To promote its new single — titled “The Color” and released Nov. 24 — indie-pop band Doc Robinson will headline Newport Music Hall alongside local indie artist Summon Luke and Ohio State-formed garage-rock band A-Go-Go Friday.
Formed in 2016 by lead singer Jonathan Elliot, Doc Robinson is composed of Elliot, guitarists George Barrie and Zakk Jones, drummer Aaron Bishara, bassist Corey Dickerson and keyboardist Paul Valdiviez. The band’s sound is self-described as indie rock “gumbo” with lots of hearty ingredients and spices, Elliot said in an email.
“ We have always really respected artists and music groups that had unique and creative vocal arrangements, like many of the Laurel Canyon groups of the [60s] and [70s],” Elliot said. “We’ve been lucky to have a number of strong vocalists in the band, and we have always tried to utilize that strength in our own way, bringing vocal harmonies to the forefront. That has really shaped our sound over all of our releases to date.”
Doc Robinson’s name was inspired by two of the group’s biggest musical inspirations: Pennsylvania-based indie band Dr. Dog and R&B artist Smokey Robinson, Bishara said in an email. Beyond its name, Bishara said the band’s music is influenced by late ’70s rock artists like Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty as well as modern contemporaries like Spoon and Vulfpeck.
When it comes to “The Color,” Elliot said Doc Robinson collaborated with music producer Alex Fitts of The KickDrums — who grew up in Cleveland but currently resides in Malaga, Spain — to produce the track.
“Fitts and I go way back, growing up in the same hometown, so I was fortunate to watch him grow and blossom into the brilliant writer and producer he is today,” Elliot said. “I knew I always wanted to work on a project with him and see what we would be able to create, so getting the opportunity to bring Doc Robinson and The Kickdrums together has very much been a dream come true. It was a really unique experience collaborating with a producer who is on the other side of the world.”
Collaborating with Fitts has allowed Doc Robinson to explore new stylistic territories, Elliot said.
“This song, like our last single ‘The Otherside,’ incorporated really unique string arrangements, played by Columbus’s own Chris Shaw, and some pretty far out synths, loops, and samples,” Elliot said.
The sound of Doc Robinson’s new single somewhat strays from the band’s previous work, Elliot said.
“We’re thrilled to play this song live for our fans, this song has a very special meaning and was in a sense, a big departure for us sonically,” Elliot said. “It has been really cool to see how it translates in a live setting in comparison to the studio recording.”
Over the years, Bishara said Doc Robinson has played various Columbus venues, including Natalie’s Grandview, Ace of Cups and A&R Music Bar; as such, he said headlining Newport Music Hall has the band feeling excited, but also intimidated.
“We’ve been gradually working towards this for the past couple of years, once the world started coming out of pandemic lockdown,” Bishara said. “In between our road-dates, we played a number of consecutive sold-out shows at smaller capacity venues in Columbus, so the next logical step was to set our sights higher. Once we locked in a date with [Newport Music Hall], it was all systems go, and we’ve just been working to prepare all of the myriad elements that go into a bigger live production like this.”
Bishara said performing live is perhaps his favorite part of being a professional musician.
“ There’s nothing like the vibe that comes from seeing a crowd collectively moving to the rhythms of the music, as if they’re an extension of the band,” Bishara said. “It can almost be hypnotic. Hearing them sing along with us to the songs that we’ve worked on for so long is a really special thing. It’s all of these unique individuals gathered together in one place, projecting their appreciation and connection to this experience that we’re collectively creating in the moment.”