Interview: Keith Blaikie of Dog Tired

Hot on the heels of reviewing their devastating new album The Electric Abyss which is to be released on 7th September, I caught up with drummer Keith Blaikie of Scottish bruisers and all round mad bastards Dog Tired. For a band that are doing everything themselves, they deserve to be recognised as being in their prime and able to win over any audience in the live front because they have mastered how to make a riff. Big fat chunky riffs that gets your whole body moving like you are possessed. If you don’t believe me, watch the video at the end of this enlightening interview! I thank Keith and wish Dog Tired the best of luck for their album release show on September 7th at La Belle Angele in Edinburgh.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

We’re from a town called Penicuik, just outside of Edinburgh in Scotland.

How long have you been playing together as a band?

I think it’s about 14 years, I lose count! Literally started it as kids in our drummer’s dad’s garage.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Absolute riffs with a very ominous undertone. It’s definitely a hybrid of loads of different genres. There’s some thrash, some groove, some Strapping-esque bits and even some nuggets of death. I reckon our sound makes us unique. We have a very different vibe to each song we write, which keeps things interesting, while still maintaining the overall Dog Tired sound. We try and avoid all of the songs on an album sounding indistinguishable.

On September 7th, you are releasing your fourth album entitled The Electric Abyss. How does it feel to get the new album out there for the masses to hear for the first time and how have the responses been?

We can’t wait to release it! We’ve been sitting on it for a little while now and are desperate to let people hear it. We sent a couple of the tracks to a select few people just to judge opinion on the sound etc, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve also sent it to a few reviewers and had loads of great feedback. The instrumental on the album, “Hunter’s Moon”, has even been compared to “Call of Ktulu” by Metallica, and that’s a huge compliment!

How would you say it compares to that of your earlier material and do you think you have found the sound you strive for or will Dog Tired continue to keep experimenting?

This is definitely our most intense and technically proficient album we have ever released. We seem to gradually get heavier album by album, which is the opposite to most bands! The album was recorded in our jam room by Jamie Gilchrist (of King Witch) and the sound he has managed to get is unbelievable! It definitely matches with the vision we had for the album. I think we’ll continue down this path, but there’ll be experimentation along the way. We take a lot of influence from bands we see or like and then integrate this into our sound. This includes bands we play with when touring, and helps our sound to constantly evolve. We’ll stay heavy though. Don’t worry about clean choruses suddenly showing up in the mix!

Its been roughly three years since the release of your last album It Came From The Sun. Was it a case of the band wanting to make sure that they have everything perfect before recording?

We’ve taken about three years between each one. I think promoting and touring an album, then beginning to jam new material, then honing it into a level suitable for recording takes us around this time. If we didn’t have day jobs in the way we’d be firing out albums! It does give you time to reflect on what you’ve done and change or scrap songs before the album is recorded. 3 years just seems to suit us perfectly!

Is there a main lyricist within the band? What are the lyrics mainly about?

Luke (guitarist) is definitely the main lyricist in the band. His head is just full of ideas and concepts all the time. Most of them take influence from horror, or are like the classic 80’s version of the future. We’ve definitely got John Carpenter to thank for some of the subject matter! The songs on the new album all have different subjects, but there is a running theme with this ominous void, beckoning. The album is basically what is happening beyond the void. The Electric Abyss is the first track and this is about passing through it. Then it goes on to different horrors. I (Keith) think of the Electric Abyss as a personal hell, and the different songs are other peoples versions of hell, but the whole thing is written so that you can take your own meanings from the songs/general theme.

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio?  Where do you get together and record?

We normally practice two nights a week and sometimes on a weekend. Our jam room is in Newbattle, in what I believe is an old women’s barracks. As said earlier, this is also where we recorded the album. The whole thing has been very DIY this time round. The recording, mixing and mastering was done by Jamie Gilchrist (King Witch), the artwork was done by Laura Gilchrist (also King Witch) and the photos and video were done by Alan Swan. As they are all good friends, it has definitely been the most relaxed time we have had with creating an album. It’s much easier to go back and forth with ideas for sound/design etc with someone that lives a few miles away! They really helped us to create the exact album we were visualising. The jam room is also the room we recorded the video for “Dagoth’s Nine” in, which we’ve just released.

How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Dog Tired a band where all members contribute to the songs?

