Photo Spread in Shutter 16 Magazine w Here Come The Mummies at The Ritz

Doco in Crooks & Liars

by Dr. Sammy

Published June 19, 2014

We have a long, proud tradition of politically active, strongly progressive musicians in the US. Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul and Mary. Dylan. The Beatles. Punk in general. Green Day's American Idiot was an iconic classic straight out of the box. And that's barely a start. Once upon a time, if you were a serious artist, anti-establishment values were more or less a prerequisite. Then came the Reagan years, which laid the groundwork for the corporate takeover of music with the neutering of the FCC and the Public Interest standard. The assimilation was completed during the Bush II years, when all of a sudden you had Clear Channel staging pro-war rallies.

The lesson here was driven home, in spades, with the Dixie Chicks Affair. You have opinions? How cute. Shut up and sing. Or else. Perhaps a lot of bands learned that lesson and chose to keep their liberal (or conservative) leanings to themselves. Or maybe we just live in an era less given to public radicalism than the one the Baby Boomers came of age in.

All of this is by way of saying that I miss the days when artists were more willing to lead the charge in the culture wars. And in this context, I'm even more compelled when a band does lay its sense of social justice on the line. Yes, there are artists out there who care about a fair society - I just wish they were the rule, not the exception.

Meet Doco, a band not nearly enough folks have heard of. I'll offer a brief disclosure here: I have known the principals, Trevor and Joshua Booth, since day one. Well, okay, more like day four or five. Their father is one of my oldest friends, so I won't pretend that this is anything like an "objective" review. No, really, it's just an observation about a really talented band I know that operates according to a set of principles I respect and think some of you might appreciate.


Last year Doco released The Freeway Camping Life, and I decided early on that I thought it was their best effort to date. Some things were what you'd expect. The musicianship was superb, as always. Trevor is one of of the finest guitarists for his age I've ever heard, and Josh is a killer bassist. Drummer Dave Burkart is the band's unassuming, no-nonsense spine, the rhythmic foundation upon which the sound - a fleshy amalgam of Rock, Blues, Funk and Hip-Hop - is woven. The songs are thoughtful, and perhaps even deceptively intelligent. I often wonder how fully Doco's fans appreciate just how smart the words inside that relentless groove really are. Truly, both Trev and Josh are literate writers - that's to be expected when your dad is a novelist and an English professor, I suppose - and even when they're in full party mode nobody's intelligence gets insulted. Ever.

But on this latest effort the band took a hard turn in an overtly progressive political direction. For instance, take "Bread," the fourth track, which is built around one of Lee Camp's Moments of Clarity.

Then they went a step further: the world premiere of "These Chains" happened on Camp's podcast #118.

I don't want to make it sound like they just discovered politics last year, though - their values have been on full display throughout their careers - but this time around something was a little different tonally. Josh says that Doco "visited Occupy Wall Street and donated food from the tour to Occupy Philly," and that out of these experiences a new wisdom (my word, not his) began evolving.

I think the shift you are hearing comes from a sense of personal responsibility, a sense of individual empowerment, that wasn't there before. It starts on "Experimental Railroad," the last song written for Stereo Chemistry. Maybe we're just growing up, finally, but I think the idea that we can do something and the idea that we are morally obligated to do something go hand in hand. If we do nothing while children starve in our modern American cities, we're just as bad as big wheels who steal pensions and tax dollars.

Freeway Camping Life projects a quiet nuance we don't always associate with protest music. Many of the 17 tracks comprising TFCL speak to the obligations we have to each other and to our communities. They speak to our relationship with America's Affluenza-riddled consumer culture, insisting on simpler lives built on positive human values.

Trevor, in describing how TFCL emerged, put it this way:

Along with all of the turmoil our country was going through, we also had advertising telling us everything will be fine if you just buy this new product. It was like constant bombardment telling you that you weren't good enough as you are, that you have to be acne free, have thick luscious hair, and be toned and muscular without an ounce of fat. Your cell phone isn't good enough. Your body isn't clean enough unless you use Old Spice. You'll never get laid without the help of Axe body spray. FUCK THAT SHIT. I was so sick of being told I wasn't good enough that I started losing my mind.

