This is the last of the ones I have typed up, but it’s a doozy. Dog Eat Dog were a great band in their day and I gather are still going, but only play a handful of dates each year. I would love to see them again, so here’s hoping they come back to the UK one day, or I can manage to get to a festival they’re on at.
The interview was done on the 16th of July at Bradford Rios. All questions are in bold, and Dave’s answers in normal type. There’s also a brief gig review at the end of this page. Full marks to Dave for being a complete gent – he forgot about the interview and turned up late… so he bought me a drink. Think you can bribe me like that, eh Dave? Well, you’re right! Thanks again, but you really didn’t have to! The band, especially John, looked well knackered when I turned up due to their hectic schedule. John had appeared on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast at 8am and had to be transported all the way up to Bradford afterwards. Mind, once they hit the stage later on you couldn’t tell. Anyway – on with the interview…
OK, to start. Play Games came out a year ago yesterday in this country. Why’s it taken you so long to get over here to promote it?
Um, well – do you want the truth or do you want me to make something up? Because the truth isn’t pretty! Basically as soon as the album was released, which was about a month and a half before England, we went on tour and did all the festivals. When it came to doing the full tour, the UK was very lax on promoting our singles, so we didn’t feel there was anything to come over here and promote. We went to Asia, we went to South America… we’ve been all over Europe, America… We did everything else but come to the UK. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to, but we wanted to go somewhere where we could promote our product and our record company, for some reason, wasn’t as behind us as they were the year before with the No Fronts single which was a big hit. Now, it’s a year later and we’re here because we love it. We have a new single out now that hopefully is being promoted – Step Right In. We like it a lot so we made our way back over here.
I have to say in Roadrunner‘s defense, they sent me God knows how many copies of Isms when it came out. When you come in here [Rios], it doesn’t seem to get played that often. The DJ tends to always go back to No Fronts.
Well, I guess when you make a song that some people consider a classic, it’s very hard. We knew that going into this record that it was going to be hard to get that out of people’s heads. But we’re not held back. We want to make music – we can’t wait to make music – and right after we leave here on Tuesday we’re going home to start writing our new record. We’re going right into it with an open mind and a lot more time to write this one as opposed to the last one. The last record was done under real time restrictions. I love the record and we’re really proud of Play Games. I feel as songwriters we did a better job of writing the songs than on All Boro Kingswhich people, for some reason, got really caught up in. With the new record, what we’re really hoping to do is get the old school All Boro Kings fans and the new school Play Games fans together, and new people. So we’re really gonna expand and do things that are very new.
Personally, I thought Play Games was a stronger album than All Boro Kings. All Boro Kings had some great tracks, but also some weaker ones. Play Games was just, on the whole, more varied and stronger.
I feel the same way, but the kids who get up to All Boro Kings are into harder music, whereas Play Games had a lighter feel to the whole thing. But it was more about songwriting. That was the whole thing. We went into it with “look, we’re happier now. We’re going to write about things that we know, have a little bit of a lighter side to us”. Because we’re not as angry as we were when we made all those songs for the Warrant EP and All Boro Kings. We’re changing as people and our music is a reflection of who we are, so we don’t go in there writing totally aggressive songs when we’re feeling really happy. There’s nothing we can do about it – we’re not going to lie to our public and come out with something that we’re not. We’re just going to write good songs. That’s totally where we’re coming from.
I heard about a year ago that there were plans to use Rocky to promote Guinness [it’s an Irish beer for thos who don’t know]. Did anything come of that because I’ve never seen the advert and I’ve been looking for it?
Oh, it happened but it was an Irish TV commercial. It played all over Ireland for a while, and it had a small instrumental section of Rocky. I personally have never seen it, but Sean (our guitar player) has a copy of it at home. He says that it’s very short and very good but it’s a cool commercial. For me having a bit of music that I wrote be in a commercial is wow! Especially for Guinness which is our favourite beer [I hasten to add that Dave hasn’t tried Newcastle Brown before, so he could be converted]. We were hoping that it was going to get picked up in the rest of the UK but it didn’t.
You did the festival circuit across Europe last year. How did Donington compare to the rest of Europe?
Well last year we played really big festivals. We did [excuse my spelling of any of these!] Rocksgilde, Pink Pop, Hollsfrede… all the major festivals. It was like a summer of huge festivals. Donington was the last one and it was an amazing one because we got to play with Kiss and Ozzy, two of our most idolized bands. For us it was amazing. The crowd was one of the best, I think 75 thousand people. I believe the second biggest audience we’ve ever played to. It was great. All my friends were backstage hanging out. You can’t ask for anything better than that. I actually got to shake hands with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.
