Tuesday, February 16, 2016

THE DOGS: THEIR HISTORY from 1960s DETROIT to PRESENT DAY HOLLYWOOD

 •originally published in Paraphilia Magazine, 12.4.11•
(several newly available photos have been added since initial publication)
 
THE DOGS ROCK FOREVER. HERE'S WHY
by Heather Harris
All photographs by Heather Harris unless otherwise indicated

Maniac young twenty-somethings already ferocious virtuosos, The Dogs played a Whisky A Gogo gig with their Do-It-Yourself, Radio Free Hollywood consortium chums The Motels and The Pop which I reviewed for Performance Magazine.  Immediately, I was a goner. The Detroit-spawned hard rock power trio sported a peripatetic singer/songwriter/guitarist who seemed to have taken it upon himself to ape both Iggy Pop AND James Williamson simultaneously; plus an all-crashing crescendos-all-the-time bashing drummer; and a beautiful, black-haired proto-punk female who seemed to be encroaching on Jaco Pastorius territory, clean but busy bass-wise. They wrote their own great 1,000 mph songs, wailed out a few choice covers like "Kick Out The Jams," reeled around with the music flashing flying V guitars, and projected the perfect us against the world barrier, courtesy of the guitarist and bassist who were a couple as well as bandmates, aided by the perfect thug drummist. I felt as if I could watch them for hours. I was knocked out by them thirty five years ago. 'Still am, because they're still playing and recording.

The Dogs, 2015

photo below by John Lindemann. Rodney Bingenheimer, Mary, Loren of The Dogs, Max Lazer 1977;          ↓The Dogs and Rodney, 2013
  


  
The timeline of my initiation and subsequent review is 1976, and Jimmy Carter is battling it out with disgraced Dick Nixon's successor Gerald Ford.  Post pub-rock saving 4/4 hard rock for its own future, punk rock is percolating amongst assorted anarchies in the U.K.  Punk synchronicity erupts in New York City, where so many nascent punkers remembered a threesome of Detroit kids in leather jackets and torn jeans (their normal street clothes since they couldn't afford stagewear) who opened for The Dictators, Kiss, The Stilettos (early Blondie,) Eric Anderson (!) and Television circa 1974 (Nixon resigns, successor Ford pardons Nixon, first pocket calculators become available the public) playing Michigan rock & roll a la their local contemporaries the MC5 and The Stooges: The Dogs...

THE DOGS with Sid Vicious and Tony Sales, 1976, photographer unknown, digitized by John Lindemann

The timeline, however, really reared its pointy little head in 1968, the year Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, when Phil Ochs and The MC5 were the only musicians putting their money where their political mouths were by playing the turbulent anti-Vietnam war protests at the Chicago Democratic convention, and Lyndon Johnson realized the error of his Presidency, declined nomination and paved the way for the succession of Richard Nixon. The year a 10th grade guitarist, Loren Molinare, bucked his school rock bands ongoing since 7th grade (roll call check in for Loren & The Lovables, the Clayton Squares, and Blues Depression!) to turn pro with a drummer pal by advertising for a real bassist.  In walked one of the few real bassists of the XX chromosome persuasion in the Detroit/Michigan rock scene besides Suzi Quatro (then of The Pleasure Seekers,) one Mary Kay.
photo by John Lindemannm, The Dogs, early 1970s in Detroit                            


     



Later lineup, Hollywood, 1985




Mary at my Venice Calif. house, 1986
 
With her stage name fashioned after legendary bassist Carol Kaye ("Good Vibrations" and 1,000s of other chart hits,) (the makeup magnate was less known during that era,) Mary knew her field and already had her chops down at a fairly young age. Explains Mary, "I always loved music, despite growing up on a pretty isolated farm in Michigan. I used to stand on top of the tractor and pretend the wheat waving in the winds was an audience applauding me. I later taught myself keyboard on some other neighbor's piano, and took choir in school just so I could be doing music. But when I heard the bass lines of 'Bernadette' by The Four Tops when it first came out on the our local Motown radio, I immediately knew that's what I wanted to do. And I've played bass ever since."
                                                                     Mary at the Dog House, 1987↓

photo by John Lindemann, late 1960s, Detroit                                                                                         The Dogs, Hollywood, 1988
 




