Jessica Dobson has had a hectic year-and-a-half. Not only has the Long Beach native been touring non-stop as the guitarist of The Shins, but she also released a new album with her own band, Deep Sea Diver.
Though she's only been home for a few weeks, Dobson has been working on new material and planning the future for her indie rock outfit before hitting the road for a short, West Coast tour. Ahead of Deep Sea Diver's November 26 Los Angeles show at The Echo, Dobson was chatted with us about her experience playing with The Shins, why she decided to move from Southern California to Washington, and how she is Deep Sea Diver for life.
OC Weekly(Katrina Nattress): You have been quite the busy lady lately. When did The Shins tour end?
Jessica Dobson: Actually a couple weeks ago. That was a full year-and-a-half of pretty consist touring, and then any time in between I was writing or touring with Deep Sea Diver. I don't even remember this last year. I moved into this house last October and I've probably spent the most time in it in the last week-and-a-half.
How did this opportunity arise with The Shins?
When James [Mercer] was looking for a new band, my friends got called to potentially audition and somehow my name got brought up and then before I knew it I was in Portland trying out for the band. It was a pretty natural coming together of people and quite a year and a half. [But] I know for certain after doing that, I can't do it anymore. I don't mind working in the studio with people or doing a short tour, but if anything it really refocused all of our energy and focus on Deep Sea Diver.
But you are an official member of The Shins now correct?
Yeah, well wait, do you mean like if I'm a band member for life?
Yeah, are you a band member for life now? Did you get a Shins tattoo?
No, no, no. I should probably take that back.
Okay, so was that a one-off thing or would you consider doing that again with them?
Yeah, it was a great experience but it's Deep Sea Diver for life now.
Okay, good, you've got the Deep Sea Diver tattoo.
You started playing solo shows in your hometown of Long Beach when you were 17 years-old. Did you ever think that your career would become what it is now?
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I hoped it would move me beyond working at a pizza place in Brea, California, where I gained about 10 pounds. I always knew that I couldn't escape--I wouldn't say escape, I'm never trying to escape from music--but I know that for the rest of my life this is what I'll be doing in whatever incarnation it turns out to be, whether it's scoring for movies or whatever it is. I don't think I've reached any pinnacle or anything like that, because that's not what I'm necessarily going for. There have been some really awesome opportunities along the way, but I have so much more work to do and I'm just constantly trying to listen to music and composers and people that are just really, truly inspiring people.
You moved to Seattle two years ago. What made you decide to relocate?
Long Beach was a little too stagnate and comfortable. I grew up on Southern California, and I think I didn't know it at the time, but I really craved being out in non-polluted air. I wouldn't say Seattle's a gloomy place but seven months out of the year it's overcast, which isn't a bad thing for a musician, especially one that's very distracted. The rain keeps me inside because I don't like being out in it. It definitely aids songwriting, so that was definitely a pro for moving up here.