As nice as it is to hear a band playing nice genteel, string soaked music with harmonies a plenty, you really canâ€™t beat the raw energy and power of seeing a proper rock and roll performance by a bunch of young blokes who really believe in what they are doing, who play every note on every instrument as if itâ€™s the last show theyâ€™ll ever have chance to play.
Dogs are one such band, based in London; theyâ€™ve gathered plaudits from the likes of Kate Moss through to Paul Weller, but more on the Modfather later. The band have just released their debut album Turn Against This Land to critical acclaim and look set to be one of the big plus points of the year from a British point of view.
We caught up with Rikki Mehta (guitar) and Rich Mitchell (drums) on a sun soaked afternoon before their recent gig at The Faversham in Leeds, the guys were supposed to be sound checking, but in a moment of rock and roll spontaneity we whisked them off to the beer garden to soak up the sun, drink some beer and chat to us about whatever they wanted to talk about for an hour or so. We start by them interviewing us!
Rich: Itâ€™s a website that you run isnâ€™t it?
TBS: Yeah itâ€™s an online music magazine; weâ€™ve been going for a couple of years.
Rich: Iâ€™ve seen a few reviews youâ€™ve done of ours on there, itâ€™s a good site.
TBS: Oh cheers (head swells considerably)
TBS: Enough about us thoughâ€¦..are you looking forward to the gig tonight?
Rich: Yeah I am, the venue is a bit weird.
Rikki: it looks like people should be wearing suits; itâ€™s like some sort of wine bar!
TBS: It does look that way but itâ€™s actually a student venue.
Rikki: No way!!
TBS: Seriously, itâ€™s right in the middle of the Uni
Rikki: Oh well thatâ€™s good it should be a good crowd then:
Rich: Well itâ€™s like a homecoming gig for me, as Iâ€™m from Bradford originally.
TBS: Have you got a lot of friends and family coming down?
Rich: Yeah Iâ€™ve got loads of friends and family coming, should be about fifty of them.
TBS: You should nearly fill the venue on your own then at that rate!
TBS: How has the tour gone so far
Rich: Yeah itâ€™s been good; we did the festivals first, T in the Park etc:
TBS: How was T in the Park?
Rikki: Oh it was great, it was our first ever festival, the place was rammed, we were on at the same time as Travis and Bloc Party and being in Scotland obviously we thought theyâ€™d all be there for Travis, but it was packed out.
TBS: What time were you on?
Rikki: We were on at 7.00, the weirdest thing though was backstage, we werenâ€™t exactly hanging out with people but we were right next to Snoop Dogg and Ian Brown is there and itâ€™s just a really great experience:
TBS: Did you get to see any of the other bands?
Rich: Yeah you got to see Queens of the Stone Age didnâ€™t you?
Rikki: Yeah I saw Queens who are my favourite band; I really wanted to see Interpol but missed them:
TBS: We saw Interpol in Manchester the other week, a really good live band, not great showmen just very good at performing live, the music does it all for them.
Rikki: Yeah they are one of my favourites at the moment, of all the bands that have come through into the mainstream they seem the coolest, somebody weâ€™d love to tour with, same with the Kings of Leon.
TBS: Have you had many decent support slots so far.
Rich: Yeah and we are touring with (Paul) Weller in November, heâ€™s a bit of a hero of ours.
TBS: How did that come about?
Rikki: Who was it through Rich?
Rich: Somebody played him Tuned To A Different Station and we then got a phone call saying that he was in a bar in Paris singing along to Tuned To A Different Station and he wanted us on the November tour.
TBS: That must have been a bit mind blowing?
Rich: Yeah it was I donâ€™t mind admitting heâ€™s my idol so to have him on board and supporting us is unbelievable.
TBS: Have you heard any of his new stuff?
Rich: Yeah Iâ€™ve heard the new track, itâ€™s good.
Rikki: The first 30 seconds is pure cheese on toast but after that I got really into it.
