Hello, please can you introduce yourself and your music to the people that may not be familiar with your works.
Hi there! My name's Micke, and I play guitar in the band Dogpound. We've been around for 8 years, released 3 records (the latest one "III", just a couple of weeks ago), and we we play modern melodic hard rock...check out www.myspace.com/dogpoundsweden for audioclips! And also check out the review here on Metal Storm!
Dogpound is sort of a strange name, how did this name come about?
Back in the beginning, Figge came up with it when we needed a band name to put on our first demo and we all said it was temporary...but it has stuck! Now, three albums later, we'd be stupid if we change it! Even though it may be a strange name, people are connecting the name to the music now days so...and we like it!
To whom do you think your music appeals to?
Our biggest fan base is located in Mianus, Connecticut, among the polka loving undertakers there...:) All kidding aside, the response we've got so far has shown that we attract a wide range of fans. We've received fan mail from middle aged melo - rock fans and 15 - year olds so...if you like your music on the heavier side of melodic hard rock without the cheesy 80's styled party - screw - rock all night - kinda lyrics, we're your band!
This is your third album now, how is it different from the past two albums?
The production is more what we've been all about from day one. We finally got a more metal kind of sound, which feels like a big step in the right direction. And for my own part, the song writing is a better, well...all of it is! The playing, the arrangements....I guess it's the natural evolution of the band. To use an ugly word, I think we may have "matured" ...taken a step or two in the right direction to find the Dogpound sound, so to speak. The previous two sounds to me like us searching for where we have gone now. Not that they are bad albums, but it takes some time for a band to get to a point where you feel that "this is what it's about". I don't think we're there quite yet, but we're a lot closer this time.
How do you think the new album, "III" has come across? Is it mostly good attention you are getting?
The reviews we've seen so far is phenomenal. I think we have an average of 9/10...and that's just awesome! We've hit bulls eye two times so far and that's our first! Unfortunately it's not the reviewers that buy the albums, but it has to help. If I see a band I've never heard of get raving reviews everywhere I look, it's obvious I get curious and check them out. And I guess I'm not alone in this world to react in that way...:) The previous albums have got mostly positive reactions too, but this time it's almost ridiculous! And man, do I have point out that it feels great?
You've had a steady line-up since 1999, is this important to you and is there any secret to keeping a strong bond?
Of course it's important to keep the same line up. Even though I write all of the songs it's the guys in the band that make the tunes sound Dogpound. Tuka, Hea and Figge has a enormous input in the way we sound. It's a cliche, but if it's not the four of us, it wouldn't be the same. And to keep a band intact is pretty simple...you just make sure that you are really good friends! And we really are! I never have so much fun as I do when the four of us are together. It's a big part of being in a band you know...you spend a lot of time together and it's not always with an instrument in your hand. If you're compatible in your everyday life the war is won! 3 albums later we've never had any problems with big egos or any of the classic rock crap that often happens and break up bands. And we're gonna keep it that way! If any one of us decides to quit for some reason, we'll have to deal with it then. But at the moment there's so much fun that it's unthinkable that it will happen!
You have been with Lion Music all the way so far, how did you manage to get signed?
We got in touch with Lion Music back in 2001, but at the moment there were no plans for them to sign any new acts so we kept searching for another label but at the same time we kept in touch. We signed a deal with a label that literally f**ked us...They didn't answer the phone, didn't reply on e-mails...nothing. And this is a big respected label. In hindsight, it's obvious that the only reason that they signed us was to get us off the market. When we finally got out of the contract, we sent a bunch of new songs to Lion and signed a new deal. Lion is by far the best record label I've had to deal with. I've been around the block so to speak, in previous bands, experiencing the classic crap...no royalties, the label dabbling with the writing process, forcing you to write what they want...but there's none of that with Lion. So I have nothing but good to say...so far!
You guys aren't homeless are you? as your first two album titles ("The Hellbum" & "A Night In The Gutter") may infer.
Nope! We went through hell and back when we recorded the first record, so it's a word play...The Hell Album = The Hellbum! The hard drive we recorded on crashed when there were nothing but vocal harmonies left to do. Most of it could be saved, but some of it had to be re-recorded. Bummer! And that's just one of may bad things that happened during the recording! A Night In The Gutter is our response to all the criticism we got for the cover of "The Hellbum". On with the suits and stand in a back alley...so the title of record #2 refers to the cover.
How come in the writing process of "III" you had enough time to write 25 songs which you reduced to 14? As you didn't with the last two.
