Words by David C. Obenour
If pain and struggle are the root of great art, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that Low Dose’s self-titled debut album is as incredible as it is. Throughout it’s inception, singer Itarya Rosenberg was in the midst of health scares and an ugly divorce (that lead to further health care scares) with her also bandmate of the in hindsight on-the-nose named band, Legendary Divorce.
Channeling all of that hurt and anger into her delivery and lyrics, Low Dose is a cathartic primal scream backed by a equally visceral band featuring ex-members of Fight Amp. Marrying all of the emotion, empathy and experience of its players, a new band was born kicking and screaming into the world.
Off Shelf: You ended Fight Amp because you wanted to branch out musically – do you think the limitations on what you could do were because of your own vision of the band or what you perceived as your fan’s vision?
Mike McGinnis: Certainly a bit of both, but it leans far more in the direction of our own vision. It pretty simply ran it’s course, and it just so happens that a lot of fans shared the same vision of Fight Amp that we did. Not all, but some. It was well defined, and that wasn’t even necessarily a bad thing, but it started to feel like Groundhog Day. Twelve years is a long time and we felt like we had accomplished all the goals we originally set out to accomplish and then some. There was also the unique opportunity to put it to sleep on a high note, rather than the inevitable crash that comes along with the burnout, and that fact alone proves it to be the right decision as far as I’m concerned.
OS: What made you call Itarya when you were looking for a singer in your new band?
MM: We were just good friends and admirers of each others creative endeavors so she was the first person that came to mind to start a new project with. It’s really that simple. It just so happens the first person that came to mind immediately said yes.
OS: Coming into Low Dose, what excites you about where you can see this band going?
MM: From my perspective we made this really awesome collaborative record as a jumping off point and it really set us up to go further down the paths we opened on that album. We can push so many of the ideas we only just started to explore so much further. It’s nice to feel like while we introduced this band both to the world and to ourselves that we haven’t fully defined it yet and that feels like it’s probably coming on the next record.
OS: Low Dose’s debut is a pretty cathartic examination of Itarya’s separation from her partner and ex-band mate in the Legendary Divorce, which was imploding in real time while your band was forming. Did you imagine this would be where she took her inspiration from? I’m curious on how it started, if she brought it to you or if you encouraged her to explore it more.
MM: No, when we first started playing we had no idea where the lyrical inspiration was going to come from specifically, just that Itarya has a knack for finding it one way or the other. Really it just started happening simultaneously so, without speaking for her too much, I don’t really think she had a choice but to write about the thing that was directly in her face every single day of her life. I wouldn’t say we necessarily encouraged it at first, but writing about your own honest truth and capturing that moment in time is something we all believe usually makes the best art, so we certainly welcomed whatever Itarya was bringing to the table. Also, once we realized it was providing some cathartic relief to the whole situation I would say that’s when we fully embraced it.
OS: What was it like collaborating with a new band member who’s bringing such a personal experience to the music you’re making?
MM: The chemistry was there immediately so musically and creatively it was as natural as can be. On a personal level, when one of your best friends is experiencing some real-life trauma, that’s a complicated thing to deal with when also working closely on a collaborative creative effort, but overall we just made sure to all be there when needed and keep a support system going, because at the end of the day all the band bullshit is unimportant when compared to one of your members lives changing so rapidly and traumatically.
OS: The music for Low Dose matches the lyrics for raw intensity too. While she was singing about her situation, what inspiration were you pulling from?
MM: A multitude of things. I personally write riffs and make demos constantly, so some of it was already ready to go. Some of it Itarya wrote and brought to the table, some of it the 3 ex Fight Amp members had already hashed out a bit, some of it was created by just one member, and so on. Every song has it’s own story of how it was written and no two really were created with the same process other than being heavily demo’d in my basement. We also built up an over-abundance of songs, something like 18 I think, and then chose which ones we thought went together best on the album during the writing and vocal process. That being said, other than some outside sources and some of the lyrics Dan and Jon wrote inspiring some of the music writing, Itarya’s situation and vocal delivery certainly helped shape some of that as well.
OS: Have you started working on new material yet? I’m interested to see how you as a band will follow up such an intense and personal album.
MM: Yes, we’re stoked on it so far. We’re playing a new song for the first time at our shows in July with Cherubs. We also have some fall shows being announced soon and hope to play a couple more then. We have a bunch of demos already piled up. We’re using that first album as a stepping stone, so we hope to maintain that parallel to the first album while also charging down some of those paths we opened for ourselves as far as we can.