Scotchka – B-Movies and Boxer Bass-Lines
Written by Joshua Reedy on June 27, 2020
Positivity within the local music scene is an absolute necessity given recent circumstances, and in spite of current challenges local band Scotchka moves ahead and plans to release a new album in the coming months. A charming blend of emo, math-rock and indie rock, Scotchka is made up of lead singer and guitarist Dom Murdoc, bassist Jacob Hite, drummer Brian Fahey and lead guitarist Mitchell Campbell. I sat down recently to talk with Scotchka via video chat about the humorous origins of their band name, their upcoming project and the current state of the local scene.
RRX: So, this is my second online interview due to all that is happening in the world, I’d like to start by just asking how you guys are all doing.
DM: Probably the same as most people, just bored all the time. Trying to stay productive at home and I’m still going to work – but I’m probably not doing much more than that, which is what most people are doing right now.
JH: So I’m a junior in college, or I’m finishing my junior year now and I’m a studio production major; so the transition back to home was difficult because very suddenly I didn’t have any of the equipment I really needed to work on the majority of my education. So the last couple of weeks have been crazy busy, but after that I’m probably just gonna be bored.
RRX: Are at Saint Rose?
JH: No actually I go to SUNY Purchase.
RRX: Oh interesting! I’m used to so many of the people I interview going to Saint Rose (laughs).
JH: Yeah I sort of wanted to avoid that (laughs) and they’re all great people and it’s a great program but just because I grew up around here so I knew that I didn’t want to spend any more time locally.
RRX: Also I see Brian has joined now, so I was just asking the other guys how they’re holding up currently.
BF: I’ve been doing ok. It’s definitely hard as a musician and doubly hard as someone who has a job at a music venue, I’m just completely out of work right now.
RRX: Oh, which venue is that?
BF: I work at Skyloft at Crossgates. We’re completely shut down.
MC: For me, obviously with graduation this year there are just no jobs on the market right now, none in my field anyway. So I’ve just been working, and I had to switch jobs recently, and I’ve been dealing with the same shit everyone has been but I’ve also moved into a new place recently with a higher rent. I haven’t been able to set anything up really yet and do stuff musically recently.
RRX: I had heard that you guys were working on new stuff, are you still rehearsing and working on a new project?
MC: So we’re actually rehearsing even less than we had been, Its usually only once every two weeks or once a month. But we’re working on a 13 song – I think it’s a 13 song project. We’re working on this as a full-length and it’s been delayed but we’ve already gone through so many versions of songs already. We’re definitely having the single we released last year on the record plus I think we have about nine fully completed at this point. We’re definitely making progress. It’s tough sending demos back and forth but that’s where we’re at.
RRX: It’s great that you guys are making so much progress. Do you guys do all your mixing and production yourselves or do you send stuff to someone else?
MC: I’ll take this one again if everyone’s cool with that. We used to work with this guy named Mike Dwyer but ever since we got Jake in the band, who is a music producer, we’ve been trying to do things more DIY because it’s been more cost effective.
BF: There’s also no time constraint, you’re just working with your bandmates and you don’t have to explain anything to a middle man.
RRX: Also: remind me what Scotchka means again? I knew it at one point but I forgot recently.
DM: It’s from the movie The Room, Its like, a B movie. It’s that guy Tommy Wiseau.
RRX: Oh! Yes, that’s what it is! It’s the weird drink he makes in that one scene, right?
DM: Yeah, there’s that scene where he gets drunk and he never actually says “scotchka” but you just see scotch and vodka that he poured together in a glass.
BF: It’s disgusting. It’s absolutely horrendous, never try it.
MC: Dom got to see Greg Sestero (of The Room) in person.
RRX: So I also wanted to ask, Dom, you’re heavily involved with the local venue Makeout Reef, correct?
DM: Yeah, I basically am Makeout Reef. I just threw some lights up and got a PA system and it’s worked pretty well so far. So obviously we had to cancel a few shows, and there was one I was really looking forward to; we were going to have Posture & the Grizzly who tour a lot with Prince Daddy & the Hyena. We were also going to have Michael Cera Palin.
