Monday 27 February 2012

Dog Is Dead // Interview & Live Review

Dog Is Dead; 5 lads from Nottingham, recently signed to Atlantic Records,
 bringing us their unique blend of harmonious, euphoric indie-pop. 
Est.1987 caught up with Rob [vocals/guitar], Trev [bass/saxophone] and Dan [drums] ahead of their Leeds Cockpit show where they talk to us about their unique sound, appearing on Skins, oh and setting their dressing room on fire!

Dog Is Dead [DID] are stepping out on their headline tour and couldn’t be more exited about it. They’ve worked hard to get to this point and have paid their dues in support slots with the likes of OK Go and Bombay Bicycle Club, whom they’re often are compared to. Using the fan base they’ve gathered from these shows, the boys give the same help to their supports this evening, lead singer Rob admitting that it’s “nice to be able to go on our own tour and take bands with us that we really love as well.”

Trev on saxaphone
And when the quintet aren’t up on stage or being interviewed by press,  what do they like to do? Well, what most men do- play a bit of five a side football, although the boys openly admit that they are awful and rarely win the games pitted against teams made up of their fans.  “Do you know what?” questions Rob, “We thought we would be playing against indie kids and we are actually playing against footballers and real teams. We thought it would be ingenious for someone to film it and we are so bad! And you watch back and you’re kind of like, “wow!” But, we are continuing to do it on this tour now.” And when they’re not playing football? Well, they are burning down dressing rooms, although drummer Dan admits that this was “a bit of, an exaggeration” on their part after tweeting the news. He explains the less rock ‘n’ roll story of how they “were making cheese on toast but only had a toaster so put the toaster on its side and then just burnt it and then it was on fire”. "More like charcoal on toast" laughs Trev.

The Nottingham five-piece have come a long way since meeting all those years ago at school and document their coming of age and experiences within their music: “the lyrics are always kind of part autobiographical” discloses Rob. A natural storyteller Rob admits “I like painting pictures with my music really. If you can put out something interesting about your way of thinking or a tale, then I think it’s worth a lot.” And the fact that acclaimed producer David Kosten (“Everything Everything, Bat For Lashes”) wanted to work with them is testament to their music’s success. DID’s hotly anticipated album is “seventy percent complete” says Dan and the boys are getting straight back into the studio after this tour run to finish it off before its release around autumn.
“The most recent singles that we have done gives the best idea of what the album will be like” says Dan, and with the new single release just around the corner it is an exciting time for the band and their fans. Latest single “Two Devils”, released March 4th, has a consciously darker side to previous singles “Young” and “River Jordan”. Rob explains that “especially with the video, we always wanted to explore the darker side of Dog Is Dead and we do have dark lyrics so we wanted to tighten that concept and make something quite unusual and extraordinary in the video.” Luck had it that famed horror director Prano Bailey-Bond wanted to get on board and take the band’s vision and turn it into a reality. And it definitely does the job “of showing a darker colour and a stranger edge to what DID do.”

Dog Is Dead on stage in Leeds
The five boys seem grounded and haven’t been sucked in by the industry yet,  acknowledging that “it’s more about the album” for them and Rob admits that “singles aren’t the be all and end all and it’s just a nice excuse to put a song out there and make a video.” The boys don’t let the pressure get to them either and whether or not they’re on the next “bands to watch out for list” is something they’re not hounded by, although Dan does admit “it’s nice to have that support and know you’re being watched by people that care.” 

DID just want to make music, but that hasn’t always been an easy path as Rob opens up about how the band first started and the journey they have been on to develop their sound;
When we put the band together, none of us were really that good at playing a lot of things. We all had an interest in music and valued it, so when we came together we thought what can we do? None of us could sing that well, so we just taught ourselves to do that. It wasn’t a conscious thing to be unique; it was just what can we add. If we were all great guitarists and bassists then I don’t know if we would have sounded a lot straighter. But, luckily we weren’t, and as much as we have had to learn a lot, it’s shaped our sound.

On stage at Leeds Cockpit
And indeed, their sound has shaped successfully and has got them thus far; a record deal with Atlantic, several festival performances under their belt and an appearance on Skins that we couldn’t leave without mentioning. Admitting that although they weren’t huge fans of the show, as it didn’t reflect any of their teen years, the quintet grasped the opportunity with open arms. 
Rob explains; “We got a call from the director saying he really liked our stuff and we thought it would be quite an unusual and interesting thing to do and explore. So, we gave that a go and it was actually a really great thing to do and think it made sense for what it was in context. We want to get as many strange experiences out of everything we do as a band.” And the “strange” experiences are bound to increase as the longevity of DID is looking healthy. 

2012 is set to be a busy year for the band; what with the release of the album, many a festival date and tour in the pipeline, and a lot of football to be played! So, be sure to check the boys out on the road whilst you can still get a ticket!

And here's what happened when Dog Is Dead took to the stage...

Trev on Bass
With their debut album not even released yet, Dog Is Dead [DID] have already successfully built up a strong fan base that is only set to grow. After ironing out a few technical difficulties, “River Jordan” opens the set to the ardent crowd: rapturous applause follows and the show has begun. Whether they would like to admit it or not, DID are indeed on most “bands to watch out for” lists and tonight they prove just why they deserve to be on there.

Debuting newer songs, which may give a nod towards what we can expect from the full length record, alongside well known singles, DID's live performance is electrifying. Proving they can translate their recorded songs on to the live stage, their set blends the youthful nature of certain songs alongside the more mature themes and darker tones. Forthcoming single “Two Devils” sounds even more haunting live.

Rob & Trev switch instruments 
Admitting that they weren’t the best musicians when they first started out, DID now have a firm grasp on an array of instruments. “Young” sees the Nottingham quintet switch things up a little; bassist Trev switches to the saxophone, whilst handing his bass over to lead singer Rob. The saxophone is just one example of the elements that the boys have mastered. The five part harmonies on songs such as “Head In Your Hands” euphorically build, giving the song and indeed the set, depth. DID aren’t afraid to try new concepts and although have a very full sound, understand that at other moments things must be stripped back and understated. And of course the set would not be complete without crowd, and indeed TV show “Skins” favourite,  “Glockenspiel Song”. As the song builds, the music is cut and the band pull everything back to chant along with the audience, the infamous line; “we are a mess, we are failures and we love it.”

Lead singer Rob on stage
DID have put in an impressive, confident and tight performance tonight here at The Cockpit and admit that they have moved up a league from playing the smaller room three to room two. And, if this evening was anything to go by, room one will soon be calling.

Dog Is Dead have recently been confirmed for the prestigious Live At Leeds 2012 festival. For more information and line up news click HERE.

And, if you cant't wait until then, well check the guys out on the rest of their headline tour:

February 27 – Newcastle Riverside
  • February 29 – Aberdeen Caf√© Drummonds
  • March 1 – Inverness Hootenanays
  • March 2 – Ullapool The Arch
  • March 3 – Stornoway The Woodlands Centre
  • March 4 – Aviemore Old Bridge Inn
  • March 6 – Glasgow King Tuts
  • March 7 – Edinburgh Electric Circus
  • March 8 – Belfast Auntie Annies
  • March 9 - Dublin Academy 2
  • March 10 - Lancaster Library
  • March 11 - Sheffield Plug
  • March 13 – Manchester Deaf Institute
  • March 14 – Brighton Komedia
  • March 16 – Southampton Joiners
  • March 17 – Cardiff Arts Institute