another record with his drumming bandmate Logan Kroeber. After 15 years and seven albums together, the beloved San Francisco indie-rock duo just might have jumped the shark, he reckoned. Additionally, he had been moonlighting as an engineer and producer at local studio Tiny Telephone, which opened up a new sensory universe.

By helming someone else’s album sessions, the 41-year-old says, “I don’t even need to touch an instrument, and I can get just as much satisfaction out of it.”

But he couldn’t fight the Dodos momentum, which led to “Grizzly Peak,” an album that is rooted in Long’s lightning-fast, fingerpicking style and that ventures into new territory with the intricate “Quiet Voices” and “Pale Horizons,” a clickety-clacking “Eyes Open” and the new heartbeat-paced symphonic single “With a Guitar.”

The album was out Nov. 12, and The Dodos play a comeback concert in The City on Sunday. The Examiner interviewed Long to learn more.

The last time I saw you, you had all the nails on one hand filed to fingerpicking points.

I literally just filed my nails while waiting for this call! I had a second and I looked down at my hand and thought, “This is out of control. They are way too long.” And I’m also rehearsing, so I’m having to play guitar again a lot. So yeah — I just filed ‘em down.

How did you fare through the pandemic? Everybody here in the Bay Area recalls that horrifying day the sky turned, as I called it, “Total Recall” red.

Oh yeah. That day. That was a very rough day. We got a dog two months before the pandemic, and the day that the sun didn’t come out, my dog had to have surgery for a foxtail that she’d inhaled that had punctured her lung. So they had to open her up — it was a full-blown operation, so it was dark. Very dark. But hey — I’m still here.

The dog, too, I hope?

Yes, thank God! And I’m not necessarily an intense dog person. But that week, I was a total mess, and it just became so apparent how emotionally dependent I am on this dog. She’s a rescue, and she’s amazing, and like the sweetest thing, ever. She’s part hound, part Rhodesian ridgeback, and huge, like 80 pounds. And she’s been a good companion all through this, and we’re actually gonna shoot a music video for “With a Guitar” soon, and I think she’s gonna make a pretty big appearance.

And you have a family, too, right?

I have a 5-year-old now, and I have a partner, and we have the dog. That first pandemic year just rushed by. And actually, this new album that we’re putting out as The Dodos? That actually really kind of saved me. Before the pandemic, I was already really obsessed with this record, obsessed about the things I was trying to do. But man, for that whole year and a half, just having something that I cared about that was external to real-world events really, really helped, and I’m super-grateful for that.

We all have our crosses to bear. But you have had a new game-changing one — arthritis?

At the end of summer, 2019, I was starting to compile stuff for this record. I was in Spain — my wife is from Spain and we have family there, so we go and stay with them whenever possible. So I was out in the countryside with just a guitar, and I was really getting back in touch with just writing a song on guitar. But then I could feel my fingers, and they couldn’t do the things they used to do. I feel very embedded in my style and my approach to the guitar — it’s my identity, and the one thing I’ve been able to do that I feel is proprietarily mine. But being limited on being able to do that one thing, I was like, “Who am I? And if I lose my identity, is there anything that I didn’t really accomplish, or didn’t figure out that I really wanted to?” It turns out there was quite a bit. And that was the beginning of the whole process of making this record.

You used strings on a few tracks?

Yeah — cello and violin. Those types have always sort of been there in our music, but I just haven’t been able to resent them in that way. But they’re very welcome sounds in what my idea of a Dodos song is, which is a strong attack, with a very percussive attack to a stringed instrument. I spent six months, in fact, just trying to figure out the guitar sound, and that’s because I wanted all the percussive elements of the guitar to be really shoved up front. So how it sounds to the listener? I don’t know. But for me, there was a lot of backstory.


The Dodos

Where: The Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $20


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