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RIP Bill Doss 1968-2012
July 31, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Bill Doss, co-founder of the seminal indie rock collective The Elephant Six Recording Company and member of classic lo-fi groups and projects such as Olivia Tremor Control, The Sunshine Fix, and the Powerpuff Girls: Heroes and Villains album passed away today at age 44. No cause of death was released.

Though terminally underappreciated during their 90s prime, The Elephant Six collective was responsible for some of the greatest acts of the nineties, from Beulah to the critical darling Neutral Milk Hotel, fronted by fellow founder Jeff Mangum (many times previously). Bill Doss was also a member of The Apples In Stereo, who along with Of Montreal are enjoyed considerable latter day success with their latest album Travellers in Space and Time, which featured Doss on keyboards.
posted by Shadax (52 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Live @ Primavera Sound Festival, 6/2/2012
posted by Ardiril at 4:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Mojojojo at 4:23 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lutoslawski at 4:25 PM on July 31, 2012


Elephant Six 4 Lyfe.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:28 PM on July 31, 2012


Separate from the FPP:
If you wanted to blame the person I am today on any one thing, you could do a lot worse than Elephant 6. I discovered In The Aeroplane Over The Sea towards the end of my teens, coming off of a really quite embarassing industrial metal phase. The first time I really listened to the album was when I was riding the Greyhound to California on a whim because that is what Sadbrained Seventeen Year Olds do. It was an absolutely primal and unforgiving experience, to be trapped in this giant metal coffin rocketing through the desert with a satchel filled with a stack of tortillas, a gameboy, a store brand cd player, a wallet full of Elephant 6 albums, and no real plans or exit strategies (again, I was seventeen).

There are few albums, shows, movies, or any other pieces of media that not only make you think about life and death, but practically beat your head with a tire iron forged from mortality. I was lucky enough to be on that buss with two dozen of them, and am a far better person a decade later for it.
posted by Shadax at 4:35 PM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


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posted by austinetsu at 4:56 PM on July 31, 2012


There's been a lot of love for NMH on MetaFilter, and I love Aeroplane, but I came to Elephant 6 through Olivia Tremor Control and their album Dusk at Cubist Castle. A truly fantastic album, even if it doesn't have the full emotional weight of drum-skin tightness of Aeroplane. This is a real bummer.

Also, nobody talks about Elf Power anymore, but their early to middle albums are as good as almost anything the collective put out.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man.

Apples in stereo was a great band.
posted by roboton666 at 5:01 PM on July 31, 2012


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Old Man From Indy Rock Mountain by "Red & Zeke" is an acoustic album Bill made with Neil Cleary. It's lovely close-harmony work. Free download.

Bill brought a lovely balance to OTC; Will had the Beach Boys and ambient noodling, while Will brought the Lennon/McCartney. I'm devastated; E6 has been the spine of all the music I've experienced over the last 15 years. Bill was a huge part of it all. All the E6 folks are pouring out eulogies on Facebook. He is missed deeply.
posted by scruss at 5:03 PM on July 31, 2012


This guy is involved with an incredible amount of the music I love the most. There could be a version of Losing My Edge that consists entirely of musical acts he was involved with and no one who heard it would think it sounded out of place.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was involved with, to our misfortune.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2012


Aww, man, that's a shame. I met him years ago in Ann Arbor when AiS was wandering around looking for record stores and I gave them a (nerdy, over-detailed) list of every single one within like 20 miles. I was surprised by how short they all were.

I saw Olivia Tremor Control last year at FYF Fest, and they were one of the biggest disappointments, but AiS was always awesome (though I only got to see them once).
posted by klangklangston at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I joined Apples in stereo a couple years ago. Bill was a beautiful person. He made me feel welcome and even let me play his cowbell during a song--if there's a higher compliment one musician can pay another, I don't know what it is.
posted by Zerowensboring at 5:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


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posted by thivaia at 5:14 PM on July 31, 2012


This is unfortunate. He was a great guy and an inspiration.

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posted by purephase at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Terrible news. Safe travels, dear sir.

Olivia Tremor Control- Memories Of Jacqueline 1906
posted by elmono at 5:35 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too. damn. young.
posted by ardgedee at 5:40 PM on July 31, 2012


Oh no. Bill Doss is one of my favorite musicians. I was so excited about The Olivia Tremor Control getting back together, and then this cruel twist happens... I've seen that guy play with the Olivias, with the Apples, and in two different Elephant 6 variety shows. Every time he had incredible charisma and stage presence, he played well, and he was totally down-to-earth and friendly with his fans. I'll miss that guy.

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posted by One Second Before Awakening at 6:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saw them live and in excellent form just a few months ago. They played a new track, and there was talk of a new record. So very sad. RIP Bill, thanks for all the lovely sounds.
posted by SomaSoda at 6:26 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:29 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I joined Apples in stereo a couple years ago
posted by by Zerowensboring


Wait, by 'joined' you mean you became a member of the band? Surely you have more stories of playing with them other than getting to use his cowbell once.
posted by item at 6:31 PM on July 31, 2012


...or more than once on the same song. It might be time for a class in reading comprehension.
posted by item at 6:35 PM on July 31, 2012


I met met and spent a little time with a lot of the Elephant 6 crew back during their 90's heyday. Unfortunately, I don't remember Bill exclusively as those were days of lots of pot and hallucinogens and speed, resulting in dreamy yet rushed memories that I can't quite sort out. I must've met him, though, and regardless everyone from those groups was so nice, easy to get along with, and creative, even if what they were doing wasn't exactly my cup of tea. They undoubtedly helped me develop an understanding that not all hippies are bad and people with different tastes can get along just fine.
posted by item at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Olivia Tremor Control was an amazing. He'll be missed.
posted by saul wright at 7:03 PM on July 31, 2012


an amazing band, that is...
posted by saul wright at 7:03 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by A dead Quaker at 7:27 PM on July 31, 2012


I have no words. :(

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posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:29 PM on July 31, 2012


This song has never stopped destroying me. Pleasant dreams, Bill.
posted by mintcake! at 7:30 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by LobsterMitten at 7:32 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by the sobsister at 7:37 PM on July 31, 2012


and...

 
posted by the sobsister at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting: I've so far seen Bill's age given online as 40, 41, 42, and 43, with 40 and 43 being the most frequently reported.