The creative process was an arduous one that involved - as with so many great albums throughout history - a guy locking himself in his room with his guitar and a profound need to get something off his chest.

It took about a year to write, then six months to get everything else in order (artwork, drums recorded at a real studio, etc.). I think the main point I wanted to make was that you are good enough as you are, no matter what anyone tells you. Yes our political system had failed us. Yes our parents had failed us. But no more so than any other generation's parents and government had failed them. We were simply weak with having basically everything handed to us growing up, every kind of opportunity to be able to become whatever we wanted.

In other words, Doco's new radical politics aren't all about the evil bastards in DC and on Wall Street - they begin at home, with the personal obligations we have, first and foremost, to one another.

The Freeway Camping Life is a remarkable effort by a talented band. The Booth brothers and Burkart are tight as hell in the studio and on stage, and beyond the virtuosity (and their continually evolving tunesmithing, it should also be noted), they're the kind of socially aware, committed artists that we could use more of.

Our society, or economy, our very soul, is broken. In a better world, we wouldn't be able to open our ears in public without a band like Doco reminding us of our better selves.

Doco plays the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh on August 2. The show is a reunion for survivors of The Farmhouse, the venue where the band cut its teeth, and which recently got pulverized in the gentrification of Hillsboro Street. Expect the show to be sold out.

Doco in the Kirksville Socialite

Doco (Dramatic Oil Company), a band from North Carolina, played a house party here in Kirksville last night as part of their Science of Funk 2009 tour and pretty much grooved the place into oblivion.  (An attendee was grabbing onto the basement ceiling pipes and doing something he called the “horizontal stripper pole.”  I’ll let your imagination take over.)  I had gotten a tip from a friend that there was going to be a good show in town and that the band playing kind of sounded like Reel Big Fish.  In all honesty, I was expecting a decent college jam band that sounded exactly like Reel Big Fish.  Not so, happily.

There are some bands you see play and you know that they just get it: they get what a show is supposed to be, they get what music is supposed to sound like, how all the different elements that make a song work together within the span of a few minutes; they just get music.  Doco’s in that camp.  They’ve got a stage presence that could teach a great number of bands out there a thing or two (makes me think of the The Black Keys) and a delivery M.O. that makes it easy–irresistible, even–to like them. My impression of their style was that it didn’t particularly fall into any genre; it was a blend of bluesy-reggae-rock, though I also picked up on some psychedelic and Mexi-border influences.  I walked in just as bassist Josh Booth began laying down a heavy hand on “Dirty South,” a Hendrix-tinged bluesy groove that might have been my favorite of the night. His brother, guitarist and vocalist Trevor Booth, clearly has his wits about him when it comes to playing and singing; there was a lot of love coming from that guitar last night.  Doco’s vocals are an asset, too: a lot of times the vocal stylings of the lead singer don’t match the attitude or sound of a band’s music, but Trevor’s works quite well.  Their drummer, Dave Burkart, successfully works the drums into becoming more than a mere background or stabilizing element; it should be noted that he had a fantastic solo last night during one of their songs.  

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, so I didn’t get any good pictures of them playing.  You can check out their MySpace  Their album, The Potato Gun Massacre, is available for free download here, and you can purchase their latest album, The Fossil Record, and listen to some of their new stuff by visitng their MySpace page (I say make it on your list of websites to surf while avoiding homework today). 