Before you did Play Games there was a slight change of band members as well…
Right before Play Games Dave Moultby [apologies if I’ve spelt this wrong – I don’t have a sleeve liner with me. I’ll alter if if need be] left because he was having a real tough time with our schedule. It was just so crazy and he couldn’t take any more. His drumming wasn’t over the top and we needed somebody much stronger who could carry us to the next level and Brandon is definitely the guy we needed. He brings a lot of colour into the band and he’s such an amazing drummer. And just now, we’ve changed sax players. We pushed our sax player Scott out of the band, in the friendliest possible way, but it was something that had to be done. Now we’re hiring a saxaphone player, Paul, and we’re very happy. Dog Eat Dog is five members. A saxophone is an addition. Wherever we go in the future, we’re not going to have a permanent sax player. We tried it – it didn’t work. Before Play Games it was always a hired guy, through Play Games he was a band member and it didn’t work. The sax is a very important part of what Dog Eat Dog is, but we write the songs, we write the music, we write the lyrics. The saxaphone player never has been, and now we’re assuming never will be, a part of the writing process.
One thing I’ve always wanted to know. About the time Dog Eat Dog released the Warrant EP, the band Warrant released an album called Dog Eat Dog. Is that coincidence?
No, it was on purpose actually. This was my idea because I worked in a video store where they had albums out. We’d decided to call ourselves Dog Eat Dog and this album comes out called Dog Eat Dog. I got real bent out of shape because I thought it was an original name, and now everyone’s going to connect us with Warrant [She’s my cherry pie… *shudder*]. So when we made the EP I called up our A & R man and spoke to the rest of the band and said “Why don’t we call the album Warrant?” Everybody was, for some reason, thinking it was funny. That to me is legendary for many reasons. It was such an important part of what we were doing. We made a demo for the EP and we had a different drummer. Then when we got Dave he played the songs too slow and the whole EP came out twice as long as the demo! We should have just put our demo out as the first EP, but we felt we had to give Dave his chance. But looking back, I have to say it was a mistake.
[brief bit about MTV which leads to the song Rocky]
Rocky‘s one of my favourite tracks on Play Games. The only problem is it’s so short, so it’s over too fast!
Well, the thing with that song is I wrote the lyrics and music to it, it’s about me. That’s why I ended up singing it. It wouldn’t be right if John was singing it. It was really just a joke. I came to practice one day and I had it all in my head ready to go. John had to leave practice that day… actually, I remember now. I meant for him to sing it, but since he wasn’t there I showed the band how I wrote it. They thought it sounded good with me singing it, so I ended up doing it. It got such a good reaction when the record came out. It was a good pop song, people couldn’t get it out of their head, so we ended up making a video for it. But, I don’t know what happened to it in the UK and Europe. MTV didn’t give it much cover, though Viva [very popular German music station] gave it a lot of plays. Then with Step Right In our video completely fell through. We were all set to go with the new single, but so much went on – all senseless and it would be pointless for me to go into it right now – all politics and stuff stopped us from doing another video right now. We’re very disappointed, we’re very upset. It was the last chance to give this record one last kick before we go into the new one. Now, our plan is to get through this summer and work on that new album. See everyone next summer with a brand new record and tour forever!
How did you get Ronnie James Dio to sing on Play Games? Was it more or less a matter of just ringing up and asking?
Yeah, basically. It takes a little more than that, but in essence, yeah. “We love you, Ronnie James Dio, here’s a copy of our album and the song we’d like you to do. Do you like it?” And a couple of days later he said yes, he was. So he comes to the studio, does what we ask him to do, had a great time, hung out with him for a few hours talking about Black Sabbath and Dio and everything… And that was it. We were actually hoping to get him up there for Donington and he agreed to do it, but Ozzy wouldn’t let him. Basically, Ozzy’s management kept Dio from doing it. Well, those guys go way back longer than us and Dio do, so we didn’t want to fuck up anything at Donington!
I think that was the only Donington in history where it didn’t chuck it down with rain for at least some of the day.
Well, Dog Eat Dog brings the sunshine!
If I had to sum it up in one word: great! The band played a blinding set, including most of Warrant, half of All Boro Kings and a large amount of Play Games. Best of all, they played a few shouted requests from the audience, including World Keeps Spinning, which John admitted the band hadn’t played for about a year.
As a result, the set ran on for about 15 minites longer than it should so there was no encore. Hey, no bad thing – the band just didn’t leave the stage for a break when they would have (three tracks from the end according to the set list I pinched).
Dog Eat Dog were tight as a gnat’s ass, the crowd was wild, the security (or lack of it) lax and the atmosphere great. No trouble, no injuries and loads of fun. Fans were more than welcome on stage and welcomed to join in on a spare mike if they wanted.
This is the way all gigs should be!