| Three Dick Whittingtons (Luc’, Dunc’ and Johnny) in scuffed boots, threadbare threads and no cats for company hit London, looking to escape from the crushing cogs of suburban boredom. They hit the city hard. (Johnny: "Basically we lost our minds." Luciano: "I lived in Johnny's wardrobe.") |
London wasn't interested, it kicked them in the balls and told them where to go. And so, naturally, they licked their wounds and regrouped.
Johnny : "One night I went back to Cambridge and I nicked my sister's guitar. I was out of my mind. I 'was' the drummer. But no more. I meant it . This was it. There would be no going back; London, the music business would be ours."
They sniffed out Rikki and Rich, a couple of northerners (from Blackburn and Leeds). People scoffed at the North / South divide but DOGS all knew the north/south thing was a fake; invented as just another way to keep the vermin down. Any differences these five militant idealists had in geography they more than made up by their shared vitriol, blazing talent and an uncommon swagger. Johnny’s love of Shaun Ryder, The Jam and John Cooper Clarke and a shared hatred of the low-ambition banality that London had come to represent really bonded them.
They snarled at London. London, pretty soon, rolled over. DOGS picked up a rabid bunch of fans and critics began to froth.
"I've always wanted to call a band 'DOGS'," twinkles Johnny mischievously. "Dogs are hilarious, cool and hard. They're funny, stupid and they shit anywhere. Ha ha HA HA. But most of all dogs, like us five, are a PACK."
Lyrically dazzling, like Morrissey in a Weller headlock, and musically muscular it makes DOGS a fearsome beast both onstage and on record.
And like the best packs they're voracious fighters, always with a snarl on hand for the foolish strutters and empty posers, each member brings their own special strengths to the band:
Luciano born in Buenos Aries, despite his ferocious guitar playing is reflective: "We were driven at first by hating school and the people that were at school. Then we loved and fell out with dance music at the same time. And then we found rock 'n' roll. That was the revelation."
Rikki 's guitar playing brings a stoner rock influence that gives a rare strength and power to DOGS. He's also got a very individual talent: "We all push and pull in the same direction. I'm always being an arsehole, yet somehow keep people in line."
Rich is the joker. With a possible gig as the drummer of the band on the line, he should have told them about his genuine fondness for perhaps forerunners like Keith Moon and Stewart Copeland, instead he told them: "I'm only into Japanese brutalist noise." They took him on regardless.
Meanwhile, Johnny's honesty and forthrightness is only equaled by Duncan's “Look, we're just a bunch of cunts and chancers… And we're fantastic."
As well as being a mesmerising front man, Johnny is an articulate headstrong man, a mile-a-minute stream of insights and revelations with an opinion on everything. But above everything else, he's annoyed.
"I can't tell you how angry we are," says Johnny eager to explain himself. "Whenever we play, it's always like a scrap - sometimes with ourselves but mainly with the fakers. It keeps us strong. We mean it. I can't tell you how angry I am and always will be. I can't get over it."
And he taps his head, "But we fight up here, see? That's what makes us so good. Every song is TRUE. And it translates to other people. It's so truthful it hurts. This band understand how it feels. There hasn't been a band this passionate for three decades."
Summer 2004 DOGS went wild in the country. They recorded an album that bristles with vitriol and the twelve tunes are delivered with a sneer and a sarc’y grin.
From their first ever single release last autumn, it seems DOGS have set out as they mean to go on. National radio stations embraced the double A-side ‘London Bridge’ and ‘End Of An Era’ giving the former unprecedented airplay for the newcomers and the Times newspaper said it was “the debut single of the year”.
Follow up single ‘She’s Got A Reason’ (February 2005) contains a classic example of Johnny Dogs’ unique song writing sang froid “I liked you better when you liked me as well....”,
This kind of drop dead literary venom is splattered across the album, the killer punk ferocity of ‘It’s Not Right’ is DOGS in full assault mode. Whereas songs like ‘Donkey’ and the epic ‘Red’ reveal a heartbreaking underbelly that makes you fear the pain that might have inspired them.
Elsewhere, the superb ‘Tarred & Feathered’ displays why it’s such a live favourite amongst the burgeoning DOGS fan base and ‘Wait’ is surely an all time classic love song moshing down the indie disco.
The singles ‘Tuned To A Different Station’ and ‘Selfish Ways’ have got respectively the bounciest piece of misanthropy ("I'll bring you firewood, but I'll burn your house down") that's ever graced a song, while ‘Tuned...’ is a full on paranoid assault, as a brittle Johnny threatens to fall apart while always, always keeping his anger aflame. Never has rage been set to such a totally brutal and brilliant tune. Don't be surprised if you find salvation in this despair. Whatever the breadth, even on the contemplative album namesake 'Turn Against This Land', every song has passion that's impossible to fake. Although others will, undoubtedly, try.
All of this, dog watchers, is exactly two years after they originally formed. The debut album 'Turn Against This Land', recorded in Cornwall at the legendary Sawmills Studios and produced by John Cornfield, is due in the early summer of 2005.
‘Turn Against This Land ’ by DOGS
1. London Bridge 7. Tuned To A Different Station
2. Selfish Ways 8. Tarred and Feathered
3. Donkey 9. Wait
4. End Of An Era 10. Heading For An Early Grave
5. She’s Got A Reason 11. Red
6. It’s not alright 12. Turn Against This Land