There is no prescription for the Doctors Fox

Above the influence
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  April 10, 2012

drf1
WIRED The Doctors Fox's eclectic sound is an extension of their chief singer/songwriter. "I'm animated in all parts of my life," says David Ladon (with spatula). "I'm ADHD all the way." 

Picture this: you walk into a room and some interesting music is playing. More than likely, one of the first things you'll ask those around you is, "What is this?" As if the answer to that question is somehow going to help you make sense of your enjoyment. Categorization is one of the brain's natural tendencies: hear something you like, and you want to know its name.

Genre-bending rockers the Doctors Fox know a little bit about that. Show attendees are always asking them what their band sounds like before their shows. "We tell people, 'Listen to us and tell us what you think,' " says Doc singer/songwriter David Ladon with a smirk. "We get comparisons to Steely Dan, Weather Report, 'Mr. Bungle if they cared about getting on the radio,' the Charlie Daniels Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers. . . . The one we probably get the most is They Might Be Giants." It must be the glasses.

Unsurprisingly for a band with a name that sounds like the title of a children's book, the men in the Doctors Fox also meet plenty of listeners who don't care at all about describing the quartet's sound — namely the little kids who stop and listen to them on Saturday mornings. "We sell a ton of CDs at farmers' markets," gushes guitarist Daniel Harris, with staunch appreciation for his diminutive fans (in their extra-musical lives, he and Ladon are both teachers). "Kids love it and parents can afford it!"

And who can blame them? The Doctors Fox's goofy, engaging blend of rock, jazz, bluegrass, pop, reggae, bluegrass, ska, and klezmer could be pretty attractive to the eight-year-old in all of us. The cartoon record covers don't hurt either. "I'm animated in all parts of my life," says Ladon. "I'm ADHD all the way."

Now only on their second record (Handful of Laughs, which will be debuted this Saturday at Great Scott in Allston), the Doctors Fox's history actually goes back to 2001, when classically-trained Ladon and Harris (both then 17) met during summer camp in upstate New York. Fast-forward to 2007 when bassist Ladon and original guitarist Jon Dashkoff (who recently left the group for a MD/PhD program) moved to Boston from Rochester to meet up with violinist Ryan Aylward. From here the core of the Doctors Fox was established, and debut album Plural Non-Possessive followed in 2009. The next year brought the addition of old friend and guitarist Harris, and the construction of Handful of Laughs was underway.

Tracks like the disco-fueled "Diva" and the country rambler "Annabelle" support the notion that the Doctors Fox really are all over the place. "Living Simple" could be a klezmer song, but you could also hear it as a Latin song or a surf song. By the time you pin down one influence, the Doctors Fox have probably slipped out from under your thumb and are on to something else. But in the current musical climate, where style is typically just a euphemism for streamlining a sound for identification purposes, a little diversity is refreshingly bold.

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