Bonny Doon, the unassuming mellow cruisers from Detroit currently taking over my headphones, sounds like the kind of band you’d want to hear while dipping your toes in a sunkissed stream. Their vulnerable yet blithe vocals accompanied by folky arrangements are so very Silver Jews and Bill Callahan, but, you know, more upbeat. Which we like. They released their self-titled debut album on Salinas Records earlier this month, and I can’t stop listening to it. And considering these lifelong Detroiters prefer the chiller side of life, like “ice cream and simplistic joys”, I’m guessing they’ll float you over. So listen up, and read our quick interview with the band below. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: You guys all started out playing punk before Bonny Doon. And now, you’re clearly on a more mellow note. What was that transition like? And why the new direction?
BONNY DOON: It’s basically the same just quieter. The transition in sound was a natural progression for us based on a shared interest in cosmic American music.
How would you describe your band’s sound?
Tell me about the debut album. Where did you guys record?
We recorded a lot of it with our mentor, friend, and collaborator Fred Thomas at his studio in Ann Arbor in the spring of 2015. Then we spent a few months working on it at this weird studio we were renting from one of the guys in Bob Seger’s band. We moved out of there and finished it in various bedrooms. Recording and mixing the bulk of the record ourselves was a decision we made consciously to impart more of our identity into the sound. A lot of my favorite moments on the record came from us not really knowing what we were doing and having to find our own processes and work arounds for just about everything.
You guys apparently hate being compared to typical Detroit rock bands like the Stooges and MC5. Any reason behind that?
Detroit has a very rich cultural heritage and is the birthplace of many influential styles of music, not limited to white men and garage rock. Two of the Detroit artists I listen to the most are Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, who both studied harp at Cass Tech, where I went to high school. I grew up in a house across the street from where Carl Craig lived. I think it’s unfortunate Detroit music often gets reduced to two bands that don’t reflect the diversity of sounds and people that have shaped the Detroit arts community.
What’s next for Bonny Doon?
We wrapped up the recording of our second full length at Key Club in western Michigan in December and are now mixing that record. Bill and Bobby will be gone for the month of February on a west coast tour with Tyvek. We have a tour planned in early April of the midwest and east coast.
Your band’s called Bonny Doon, and your debut album’s being released on Salinas Records. Is there any significance behind all these California references?
Not intentionally, but perhaps it’s synchronicity.
We’re down for that.