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BGS 5+5: Dougie Poole

Mar 9, 2023

BGS 5+5: Dougie Poole

Artist: Dougie Poole
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Latest Album: The Rainbow Wheel of Death

What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?

Once I was playing at The Glove, a great old DIY venue in Brooklyn. It was a hot night in the summer and I was playing to a fairly empty room. I started a song called “Elbow” which is a country waltz that probably tops out at around 80bpm. And when I did, a group of four or five friends began to writhe and grind right in front of the stage. It was such a silly sight, these young sweaty kids grinding to a slow country waltz, that I caught the giggles and couldn’t get through the words of the song. For years after, if I happened to think of that night during another performance, I’d lose my place in the song or forget the words and start laughing spontaneously all over again.

What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc — inform your music?

I watch a lot of television. TV writers are masters of short form story arcs, constructing conflict and resolution and tension and release over the course of an episode arc. And in some cases, tying those small episode arcs into the arc of a larger season or series. To me it seems not dissimilar from writing a song that fits in the larger context of a record. I’m a huge, lifelong fan of The Sopranos, Seinfeld, Star Trek: The Next Generation — stuff that was primetime TV when I was growing up. I revisit them often.

What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?

I like to have a weak drink or two before we perform. Something like a bitters soda or a digestif with enough of a kick to loosen me up, but not strong enough to make me sloppy. It’s not my healthiest habit, and they start to add up over a long tour. I’ve gotten some suspicious looks trying to order a Cynar or something at the wrong dive bar.

What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?

I’ve gotten great advice from lots of people, directly and indirectly, throughout my career. It’s hard to boil down into a bite-sized nugget, but I do remember when I was in my 20s seeing a commencement address that Patti Smith gave at an art school. I think it was Pratt. She said something to the effect of: build your name. Not in the sense of fame or branding or anything like that. But just to focus on honing your craft and doing good work and trying to treat other artists and other people with kindness and respect, and to let your name carry your code as an artist. To listen to your conscience and take care of your teeth. And that if you do this, success will define itself for you.

Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?

This is a cool question because it’s not like: “Who would you love to talk to for an hour?” I love cooking and eating. And I love spending a whole day overeating and sitting around outside. Like a barbecue or something. So it’d have to be someone who also ate a lot too, so I didn’t feel self-conscious about eating way too much. Lowell George famously overate — maybe we’d have a nice time just sitting in silence and eat ribs together or whatever. If I were sitting across from a table from like Prince or something, I’d be too nervous to eat.

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BGS 5+5: Dougie Poole
BGS 5+5: Dougie Poole