There's one thing Mwanza Dover wants to make abundantly clear about The Black Dotz: It's not Dover's band. Sure, he's the lead singer of the quartet, but this is a band.
Sitting in Dover's living room, the other three members — guitarist Greg Prickett, bassist Ross Boyd and drummer Ross Martinez — are surrounded by Sugar Hill Gang singles and Drive Like Jehu and Bad Brains LPs. The next room is where Dover spends a great deal of time with his electronic project, Blixaboy, which just released a new EP titled Intro to Futro. A full-length is out in April.
Posters of idols Nick Cave, Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground are posted on a wall overlooking Dover's laptop and studio gear. When he isn't making music, he's DJing at various bars in town. People have noticed: He won Best DJ at the 2011 DOMAs.
The Black Dotz
The Black Dotz perform Saturday, January 21, at Bryan Street Tavern. Nervous Curtains open.
Even so, Dover finds a musical balance with the R&B and proto-punk-influenced Black Dotz. "I lead a triple life now," he says. "Part of that life, I'm a full-time German techno producer. When it's time for us to go play a gig, I take off the Dieter glasses and get a beer and a shot and do something totally different."
At East Dallas dive Bryan Street Tavern a few months ago, Prickett ripped notes with fury as Martinez hammered away and Boyd thumped the low end. Dover became the bullhorn. A number of the band's original songs have been around since the days of Dover's old band, The Falkon, which sprung up in the wake of mid-'90s space rock group, Mazinga Phaser.
After 2008's Melodica Festival — an experimental music event Dover founded back in '96 — he decided to work exclusively on techno music, a self-imposed hiatus.
"During my five-year exit from rock music altogether, I wasn't seeing the kind of rock shows that I grew up being excited by," he says. "Nothing wrong with it, but popular favor has kind of gone to the singer/songwriter sect. The sensitive guy; the, 'Hi, we're nice, we're just like you, nice and polite.' I like my rock and roll to be rowdy and rude and bigger than life. And coming from the gut."
As he slowly transitioned back into rock music a couple years ago, Dover hooked up with Boyd and former Falcon drummer Clay Stinnett to play straight-up soul songs. When Stinnett became too busy to play with them, Martinez, who had played with Boyd before, stepped in. Around this time Prickett, who had played with Dover in The Falkon, joined the band. "I really missed playing in The Falkon with him," Dover says of Prickett. "Playing that kind of rough and tumble music."
Taking their name from a 1979 Bad Brains album, and substituting a "Z" for an "S" so as not be confused with a band called The Black Dots, the four-piece was fully realized in the summer of 2011. The band is neither a theatrical spectacle nor a group of guys who crawled out of bed and onto a stage. "When I go see a rock show, I don't want to see someone like me," Dover says. "I want to see someone bring a show."
"I think everybody has angst in them," Boyd says. "To see something like that be released, it rubs on the audience, so to speak."
"I guarantee you, back in the '60s, nobody was standing arms-folded at a James Brown show," Dover adds.
In getting their music across to people, they've taken a particular tact, directed at a younger generation of listeners. "This generation has more music available to them than ever before in the history of mankind and they're walking around with blinders on," Dover says.
"It's like trying to drink out of a fire hose," Prickett says.
"Music used to be fine dining and now it's more like fast food," Dover says.
Thankfully younger members of the audience have taken notice. Some have come up to Dover and said, "I've never seen a rock and roll show like that before." "That's the best compliment you could get," Dover says with a smile.
Soon, they'll be adding another guitarist and hopefully horns to the fold, as well as making 7-inches. The band hopes their style will continue to develop and expand naturally.
"I don't want to bring people backwards," Prickett says, "but whatever we're doing seems to be working."
The Black Dotz's Favorite Food/Music Pairings
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Ross Boyd: Squarepusher and sushi
Greg Prickett: Coffee, Snickers and Merzbannon
Ross Martinez: Snow crab and Motörhead
Wanz Dover: Scott Walker and pho