Take note now, all ye bloggers: Just so every news report is consistent when I die, I plan on it happening during my 69th year.
posted by item at 8:05 PM on July 31, 2012


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This sucks. Mr. Doss was one of the first people I interviewed in my short career as a budding young music journalist. He was shy, but incredibly helpful to me, which was good, since I had no idea, really, how to conduct any sort of interview. The highlight, though, came later: the Olivia Tremor Control was playing a show with the Microphones and the Apples in Stereo that evening (this was probably 1996? 1997?).

In the mid- to late 1990s, the AiS were Denver's Official Opening Band. They were the only band from Denver that anyone outside of a small portion of the city even knew about, so, regardless of whether or not you liked them, you knew who they were. They opened for pretty much anyone coming through town, so if you were into indie rock at that time, you were guaranteed to see them a lot. So, in every other city, the AiS opened for the (more well-known) OTC, but, in Denver, it was reversed -- only the promoters of the show didn't announce this. As a result, lots of people skipped the opening bands, thinking that they had seen the AiS enough times -- they wanted to see Doss and the OTC.

What actually happened was that no one was there to see the OTC, since they were now, unexpectedly, opening. Since I was also reviewing the show, and took my job much more seriously than I should, I was there when doors opened, along with one of my best friends. So we kind of had the venue to ourselves. The two of us ended up sitting on the floor in the front portion of the venue (the Bluebird Theater, for any Denverites playing along at home), watching the OTC playing without anyone else around us. It was a great show, and both of us were really into it -- too bad all those people missed it. Afterwards, Doss and W. Cullen Hart came up to my friend and I, and gave us both hugs. "You rocked!" he told us. "Thank you for rocking for us!!" I saw the OTC a few more times after that, and they were great, but not as good as that time.

Anyway, this is really sad. I keep playing this over and over this evening.
posted by heurtebise at 8:33 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I loved Apples in Stereo.
posted by drezdn at 8:46 PM on July 31, 2012


I've so far seen Bill's age given online as 40, 41, 42, and 43, with 40 and 43 being the most frequently reported.

He was almost certainly born in 1971 since he was in the same 9th grade class as other members of the band who were born in 1971 (and 1970). That would make him 40 or 41, probably 40 if you believe the September 12th birth date long reported around the web.
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 PM on July 31, 2012


The two of us ended up sitting on the floor in the front portion of the venue

Aw. A bunch of us sat for a Sunshine Fix gig once, too. Bill (and the rest of the gang) always had a way of making everyone in the room feel as comfortable as family.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:57 PM on July 31, 2012


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posted by Jan Coztas at 10:15 PM on July 31, 2012


Words cannot express which I guess is why we use the

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posted by incessant at 11:34 PM on July 31, 2012


Sad to hear this. I saw OTC a few months ago in London, the first time I'd been able to see them, and they were on great form. If I recall right they gave a shout out to Bill's wife who was there, I think it was her birthday.

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posted by wingless_angel at 1:37 AM on August 1, 2012


Whoa. A lot of the Elephant 6 people have this ageless thing going on, so it's really disconcerting to see one of them go. The past year and a half have been one long dream come true: I've seen Olivia Tremor Control, the Music Tapes (in three different states! Once in my living room!) and, most recently, Jeff Mangum. Glad Bill got to see his and the whole collective's music have such a resurgence. There's no way he expected to play at a Jeff Mangum curated All Tomorrow's Parties in England in 2012 with like five other E6 groups.
posted by Corduroy at 2:01 AM on August 1, 2012


Also, I wasn't aware of The Sunshine Fix and will definitely be checking them out now.
posted by Corduroy at 2:18 AM on August 1, 2012


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posted by klausness at 3:43 AM on August 1, 2012


damn.

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posted by jet_manifesto at 4:10 AM on August 1, 2012


“Athens-Clarke County coroner Sonny Wilson confirmed that Doss […] passed away, but could offer no further details as an investigation is ongoing. No evidence of foul play or suicide is evident and Doss had no history of medical problems, Wilson said.” (source)

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posted by misteraitch at 4:18 AM on August 1, 2012


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posted by Legomancer at 5:28 AM on August 1, 2012


Too, too young.
posted by oh pollo! at 5:28 AM on August 1, 2012


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Very sad.
posted by armacy at 5:47 AM on August 1, 2012


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posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:56 AM on August 1, 2012


Thanks for the music, Bill.

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posted by orme at 8:12 AM on August 1, 2012


via Jason NeSmith, from reddit: "He appeared to have gone peacefully. He died with his guitar in his hands.".
posted by scruss at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2012


It's not nearly enough but...

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(damn.)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on August 1, 2012


Oh man - Elephant 6 music is needed for the soul. Thanks, Bill. You made the world a much finer place while you had some time to spend with it.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2012


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