Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong have been crushing it on tour this Fall. The bands have already traveled up and down the East Coast, delighting audiences with their unique brands of high-energy, funky jamming. With the bands slated to close out their Northeast leg with shows at Irving Plaza and the Bearsville Theater this weekend, I sat down with Rob Compa, Dopapod’s guitarist extraordinaire, and Greg Ormont, Pigeons’ fearless frontman, to find out their thoughts on the tour so far, their favorite places in New York City, and what fans can expect when they hit Irving Plaza this weekend.If anything can be taken away from this interview, it’s that these bands have an undeniable chemistry, and they simply love playing with each other. Check out the full interview with Rob Compa and Greg Ormont below.Live For Live Music: How has the tour been going so far?Rob Compa: You want to take this one, Greg?Greg Ormont: Wow, making me go first…Well, the tour has been terrible. It’s been really bad, and we can’t wait to stop touring with Dopapod. Man, these guys are hard to get along with…You still want me to answer the questions, Rob?R: Keep going!G: No, all the shows have been great, the energy has been killer in every room, even for whichever band plays first, which is often us. It just feels like it’s a headlining set at nine o’clock followed by the actual headlining set shortly after. There’s just a ton of energy from start to finish. We’re all getting along great, there’ve been plenty of sit-ins, it’s starting to get incestual, and that’s how we like it!R: I also feel like watching Pigeons every night, it inspires us to bring it a little harder every night, because you guys play with a shitload of energy every night. I know you guys, and I see you backstage every night so I know you’re not doing this, but it looks like you guys are taking a bunch of uppers and going on stage and playing with the most energy ever. We’re more on the stoic side, I guess, but it compels us to give it a little more gusto.G: That’s awesome.R: We appreciate that very much, we need that.G: Yeah the tour has been awesome. We inspire each other in different ways, like Rob was saying. Obviously, everyone knows that everyone in Dopapod is a phenomenal musician, so, just watching the other band’s work ethic backstage, whether it’s working on music or parts or harmonies has inspired us to write a bunch of music, and step up our game. We’ve been helping each other out quite a bit. And also, I have to say that Chuck’s fashion kind of set a light on my fashion. While I’m cool with what I wear, Chuck has some really white shoes for his black-and-white outfits, and swag about his sweaters that are just beyond me a little bit.R: He just fits well in whatever he wears, man. Everything he wears looks tailor-fitted to him.G: I completely agree. Maybe it’s the Los Angeles in him, but he’s ready for a headshot at any time, as I’ve seen from his childhood headshots.R: He’s just stunning!G: He’s a stunning man. Well, I should probably be focusing on playing more guitar, but I find myself looking over my clothing more than usual as well, which is pretty exciting.Pigeons Playing Ping Pong with Eli Winderman from Dopapod performing “Henrietta”, courtesy of YouTube user Chris McCartney.L4LM: Greg, you’re from Long Island. It’s so close to New York City, do you have fond memories of coming here as a kid?G: Of course. When you’re from Long Island, you just say you’re from New York, because the city is great. Growing up outside city, I have a lot of memories from early on in my life, like musical theater stuff. I caught the bug when I caught Tommy on Broadway early on in my life, and it had Pete Townshend on guitar for The Who’s rock opera…I met the cast of All That that night, and that was really exciting.R: Like Nickelodeon’s All That?G: Yeah, I met Lori-Beth Denberg, and Keenan, and Kel.R: Wow!G: It was a really remarkable experience. I’ve seen Phish and plenty of other concerts at Madison Square Garden, but I’ve also been to a million Knicks games and Rangers games, and everyone loves the Garden. Coming from New York, that kind of is the mecca of all mecca’s for where you can play a show. I think a lot of people agree even if they’re not from New York. Between the Garden and Broadway and all the things in-between, I have a lot of memories from New York, so it always feels like a hometown reunion show for me. I don’t get to go to my high school reunions, I just missed our ten-year reunion because I was on the road, so it’s kind of like our friends’ reunion every time we come into town. I can’t wait to see the people I grew up with!Dopapod with Alex Petropulos from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performing “Freight Train Filled With Dynamite”, courtesy of YouTube user Chris McCartney.L4LM: Everyone has a crazy New York story. What’s your craziest New York story?G: I definitely went out in New York before I was of college age… Any time you go out before you’re of college age, you end up doing a bunch of wacky hijinks. Late nights and various establishments that you try to hang out in. I could tell you that we played a show in the village, and our original drummer was found playing beer pong after the show—or at least throwing a ping pong ball at a cup—even though he wasn’t quite 21 yet. So, even though he had just played a show, he got kicked out of the venue, and he was less than thrilled about it.R: I thought of an okay one. I lived in Brooklyn for three years, in Williamsburg, and I used to take a lot of walks, just ‘cause. One day I was taking a walk on Bedford Avenue, just like any other day, except I turned the corner and there were thousands and thousands of people dressed up as zombies slowly walking down the avenue towards me, it was almost like a flash mob but with zombies. They were all just crawling over food trucks and smearing fake blood on them and everything. They were slow zombies, it wasn’t like they were World War Z zombies-style. That was a pretty fun thing to be a part of. I think it was an organized “national zombie day”, but I had no idea, I was totally caught off guard and I had no idea it was going to happen.L4LM: What’s your favorite restaurant or place to grab a bite in New York?R: I usually end up going to The Meatball Shop.G: You can jump in anywhere for your typical Italian or bagels and stuff, but we love Mamoun’s on St. Mark’s Place. We love Mamoun’s.R: They’ve got some serious hot sauce there, man!G: Well, that’s what the honey is for… L: What’s your favorite bar or place to grab a drink in New York?R: Radegast. That’s my favorite joint, I love it there. There are swing dancers and stuff, like a total time machine, like being in the prohibition era, I love it.G: Like I said, I spent most of my time in New York before I was of drinking age…however, The Red Lion is the dope jazz hangout in the Village.Dopapod with Greg Ormont from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performing “Nerds”, courtesy of YouTube user mkdevo:L4LM: What’s your favorite venue or place to catch a show?R: Probably Brooklyn Bowl, that’s just where ya go. I was there a couple of times a week when I lived there, that’s just what you do.G: It’s like a Geico commercial. When you’re in New York looking for a relaxing music experience, you go to Brooklyn Bowl. It’s what you do.R: It’s what you do. Sometimes you walk in there though and you’re like “I need to get out of here right now, it’s just so slammed, and crowded, and hectic.”That does happen there sometimes. I also used to love going to smaller spots like The Living Room.G: That was a funky spot.R: I loved it, there was never more than twenty people in there.G: It didn’t even look like it was a venue on the inside or outside. It was very chill, underground.R: It was super after-hours style.G: I always liked the Best Buy / PlayStation Theater. We played there once with the Disco Biscuits and that was a tremendous experience, but, anytime you’re playing a two-thousand person venue it’s going to be really fun. It’s pretty lax for a large venue, and even though it’s in Times Square you feel like you can transport a little bit once you’re inside.L4LM: What’s your favorite tourist attraction?G: Central Park is awesome, and within Central Park, you have Strawberry Fields. At the same time, my Girlfriend is from Virginia, so we’ve done the whole touristy thing a bunch, and I really liked showing her the big Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and the ice rink, 30 Rock right there.R: I like the museum with all the medieval armor in it, The Met. I love that place. I don’t get tired of that, it’s always super awesome.L4LM: What can we expect when Dopapod and Pigeons hit NYC this weekend?G: Probably the best night of your life.R: [Laughs] Don’t sound cocky or anything….G: It’s going to be the greatest night of all time. I’ve honestly been telling people that. After the shows, when I’ve told someone beforehand that it’s going to be the best night of all time, it’s not far off. People are having a blast on the tour and I think it’s because we’re all having fun. Who knows, depending on how big the stage is maybe we can get some collaborations going, we’ve had some really awesome sit-ins from Rob and Eli already. We even just had an awesome flute player join us for a great extended jam, so hopefully there’s plenty of room, and sky’s the limit…or the stage is the limit.Don’t miss these two incredible bands as they bring their tour to New York City! Grab tickets to Dopapod and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at Irving Plaza at this link.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias was joined by several Los Angeles elected officials on Monday for the groundbreaking of the new Village at USC, one of the largest economic development projects in South Los Angeles history.It takes a village · USC President C.L. Max Nikias was joined by Los Angeles elected officials and Undergraduate Student Government President Andrew Menard for the groundbreaking ceremony of The Village. – Joseph Chen | Daily TrojanSet to open in the fall of 2017, the project will prominently feature residential, retail and recreational facilities. With over 1.25 million square feet of space, the $650 million Village will be designed to resemble a medieval Tuscan plaza. The project will be built around the idea of a European town square that will include a central promenade with coffee shops, restaurants and residential colleges.“This is a historic day for the university but also for the city of Los Angeles,” Nikias said in his opening remarks.Nikias expressed his gratitude to several civic leaders who aided in the approval process, particularly former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa said The Village project would benefit not only USC, but also the surrounding community.“This is a project that will enhance student housing in a way that will create a more vibrant student community, but also invest in affordable housing and economic development, so it’s a win-win,” Villaraigosa told the Daily Trojan after the event.Two years ago, when the project was initially announced, the surrounding community expressed mixed feelings about the project. The main concern was the loss of revenue and employment for the businesses formerly located in the University Village, as well as the gentrification of the area surrounding the project. Student government representatives addressed this concern at the event.“The USC Village is going to welcome not only USC students and faculty, but also the University Park community as a whole,” said Undergraduate Student Government President Andrew Menard. “During the planning process, including the surrounding community [in] the USC Village was always a goal of the project.”Graduate Student Government President Yohey Tokumitsu responded to the concern over removing the former University Village businesses.“We were afraid to displace the former UV businesses during the transitional period, [but] the university provided free real estate services for the former tenants as well as provided some with thousands of dollars for help with the relocation,” he said.According to Tokumitsu, there is currently very limited housing space for graduate students both on and around campus. He said the new Village would open up new housing for graduate students and their families.Mark Ridley-Thomas, supervisor for the Second District, which includes most of South Los Angeles, assured the trustees and guests that the project will represent not only economic growth but also economic justice. There will be legal aid clinics as well as small business advisory services for community entrepreneurs.“This is a project that will integrate the community of South Los Angeles with the one of the prominent educational institutions in the country,” Ridley-Thomas said.Nikias said that the university’s board of governors and community leaders worked hard for more than three years in order to get the plans approved by the Los Angeles City Council. More than 1,000 supporters of the university participated in council meetings prior to the vote on the plan. At the end of the dialogue, the City Council voted unanimously to allow for the construction of the project.The project will use no taxpayer funds or government subsidies. Instead, it has been made possible by monetary gifts such as a $30 million dollar endowment by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation for the Honors Hall.“This project will transform the residential life at USC,” said Kathleen Leavey McCarthy, chairman of the foundation and a USC trustee.During the conclusion of the ceremony, Nikias said that the Village would be the largest university project for the next 50 years. He recalled how 100 years ago, the university was considered a commuter school.“Not anymore,” Nikias said. “After the conclusion of this project, USC has no one else to catch up to.”