Rob Compa - Dopapod
Most widely known for his role as guitarist in the Boston based progressive jam band Dopapod, Rob Compa is an all-around accomplished musician and road warrior. Rob’s fourteen-year tenure with the band has resulted in seven studio albums and seen the group tour nearly every nook and cranny of the U.S. and beyond. Outside of Dopapod, Rob can be heard with his trio RCA or out performing solo acoustic sets. In 2018, Rob also recorded his own solo album entitled, Same Damn Thing. With his remaining creative time and energy Rob regularly collaborates with numerous other musical acts as a sideman and serves his ever-growing roster of students as a passionate guitar instructor.
FIVE MINUTES WITH ROB
PRS: Dopapod recently released a new single “Fannie.” What can we expect from the rest of the album when it drops later this month?
Rob: This album is gonna be a little different from previous ones we’ve made, and we’re really excited about it. It’s a double vinyl gatefold LP, and when you open up the album it turns into a fully playable board game. The game is essentially about a sort of time traveler going back and forth through, well... time. We kind of have an on-going concept in a lot of our songs about this mysterious time traveler, but it’s been so spread out over our whole career that we never could have recorded all of it on one album. Because of that we decided to include a bunch of easter eggs from previous albums in the board game, so our song catalog and the concept are finally tied together.
As far as the music itself, we all feel a lot more mature about song writing and everyone’s individual performances. We started recording right before the pandemic. I think the heaviness of all that really gave us a sort of “it’s only music” outlook as we chipped away at it. It really helped us be objective and play with humility and a sense of gratitude that we were all somehow still lucky enough to be making music in any capacity at that point.
PRS: What are the band’s touring plans following the release of the new record?
Rob: We’re going to play some really fun festivals, and then in June we’re doing a tour supporting George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, which will stretch from coast to coast. We’re really excited to be a part of that. It’s a little more of a traveling circus vibe, so we’ll also be joined by The Motet, Pimps of Joytime, Fishbone, The Floozies, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. After that we’ll do some more festivals, and then embark on a big fall tour sometime in October.
PRS: You’ve got a few PRS models, a Silver Sky, a 594 and a Hollowbody II, which one is currently your go-to guitar?
Rob: That’s a loaded question! My Hollowbody II is and forever will be my soul mate instrument. I’ve had it for over 17 years, and it’s just a part of me. On a feel level, that instrument just vanishes when I use it. Everything is so comfortable about it that I feel like I can just imagine things I want to play and they come out.
Having said that, lately the sound and feel of my Silver Sky really just knocks me out, so that’s what I’ve been reaching for more often than not. I love the feel of it, the weight is great, and the pickups are just incredible and dynamic. The glassiness of the single coils really makes it so any effects or delays really shine through, and the guitar stays in its own lane as far as which frequencies it’s using up in the mix. It doesn’t have so much low end that it muddies up the bass player’s sonic territory, and it’s not so bright that it clashes with cymbals or higher synthy stuff that our keyboardist does. Not to mention, it’s a solidbody! At this point in our career, we fly to gigs a ton, so I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to not be freaking out about my poor hollowbody anytime I have to gate check my instrument.
PRS: As an active guitar instructor, what is your favorite thing about giving lessons to others?
Rob: I think I love that teaching gives me a healthy perspective that playing live or touring with my band sometimes doesn’t provide. Being on stage can feel like something I’m doing for self-centered reasons, while teaching is a service that I’m providing to someone else. It’s about them, not me, and it feels really good to help someone else actualize their goals or even just blow off some steam and talk about something we both love.
PRS: Who or what have you been listening to the most in your spare time lately?
Rob: I honestly haven’t been listening to a ton of music lately. It’s just been nice to sit and take in some silence. If I had to pick a few things, though, my wife turned me on to Bjork and Portishead, and I’ve been digging that. I also recently saw Molly Tuttle live, who is a fantastic bluegrass guitarist and songwriter. I’ve been listening to her newest album and am really floored by her lyrical content and her whole band’s instrumental prowess.