Rich: Iâ€™ve always loved his solo stuff a lot of people are either Jam fans or nothing, but I think heâ€™s done some great solo stuff, especially the first couple of albums.
TBS: Have you heard his recent covers album Studio 150? Itâ€™s got a real mixed bag of stuff on it.
Rich: Iâ€™ve not heard it no.
TBS: How about the Style Council, how do you stand on them?
Rich: Iâ€™ve not really heard them to be honest; itâ€™s always been the Jam and Weller solo stuff for me, I love Stanley Road and Wild Wood, and even the first album.
TBS: So no chance of a jazz / soul album from you guys in the next few years then?
Rikki: From us (ha ha) yeah we are going to do a six sided concept album next!
TBS: Talking of albums yours is out on Monday.
Rich: Weâ€™ve had it recorded for a year so itâ€™s just nice to get it out now.
TBS: Have you had chance to write or record any new stuff in that time then?
Rich: Yeah we have a lot of bands seem to fall on their arse as soon as they get the first one out, we are keen to make sure that doesnâ€™t happen so every chance we get we are writing.
Rikki: Thatâ€™s why we like people like Interpol and Kings of Leon, theyâ€™ve brought out brilliant second albums, which is what we intend to do.
debut album is for us one of those classic debut albums, but itâ€™s time for us
to move on now:
TBS: Itâ€™s a very angry sounding album?
Rich: Itâ€™s angry and raw, we listened to it again recently for the first time in ages and it surprised us how angry it seems.
TBS: Are you as pleased with it now as you were when you recorded it?
Rich: Yeah we are, the fact that we can put it aside for a bit and still get excited about it when we listen to it is a good sign. We didnâ€™t want to make an album like this in the background (Athlete are playing on the speakers).
Rikki: We recorded a lot of it live which I think helped to get the aggression into the record.
Rich: John Cornfield is a fuckin brilliant producer.
TBS: Yeah heâ€™s worked with a lot of people.
Rich: He suggested we go out to the country to record it, which worked for us.
Rikki: It was only the week before we recorded it that we found out that was where we were doing it.
TBS: So how does he go about getting you to record it?
Rikki: Basically what he did, we had the album pretty much ready, he came up with a couple of bits when we were rehearsing, he got us to demo the whole album.
TBS: Are you gonna work with him again do you think?
Rich: Well, the new songs are different to the debut album, when we demo it weâ€™ll decide from their how we want to do it and who with.
TBS: Have you started playing any of them live yet?
Rich: We actually opened our set at T in the Park with a couple of new songs.
TBS: Thatâ€™s quite brave!
Rich: We just thought fuck it letâ€™s do it, legends like Bowie and Nico would just go out and do it and not worry about how well known it was.
Rikki: Weâ€™ve also got the Leeds Festival coming up later in the year; I think we are booked onto the Carling Tent.
TBs: Itâ€™s a good little tent is the Carling, gets a good atmosphere in there.
Rikki: Iâ€™ve been for the last four years and seen a lot of good bands, people like the Raveonettes etc.
TBS: Oh a great band went to see them last night at The Cockpit.
Rikki: What were they like?
TBS: Really good, once they sorted their sound levels out!
Rikki: They had a similar problem when we played with them and it took them a while to sort out their sound. Amazing people though really enjoyed playing with them, very similar to us on tour (smiles)â€¦
TBS: Is this a sniff of a Beat Surrender exclusive?
Rikki: (laughing) yeah it could be but thatâ€™s another story for another day, Iâ€™m a good boy now anyway!
Rich: We just got on with them really really well.
TBS: Do you get any choice in who supports you or do you just get given them.
Rikki: We end to just get given them, itâ€™s like Louis tonight, I donâ€™t know anything about, I know there is a shit band called Louix VIX but itâ€™s not them!
TBS: Have you any idea where youâ€™re single is charting (Selfish Ways)?
