In the heart of Virginia, a small record label started to take shape. Geneva Records, run by Mike Frazier, is home to Dogwood Tales: a duo of two friends from the Shenandoah Valley.
We chatted with Ben Ryan about the band’s self-titled debut EP, the unique influence of the Shenandoah Valley’s sound on Dogwood Tales, and how a metalcore solo ultimately brought Ben and Kyle together.
We also have the premiere of Dogwood Tales’ self-titled EP, which you can check out below.
Modern Vinyl: To start, could you give us a brief history on how the band got its start?
Ben Ryan: On that fateful day, I was shredding a metalcore solo in Mike Frazier’s basement, when Kyle came downstairs. We instantly became best friends/enemies and started writing music. Band ideas came and went, genres changed. Then we finally decided to settle down and make the band we wanted to. This was like the end of 2014 when we started.
MV: Your name, Dogwood Tales, reminds me a lot of the state tree of Virginia, where you call home. Is this a homage to the state and all the tales that the dogwoods have heard over time?
BR: Yeah, that’s a beautiful way of putting it. Kyle has two dogwoods in the front yard of the house he grew up in. He likes flowers a lot. We do love living in the Shenandoah Valley, as well. I think they tie together nicely.
MV: How has being in Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley influenced your sound?
BR: In regards to Harrisonburg, we are exposed to a lot of experimental music and DIY mentalities. I think we have learned to question music and push the boundaries of it. As for being from the Valley, there is a ton of old-timey, bluegrass/roots music around here. We don’t play much of that, but it’s very influential and is something we consider that has a part in our sound.
MV: Your debut 7″ comes out soon. What made you decide to release a 7″ EP, rather than a full LP?
BR: We had a lot of songs written and some even recorded, but we narrowed the songs down to the ones we liked the most. This was a time when we were changing a lot and experimenting. As for why we chose to do a 7″, we both like vinyl and the old sound it has, and thought this EP would sound good on vinyl.
MV: What was the process like recording, producing and mixing the EP?
BR: We did Kyle and I’s parts live in our friend Bryan Little’s foyer in Jersey. It had its challenges, and I was very sick, but it ended up being fun and i think it turned out well. For the drums, it was our friend Jake Cochran, who plays in a cool band called Illiterate Light. We did that all on GarageBand. We had to do the drums in one take, so i think that adds a bit of character to it. Bryan also mixed the EP. The mixing was the most specific we have wanted something to sound. We are pleased with how it turned out.
MV: What does the fall hold for you since summer is almost over?
BR: We are getting ready to head to California, for an end of August/mid-September tour. When we get back we will be relaxing, working and booking shows for a November tour. We both love the fall. I’m ready for wearing lots of clothes and cold weather.
MV: What do you hope to accomplish by writing and performing as time goes on?
BR: We just want to write music that we like, and we hope others will like it too. We want to play a lot of shows and travel. We want to have fun and make emotional music.
MV: What are your favorite spots to visit when you’re out traveling?
BR: We really haven’t traveled a lot yet, but Kyle and I really like North Carolina. Carborro and Asheville are really cool towns.
MV: If there’s one thing you’d like new fans to know about you, what would it be?
BR: We just want them to like the music, and want to come to shows. We mean what we say, I think.
The self-titled EP is set to be released today, and you can pick up a copy over at the Geneva Records webstore. Three variants of the 7″ are available: yellow, black, and white.
Dogwood Tales is also hitting the road for a 13-date tour spanning from Virginia to California. Details about their tour can be found on their Facebook.