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By: Sarah L. Myers
New York, USA

Doppelganger are making the kind of waves most two-year old bands don't see for a while. Part of the Lower East Side rock n' roll triangle that includes Des Roar and Dead Sparrows, Ryan (drums and vox) and Rob (guitar) obliterate packed venues with their stripped down roots rock. Their next target is the Jon Varvatos store March 4th, housed in the former punk palace CBGBs, and if its legacy blesses them even more, they might just take the entire world by storm.

Their sound is deceptively simple in a way like the Ramones. It’s just a few chords, and some ‘woo woo’ lyrics, but under the lid are layers of Midwestern garage scuzz, West Coast surf rock, and good old Lewis boogie from the South. No one shakes a room like these two guys, and chances are you’ll find someone to shake it with while you’re there.

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

After a couple Guinness and more than a few conversations about Terminators and Nickelodeon, we finally got around to official Doppelganger business at 200 Orchard in the Lower East Side.

THIRSTY: How did you guys meet?

RYAN: At swingers parties. No, I'm just kidding.

THIRSTY: You got his key?

RYAN: Yeah! I got his key and we were like, “Damn! What? Well, good to meet ya! Here's my penis!“ No, we used to work together when I first moved to the city and then we started. We played in another band together. I used to play bass in that band and he still played guitar, and I was pretty much about to get thrown out of my place and leave the city because I had no money. I wasn't doing anything, and he was like, “come live with me on my couch and you don't have to go home and try to get a job.” And then like four years later I finally got a job. But in the meantime we started this band, cause I had a band and he had another band going but decided to start this new project.

ROB: Yeah, which was originally going to be me on guitar, him on bass and possibly a drum machine.

RYAN: And the reason we started it was because we used to work at the same place and everyone thought we were the same person. This is how Doppelganger started - the name for Doppelganger.

THIRSTY: I thought it was because you guys look like Des Roar.

RYAN: Well, no no no. Ha ha! Yeah right, those guys are ugly!

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

ROB: They look like us!

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RYAN: So like, I would work the morning shift and he would work the night shift and so then these people would come in the morning after talking to him and like tell me these stories and I'd be sitting there like, ‘this crazy person is telling me, like acting like we had a conversation before, and I don't know this person. Then they'd be like, “wait a second, you're not the guy that I was talking to before!” I'd be like, “no shit, dude! I’m not” And I guess it would happen to him, too, and then someone was like, “you guys should start a band named Doppelganger!' It was obviously a girl that said that.

THIRSTY: Or Mickey Mouse.

RYAN: Or Mickey Mouse! Minnie and Mickey!

ROB: So we did it!

RYAN: So we did. But I didn't play drums then, and that's what he was saying. I had been playing bass and playing guitar in another band.

ROB: Yeah, he started playing drums out of frustration. And we were writing songs together.

RYAN: And I thought, you know what, this sucks without a beat, I'm just gonna play a simple beat, keep playing what you're playing and I'm going to try to sing and it works. So we just kept at it. It was crappy at first and we just practiced like everyday pretty much until today.

THIRSTY: I've only seen you guys twice and already I can't imagine you without the drums. It's such a powerful part of your sound. A drum machine just wouldn't work!

ROB: We kind of realized that like very early on.

RYAN: We just knew that if we kept the drums simple, cause we've only been together for a little under two years probably now. And so that's as long as I've been playing the drums. We just knew like if I was going to sing, we've just got to keep them simple. That's the way to do it. Keep it simple.

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

THIRSTY: Tell me a little about the debut EP, “Get It Over With Already”.

RYAN: It's done! We haven't heard it all the way through yet ourselves and it's been like a year. We get like bits and pieces of songs because they’re in like the final stages, you know?

ROB: The EP's basically, it's three songs we recorded in fall of 2008, believe it or not. And three songs were recorded over early summer.

RYAN: (overhearing the music playing in the bar) This is actually my band that I was in when we started, called the Yoko. And I used to sing like a Japanese woman. The guys in Dead Sparrows were in it with me, cause I used to live with those guys too. That's how we know everybody. Like I said, swingers parties!

THIRSTY: Somebody threw their keys at the bottom of the pool!

RYAN: We all shared the same keys so we had to stay together! They were like, “why are there so many keys on this one ring?” And we were like, “well, we're all one package!” But, you know, it's all curable and there are no symptoms. Just stay away from Des Roar.