Rich: I donâ€™t think it will, weâ€™ve not had a great deal of support on it really with TV or radio. Kerrang have been behind us from the beginning, we never really started it to be a Radio 1 mainstream band.
TBS: Zane Lowe has been behind you as well hasnâ€™t he?
Rich: Yeah he has, top guy, really nice, heâ€™s just cynical enough to like the right sort of bands but also present a fairly mainstream programme.
Rikki: Itâ€™s the same with Edith (Bowman) sheâ€™s really nice and also really into what she does.
TBS: Do you read your own press?
Rich: I read it, more so when we first started out like any band, but then you read stuff that has been written and you know that they havenâ€™t even listened to the record, they should be made to take some sort of exam before they review it really!
Rikki: And you can tell with some people that theyâ€™ve only heard the singles or the first two songs, they think they know exactly what you are about after that. We arenâ€™t bitter about it though we just ignore it; I suppose its times like this when you appreciate that people care about what you do.
Rich: Weâ€™ve had a lot of comparisons to Razorlight just because weâ€™ve got the same manager which is bullshit.
Rick: I like them I like the album, songs like Rip It Up are good, nice people as well, good band I like them, the production on the album is brilliant.
TBS: It sounds like youâ€™ve all got very different influences?
Rich: Yes we have me and Johnny are massive Jam and Clash fans and have been since we were young. Where as someone like Rik is more into stoner rock.
Rikki: Yeah I love bands like that coming through; I just hate the fact that when one good band comes through you suddenly find loads of similar bands that are all watered down versions in comparison.
Rich: Itâ€™s like a band like Interpol; suddenly you get all these bands springing up like Editors.
Rich: I do like a lot of Domino bands, a really good label whoâ€™ve obviously had a lot of success with Franz Ferdinand and have a really varied roster.
Rikki: I havenâ€™t really heard anything thatâ€™s got me excited for a while though.
Rich: People talk about music and say itâ€™s not the most important thing in the world, but I canâ€™t imagine living without it, we have a comment attached to us that someone said we are just a bunch of chancers. That pisses me off so much because it was a throwaway comment and couldnâ€™t be further from the truth, we work damn hard and put everything into what we do.
TBS: Yeah Iâ€™ve seen it itâ€™s on your press release!
Rikki: Music soundtracks everything though, certain periods in your life, some songs I find I have different songs that I canâ€™t listen to as it reminds me of a time in my life that I have bad memories about.
TBS: Music can also be an escape though as well.
Rikki: Yeah thatâ€™s true I hear bands like The Ordinary Boys singing about the sky being grey and boring, I just donâ€™t want to hear about stuff like that, people want to get away from all that.
TBS: Listening to your album, you ca tell whatâ€™s gone into it from yourselves.
Rich: Cheers man, I remember recording the last track for the album, called Red. My hands were nearly bleeding from recording it, but I wanted to remember recording this album.
Rikki: We have worked really hard to get where we are and we are all strong personalities who want to get on and we want to put a show on each time.
Rich: I saw U2 recently and Iâ€™ve never been a big fan, but they put on a great show.
Rikki: and theyâ€™ve got some amazing songs which you donâ€™t always realise. I think I like the fact that every time they come back they come back with an album a little bit different. You need to do that, to move on, too many times bands come back and regurgitate what has gone before.
TBS: Like Oasis?
Rich: Yeah theyâ€™ve got blander and blander as theyâ€™ve gone on, Definitely Maybe was a great album and they looked like the first band in 30 years that could be the new Stones.
Rikki: Thatâ€™s how I want it to work with us; I want us to keep moving on and doing something a little bit different every time.
Unfortunately at this point the band really did have to sound check and drinking beer with us wasnâ€™t going to help them do that, we bid them a fond farewell and continued our quest to drink more beer before returning a couple of hours later to see a storming live performance from the band.
The album Turn Against This Land is out now on Island Records.