THE DOGS: A FREIGHT TRAIN COMING THROUGH THE CENTER OF MY BRAIN
The Dogs “Fed Up!”[audio:http://larecord.com/audio/dogs-fedup.mp3]
The Dogs were born in Michigan in 1970 and made the White Panthers a little worried before they moved to New York (and drove Kiss around) and toured the midwest (where they were beaten onstage by cops in front of 9,000 Bob Seger fans) and finally settled in L.A., where they were instrumental in the Radio Free Hollywood scene that came just before the Masque. They have just received a 2XCD tribute comp despite only releasing five songs before they broke-up. They are now back together and are working on a new DVD.
What’s the most ridiculous exit you ever made from a stage?
Loren Molinare (guitar/vocals): We were opening for Bob Seger at the Toledo Sports Arena and we got charged with felony inciting a riot. We had moved back from New York to Detroit and were booked with Bob Seger before he really broke, and we were like right before Seger. We’d waited all day and we were already set up and Bob’s road manager said, ‘Bob is tired and he wants to go back to Ann Arbor. You guys will close the show.’ And there were 9,000 kids there to see Bob Seger who barely knew who we were—‘We can’t do that! We’re gonna go play!’ And they say, ‘If you go on stage, you’re going to jail.’ “Oh yeah? Well, rock ‘n’ roll, motherfucker!’ So we go out on stage in front of 9,000 kids and started to play, and they pull the plug and Ron [Wood] started doing a drum solo. And the next thing—Toledo city cops come onstage in front of 9,000 people and beat the hell out of the band with billy clubs! They hauled everybody off to jail but me—I was running around screaming ‘rock and fucking roll’ to the crowd! They threw one of our roadies through a plate-glass window and charged him with destruction of public property. Needless to say, the booking agency—who did the MC5, the Stooges, Brownsville Station and Bob Seger—refused to have the Dogs on any of their shows in the Midwest. Their bands would not play. We got blackballed for standing up for rock ‘n’ roll! This was before they called it punk rock. We were raising a lot of of hell standing up for whatever we thought was justice.
Where did you get your code of ethics?
There was a lot of change going on, and especially with John Sinclair and the MC5 mentality—it became White Panthers on steroids for us! But it was still the music business. We didn’t realize that. It’s all about justice and doing things for the right reasons. Someone called me a hopeless optimist, and I said, ‘Oh yeah? Put it on my fucking tombstone!’ A lot of great bands—Beatles to Stones to Hendrix—paved the way, and MC5 opened the door. From Chuck Berry to the Beach Boys to the MC5—you got me going on a roll, motherfucker!
When you first heard the MC5 on WILS, did they play the version that says ‘motherfucker’?
The MC5 corrupted me at such a young age, but I didn’t hear ‘Kick Out The Jams’ on the radio—it was AM radio in those days. But in high school I was in cadet band class—I played drums, but really it was a derelict class for all the losers in school to come and just play records.
Did you get a grade for that?
I took that class for three years—it helped me graduate! We’d listen to MC5—B.B. King I learned in that class—and I got into the MC5 so much. They were gonna play our high school but the band teacher heard ‘Kick out the jams, motherfucker!’ and went and told the principal! So early on I was corrupted by passion, honesty and power and the political kind of expression of just breaking out and kicking out the motherfucking jams! It set me free—total liberation.
What was it like to graduate into the world of 1970?
I had no fucking idea! Other than I knew I wasn’t gonna go to college—it was gonna be rock ‘n’ roll. I made that conscious attempt. The Dogs were still kind of kids playing with toys. We opened for the MC5 when I was in 11th grade. The Back In The USA days—it was the first time I got to see them and it was so amazing! Truck driver, hippies, rednecks, rockers—it was the first time I’d ever seen a band that transcended cultural barriers. I saw young girls melting in the front row. It was the most powerful thing I’d ever seen in my life. A freight train coming through the center of my brain.
How did John Sinclair feel about the song you wrote about him?