MC: We were supposed to play with them and it got canceled.
DM: But yeah it kind of sucks. We don’t really have a timeline for going back, just trying to see what other houses are doing to kind of feel it out.
BF: We’ve been back and forth with Cuomo trying to see what we can do (laughs).
RRX: Do you guys have any favorite shows or memories from around Albany?
DM: Byrdhouse shows are always crazy.
BF: We’ve had a lot of really funny ones. So we did a Halloween show in a house, and we were pretty drunk at the time and we thought the whole staging convention was stale (drummer in the back, singer up front, guitarists to the sides) so what if we did something stupid? So Dom was in the corner, singing into the corner, I was placed precariously between the coffee table and the TV, and Drew (our old bassist) was in his boxers on the balcony playing bass.
JH: I’ve been able to play one show with the band so far (laughs) so that is my favorite show by default.
RRX: Who have you guys toured with, or are there any local bands you want to shout out?
BF: One of my favorite bands to play with is definitely the Northway, they’re a little more niche.
DM: That’s a tough question because ever since starting the venue I’ve met so many great bands so it’s hard to pick. I think Lemon of Choice I really enjoy, they’ve gotta be one of my favorites.
RRX: What do you guys think about virtual shows via Instagram or something similar?
BF: It’s tough because I was part of one with my other bands and the levels were just completely off so two hours in we realized you could only hear the keyboardist. I like the idea but it’s tough. Jake’s a talented audio engineer so I’m sure he could do it if he tried.
RRX: So I guess to close things off, with our connection on Zoom being horrible, I just wanna ask what you guys think of the scene personally and where do you think it’s going currently?
BF: I think it’s in a phase of figuring itself out. And we’ve been doing this for a while, Scotchka’s been around for about four years so we’ve seen people drop out of the music career or new people enter. We’ve seen some passages of the torch. The scene isn’t really flourishing, and I don’t know how long it will be until it does, but it has a really interesting character and it’ll be very interesting to see how it changes. Senior Living also just started a collective, called Season 3 Collective that looks very cool.
DM: Yeah as Brian said I always feel like it’s had the same number of houses, I knew some of the old ones. Season 3 Collective is cool, Zach Geddies of Senior Living came up with it, I don’t know if it was a thing when he spoke with you. It’s pretty recent, it’s just a conglomerate of artists locally – just a bunch of photographers, engineers, and musicians just working together to try and put on a good show. We have plans for when the virus passes to have a show here that also has an art gallery that also has poetry reading; just a lot of art mediums coming together.
JH: Ah yes, the scene. No, it’s been very cool being in this band so far. My experience in the scene so far has been very interesting because the first band I was in was Good Fiction and that was after they had been at it for a couple of years so by that point they were playing some pretty big shows, so that was my introduction. And then (Good Fiction) ended and Dom hit me up and was like, “Sorry about your band, do you want to join mine?” And it’s been really cool, it’s unfortunate that we haven’t gotten to play any more shows than just the one. I also go to school two and a half hours away so that can be tough and these guys had to make some considerations for my sake and I’ve really appreciated it so it’s been great.
MC: I grew up in Troy, around Cohoes so I grew around before Prince Daddy & the Hyena got really big and there was the Ice House; I saw the Ice House in its infancy. I’ve seen bands that are bigger now start out. For me it’s really great to be part of a music group and a space where I can see people really pour their hearts out. Before it was kind of competitive, and there was a toxicity to that competition, and it’s still kind of a thing for older bands but I really appreciate that everyone is supporting each other’s art even if they don’t understand that art. There’s still respect for the artform. The DIY spaces are great, hopefully we can get something legitimized, my hope is one of these places can be treated as very credible someday. There’s always a stigma with basement shows and I hope we can transcend that. That’s how I feel about the Albany scene, also: live lit and someone please listen to the Brave Little Abacus, they’re so good.
DM: Oh, I’ve tried.
MC: But yeah, that’s it, thanks for having us!