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Columbus’ Own: Doc Robinson embodies the collaborative music scene of Columbus

Doc Robinson is another fine example of just how tight-knit and collaborative the Columbus music scene can be.

Over the years, the founding members Jonathan Elliot and Nick D’Andrea were in bands that frequently collaborated, but Elliot said in the musical community, everyone is involved in other side projects. So they both got together for a co-writing session.

In that first session, three years ago, the pair managed to write the first song they put out, called “It’s Over,” D’Andrea, rhythm guitarist and vocalist, said.

The duo had a natural chemistry. By the end of the session, not only had they begun working on their next song, but had come up with a band name too, D’Andrea said.

“We were talking about what we wanted to sound like, like the bookends for [the band] would be Dr. Dog and Smokey Robinson,” he said. “So if we meet somewhere in the middle, we’d be all right.”

Thus, Doc Robinson was born.

As for the other members of the band, Elliot said it was natural and easy for them to assemble their “A-team.”

“We’ve booked a lot of gigs this last year, so we’ve used just about every single core rhythm player in town,” Elliot, vocalist for the band, said. “But we do have our go-to guys for the studio, and it was a really easy thing to assemble.”

The band consists of Elliot, D’Andrea, George Barrie on lead guitar, Aaron Bishara on the drums, Jeff Bass on the bass and Terrance Farmer on the saxophone.

All the members have side projects and other bands that they play with, but D’Andrea said that at least for him, Doc Robinson has been the main creative project. He said that the band was “prolific” in the studio and that it was kind of their main focus, with the band releasing three albums in three years.

The band’s songwriting process is diverse, too. Whenever they’re on the road, they are constantly putting together little pieces to their songs, D’Andrea said. He said some songs get written in just one session, while some songs get pieced together over six months, maybe even a year.

Inspirations for songs come from all over the place. D’Andrea said the band knows a lot of the same people and have interweaved their experiences into some songs.

Besides that, Elliot said that a lot of times the band writes from a narrative experience, and that they like creating stories that they try to stick to.

D’Andrea categorized the band’s music as “backyard barbeque breakup music” and said there’s a special philosophy behind that. A lot of their songs sound happy and upbeat on the surface, but if you dig deeper into the lyrics, you will find that it’s kind of a sad breakup song.

While recording, the band tries to sound as organic as possible, drawing influence from bands like the Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead. But when they take their demos into the studio, they start playing around with it and bring that 21st-century flair into it. That’s when they start to “get weird” with it, D’Andrea said.

The band is also very appreciative of the Columbus music scene. D’Andrea said that it’s more of a family and there is no dearth of talented musicians in the city, with Capital University and Ohio State playing a big part in it too.

He said Columbus is the kind of city where one can be a working musician and make a good living under the radar. They’ve had members of about 15 different bands play with them over the course of three years, so it’s very much like a community where everybody pitches in and collaborates.

“I think we fit in as a band that utilizes the community. We’ve tried as much as we can to embrace the arts side of Columbus,” Elliot said.

The band really tries to connect with their audience in Columbus, Elliot said. They have done a lot of intimate house shows over the past three years, which has helped the band connect with its audience more and connect on a deeper level, he said.

The band has their third album releasing on April 20, which will be called “Travelogues,” which is exactly what it sounds like — songs about the ocean, written in the mountains, Elliot said.

There is an album release show that the band is hosting at Ace of Cups on the same date. In the past year they have started their own record label as well, called Flytown Records, D’Andrea said. The show will also work as a launch event for the label.

The band will have Mistar Anderson, Bree OTB, Booty and the Kidd and Riley Dean opening for them. The show begins at 7 p.m., tickets are $10 online at www.ticketfly.com and $12 at the door.

Video by Katie Hamilton.

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