Doco in Yes Weekly

  december 3

Funksters Doco share their music and the stage

By Ryan Snyder 

The family tree of Josh and Trevor Booth is filled with artists of all breeds. Most recently, their father was a member of Backyard Tea, which found some regional success in the’60s and’70s. The lineage, however, began with a great, great, great uncle by the name of John Wilkes Booth who was an acclaimed actor in his time. Oh, and he also killed Abraham Lincoln. His rsum, however, also boasted oil exploration alongside stage performance and political assassination, which brings us back to present day and its influence on his descendents. Dramatic Oil Company, or DO Co., was an ill-fated prospecting venture that the elder Booth dabbled in and the name lives on with the brothers’ Raleigh-via-Winston-Salem’s Doco (www.

Their influences are both interesting and highly uncommon, particularly those of drummer Dave Burkart. You don’t often hear underground producer and bassist Bill Laswell bandied about as a major stylistic influence, though those with their ears to the ground should eventually come across the venerable world-music guru. The signature funk and go-go rhythms of drummer Bryan Mantia, a frequent Laswell collaborator, are also dotted all throughout Doco’s music. Even Laswell’s own deeply subsonic bass tunings seem to have crept their way into Josh Booth’s playing, though he also looks to hip hop for his influence.

Burkart refers to their style as “funk gone bad” with layers of punk and metal, but let’s just get the Sublime comparison out of the way right now. You almost can’t help but think of them upon first listen to Doco. From the dub-heavy drum and bass right down to singer/ guitarist Trevor’s own voice, Doco bears plenty of resemblance to the punk-funk pioneers. But put both under the microscope and you’ll see that Sublime’s punk-leanings aren’t so evident in Doco. Rather, the latter owes a debt to the avant-garde funk scene that has proliferated under bassist Les Claypool’s many projects since the mid-’90s. They have the kind of groove that is just a little weird — not Claypool-weird, mind you — but just enough out of the ordinary to ensure that you may not ever hear it in the clubs or on mainstream radio. But then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s something sublimely reassuring to have tastes that aren’t embraced by the unwashed masses and then share them with a small contingent of like-minded people.

Similar attitudes have led to the proliferation of online music communities where artists like Doco encourage fans to share their music with one another. It’s often the best marketing tool at the disposal of many unsigned acts and it’s helped fuel a raging civil war within the music industry. Bands like Doco are on the front lines while on the other side lies the gigantic music conglomerates and their attorneys doing their best to protect their own interests. Though they invariably get mixed up in the tornado of data swirling through every corner of the file-sharing universe, little seems to have been done to sway the downloading habits of millions. It should go without saying that this knowledge gives the three members of Doco a little peace of mind that one of the best promotional tools for independent bands is and will remain intact.

“We just want people to hear our music,” said Trevor. “Even if someone came up to me at a show without any money but wanted a CD, I’d probably give it to him and tell him to burn copies for his friends.”

Through their site (, Doco provides plenty of music for fans to download free of charge. Presently, there is an entire live performance from Raleigh’s Pour House entitled The Potato Gun Massacre that the band wants their listeners to not just download, but share with as many others as possible. It was recorded in May 2008 during the CD release party for their lone album The Fossil Record and it’s also a performance of which the band was particularly proud.

“We have a lot of friends who are MCs and if they’re there, they really have a lot of fun coming up and doing that,” said Burkart. “We really like it, too.” The band laid down some of the heavy grooves that give them new fans at every show, while a stream of rappers local to the Triangle shot their rhymes straight from the hip. The spontaneity of the collaboration makes it an intriguing listen, but it’s the sheer funkiness of Doco that provides the biggest appeal. This wasn’t just a one-shot deal, however. The band maintains an open invite for any MCs with something to say to do it at their shows.

“They just let us know beforehand and then we tell them when to come up,” said Trevor. “It’s a lot of fun for us and the crowd as well.” 

Doco in The Technician

Dramatic Oil Company focuses on originality

Dan Porter: A&E Editor 

Published: Monday, November 24, 2008

© 2008 NCSU Student Media

Many bands these days have a niche that they seek to fill or be placed into. They modify their music, looks and lives to portray a certain image that their target audience is looking for. While the music they play may be catchy or relatively "original," the tragedy here is the death of originality. There's something to be said for standing on the shoulders of giants to be sure. However, simply putting a fresh coat of paint on "Guernica" by Picasso wouldn't be considered art, so why does it fly in the music industry?