That song was kind of a sore spot for a while. When he got arrested, we wrote ‘John Rock ‘n’ Roll Sinclair’ as a tribute to get him outta jail, but after a while, we never got to play any benefits, and we felt a little put off by their organization. Maybe they thought we had cow shit on our shoes since we were from Lansing and not Detroit? We felt he got a bum rap from the government, and we wanted to free his soul with rock ‘n’ roll and get him out of jail. The C.I.A. was doing a lot of weird shit in those days. Freaking out about rock ‘n’ roll in Ann Arbor and Detroit—‘Ask the C.I.A., see what they gotta say…’
What were they doing?
That MC5 movie that never came out—Dave Thomas had footage of the MC5 playing the 1968 Democratic Convention, and they were filming that secretly. The Detroit area was a political hotbed—rock ‘n’ roll and Sinclair and the White Panthers. The government just freaked out about it. So ‘John Rock’ was kind of our ‘Johnny B. Goode’ but a political Michigan rock ‘n’ roll thing. I think John was a little put-off and didn’t understand, but when Detroit Jack put our tribute CD out and asked him to do the liners, it came full circle. He didn’t think we were these mutant kids from Lansing anymore. But we were like the mutant kind of result of the MC5 and the Stooges, and here we were making the Detroit psychedelic hipsters uptight—it was punk rock offending the original punk rockers! And when we were playing that song when we moved to L.A., no one even knew who he was! Our first single in 1976—we can laugh about it now!
Why were you so set on moving to L.A.?
We moved from Lansing to Detroit in 1973 to a big three-story Victorian house in the slums by Tiger Stadium. Every Dog house has been torn down now. The Hollywood house—which had a rehearsal studio—was High Time Studios, after the 5 record and the fact we liked to smoke a lot of weed! We moved to New York in 1974 and that was a real experience. We opened for Kiss, played with the Dictators and Television at Max’s Kansas City—back when Patti Smith was Tom Verlaine’s girlfriend.
Did Kiss have their make-up then?
Yes, they did! The first day in Manhattan when we got there, I saw all these posters on poles: KISS AT THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL! So we went up—so naïve, green behind the ears!—and I found Kiss and went up to Paul Stanley like, ‘Hi, I’m Loren from the Dogs! We just got in from Detroit. Can we play your show?’ And he was like, ‘Look, this is fuckin’ New York! You can’t come in and think you’re gonna play a Kiss show!’ And we’re like—oh, wow, welcome to fucking New York! Needless to say, New York was too hard to survive in, and we ended up booking a spring of ’75 tour down south to Florida to play spring break in Daytona Beach. We were getting fired in every city. That’s when disco was going—‘You’re too loud and too fast!’ Ron Wood our drummer quit in Orlando and left us stranded. His girlfriend had moved from Michigan to start stripping at some strip club by our motel: ‘Fuck you, I’m staying!’ So [bassist] Mary [Kay] and I and the road crew said, ‘Fuck it—we’re going to Hollywood!’ So we borrowed money from our parents and made it to Hollywood and stayed in the Starwood parking lot for a week. And then got our place on Gower. And then Ron came out.
They broke up, huh?
She threw him out.
It’s like a drummer joke come to life.
He came back and we met the Motels, the Pop, the Berlin Brats and we got started on the whole pre-punk thing. 1975—pre-Masque. No bands who were original could get booked. We partnered as Radio Free Hollywood with the Motels and the Pop and got written up in Billboard, and after that the Starwood and the Whisky started booking the so-called ‘new wave’ scene. And it started exploding then. And then the Masque thing. But Radio Free Hollywood was the beginning of the independent out-of-the-box anti-establishment music scene—Back Door Man magazine, Phast Phreddie and them were on that too, pushing things, and Greg Shaw out in Bomp! Different factions pushing to make it happen. That first wave from ’76 and ‘77—you had the Whisky, the Starwood, KROQ Cabaret, the Masque—it was pretty much on fire! And by ’78, the hardcore thing started happening and the punks were out of the Masque scene. We played our instruments too good and we were caught in a weird spot. Normal rock people—if you’re talking ‘70s rock, Journey or REO Speedwagon—thought we were a little too weird. And the punkers thought we played our instruments too good! We weren’t here or there. We lost it! We’d recorded at the Record Plant—the live ‘Slash Your Face’—and our manager who worked with Journey had recorded the stuff, and we ended up stealing the mixdowns of those tapes and bootlegging ourselves so we could go on tour.
So the ‘Slash Your Face’ EP is a bootleg of that live Mabuhay set?
