Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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The beautiful thing about Albuquerque’s music scene is that not only everyone knows each other or has worked on a project with one another at some point, but the egalitarian spirit of the community has always brought together musicians from every corner of the medium. Doug and the Dying is one such product of Albuquerque’s music scene. Consisting of Douglas Brandt (guitar/trumpet/vocals), Corven Sena (banjo/vocals), Peter Taylor (bass/vocals), Luke Seelau (drums), Johnathan Dell (guitar), the group is an eclectic mix of country, Americana, rock, jazz, among others  — essentially, the group draws from nearly every genre.

Like the sound they bring to the stage, their conception was quintessentially Albuquerque. The foundation of Doug and the Dying was laid during the early months of the summer. Shows were coming back, and the bandmates were part of the intoxicating and frenzied creative atmosphere that gripped the artistic community since social distancing was lifted. Band members met a variety of shows. Introduced by mutual friends or recommended to each other based on sound and style.

“We met through the Monsoon House, and through those jams, we developed our sound and through those jams we developed our sound and by playing with each other as often as that allowed us, it went from Doug to Doug and The More, to Doug and The Dying,” vocalist and guitarist Douglas Brandt said in an interview with The Paper. Several musicians have cycled in and out of the band, but according to Doug, the core has always been there. After their initial jam sessions outside of small shows and meetups, they started practicing and are now a signature act at a host of venues around the city. When asked about how Doug and the Dying came to be, both Sena and Brandt laughed at the beautifully chaotic process that was the start of the band. Brandt joked that “all good musical groups start drunk in front of Anodyne.”

“We all bring something to the table and mesh well with each other musically in a way that, in my experience, is hard to come by. I don’t think any of us expected this specific group of musicians would be THE group, at least going into it, but so far it’s been a great experience, and that’s the thing that binds us together,” Dell added.

Other than the innumerable genres that Doug and the Dying bring to each show, a unique element of their sound is that they feature a banjoist in Sena. Along with playing guitar, bass, and even the violin, Sena is a master at the banjo, one of the most challenging of string instruments to play. Corven first started playing the banjo when he was fifteen, inspired by the Folk-Pop scene. “I was obsessed with folk-punk music for the better part of high school,” he said. As he progressed as a musician, Sena slowly lost interest in the instrument before forming Doug and The Dying. After debuting at a desert show, which featured Sena with a banjo, the instrument has been a beloved integral part of the band’s sound.

Both Brandt and Sena noted that what makes their sound and chemistry work, given the diversity of musical backgrounds associated with the group, is that each member is eager and enthusiastic to listen. “We take different leads on different songs,” Brandt said. “Each of us takes the lead in our own way, and Pete and Luke give it the drive and energy that it needs to exist in the way that it does,” he added.

Doug and the Dying attribute their recent success and busy schedule to the music scene in Albuquerque. The relatively small and intimate community of musicians that the city hosts has allowed the band to quickly break into several local shows. “That’s the lovely thing about the scene, that if someone has a show, they already have the lineup that they need in their back pocket,” Brandt said.

“It’s our friends that we hang out and make music with outside of Doug and the Dying that push us forward to make more as Doug and The Dying.”

Regarding plans for the future, Dell spoke about the group’s recent success and the potential that it has going forward. “Touring is the next big thing we’re all brainstorming. Getting an album or two out would also be great. Really I’m just down for the adventure since I personally do a lot of music stuff beyond this project, but there’s no doubt that this is one of my biggest priorities, and I want this to grow into a musical force to be reckoned with. I think the stage has been set for that and it’s just about doing all the aforementioned stuff, really putting in the work so we can reel it in,” Dell said. 

Doug and the Dying will be opening at Launchpad for Cowboy Killer on Friday, Dec. 3 at 9 pm, followed by several shows over the weekend. Admission is $8 at the door, and the show will also coincide with December’s Artwalk.