Roxanne McNally & Tina Petrosian
“Did anyone break any strings last night?” Adventure Dogs’ bassist, Michael Johansson, asked his fellow band mates.
On this particular Sunday afternoon, the band members were hanging out and recalling the previous night’s show, an oceanside Del Playa concert with a full crowd of people dancing onstage.
Four UCSB students make up Adventure Dogs: Andrew Crockett on guitar and vocals, Michael Johansson on bass guitar, Ryan Mandell on guitar and vocals and Jon Sandberg on drums.
Watching the band members joke around and interact with each other makes it seem as though they have been friends since childhood. In truth, the band got together just this past summer.
Adventure Dogs had scheduled their first show before they even had a bassist. Crockett, Mandell and Sandberg met Johansson the day before their first show after getting his number off of Craigslist.
“That was really a weird two-day experience. I got a text from some phone number I never saw before that was like ‘Yo, I heard you play bass. We need a bass player for tomorrow night — are you down?’” Johansson said. “That first show, I had my chord sheet on the floor.”
Johansson proved to be a good fit for the band. Crockett said, “When we heard Mikey, we didn’t know what to think. We were intimidated by his blazing bass — it sounded like a charging rhino.”
Crockett and Sandberg have previously been in a band together, and both of them knew Mandell. “I heard them playing this riff, and I [went to the rest of the guys] on my knees a little bit, saying ‘hey guys, can I sing?’” Mandell said.
Sandberg never seriously played drums until the band got started during the summer. “That’s what’s so cool about Jon,” Mandell said. He also trades instruments with Crockett on the band’s song “Filthy City.” With lyrics like, “I’m a good kid tryin’ to get drunk on the weekend,” the song clearly refers to their encounters with the Isla Vista Foot Patrol — a nod to multiple shows and band practices that have been shut down by IVFP.
When the band performs live, their tempo tends to change throughout each song, which keeps the audience on their toes. “We all manage to coalesce really well and stay on the pulse,” Johansson said. Crockett adds, “If I can get someone in the crowd to feel what I feel while playing music, then I know they’ll have a good time.”
Improvisation plays a great role in Adventure Dogs shows, with band members switching instruments mid-show and spontaneously extending songs. The band doesn’t rely on expensive equipment; their microphones go out at least once a show. At their latest show, drummer Sandberg ended up playing the guitar — and also bleeding all over it. All of the members also contribute to songwriting.
The Adventure Dogs’ style can be accurately compared to the Pixies. The band’s music is also influenced by the Doors, the Ramones and Led Zeppelin. When asked to describe the band, the members found it much easier to talk about what Adventure Dogs isn’t, while professing their love for rock ‘n’ roll.
Although I.V.’s musical scene often features dubstep, DJs and reggae bands, Adventure Dogs have developed a loyal fan base. Their energetic performances and consistent new material keeps audiences coming back.
Mandell explains, “We’re not just a track on your iPod [when we perform]. We’re right in front of your face, making you listen to us.”
“We don’t want to pander to what everyone wants to hear,” Johansson explains. “We make them listen to us.”
Despite the band’s skeptical opinions of most I.V. bands, Adventure Dogs is full of praise for Andy Dick and the Dicks, whom they call their “best band friends.” The support goes both ways; each band goes to the other’s shows to lend their encouragement.
Graduation is an inevitable factor in a college band, but the countdown isn’t slowing down Adventure Dogs. Sandberg says, “When you make a band in I.V., it’s like you’re lighting a rocket on fire and trying to see how far it goes.”
Check out http://www.reverbnation.com/adventuredogs or find Adventure Dogs on Facebook for more information.