By Briana Bonfigilo
When Los Doggies vocalists Evan and Jesse Stormo were young children, they each received a series of ear tube surgeries to prevent impaired hearing.
If not for that, the musically-inclined brothers may not have started a band together over their home answering machine on Long Island in the late ‘90s. They certainly would not have released their fifth album Ear Op, a concept album inspired by the common ear operation, which dropped on Sept. 8.
“[The operation] was to open up the inner ear cochlea, which was enclosed,” Jesse, who also plays guitar in the band, explains. “They insert a little tube that holds it open but inevitably the tube will fall out in class or something and then you go back for another operation.”
“We would never hear and we would never be here,” Evan, who is also Los Doggies’ drummer, adds.
The New Paltz veteran rockers began performing the same way any DIY-er in the area does: playing house shows and bars like Snug Harbor.
“We’ve seen so many different houses and basements here and gotten to know so many people in the scene,” Jesse said. “Those are the best shows because they’re wild and the energy’s awesome and that’s what we’re all about, that live energy.”
The band has put out albums since 2002’s Los & Dos, followed by 2007’s One Body. Bassist Matt Ross joined in 2008 for e’rebody and Delano Park, released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. They have a playful, upbeat sound influenced by classic rock and grunge bands like Pavement and Nirvana.
Ear Op, however, breaks the norms of the band’s earlier releases. It is their first live record and first to be recorded in a studio.
“We wrote it toward the live studio thing, which is not usually what we are,” Evan said. “In a way, we created a band to make this album and became that band.”
Ear Op came to life in the Gardiner barn-turned-studio of the album’s producer Kevin McMahon, who is known for working with bands like Titus Andronicus, Swans and Real Estate.
“It was fun to just go in for a day and knock it out with Kevin,” Evan said. “We wanted to create something real and spontaneous.”
Jesse adds that the recording process for an album like this is much different than what the band was used to. In the past, they would record in a more typical fashion: playing each part separately and layering them for each song. Spending a single day recording in the studio lent for a more immediate sound.
The nearly 30-minute record consists of just four songs: “S’long,” “Baetyl,” “Ear Op” and “As It It Were So.” Each track lasts long enough for the band to really jam out and have fun with it. The lyrically and melodically catchy “Ear Op” refers both literally and metaphorically to Evan and Jesse’s ear operations from the start: “it hurts when they put us under…”
The cheery trio played an acoustic clip of the 10 minute song at The Oracle for your listening pleasure. Ear up.