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
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
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,
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,
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
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
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