THIRSTY: What are your touring plans after the record's release?

ROB: We'd like to. We're probably going to stay here for a little while, like try to promote it, play some shows in the works. And then we'd like to tour, most likely go to the Midwest, northern Midwest where he's from originally.

RYAN: When I used to live in Madison, Wisconsin, a long time ago, we toured with The Blind Shake for probably like two months around the west coast area. That's when I used to be in a band with Jon from Dead Sparrows and Adam from Solid Gold. They're a big Minneapolis band. But we then met Blind Shake that way, toured with them and we've known them since then. So when they came out we set up that Mercury Lounge show (in February) for them and so hopefully we're going to go back and set up some shows with them and with Sold Gold. And hopefully one of the other bands can come with us, like Des Roar, Dead Sparrows, something like that.

THIRSTY: Are you looking to play bigger shows once the record is out?

RYAN: We just got asked to play John Varvatos, the CBGBs store. They do a showcase the first Thursday of the month. We're either doing the March one or the May one. We're not totally sure but John Varvatos and these other guys that run it,, they're just figuring out which date we're going to do it. So that's hopefully going to be a big one. Which, we don’t know if that's going to be before or after our actual CD release party. We would like it to be after I think, just because we can promote better. So we can do that as one of our bigger shows. They like approached us and want to do some new, cooler bands.

THIRSTY: What are your musical roots?

RYAN: I'm from Wisconsin. That's how I know all the dudes from Dead Sparrows. I've known Jon since we were in fifth grade. So we grew up recording music. He was in the first band I was ever in. Then it progressed. We would always just do music stuff. It's so boring in Wisconsin. When you come from a small town, it's a great town to grow up in but there's nothing to do. So you go skateboard and don't get good at skateboarding cause you can't really skateboard there. Or you play music. So we started playing music. Then we moved to Madison which is like the capital there, so that was our big city move. That's when we started the one band called Vox Humana and then that's where we met Blind Shake. That's where we started making our connections and getting good at just do- it-yourself type punk and rock n' roll. We can just do this. (When I moved to NYC), I met Rob within the first year of moving here. It's nice that something is finally starting to happen.

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One of our main objectives is like those two bands, Dead Sparrows and Des Roar, are like a huge influence on us being like we, we love those guys. We feed off each other. Every time we watch those guys we're always like, 'holy shit, that was an amazing show', or a good set, because they bring it every time. So when we play with them, even from the beginning we were like, 'we have to practice everyday in order to catch up.' These guys have been doing it for years, for like five, six, seven years. And then it was then we just practiced our asses off. Now they like us enough where we can all play together. They're like our little buddies.

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

THIRSTY: I find that people from small towns or the Midwest make music like this.

RYAN: I mean, my first job was working on a farm. I started playing in punk bands when I was like 13 years old cause there was nothing else to do, pretty much. You either get into music or like deer hunting. You go one way or the other. And that’s totally cool to be that way. You just have to be good at deer hunting! Be good at whatever you do, kids!

ROB: But you can play music all year long and there's a deer hunting season.

RYAN: No, upstate you can deer hunt pretty much whenever you want. You just lean out the window and shoot! But, I mean, some of the guys I know are too stuck in one type of music, you know. Rob listens to all sorts of different stuff.

ROB: I spent like a good solid three to four years listening to like rockabilly and old school country when I was in college cause I grew up a punk and hardcore kid, and alternative if you want to call it, the 1990s music. But then I got sick of all that shit so I was like, ‘'I’m just going to go back to who influenced all this.” Then after a while I got sick of that, too.

THIRSTY: What new bands are you guys listening to?

ROB: Des Roar and Dead Sparrows. Pretty much. I mean, there are certain new bands that I think we both like.

RYAN: New stuff? I mean, I'm really influenced by Led Zeppelin a lot.

ROB: I hated Led Zeppelin until I started playing, now I love them!

RYAN: Growing up, all my friends in high school were like, 'Zeppelin, Zeppelin' and I was into like techno. They were into bands like Black Sabbath who now I think are like totally rad but up until maybe like four years ago when I woke up and was like, 'I should listen to some of this stuff.' This shit it awesome! Those guys were totally right! I also listen to a lot of newer stuff. I mean, I work in a record store so it's like I don't listen to as much music I should since I work in a record store.