The songs come together over time with a lot of jamming, but they always begin with Luke bringing all the riffs to the table. He’s definitely the main songwriter, but we all have input. It normally begins with jamming a riff and everyone getting the gurn on, then Luke will go home and not sleep for a few days while the riffs go through his head. I’ve literally heard recordings on his phone of him singing riffs when he was caught with and idea and no guitar.

Being a four piece and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?

We are writing exactly the type of music we want to hear. I think that’s the best way to be with a band, as it makes you really sure and proud of your material. We have all been mates for most of our lives, so we actually all have similar tastes, which comes in handy when writing.

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs?

It can be a bit of a nightmare, as you have to ensure that four people can get the holidays and have enough days left when booking. It’s sometimes difficult when the gig is short notice. We’ve managed so far, but we’re hoping to keep getting more and bigger gigs, which might make clashes with work inevitable. But you need the job to fund the gigs!

Do you have plans to go on more bigger tours and further afield in 2019?

We want to play in as many places as possible. We’ve played the Netherlands before, but haven’t managed to venture any further into Europe. We are currently on the look out for dates in countries further afield. It can be hard to get across without a contact in the particular country, so gig swaps seem to be the way to go at the moment. We’d love to get some festival dates in other countries. We’ve got more gigs in the Netherland’s coming up, and a lot of England and Ireland dates in the pipeline, so we’ll just build on that.

How hard is it for a metal band like Dog Tired to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?

We’ve never been a money driven band, we tour, play gigs and record albums because we love doing it. Due to the expenses involved you hardly ever turn a profit, plus we rinse all of our cash on beer at the venues while watching other bands! It’s expensive, and we’re all definitely in debt, but it’s worth it!

Before the internet, magazines and fanzines were the places to find out about new bands and trends. Now publications are replaced with thousands of websites catering for all genres. Do you think that some of the passion has been lost or do you think that the internet has been a good thing for music and Dog Tired?

I think there’s good and bad aspects of the rise of technology for bands. On the one hand, you can contact people all over the world and organise gigs, without the need for a direct contact. You can also upload music immediately and let the world hear it, however, the ability to do this has also diluted the scene so much as you get about 1000 terrible bands for every really good one online. It becomes a sea of available music, which means getting people to actually check out your music in the first place becomes a task. I don’t think you’re going to get metal bands that get to the levels Metallica and Maiden etc reached anymore, as the metal crowd has been split into so many subgenres online.

Back in tape trading days, it was more just metal, and they could be the biggest metal band in the world, whereas now, I don’t think that’s possible. You could maybe be the biggest thrash band, or the biggest doom band, but it would never reach the astronomical levels of the old heavyweights. I think people were probably more likely to go to gigs before the internet too, as people really felt they were missing out if they didn’t go. I reckon there might be a change fairly soon though, as people start to reject the social media way of life, as being constantly connected seems to be causing a lot of mental health issues etc. Advances have allowed us to make an album that sounds great without the need for paying huge fees for studio time, so there are definitely positives!

What are the rest of your plans for 2019?

We launch The Electric Abyss on 07/09/2019 in La Belle Angele in Edinburgh. It’s set to be a stormer of a night and we’ve got some amazing bands joining us on the bill. Come along to see King Witch, Disposable, Perpetua, Lethal Injury and Solar Sons. If you haven’t heard of these bands check them out! We’ve then got a tour set up following the launch, full details of which can be found on our Facebook page. We’re just going to try to get as many people as possible to hear the new album!

Being from Midlothian, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend?

There’s literally too many to list even locally, the scene up here is packed with great bands. Check out King Witch, Iron Altar, Sapien, Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves, Lucifer’s Corpus, Disposable, Perpetua, Solar Sons, Razor Sharp Death Blizzard, Scumpulse, Ramage Inc, Somaesthesia, Anaxor, Hammer, God Damn Brewery, Juniper Grave, Black Talon, Kingpin, Runemaster, Burning The Dream, Firebrand Super Rock, Certain Death, Ifreann, Centrilia, Bacchus Baracus, Catalysis, Robot Death Monkey, Dolour, Cultmaster. There are loads more too!

A fun question to end this interview.  If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

Strapping Young Lad – Alien

Gojira – From Mars To Sirius

Metallica – either Master… or And Justice

Judas Priest – Firepower / Turbo depending on the party

A really shan 80s compilation

And we’d sneak in The Electric Abyss, it’s not really a party without some main tunes in the kitchen!

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

Cheers if you’ve checked out the album or watched the video. If you haven’t yet, get it done! We hope to see you at one of the shows!

The Electric Abyss is out September 7th

Dog Tired: official | facebook | twitter

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