Dogleg's video for "Wartortle."

Dogleg’s Rise in the Age of COVID-19

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It’s a story seen fairly often (or not often enough depending on the popularity of your band). A couple of friends decide to get together and play music. They practice, perform, establish their voice, and put out self-recorded singles and EPs. Then, through tales of a tantalizing live show or modestly successful streaming statistics, the opportunity to sign to a prominent indie label presents itself. Hype is built, an album is released and, if the music is good enough, new faces in the scene are established. While it never ceases to be an exciting process, you’ve heard this story before.

In this case, plug in Dogleg, their explosive act, some incredibly kinetic songs, indie-label Triple Crown Records and the highly praised Melee. Give it all a good shake, and you have a classic origin story for the next rising band.

Except, something got in the way. Melee was released on March 14 of this year, mere days before the world effectively shut down. COVID-19’s effects on business, travel and the music industry suddenly halted the momentum of the band’s road to stardom. Dogleg—the Michigan-based emo/punk band consisting of Alex Stoitsiadis, Chase Macinski, Parker Grissom, and Jacob Hanlon—were left stuck at home, unable to tour in support of their breakout release.

Fortunately, Dogleg’s work has proven to be too good to be forgotten, despite COVID-19’s best efforts. The critical reception for Melee has been overwhelmingly positive and the band recently celebrated 1,000,000 total streams and 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Efforts have also been made to remain engaged with their growing fanbase, making tour-only merchandise available for a limited time and consistently streaming online.

Parts of this transition came naturally. The band’s bassist, Chase Macinski, is a competitive Super Smash Bros. player, regularly allowing concert attendees a chance to win free merch if they can beat him. He, along with the other members, has taken to Twitch to stream on what is appropriately known as “Melee Mondays.” Frontman Alex Stoitsiadis has also taken up live-streaming, performing acoustic sets from his house while social distancing.

I recently chatted with Chase about the crazy turn of events, some deep band history and, of course, Smash Bros. (after the interview he laughed at my character of choice—Kirby). He’s taken up two jobs, one of which consists of him actively fighting the spread of the virus, and is as disappointed at the cancellation of tour dates as his fans. Yet, his tone and outlook seem to embrace a certain optimism. Dogleg might be temporarily down, as is just about everything right now, but they are definitely not out.

Dogleg in feature
Dogleg (

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Jonah Krueger: So, I feel compelled to do a mental health check with anyone I talk to these days. How are you holding up?

Chase Macinsky: [Laughs] I’m holding in there. I’m working two jobs right now, which is pretty crazy because a lot of people aren’t working any. So, it’s pretty hectic for me. Some days are a lot busier than others.

JK: I’m glad to hear you have some income coming in, I know that corona has not been kind to the livelihood of many artists. Are these recent jobs?

CM: One is recent, one is very old. Like, I have had it for three years, almost four years. I’m an independent contractor for a marketing agency that specializes in marketing to campuses. I do it all from home, that’s why I’m not, like, a traditional employee. I’m doing that, as well as working as basically a janitor at an office building, sanitizing it every morning. With tours falling apart, I was very fortunate to be able to find something to help out.

JK: I feel like Dogleg is in a particularly weird position with the timing of everything that has happened. A big, breakout album and tours lined up on both coasts to support it and, within a week, it’s all canceled.

CM: [Laughs] Yeah, definitely. We even had South By (Southwest performance) that was scheduled. In the span of four months, we were going to hit the east coast, the south and the west coast all when the album came out—now, now it’s not happening.

JK: What was the conversation like within the band when this all went down?

CM: We all tried to talk about it. We were like, “What do we do?” At the time, we felt that things were being canceled but we weren’t sure how serious COVID-19 was. You know, back in the beginning of March, I feel like a lot of people were like, “uh, yeah, it’s pretty bad, but it’s not terrible.” When South By (Southwest) got canceled, a lot of people were like, “Really? It’s not that bad.” Obviously, in hindsight, I am glad it got canceled. With the knowledge I have now and with how serious I am taking it now; I am glad we didn’t go. But back then, at the beginning of March when all these conversations were happening, we were like, “These are huge opportunities for us. F*** it, we’ll still go if they let us.” That’s how it was for all three of them, the Microwave tour, the South By tour, the Joyce Manor tour. We were like, as long as they still want to do it, we are still on board. We were going to do it unless they told us not to—I’m glad they told us not to. Definitely the right decision.

