A/V Room









Dogs - why everyone is getting hot under the collar

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 go.

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 be ours."
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.

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