Here at Safety In Sound, I like to stick by the new bands I champion. Back in September time, I wrote on here about a band I had discovered called Dog Is Dead, and have seen them come on leaps and bounds ever since, drawing in bigger and bigger crowds, accumulating some pretty crazy fans and attracting mainstream attention from many influential players in radio and print. Having announced a re-release of my favourite song of theirs (Glockenspiel Song), a slew of festivals ahead for the summer and the release of their debut album All Our Favourite Stories this autumn, I thought it would be only fair to chat to the boys about how they've got to this point, Harvey and Paul from the band answering a few basic questions via email to fill in all you people who may have missed them. So without further ado, here is your introduction to Dog Is Dead!
Let's start at the beginning: how and when did the band form?
The band formed in our final year of school. We were typical teenagers and thought we could change rock history just by picking up guitars.
When you started the band you were all still doing A Levels. Did you find it difficult to balance school work with gigging and making music?
A levels were, I'm sorry to say, pushed to the side for long periods of time. We went to a huge college with over 1,000 people in our year, so we'd spend half our time setting up gigs with friend’s bands and having crazy parties at venues in Notts.
The first time we met I (under the influence of alcohol) told you that I loved your band, but thought your band name was terrible, for which I can only apologise! How did the name Dog Is Dead come about, and do you stand by it or secretly wish you could go back and change it?
We were doing a school talent show and needed a name to enter. It was a stupid in-joke at the time so we decided to use “Dog Is Dead.” I think it's turned out to be more of a blessing than a hindrance; it's certainly memorable!
You got a lot of critical support quite early on as a band when two of your songs were included in an episode of Skins, which is quite influential when it comes to exposing new music to young people. Did you see any knock on effects from that appearance?
I think people became more aware of us internationally. It was a cool opportunity for us at the time and we were certainly a bigger band after the show than before.
Are you fans of the show? How do you feel about it being cancelled?
We don’t watch a lot of TV to be honest. Didn’t actually know it had been cancelled!
You once described your music 'an original blend of harmonious, indie-pop in the disco, with a cheeky jazz hint'. Did you consciously try to explore a more unique angle of indie or did it come about organically?
We are all big music fans and listen to lots of different genres. When we started making music we just wanted to make good music with whatever instruments we could. Trev was already a great saxophonist so it made sense to see how we could use it. And the vocals were just another instrument to make interesting sounds with.
Are there any particular artists who have influenced your sound?
We have a broad taste in music – Rob is into a lot of psychedelia and grunge.We all love Dire Straits, Cap'n Jazz, Bruce Springstein, Talking Heads, Beach Boys...
The five part harmonies are quite something to behold live. Do they take a lot of practice, and are they difficult to pull off when you’re all playing instruments as well?
When we started singing harmonies I think we were a bit over ambitious considering none of us were natural singers or classically. It took a long time and a lot of shows before they started to sound good. It hardest when we’ve been jumping around the stage for an hour and then have to hold long notes.
You came to a lot of peoples attention supporting Bombay Bicycle Club…. Were they nice to tour with?
We’ve been lucky enough to tour with lots of great bands. We’ve always had great experiences and made a lot of good friends.
You also supported Viva Brother, who announced a few months back that they had split, as well as The King Blues. Do you think it is harder for guitar bands to stay together and stay motivated when it’s such a crowded market?
It is hard for guitar bands at the minute, especially with R'n'B and hip hop dominating the charts. Viva Brother were unlucky with their timing, but there are still guitar bands doing well and it all moves in circles. Guitar music will be massive again.
You played some pretty odd and diverse venues on your last headline tour, including a library in Lancaster. Do you adapt your performance depending on the size/ type of venue or is a similar show all tour?
One of the greatest things about being at our level is we get to play in so many different types of venues. Once you start selling 2000+ tickets everywhere, there’s not a lot of choice. We have to be pretty flexible because sometimes we have to squeeze all five of us in a space barely big enough for a drum kit and other time’s we’ll be on a massive stage with two risers and a big lights show. We just try to put on a great show wherever we are.
Are there any bands out there that you’d still really love to tour with?
The Beastie Boys or Chili Peppers circa 1991. It looks like it they would have been a lot of fun. Can you sort that out?
You’ve always been proud of your Nottingham heritage. What is the Nottingham music scene like? Did you go to any gigs in Nottingham growing up that particularly stand out?
Yeah we are proud of the city, we've always said our music scene here is like a bubble waiting to pop and it just keeps getting better. The Kings of Leon show on their 'Aha Shake Heartbreak' tour was a particular highlight for Trev as it was his first gig and blew him away.
Are there any other Nottingham based bands you think people should know about?
Jake Bugg seems to be moving up the ranks pretty quickly and rightly so, also there's Kagoule and Kappa Gamma who are good friends of ours, Park Bench Society are awesome too. Oh! and check out Baby Godzilla. We could go on all day...
You recently signed to Atlantic Records, quite a big step up from releasing things on your own label. Why did you make the decision to move to a major label?
We're a really ambitious band and felt a major label would help us get our music to as many people as possible.
Have you noticed any major differences from being on a major label?
It’s all about the debut record now. Everything we’re doing is working towards that. It feels great because we’ve been a band for about 5 years now and we feel like it’s the right time.
According to your Facebook you’re coming to the end of recording your debut album. How has the experience been for you?
Like I say, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been great to be working on a body of work rather than singles or demos.
Over your career you’ve given out a lot of high quality free music, do you worry that it might put people off buying a full album?
Hopefully people will have enough confidence that if our free stuff is that good then the album will be worth paying for.
A lot of your songs seem to focus around youth and the sense of carefree abandon that comes with youth. Even your own record label was named ‘Your Childhood’. What is it about this theme that you find so stimulating to talk about?
We’ve been a band since we were 15/16 and were friends for years before that so we’ve grown up together. Now we’re all in our early 20’s, the movement of time and change in outlook is quite fascinating.
Your last single Two Devils showed a notably darker lyrical narrative in comparison to your older songs. Is this a theme we can expect to continue with the album?
I think it will be quite a bi-polar record. There are darker themes running through even some of the more euphoric sounding songs.
When can we expect the album to be out, and what can we expect from it musically?
The album will be out in autumn. Some of it was written 4 years ago, some 4 weeks ago. We think that marrying those things together will create a coherent and interesting body of work.
Glockenspiel Song is out on July 22nd. The album All Our Favourite Stories is out this autumn, date TBC. For more information, visit weareamess.tumblr.com/