JK: It’s a testament to the music then that you guys are still increasing your audience. It seems to have happened pretty fast. I was watching an interview you did that actually was posted on March 14, 2019, exactly a year before Melee released, and it had a total of 74 views.

But back then, at the beginning of March when all these conversations were happening, we were like, “These are huge opportunities for us. F*** it, we’ll still go if they let us.” That’s how it was for all three of them, the Microwave tour, the South By tour, the Joyce Manor tour. We were like, as long as they still want to do it, we are still on board. We were going to do it unless they told us not to—I’m glad they told us not to. Definitely the right decision. – Chase Macinsky of Dogleg on cancelling numerous exciting opportunities for the band due to COVID-19.

CM: Oh, man. Was it, like, a video? Was it me and him in, like, a coffee shop? And he’s got that hat on?

JK: That’s it!

CM: Oh my god, that is an old video. I can’t believe that’s even resurfaced.

JK: It seems old, but it has only been a year!

CM: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess it has been zero-to-ten and then ten-to-zero.

JK: In it, you mentioned that you all had done School of Rock.

CM: Oh! Yeah, that is where we all met each other. Well, other than Jacob. It’s where Alex, Parker and I all met each other back when, I want to say, I was in seventh grade. Parker had to be in fifth grade. Then Alex, well, he is the same year as me, but I don’t think he joined until eighth grade. It’s funny because we learned that School of Rock the music program came before the Jack Black movie. Whenever we mention School of Rock, a lot of people think, “Do you mean that Jack Black movie?” I’m like, no! It came before the movie!

JK: The School of Rock’s I am familiar with all seem to have different cultures, in terms of their humor and the music they listen to. Did yours have a culture that influenced the sound of Dogleg?

CM: The one we went to was insanely diverse. It was in a house that was converted into a business. It was a very big house with, like, two giant living rooms, a humongous basement with four or five rooms and then an upstairs with six rooms. All the small rooms were used for private lessons, while the large spaces were used for practices. We had so many diverse shows, we had a hip-hop show, a black-metal show, frequent Led Zeppelin shows, Red Hot Chili Peppers, a grunge show, a 90s punk show, a pop punk show, and even a Green Day vs. Nirvana show. There wasn’t anything that was like, “we are going to play emo,” but there were shows that would incorporate, like, Sunny Day Real Estate. We didn’t play any American Football, but we did sort of hit that tinge. I think there might have been one show where we played Rites of Spring. Maybe there was one with an At the Drive-In song. There wasn’t like directly a ’90s emo or post-hardcore show, but it definitely had those sprinkles. The instructors were just a diverse group of people who came from a bunch of different backgrounds and musical interests. I remember I briefly took bass lessons from Saves the Day, Arun.

JK: You guys have been keeping active with the live-streams.

CM: Yeah, it’s been pretty fun. Alex has been doing a fair share of live streams, playing acoustic music, and I’ve been doing one every Monday at 7 p.m. eastern. We get decent viewership. I play Melee with the chat. There’s this online way to play Melee called Netplay, where if someone has it on their computer and know how to set it up, then we can connect and play together. It, like, emulates the input to each other’s monitors instantly, which is really cool.

JK: I know you have a pretty spotless record at the shows, has anyone bested you yet?

CM: There’s a difference between, like, my competitive friends and my fans [laughs] or people who go to Dogleg shows. As far as Dogleg fans, I am undefeated, but it is not like I have won every match in every tournament I enter. If my friends who play Melee are watching the stream and they want to play, I’m not going to say no. It’s fun to play them! But they do beat me, and I have lost to two or three of them on stream. It might be a shocking realization to some Dogleg fan out there that I‘m not an untouchable god, but it’s still fun.