We stole our own tapes and released it ourselves—total punk rock stuff!
Who was your best fan in L.A.?
Keith Morris—this was before the Circle Jerks. He was a surf kid. And Greg from Black Flag. Just beach kids from Torrance and Redondo. And that guy Kid Congo—and Jay Lansford who ended up in Channel 3. They were at all the shows. Keith Morris was always almost at every show, yelling, ‘Play “L.A. Times!”’ I think we had some sort of impact. They liked us because they knew we were from Detroit, and we did sound like the 5 and the Stooges a bit. I think we had a small part in influencing those guys to get the balls to kick out the jams!
What was the song ‘L.A. Times’ about?
That was one of the first songs we wrote when we got here. We had two L.A. songs—‘Sleaze City,’ about the bondage houses and people who come here like locusts to make it, and ‘L.A. Times’ was the first song. At that point, the Whisky was closed—‘The whiskey ran dry in the summer of ’75…’ and the L.A. Times newspaper and I thought ‘Right on time with the fucking L.A. Times.’ Just a song to document what I felt the scene was with the Motels and the Pop and how we met them and the beginning of Radio Free Hollywood. And just a song about if you lived in the Midwest and dreamt about coming to Hollywood like I did. Creem did an expose on Hollywood with Alice Cooper at Pink’s, and we had pulled it out and saved it and that was our road map when we got off the Hollywood freeway!
At one point or another were you the heaviest band in L.A.?
The scene was pretty vibrant, but we could hold our own with Van Halen headlining the Starwood or the Whisky—but it was rough opening for them because their crowd was die-hard. They’d be asleep while you were playing! But Dave Roth—the first Hollywood date the Dogs ever did was Van Halen, Quiet Riot and the Dogs at the Starwood in ’76!
How were you able to move between all these little scenes?
Because of that Midwest normal-rock background. The Dogs opened for AC / DC’s American debut at the Whisky. A three-night stand with two shows a night. And we did things that sabotaged our chance to get signed—you’ll love this. We had our code of ethics and it damaged our career! Our manager said, ‘Look, I’ll get you to open for AC / DC, and if you guys dress a little more punk, I can get you a record deal!’ We were wearing kind of tight jeans, pointed shoes—kind of Detroit—and we go, ‘We can’t do that! That’s not punk!’ So we come out our first night—we took baggy dress pants and white dress shirts and put ‘em in the mud and pissed on ‘em and put mud on our faces and we were just like bums on the Bowery, and we came out played! And Richard Cromelin—who still writes for the L.A. Times, and who was a really good supporter of the band—he didn’t get it! He said we came out with a pretentious look.
Pissing on your clothes seemed pretentious?
Yeah, yeah! Our hair had mud in it—we looked like derelicts from Skid Row, and we got a bad review in the L.A. Times. But the funny thing is Iggy showed up that night with mud on his face.
Yeah, kind of a coincidence! Needless to say, we didn’t get signed.
How did someone get a broken foot and a broken hand at your Japan reunion shows last year?
I don’t know about the broken hand but the one night it got really wild and our roadie from Detroit had to do to mouth-to-mouth to a guy who got crushed in the front row!
What do you think about getting a 29-song tribute comp when the Dogs only released five songs during their lifetime?
It blew my mind. I didn’t think about it til they brought me one. Detroit Jack’s girlfriend Aruha came up and I met her and she gave me the CD and said, ‘Loren, you’re my Chuck Berry!’
Do you still have your old MC5 records?
My collection got stolen when we came back from England. All our gear was ripped off, too. We were really stupid—really crazy! No matter what happened, we kept going. You can’t stop the rock!
THE DOGS WITH THE CONTROLLERS, THE PISS POPS AND THE STITCHED LIPS ON FRI., JULY 18, AT RELAX BAR, 5517 HOLLYWOOD BLVD., HOLLYWOOD. 9 PM / $10 / 21+. MYSPACE.COM/RELAXBAR. THE DOGS’ DOGGY STYLE TRIBUTE CD IS OUT NOW ON FUTURE NOW. THE DOGS’ PURITY NOT PERFECTION DVD WILL BE OUT SOON. VISIT THE DOGS AT MYSPACE.COM/THEDETROITDOGS.