In 2005, Dramatic Oil Company, or Doco for short, formed with the express purpose of avoiding the aforementioned scenario. The band consists of three friends from Winston-Salem: Josh and Trevor Booth and Dave Burkart. Dave and Trevor played together in Bigger Than You and brought in Josh to play bass. Originally, while Josh was at Columbia University in New York, he would come back to play with the band on breaks. Josh eventually left Columbia and the band decided to take their music more seriously, deciding upon a name change.

The name of the band is an allusion to Josh and Trevor's ancestor, John Wilkes Booth, the now infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln. The association has nothing to do with John Wilkes' politics or beliefs, but rather it is used to show the fickle nature of fate.

John Wilkes was originally a successful actor known in the South for interpreting Shakespearean villains. The Dramatic Oil Co. was a failed oil venture in Pennsylvania headed by the actor, which failed due to an inexperienced prospector who supposedly knew how to "open" oil wells. The result of this hire was a collapsed well (due to misused dynamite) and complete loss of John Wilkes' investment.

When asked about the meaning of the name, Josh said, "It is interesting to see in history who wins, who loses and where they would be if things had turned out differently."

Truly, it is an interesting thought, especially considering if the well had been a success, the actor would have ended up with an oil fortune to supplement his acting career.

The trio got into music to make their own individual mark on music. As Josh said, "We got into Rock & Roll because it's fun to stick your middle finger up at authority."

The band has played in Raleigh and the surrounding areas at places like The Brewery, The Pour House, Lincoln Theatre and Cat's Cradle. Dave, a 2007 alumni, also mentioned that the band enjoys playing at Farmhouse Pizza since "[Farmhouse] has kind of a close-knit group of people that hang out down there."

The band's style changes from song to song and can be anywhere from reggae to hip hop to rock.

"It's gotten a lot more hip hop and less reggae," Trevor said. "[We] find a good beat and write a song over it."

Dave also added, "When we try to come up with a song, what I'm into at the time influences the song. We try to make it pretty diverse."

Dave, Josh and Trevor have always sought to invent their own style of music, but originally played a lot of covers at their shows.

"We started out playing a lot of covers," Josh said. "Our sound kind of showed that, and we started getting offers to play specifically cover shows."

When the cover offers started coming in, the band reacted against the offers because they wanted to play their own music.

"We always try to make it something different," Dave said. "I've embraced the strange because it's a good way to spawn originality."

Josh agreed and said, "Reaction against convention is what we play for."

"There's a graveyard of songs that we've recorded that don't really sound like Doco,"Josh said.

On The Fossil Record, the band added a voicemail titled "Rock N Roll Eulogy" to emphasize their efforts at originality.

"That's what we are trying to do; take Rock & Roll in a new direction," Josh said. "People don't necessarily like that. They want to hear what they know."

One thing that the band emphasized was that they are a live band. To get the true Doco experience, listeners need to be at their shows.

"Raleigh has a fantastic live music scene and everyone should get involved in that," Josh said. "Live music is the solution to the isolation caused by technology. You have to bump into sweaty people at shows, show everyone that you got your hand stamped. You only have one life, why not do something with it."

Dave also added, "Everyone is more than welcome to join the Doco party."

The band's new album, The Fossil Record, is their first studio CD and is available at local CD stores and on Itunes. It is a great addition to anyone's music library who enjoys a fresh look at rock, reggae and hip hop. Also, 96 Rock has recently added some of their songs to their local playlist and 88.1 WKNC has the album in archives for any fans that want to request a song.

On Dec. 11, the doors will open at 8 p.m. at The Pour House Music Hall, hosting Doco with Groove Stain. For fans of their music, this will be a must-see show as The Pour House is the band's favorite local venue.

Until then, do yourself a favor and check out The Fossil Record and get ready for the show.