Mary then shaped the direction and even nomenclature of the teenaged, newly pro band. Adds that onetime 10th grade guitarist Loren, "She came in with the Stooges' single 'I Wanna Be Your Dog.'  The fact that Iggy sang that he wanted to be someone's dog was plain brilliant, I mean--man's best friend! So...I thought we should call the band The Dogs. When we first gigged as The Dogs everyone hated the name, yelling 'how can you call yourselves dogs?!'  We then thought, we're pissing people off with the name so we kept it, which shows our early punk attitude."  With its 1968 genesis, these Dogs from Detroit via Lansing obviously were first with this iconic band name, despite later poseurs on The Continent.
Studio portrait 1988, l-r: Tony Matteucci, Danny DeMuff, Mary Kay, Loren Molinare

So these teenaged Dogs ("just kids" as Patti Smith has now entered into the vernacular) guitarist Loren Molinare, bassist Mary Kay, drummers Art Phelps then Ron Wood (another celebrity name convergence, but the other Ron Wood was Jeff Beck Group's bassist at the time, not a Rolling Stone guitarist) opened in 1969 ("It's 1969 okay, all across the U.S.A. Another year for me and you, another year with nuthin' to do" squalls Iggy Pop in The Stooges) for the MC5 at the Crystal Lake Palladium, supported S.D.S. and all the (original, sigh) anti-war stuff while frequently being arrested for starting riots there. Media-wise, The Dogs' arrest for public nuisance during a house party gig made the Lansing MI newspaper, and somewhere in the webcloud, band friend Sue Phelps has a shot of MC5-era Wayne Kramer making a grab for Mary's breasts.

Loren in a recording studio, 1986
               
Be it known that The Dogs appreciated the 5 not only for their music but also for their personal helpfulness, as the legendary rockers often advised the newcomers on the pitfalls of the music business. The Dogs released their first single "John Rock And Roll Sinclair" (a treatise on the band's complex relationship with their manager, but done simply!) The Dogs again opened for the MC5 at the Grande Ballroom in 1972 (last man walks on the moon via Apollo 17, McGovern loses to Nixon, Nixon opens relations with "Red" China, eleven Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics, gasoline shortage in the U.S. causes first rationing of same since World War II) when the former loaned the latter their gear. "Wayne and Fred used my Marshall stacks!" gushes Loren. But then loudness done professionally was always their aim and result, vis a vis their Daytona Beach, Florida gig. He continues, "It was gonzo, we played to a 10,000 person audience there, and people told us they heard us five miles away with our four stacks of Marshalls blasting!"

                                                           1977 for THE DOGS

The Dogs had became a traveling commune of a dozen people including their own soundperson ("who we hired after we found him, this strange guy sleeping on our couch one day!" laughs Mary. To this day Ray Perez helps with their sound,) their own P.A. system and their own truck. DIY before DIY, just like punk before punk with future punks recalling the group  as the first young musicians they knew who did not live with their parents whatsoever and indeed did everything themselves. So The Dogs played for free, played festivals all over the U.S., moved to NYC (1973, 8,000 life-sized terra cotta warriors are discovered in China, Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigns for alleged malfeasance and President Nixon finally pulls the last U.S. troops out of Viet Nam) maybe kick-started punk at CBGB's (see above,) moved to Hollywood CA  (1975, Microsoft is founded, Jimmy Hoffa disappears, the assemble-it-yourself Altair is the first home computer for sale to the public, Patty Hearst is arrested despite obvious Stockholm syndrome of a kidnapee,) refused to pay-to-play here in L.A., definitely kick-started DIY punk in L.A. with their Radio Free Hollywood four-walling of live venues along with chums The Motels and The Pop since clubs wouldn't book unsigned acts, opened for Van Halen, AC-DC, all the later punk legends, Guns N' Roses, in fact you name 'em, they probably opened for them.

They survived Phil Spector's gunplay decades before his arrest, sold everything they owned to relocate to the U.K., toured same and Northern Ireland in 1978 (onetime neighbor Mary told me that our '94 Northridge earthquake damage reminded her of a normal Belfast urbanscape.) "The 'checque' bounced and we had to bet on the horses via a bookie to get out of town," confides Loren. Then the company that had encouraged them to expat to England pulled out. He adds, "We ended up squatting in north London in vacant houses in the middle of January, freezing our asses off. It was a great time to appreciate the good ole USA!" Re-relocation to L.A. ensued.

