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Dogs - An exclusive IndieLondon interview


Interview: Jack Foley

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.

Hot off the back of their Top 40 breakthrough single, She’s Got A Reason, comes another plea from the underdog, in the form of Tuned To A Different Station - a raucous effort that embodies all of the fury we have come to expect from the band.

In an exclusive interview with IndieLondon's Jack Foley, Dogs lead singer, Johnny Cooke, talks about the new material, the band's story so far and their plans for the future.

Q. With the reaction to your music so far, it would appear that Dogs are barking up the right tree? Are these exciting times?
A.
They are indeed, after the doldrums of the nine to five grind it would be rude to say otherwise. However, there’s a lot of work to be done and no time for complacency, we need to keep fighting for this liberty.

Q. Why the fascination with Dogs? And what made you want to name a band Dogs?
A.
It could be related to Jack London’s ‘Call of the wild’, us being like Buck, yearning for a world without walls, looking for our true place in the world. Then again it could be that Dogs are cool and we love them. Besides, your not gonna forget it.

Q. How did you meet?
A.
Luc, Dunc and myself, ‘Johnny’, met during school days when bunking off in search of real education in the city. Soon enough, we packed our bags and off we went to the circus. Rikki was a fire eater and Rich was a bearded lady, the rest is history.

Q. Has the success of the band helped you to overcome your feeling of suburban boredom?
A.
Hold on, success? Wait a minute. We are proud of ourselves having stuck to our guns, we went over the top and survived, the real scrap’s just starting.
Anyhow, I believe our imagination's always saved us from real boredom, there’s a lot to do in this world if you use it, no matter where you are, but there was a pit at the end of the road approaching rapidly and the band has helped put distance between us and it.

Q. Have your feelings towards London changed any, given that you found it turned its back on you during the early days?
A.
It’s not London’s fault, it’s just some people. We were never part of the herd and to some that doesn’t compute. But soon enough you find kindred spirits, you just have to keep searching.

Q. You also mentioned that, as a pack, you loved and fell out with dance music. Have those feelings changed? How do you view the dance scene at the moment?
A.
Couldn’t be further from it to be honest. Back then it was a symbiosis of the music and the drugs, one without the other is redundant and we gave up pills a long time ago.

Q. And the music scene in general? This does seem to be a good time for guitar-based bands, doesn't it?
A.
Yes it is. But there are two sides to this coin. What with so many bands on the circuit, the odds favour the emergence of some great ones spilling through. Unfortunately, in their wake inevitably comes a bunch of crap. Still, Blighty seems to be in a healthier musical state than it has for donkeys.

Q. You must have been pleased with the chart success of She's Got A Reason?
A.
Quite pleased ta, have a listen to the B sides though, they’re better.

Q. What have fans got to look forward to from the forthcoming album, Turn Against This Land?
A.
It’s a smack in the mouth, it’s a shout ‘Wake up!, Come on!, We’re going out and we’re gonna make something fucking happen!!!’
It’s standing on London Bridge at night feeling lost and aimless but hopeful, and it’s a rallying call through the conch to the lost boys and girls, 'up yours to apathy and mediocrity'.

Q. What are its inspirations? Which are your favourite tracks and why?
A.
Strummer, Weller, Ryder, Cooper-Clarke, Hicks, Stones, Trad Irish, Adverse upbringings, Love, Loss, Death, Drugs, Philosophy, Sex, Madness, Your average day in the park; influences are incalculable, you’d have to dissect our brains.
My favourite tracks are Heading For An Early Grave, Tuned To A Different station and London Bridge. I wont tell you why because they are for people to make up they’re own minds about, they don’t belong to us anymore.

Q. You describe yourself as a very angry young bunch of lads; what is this anger driven by? What do you feel strongest about? Is the name of the album reflective of how you feel about Britain?
A.
It’s not always anger, probably best described as passion, hence my stated distaste for apathy. If you lay us all down on couches you’d most likely get a very good answer to that question, otherwise it would require some soul bearing as long as a thesis and that’s not happening.
The album title may have hints of a dissatisfaction with the country but only sections of it, as a band we would err to the left, but where is the left these days?
It really refers to a reaction experienced by anyone faced with futility of any type, to rebellion and irreverence, it advocates free thought and individualiy, think ‘1984’. However it is not advice, we are not advocating anarchy. It merely states what some of us do when we meet a brick wall.

Q. Any chance the anger is being tamed in light of success?
A.
No, this anger, let’s say passion, runs deep.

Q. Will the rest of the year be principally about touring? Which festivals are you playing and what dates are you most looking forward to?
A.
Don’t know to be honest, but we aint work shy.

Q. Looking beyond Turn Against This Land, what are your ambitions for Dogs? Will you continue to be a volatile presence? And do you intend to continue being the most passionate band of the last three decades?
A.
The things you say when pissed eh, like I measured it on a passionometer! I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow. We will write and play with everything we have and if people ‘get it’ then we’re happy; if they don’t, then we’re happy, we’re not stopping.

Q. Thanks and good luck in all things for the future...
A.
Your welcome, cheers. DOGS

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