There are at least two songs in the rock canon that name check Lake Charles, La.: Lucinda Williams’ “Lake Charles” and The Band’s “Cripple Creek.” Dr. Dog singer Scott McMicken ponders that lake on a sunny, late winter’s day, while struck by its beauty. Does he feel a song coming on?
“I don’t think I’ve earned the right to write a song about it,” he tells Metro humbly. “Maybe one day.” While you’d think the Philadelphia-based retro pop-rockers to be Yankees through and through, McMicken says he has an affinity for the South. “I love the general air down here. It’s one of our best areas for touring.”
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania not far from the Delaware border puts him in a North/South gray area, but he says his heart now belongs to Philly, even though the band has experienced the city’s worst aspects. Their studio, for instance, is called Meth Beach for a reason.
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“It’s in a troubled part of Philly called Kensington,” says McMicken. “When we moved into our studio, there had been a meth lab across the street, and it exploded and set fire to the building. For some reason, there was a busted old boat nearby and there was the distinct feel of the beach. There are beautiful sunsets and seagulls from the Delaware River; it felt like a beach.”
In between Dr. Dog’s 2010 album “Shame, Shame” and their February-released “Be The Void,” the quintet expanded to a six-piece, adding multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos and swapping in new drummer Eric Slick.
“We had a lot of time playing together on tour before we made ‘The Void.’ We really settled in together,” says McMicken. “Those guys went from stepping in to replicate what we did on ‘Shame’ to developing the music.”