Story: Jack Foley
"I'VE always wanted to call a band 'Dogs'," twinkles
lead singer, Johnny Cooke, 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."
Dogs are Johnny Cooke (vocals), Rikki Mehta (guitar), Luciano
Vargas (guitar, vox), Duncan Timms (bass), and Rich Mitchell (drums).
Predominantly from London, they were formed two years ago in
a bid to overcome the crushing cogs of suburban boredom.
"Basically we lost our minds," admits Johnny, candidly.
However, having put a mini-band together - comprised of Johnny,
Luciano and Duncan - they found that London wasn't interested;
or rather, it kicked them in the balls and told them where to
So, naturally, they licked their wounds and regrouped.
Says 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
The trio subsequently sniffed out Rikki and Rich, a couple of
Northerners (from Blackburn and Leeds), determined to expose the
North / South divide as the fake that it remains.
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 to him really bonded them.
They snarled at London and London, pretty soon, rolled over,
with a growing number of fans keen to find out more about them
and critics beginning to hail them as the next big things.
Dogs' strength lies in the fact that
each member brings their own special strengths to the band.
Luciano was born in Buenos Aries and his ferocious guitar playing
is reflective of his upbringing.
"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," he explained.
Rikki's guitar playing brings a stoner rock influence that brings
added strength and power to Dogs.
And he also confesses to having 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," he admits.
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 equalled
by Duncan's 'Look, we're just a bunch of cunts and chancers…
And we're fantastic'.
As well as being a straight-talking 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," he explains.
"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."
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."
Fans will be able to judge for themselves when the lads' debut
album, Turn Against This Land, recorded in Cornwall at
the legendary Sawmills Studios and produced by John Cornfield,
drops in the early summer of 2005.