Matching Tattoos, Coffee & Records: A Conversation with Ricky Dover Jr. from The Tip

By Patrick Tsotsos
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I sat down with Ricky Dover Jr. from Nashville’s rock n roll pretty boys The Tip as they just ended their ‘South In Your Mouth Summer Tour’ which they conquered 7 cities in 22 days.  

The rest of the band had just left to get matching tour tats, but we decided to chat over some coffee and listen to records.

The Tip had just released their first self-titled record before their tour.  Ricky mentioned that Ikey Owens was going to help produce the record in November, but unfortunately passed away in October of 2014

The Minimal Beat:  You all have been in other groups prior to The Tip. How long ago did you guys get together and how’d you meet?

Ricky Dover Jr: I met Benny in 2012 while he was promoting a show for his old band The Poor Boys at Motown Monday dance party at the 5 Spot in East Nashville.  When we ran into each other we both simultaneously said, “Hey man cool hair!” Dixie and Benny are brothers, but this is their first band together. Fast forward a year or so, I was then showing up at the Poor Boys rehearsal space just to jam old blues standards and hang out with Dixie and Benny.  Out of those stoned jams we managed to write a few tunes, and next thing we knew we were in Creative Caffeine studios cutting the first tracks for our Killin’ It Wasted EP.  While the Carls were waiting on me to show to up rehearsal one day (I’m always 15 mins late to everything), a knock came on the door and it was our bassist Drew Uldrich.  He explained he had the rehearsal space directly across the hall from us. had already learned a couple tunes and that his band Static Revival was breaking up.  Dixie quickly asked, how long is your hair? Only to Drew letting his blonde locks down from his hat. You’re in!

The Minimal Beat: Tell us about the studio that you guys recorded in

RDJ: Originally the album was to be produced by Ikey Owens from Mars Volta/Jack White, and we looking at booking time at Bomb Shelter studio in Nashville around November 2014.  Ikey unfortunately passed away while on tour with Jack White in October of that year, so we pushed our recording plans back a few months to reorganize and find a new path.  We then moved forward and recorded our full length record at NashTray Studios with Chris Lohr during Jan and Feb of this year.  Chris had built a nice recording studio with multiple isolation rooms in his house and garage.  It was a very easy, laid paid process as we weren’t sweating studio time.  We cut the basic tracks live and went back with more overdubs and vocals.  I spent a lot of time with Chris working out the final mixes, and he did a fantastic job engineering the album.

The Minimal Beat: Are you subject to brand loyalty with guitars or pedals?

RDJ: I use DareDevil guitar pedals and Jaycko guitar straps, but we aren’t locked into any specific brand.  Given our style of music we generally lean towards Gibson guitars and Marshall amps.  Not many bands nowadays use full stacks.  Its definitely overkill on power, but the visual and aesthetic values of big amps seem to match our affection with big guitars, big drums, and of course big hair.  Looking good is of course absolutely meaningless if your can’t back it up.  Chops come first, then look in the mirror.

The Minimal Beat: In what sort of environment do you try and surround yourself in when you’re going in to write a song?

RDJ: When writing new music I think about what environment is this going to create at the live show? in the studio? in headphones? I generally tend to try to write what I want to see/hear from a band as it pertains to me being in the audience.  The forward movement of rhythms and the ups and downs of space and melody is the beautiful thing about writing music.  You can create textures, ascents and boundaries all within a song that truly make music the ultimate blank canvas. The best band in the world I can create in my mind will have songs that sound like what?  I try to answer that question.  Yes i am ask myself a question, but I haven’t finished working out my answer yet.  

With the Tip we generally write all of our songs together.  Someone may come in with a simple riff, but we will work out all the parts together.  I’ve been in bands where I told everyone what to play, also been in bands where I was told what to play, but I find it works best when everyone works the song out together.  I promise someone will have an idea in there.  Its also important not to get too far away from the origins of a song you are working on – meaning, I find its best when you think you’ve finally worked out a new tune, made a bunch of changes into something different, to go back a listen to your original demo.  Chances are that bare bones version of the song will be showing you something you’ve perhaps lost along the way.

The Minimal Beat: How do you feel about sharing your music online after working so hard in the studio?

RDJ: With today’s technology and music sharing I feel you have to embrace the fact you’re not going to make much money with the sound recordings you just made.  By all means push yourself to make the best thing possible you can, but once its ready for the world, I feel its better to let it fly out as far as possible than to keep it close and make sure every penny is accounted for.  To create music is expensive yes, but you can’t touch the feeling a song may stir inside you – thats what people are really sharing.  Let your music blossom for the world to appreciate. Or not.  Years ago, drummer Don Coffey Jr from my hometown of Knoxville TN 90s/00s powerpop group Superdrag, told me “You can have the best album in the world, but if you don’t do anything about it, then who cares?” We were in the middle of production for a full length for my high school band, 1220.  Once I realized the album wasn’t going anywhere when it was finished,  I made the move to Atlanta to join The Booze. Its essential to let people share and stream your music, even if its free.  Its all about connecting with people, so if you keep it all to yourself… you’re dead in the water.  You can’t avoid it these days, so let it ride.

The Minimal Beat: Anything you would like to share about new merch/videos/tour etc

RDJ: We will be playing regionally until the end of the year throughout the East Coast and Mid West.   We just got done with a three-ish week tour in which we hit the same markets we did last November with Hammered Satin.  Originally hoping to make it out to California by the end of the year but its looking more like Feb or March we will be out there.  Also, we just launched our .com website – which has exclusive merch and special online content as well.

The Minimal Beat: Are you pressing to vinyl?

RDJ: Now that our full length is done, we are already hastily working on recording some more new material.  Its the lifeblood of a band, writing new songs.  So now that we have our first album out on CD we are looking to press a companion 7” vinyl with additional songs.  Still looking for label support, but as for now D.I.Y. till I DIE!

The self-titled album by The Tip is out now via their website.

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