British rock act the Doves kick off their inaugural U.S. tour tonight in Miami, and though it's hitting North American shores with little fanfare, the band seems to be part of a resurgent musical trend.
Radiohead's Kid A was the first British album to top the chart in three years; Mercury Prize winner Badly Drawn Boy staged a successful fall tour; and rock act Coldplay was drawing enthusiastic crowds before the flu derailed its tour — it's not quite The Beatles getting off the plane before hordes of screaming fans, but are these signs of a new wave of British music?
Doves drummer Andy Williams doesn't see it that way: "We known them, and they're cool people — but we're not a scene definitely. That's always what we've been against really, being part of any scene. We're always very much keen to make our own mark."
Scene or not, the band members are good friends with Damon Gough, a k a Badly Drawn Boy, with whom they competed for the Mercury Prize — and Williams says they've talked with the singer-songwriter about what to expect from North American audiences.
"He loved it," Williams says of Gough's fall tour. "He preferred the American sorts to the British — he said people just really got it."
Williams adds, "Probably a lot of British bands go over with an arrogant attitude, as in, 'We're going to conquer America' — and they end up being very disappointed when it doesn't happen like that. We're coming over to just turn some heads … and play to a lot of the people who are really into the album."
The band plans to throw in a few new songs in the shows throughout the tour, but the focus will be on the Doves' first full-length album, Lost Souls, which arrived Stateside in October.
Lost Souls, a moody collection of expansive rock songs, does not have the uncertain voice of a debut album — partly because the trio has been together since it united in the late '80s in Manchester, England, while the city's music scene was still booming and incorporating more sounds from dance and house music.
The group's first incarnation, Sub Sub, featured a far more electronic bent. The group scored a hit in 1995 with "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)."
Though the Doves have yet to top that, at least in terms of radio play, Williams has no doubt of the band's direction.
"We're about 10 times better live than we were with Sub Sub," he says. "It's a lot freer with Doves. We're coming more from a song aspect now, and the music's a lot more energetic."
Doves tour dates:
February Feb. 23 — Hard Rock Cafe, Miami, Fla. Feb. 24 — Upstage, Philadelphia, Pa. Feb. 25 — 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. Feb. 26 — Paradise Rock Club, Boston, Mass. Feb. 27 — Bowery Ballroom, New York, N.Y.
March March 1 — Lee's Palace, Toronto, Ontario March 2 — St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, Mich. March 3 — Double Door, Chicago, Ill. March 4 — 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, Minn. March 6 — El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, Calif. March 7 — Bimbo's, San Francisco, Calif. March 9 — Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, Wash. March 10 — Richards on Richards, Vancouver, British Columbia March 11 — Ohm, Portland, Ore.