ROB: I mean, we listen to music all day long so...

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I literally listen to everything. I do listen to a lot of new music but not a lot of it really, really sticks with me. I find the stuff I'm most, at least musically, most influenced by is the stuff that I was really into when I was like 14 and 15 years old! Whether it was like contemporary at the time or like stuff that was like older.

I love the combination of all those influences, especially the 'woo woo's of the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons! The sound is just very well rounded.

RYAN: We try to throw things in there and if it fits it fits, and if it doesn't, screw you!

THIRSTY: How did you get started writing songs together?

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

RYAN: ...Well, we would be at the guitar shop (Ludlow Guitars). We always practiced over there. I would like run over (to Rob), like, “oh what about this, can you play this?” cause I played guitar before drums, and then after that I kind of tried to learn drums too. That was how we wrote our first song and we went from there.

ROB: And it worked! We were like, 'this could work!' We could actually be a band and do this the way it is right now with one guitar and drums and him doing the lead vocal.

THIRSTY: Do you ever switch up the roles when you're recording?

RYAN: I mean, maybe in the future we will but it's one of those things. I more play off of like, I don't think I would play guitar just because he does such a good job, and then I put my two cents in with the vocal melody and if I would want to come in and rip something, I don’t think I would be up to par with my guitar skills. So we're just gonna stick with what we do. It's easier that way. Eventually I 'd like to go in and be like, 'oh, let's drop this on top', but then what are you going to do? We'd have to have a whole backing band hiding behind a curtain! We really like what we do right now. Everyone always tells us we need a bass player and stuff like that.

ROB: Everyone always tells us they want to be our bass player!

THIRSTY: Did you ever entertain the idea of adding more members to the band?

RYAN: There's been many times when we've talked about it. We've never seriously but there's been times when we've gotten into conversations, probably drunk, being like, 'yeah we'd take this person if they wanted to do it. You know, if Them Crooked Vultures doesn't work out, John Paul Jones could play for us if he wanted.'

ROB: Ryan and I have a very clear idea of the type of songs we want to write and play. It's way easier to fight with one person. I mean, it's way easier to have one girlfriend than four, you know? It's hard to fight with everybody when you get into creative scuffles. With me and him we can just yell back and forth and be like, "I hate your guts!" then "I'm sorry I said that." If we brought another person in this late in the game it'd have to be like, 'you shut up and just play.'

(credit: Alexis Jaworowski)

It's kind of like fighting with a brother. It's really weird how close to a relationship a band is.


I used to do it a long time ago and I remember being so frustrated at band practice with four guys. It doesn't happen with us because we have this one common goal. We want to just get this shit done. We're done bullshitting.

THIRSTY: Maybe that's why you're doing so well for such a young band?

ROB: I think also we've had enough experience playing. We're old enough now too that we have a clear idea of what it is we want to do and it's not - it's beyond the novelty of being in a band and getting people to pay attention to you. It really is about coming up with a goal, whether it's getting more people to listen to your music or if the goal is just to write music that you can step back from and say, “wow, I can't believe we wrote that song. We really set down and worked our asses off and wrote a good piece of music." Anyone can write a song, but to sit down and put something quality together that someone that you don't know might hear and take notice of, and say, "Holy shit, I can't believe you guys wrote that. I really like that." That's kind of the goal. The real goal is to get five to ten million people to feel that way about your music.

(credit: Lisa-Thi Beskar)

RYAN: I just like that people like it. Eventually one day I would love to have it, make a lucrative living off it. It'd be nice. I don't want to be a quadrillionaire, but I mean if that happens it happens. I'm not going to say no to them wanting to give me awesome platinum records.

ROB: If I can make a living being a musician as opposed to make a living doing something else, than that's what I want.

RYAN: I'd rather go play a festival in Europe, or a bunch of them, and make the same amount that I'm making working in a record store in New York, then yes. It's also why I work in a store like that. I believe in this enough to where, you know, I could have just went and became a janitor. I mean, if this doesn't work out I'll just go become a janitor and just be happy that I did this. I mean, my mom's always been supportive like this way, with me she's always like, "You're good at music. Just keep doing that. Just keep working at it." She never looked down on it. And now that it's actually starting to work out it's great. I hope it works out for a while, hopefully a couple years. If it doesn't, like I said, I'll become a janitor. And I'll be like, "I used to hang out in New York City!"





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