Interview by Kit Burns
Not too long ago, somewhere in the early-to-mid-’90s, the DML Cartel would’ve been hit with the “alternative rock” tag. Fusing country, hard rock, and the edgy corners of grunge, the DML Cartel pack enough guitar crunch and midtempo angst to be played alongside the likes of Live and the Verve Pipe. Well, alternative doesn’t mean what it used to, and these days the DML Cartel would be considered “adult rock,” whatever that means. If anything, the group is a cure for the emo blues. Lead singer Dodd Lede enters Underground HQ to explain how they came to be and he ended up slamming with the Houston Texas football team.
Kit Burns: Word of Mouth strikes a fine balance between adult pop, Southern Rock, and Modern Rock. Was it hard finding fellow musicians who could pull that off? Was it a conscious effort or did the group’s style simply happen?
Dodd Lede: Word Of Mouth was written over the course of about four years consisting of leftover songs from the previous two CD’s in addition to the new ones. It has songs that were written at various stages in my life. So it scans a spectrum of sorts. As for the musician aspect, it has taken a considerable amount of time to find the right chemistry of musicians to make anything happen. In a situation as unique as this, this group of musicians is very open minded to trying new things and ideas.
Burns: The DML Cartel is the house band for the Houston Texans. Were you all fans of the team? How did that come about?
Lede: To answer your question, yes, we are all fans of the Houston Texans, with the exception of John Rinkus (guitars) who is a die-hard [New England] Patriots fan. But John isn’t part of the house band. Technically, Bare Necessity is the house band for the Houston Texans. With that being said, Bare Necessity was the original core musicians that made up the DML Cartel along with John. We tried to morph both projects into one band, but it became too stressful trying to maintain the cover band (which some wanted to do) and pursue the original showcases. So we separated the two line-ups and Derek (Prather) and I play in both bands. The DML Cartel is rounded out with John (guitars), Mark Head (bass), & Richard Magallanes (drums)
Burns: You released two albums under your own name. Is it more fulfilling for you artistically having a group now? What are the things you’re able to do now that you couldn’t before?
Lede: It is definitely more liberating being a part of a band. I loved the writing and recording processes as a solo artist, but being in a band has a lot more freedom to it. I can now focus more on being a better front-man.
Burns: Explain the meaning of the album title, Word of Mouth.
Lede: Nothing spreads faster than word of mouth. You tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends. It’s a vicious cycle. We are hoping the CD title lives up to its name.
Burns: Has the Houston Texas enabled you to expand your fan base? What effect has it had on you in terms of your career?
Lede: The Houston Texans affiliation has opened up several doors that we couldn’t have opened otherwise. We have been able to perform on radio shows and television under the guise of the Houston Texans house band, although we were able to promote the new CD simultaneously as The DML Cartel, not to mention there were thousands of fans exposed to our band during each of the home games. It was an awesome experience.