 
Live at charity benefit hosted by Tina Louise, 1986







1978 (Bianca Jagger divorces Mick, Nancy Spungen is stabbed to death and soulmate Sid Vicious is charged, Jim Jones leads 900 lost souls to suicide oblivion, and a somewhat more positive cult leader, Pope John Paul dies, is hastily replaced) however proved pivotal for their recorded posterity. They self-released the singles "Slash Your Face," "Fed Up" and Barbarians' cover "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl." Their "Younger Point Of View" with its withering putdown "I seen Chicago on the teevee! I didn't make Woodstock..." was one the centerpieces of the Los Angeles punk compilation collection "Saturday Night Pogo" (for which yours truly applied the Art Direction and design. Shout out to inclusion of my better half, Mr. Twister's punk band Chainsaw therein) on Rhino Records.
Mary and Loren, 1988


Significantly that year, Journey's and Dogs' manager Lou Bramy rented a 24-track mobile unit to record The Dogs' set at the Mabuhay, San Francisco CA. You can't believe the fierceness, ferocity and virtuosity of these three live. Incomprehensibly, record companies passed, Wood the drummer jumped ship for punkers Channel 3 and the remaining band took a sabbatical in Colorado but at least the seeds were sown. Thanks to these tracks eventually given a much later, deluxe release by Lee Joseph's Dionysus Records as The Dogs - Fed Up!, the cult legend grew. Henry Rollins in his segue from Black Flag frontman to solo artist to DJ to media personality name-checked The Dogs out loud, and Spin Magazine listed their "Slash Your Face" single as one of the Top 10 great punk rock songs of all time.

Live at The Metro, Reseda Calif. Aug.25,1988, last gig before decade-long hiatus

The 1980s, a decade beginning with PacMan, the middle finding the rise of the CD and assorted new technology, and ending in the fall of the Berlin Wall/Soviet communism found the band retrenching with another name- Attack- and with an incredibly worthy and stylisticly creative drummer Tony Matteucci, whose c.v. includes recording with Chris Squire and his ex-wife in England, and playing monster Metal festivals in South America alongside every major name metal god you can imagine with concomitant tv, radio and newsprint media interviews amongst other anecdotes. Remembers Tony,"Two of the shows were in football stadiums. Doing lines of pure Bolivian blow with the promoter was one of the highlights. One of the low points, however, was the authorities confiscating our passports when we entered one of the countries (invalid work visas they said, despite long ago, extensive preparations) and didn't return them until we were at the airport getting ready to leave. And then they charged us an undisclosed exit fee, but who's going to argue with guys in fatigues carrying assault rifles?!"

 
        

Studio portraits, 1987




 A heartbreakingly close miss to being signed to Atlantic Records splintered the band, with Loren joining rising soul-rock stars Little Caesar, signed to Geffen when it really counted.  Mary went metal full-time in the all-femme She Rok featuring singer Emi Canyn (eventually of Motley Crue, both as backup singer and spouse) amongst other offshoots and later with Tony formed Kanary around former Precious Metal songbird Leslie Knauer, once called the 38th best rock singer ever, male OR female, in rock music by some British music trade we can't recall readily. Lots of others for all three, truth be known.

 
Mary Dog in two versions of metallists She Rok, left with singers  Emi Canyn (Nasty Habits/Motley Crue) and Pamela Mason right; below with Tami Peden and Jan King in alt-blues Crying Blue Sky
 
   Little Caesar, 1988 and 2016 
Kanary, with Mary and Tony of The Dogs plus Leslie Knauer, formerly of Precious Metal, currently of Naked Hand Dance 
2002, reunion gig with original Detroit drummer Ron Wood plus New York Doll Arthur Kane and Precious Metal/Kanary's Leslie Knauer


The first reunion erupted in 2000 (George Bush and Al Gore dead heat, America eventually loses with the win of the former,) and the second, attended by the likes of Arthur "Killer" Kane of the New York Dolls, was documented by me in 2002.  (Everything in timelines now blends together after Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism and the rise of digital technology; besides, most Paraphilia readers would be alive and sentient by these dates.) 

Like most modern groups, they've all played in other bands for the last two decades and continue to do so. Loren still does double duty as guitarist in Little Caesar as well he should: the band features one the world's premiere hard rock/soul/metal/R&B singers on the planet, the formidably tattooed Ron Young (seen antagonizing Arnold Schwarzenegger and being tossed through a bar window for his troubles in Terminator 2.) The Caesars released three albums on Geffen in the late 80s/early 90s, broke up amongst personnel changes that saw no less than Earl Slick amongst their ranks, and recently reunited to tour Europe in 2011 (Ed.- they still do.)


