Columbus' Roof Dogs searching for a new home via Chicago

Andy Downing
The Roof Dogs

The Roof Dogs played the worst show of its young career earlier this year at Sylvie’s Lounge in Chicago. So of course the band landed on the Windy City when its members discussed the possibility of relocating to another locale from Columbus.

“Another show fell through in Bloomington, [Indiana] … and at the last minute we were like, ‘OK, let’s try and play in Chicago.’ … And then like two people showed up,” said singer/guitarist Andrew Marczak, joined for a recent interview by singer/guitarist Jesse Cheshire (bassist Sean Maher and drummer Walker Anderson will round out the lineup when the group plays a going away show at Ace of Cups on Friday, July 19). “It was pretty terrible, but we stayed there for three days and hung out with the Bascinets and went to restaurants and bars and [concert venues] and just fell in love with the city.”

“The Bascinets,” in this case, would be Columbus expats (and 2019 Alive Band to Watch) the Bascinets, whose members relocated to Chicago earlier this year and served as further inspiration for the Roof Dogs to make a move.

“It feels a lot like starting over, but hopefully in an exciting way,” said Cheshire, who has called Central Ohio home his entire life.

All four bandmates are making the move, though it wasn’t exactly a unanimous decision, with Marczak and Cheshire leading the charge, Anderson agreeing quickly and Maher requiring a bit more convincing.

“Sean was straight-up like, ‘I’m not going to move,’” Marczak said.

Though Maher eventually relented, there was an uneasy stretch where the musicians wondered if they’d have to scuttle the move altogether or be forced to carry on with a new lineup.

“I’m pretty attached to Sean, so I would have made it as hard as possible for him to say no,” Cheshire said, and laughed. “I’ve never lived outside of my comfort zone. It’s exciting to leave Ohio and be transported to this huge city where you’re more of an anonymous figure.”

While the musicians expect to live in relative anonymity — at least while getting established in a new music scene — songs like the punchy, staccato “Six Blocks,” which Alive is premiering with this feature, make a case this stretch could be short-lived.

At the same time, the song doesn’t exactly speak to the band members’ adaptability to city life, with Cheshire delivering leisurely lines about the difficulty of walking, ahem, six blocks to the store.

“The store is a good six blocks away/How do I get there?” he sighs, sounding like someone who has grown up amid Columbus’ expansive parking options.

As the musician continues to walk, though, the sounds of the street gradually bleed into the song, with distant chimes following lines about hearing church bells and guitar squalls temporarily evoking horn-snarled traffic jams. “There is melody in everything you hear,” Cheshire sings.

For a band whose sound has remained in constant motion, veering from 1960s folk-indebted numbers and Americana to wispy indie-rock jams that share at least some DNA with Neutral Milk Hotel, the line suggests this evolution will continue apace as the Roof Dogs absorb Chicago’s myriad sights and sounds — even if only in six-block stretches.

Listen to "Six Blocks" below.

Ace of Cups

8 p.m. Friday, July 19

2619 N. High St., Old North

ALSO PLAYING: Steven King, Hello Emerson, Slimfit