For three years, the Dockers have relentlessly infiltrated Indianapolis bars with a genre-defying sound that blends punk, metal, stoner rock and space-age effects to form an enormous bank of rude and crude songs that never fail to entertain.
A stage show that features fez-bedecked band members encourages audience interaction, often with hilarious results. At a recent show at Zanies Too, one crazed crowd member wore a kitchen fry basket as a hat while reveling at the front of the stage. Vocalist Aztec "Rippy" Kotex kept up the fun by offering his mic to drinks and personifying their thoughts. "I'm spilt," cried one sadly overturned glass, followed by a stern warning to an audience member's beverage: "I'm gonna steal you!" (and he did).
Rippy is a respected member of the music community, famous for hosting basement shows that have drawn national acts at his very own Casa del Kotex.
The Dockers will be celebrating their newest release, 13 Lessons for Losers, with a show at the Melody Inn on Valentine's Day. Although described by the band as a more streamlined album, have no fear: The characteristic Dockers kookiness rings true throughout, especially on tracks such as "Back off the Bean," a song that hopes to help save marriages, and the raunchy ramble of "Sniff My Crotch." The Dockers also plan to release a 7-inch later this year that will come complete with a comic created by the band members to illustrate the song lyrics.
In order to interview the band, I had to agree to meet them at an elementary school playground, then submit to being blindfolded and stashed in the trunk of a Buick blaring KISS' title album. The destination - or so they told me - was the Dockers' secret practice space, a fantastic basement lair filled with action figures, pin-ups and comic book posters.
The Dockers say they are an indescribable group, but we'll at least give Aztec Kotex, drummer Creepy 13 and guitarist Dr. Doomtone a chance to explain themselves in their own words.
NUVO: I have to ask: What's the deal with the fez?
Creepy: Well, Omar - the skull with the fez - was our inspiration.
Rippy: Our first show was on Halloween, so we had to dress up. At first, everyone wanted to be serial killers, but we all had really bad ideas that didn't go together at all. So, we decided to be Omar! There was no plan. It just happened. That's pretty much the story with this band up until this CD.
Creepy: We had to learn how to plan.
Dr. Doomtone: We're still learning.
Rippy: I'd never even sung in a band before. I didn't know if I could. And I can't!
Creepy: The vocal toilet.
Dr. Doomtone: I had to jump in the band and learn 30 songs right away, and that's not even all of them.
Rippy: I think our song list is over 60 right now. No covers.
Creepy: And we've never played the same set twice.
NUVO: That leads nicely into my next question. Good segue!
Rippy: We just won a free Segway from NUVO? I call firsties.
NUVO: You are known for the variety of your live shows. Have you ever thought about doing a live album?
Creepy: If we did, it would be such an homage to KISS Alive!
Rippy: Or it could be Frampton Comes Back to Life.
Creepy: One of our bigger plans is a DVD comp of some of the crazier shows we've played. We'd like to get into a country bar on open stage night.
Rippy: I don't know about live records. I don't really like them myself.
NUVO: The Dockers are known for being very DIY.
Rippy: We are, 100 percent. We don't trust anyone else to do it. And no one else would want to do it.
Dr. Doomtone: You have complete control that way. You can do what you want.
RIPPY: We're rude! And we would have to change.
Dr. Doomtone: We did actually go to a studio this time, though.
Creepy: Before, we were selling some CDs that were really awesome and very creative. At this point, we're giving you what you get when you come see us.
NUVO: What's your songwriting process?
Dr. Doomtone: Usually, it's a smaller group that writes the skeleton of a song. Then everyone else adds to it. One song, I only wrote the bridge or breakdown or whatever.
Creepy: We don't know such musical terms.
Rippy: I think it's known as the middle.
Creepy: We all have a part of it. We all have fun.
Rippy: This CD, with just me singing, is the first one like that.
Creepy: And it continues on our next CD, tentatively titled Yay for Genitals ...
Rippy: That's only because Vaginal Exorcism got vetoed.
NUVO: Do you have any specific bands that you draw from?
Creepy: Comic books.
Rippy: We don't really rip off any bands. If I can sing some other song to it, it gets thrown out. We all listen to everything.
Creepy: We've been called everything, but we are fezcore. That's the only label that we'll actually stand by and defend.
Rippy: My influences are TV wrestlers.
NUVO: What are your goals for 2009?
Rippy: The CD release, the record release, a tour.
Creepy: Another CD release.
Dr. Doomtone: We have seven or eight songs already recorded for that one.
Creepy: We're also working on a Docker cartoon. We'll work a lot of immortal tales into the plot.
Rippy: Like "Gothic Tales of Sin Where Love is not Welcome."
NUVO: You're known for using random instruments like slide whistles occasionally. What would you do if you could work with a symphony?
Dr. Doomtone: We'd piss them off real bad. Make them do real weird stuff.
Rippy: I would use them as my backup band and put out a record called The Barack-ers. And I'd make them learn lots of TV theme songs.
NUVO: What motivates you to keep on going?
Rippy: Have fun and meet new people. And I want to go on tour. I want to be able to go to a record store in another town and see our record, without me driving it to the record store myself.