Yay, the present! which finds The Dogs currently managed by Requiemme, the mgmt./booking concern run by Mario Escovedo of the intensely famous in music Escovedo family, Santana's Cokie Escovedo, Sheila E., roots rocker brother Alejandro Escovedo, punk rocker brother Javier Escovedo of The Zeroes whom I spotlighted in my 1977 book Punk Rock 'n' Roll, (the first published on the subject in the U.S. It went to press the week the Sex Pistols broke up.)


But how many domestic musicians remain authentic enough to ride out becoming cult legends around the world?  After Lansing chums filmed a live gig dvd of the band and Detroit Jack released a tribute to The Dogs, the Doggy Style cd with dozens of young Japanese bands wailing away their favorite Dogtunes with a promised DVD documentary of his to come, The Dogs easily packed venues in their 2007 tour of Japan. And mere mention of them astounded Mr. Twister's record company in Italy during Chainsaw's reunion Euro-tour in 2004 ("You are friends with The Dogs?!? Heather actually walks her dogs with Mary Kay and her own dogs?!")  Raveup Records' honcho Pierpaulo DeIuilis explained that The Dogs represented the very top of cult bands ever, meaning bands that now are highly celebrated despite a lack of mainstream/traditional record company-based career, with whatever they self-recorded back in the day going for astronomically high prices to collectors.
          The Dogs at the Doll Hut, South Bay Calif. punk club,2010

So how many bands never really plugged in or got any payoff and yet DIDN'T QUIT?  They've survived personal fall-outs, triple-bypass heart surgeries, major addictions, not to mention the foremost enemy of rock and roll, the Passing of Time. 

Left, at the Coconut Teazser in Hollywood,1988; right, at a South Bay punk club, 2008
 

How many others have kept their actual teenage dream alive (Mary and Loren were once high school sweethearts remaining bandmates despite inevitable breakup) this late into adulthood without recompense? As full time artists despite all day jobs?





All this info only supplements the major aspect of The Dogs to their fans: their music. This music accomplishes all the impossible paradoxes of all great art: concomitantly complex yet simple, personal yet universal, and always mind-blowingly right for power trio-hard rock. It'll always speak for itself. As promoters have always noted upon introduction to them, you can't believe the witty, cheerful, unproblematic people you first meet as The Dogs are such hardcore, speedmetal-fast, technically adept, monster players. In person, don't be fooled by their friendliness, Mary's flirty laugh alongside her near technical perfection on bass, and Tony's can-do agreeability belying his own complete drum mastery. 

Current family responsibilities find Loren frequently on the road for Blackstar Amplifiers and Korg. The onetime self-styled "dog" of another meaning, ladies' man and thrice-married in three years' time Loren is now a dedicated family man, "Married nineteen years to my hip NY chick Julie: third time's the charm! Our oldest Marlon is graduated college this year and our youngest Aidan now is taller than me with even more piss and vinegar, giving me a hard time with his warped sense of humor. I love 'em all!"

Loren Molinare, Mary Kay, Tony Matteucci in the recording studio, 2011

They remain genuine, lifelong subversives. "We are still a DIY band," acknowledges Loren in summer, 2011,"but nowadays it's always a time and money thing. It has not been easy for this band over the years. But our friends, family, supporters and fans believed in us and what we represented with our music, even when we occasionally lost sight of our dreams. Right now we're finishing up our new release Hypersensitive in the works. It will be in the fashion of what we always were and still are: a kick ass Detroit-styled band with a message and a drive to acknowledge our own hopes, dreams, fears and things we see happening in the modern world, and I hope everyone relates to it and picks up on the vibe. Get ready world for The Dogs 2011 and beyond!"

Can a band rock forever at the same crazed intensity with which it began?  
If you're The Dogs, hell yeah!

 The Dogs filming a video, 2015
Mary Kay showing off tats and swag, 2013
(Nepotism disclaimer: I've known The Dogs as clients and friends for two and a half of their four decades while considering bassist Mary to be my closest female friend since 1985 even from afar. As of this writing she's a self-professed "bi-coastal, hah!" between Michigan and Las Vegas.)

 
-Heather Harris
 July 28, 2011
 Van Nuys, Calif.



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