I decided that I wanted it that way. I started to write for "III" even before we were done recording A.N.I.T.G. just to get some songs to choose from. On the previous two we've recorded all the songs we had at the moment which of course meant that there are songs we didn't like 100% on there, but we had to put them on there...And I felt that we never got the chance to show the world what we are about. One guy complained that there are so many good songs on "III" that it's impossible to choose one favourite, and I'm happy with that! At the moment there are 5 or 6 songs done for the next album and there will be many, many more! Of the songs that didn't make the album all but one is thrown away. The one that isn't, was too different to make the record this time, but will probably surface somewhere, some day. Tuka pulled out his double bass drum kit and we recorded a really fast Van Halen - ish song and it was really cool...someday it'll see the light!
What is the cause of the apparent black humour in the lyrics, anything specific?
Since I write most of the lyrics my answer must be: Monty Python! And specially John Cleese. And to some extent, every day life. Not all of our lyrics are humorous, but if you can have a laugh and at the same time as you listen to some good music, I think it's great. But it has to be done with some finesse.I don't want the band to come across as Bozopound, the clown orchestra, you know? And I think that it's been ok so far. There are more "serious" subjects on "III" than on previous discs, mostly because there's so much stupidity in the world today. It's not in the way that Dogpound has become a political propaganda band, but the world is a twisted place to live in sometimes and it's almost impossible to not be inspired by it. The way that some bands use their music to get their political or religious points across I just don't thinks is cool. Music is entertainment, nothing else!
To which musical artists do you owe your influence on the whole?
Too many! We've all been into music all of our lives, starting at an early age with hard rock/heavy metal. When me and Hea were kids, beside being fans of Kiss and Iron Maiden, we found albums By Queen and Nazareth in his mothers record collection that made a big impact on us. During the years we've all listened to everything from jazz to death metal so our we all have a wide spectra of musical tastes. But some bands that we all listen to from time to time is Sabbath, Zeppelin and Pantera. Me and Figge are huge fans of old prog bands like Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull, Tuka loves the old swedish band Electric Boys (he has an incredible album collection by them). Another guy that me, Figge and Hea just adores is Devin Townsend. Everything he does is just amazing, everything from his solo albums to Strapping Young Lad! We've been "accused" of playing 80's hair metal, which is true in the way that we put heavy emphasis on melodoes, but in my opinion that's where the similarities end. Back in the day when guys looked like chicks I was into the thrash metal scene, the faster the better, I even bought the early albums by Napalm Death (From Enslavement To Obliteration blew my mind in the end of the 80's. That's sheer brutality!!)
Was it these that made you want to play this kind of music?
The reason that we do what we do was that we all missed melodies in hard rock. There were some really great bands out there, but when we started out it was all nu - metal, a lot of rap in the rock scene. The melodic bands just didn't get no recognition. And we were all heavily into bands like King's X and Galactic Cowboys when we started out so there you have two influences I forgot to mention before! Cool vocal arrangements was one of the main focuses back then...and on "III" they are the best ones so far! If we'd played music according to our influences we'd probably play progressive death thrash hard metal rock with jazz undertones and massive vocal arrangements... We're into hard rock, period. May it be early Black Sabbath or All That Remains latest album, good music is good music and if's good (according to us!) we're into it!
Do you have any favourite artists these days that you've gotten into lately?
From the last 5 years I'd have to mention Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin (I'll probably get my ass kicked for that one, but their album "Phobia" is f**ing excellent!!), All That Remains and about 55 other bands that slip my mind at the moment.There's so much good music out there, unfortunately not every good band gets the recognition they deserve...There's so much media controlled crap out there that get's all the attention. Who gives a rats ass if the worlds richest football wife wants to get out and sell 6 trillion albums to 3 year olds once more? I wish media could see the real good bands out there and not only the chance to sell copys from paparazzi pics of some hyped female spreading her legs when she leaves the limo...back in the day, you had to be good at what you did...today it's all about a pretty face and if you can't sing or play your instrument, who gives a f**k? There's so many good studio musicians and studio techs today that can make you sound good in 10 seconds so...But damn the day the pre recorded vocals on the hard drive falters at the live show! And it's been known to happen from time to time. There circulates a recording of what goes into the mic when one of the worlds most famous pretty face sings...and there's not one note right! Funny stuff to hear, but so damn sad at the same time...
Do you get chance to play a lot of live shows? Do you have any countries and venues in mind you would love to play at in an ideal world?
Not a lot. But anywhere out in the world would be nice! If we get an ok deal we'd do it in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately there has to be some money involved since it costs a penny or two to get a band on the road. And here in Sweden it's tough...there's hardly any scene at all for a band like ours...If we go on tour this time it's most likely that we'll go out in Europe where there's a market. We've had a bunch of tour offers during the years but it's always the "you pay your own travels and your food, and sleep in the van" kinda thing. It's just impossible for us to do it like that. We have to be able to pay our bills when we get home you know! We can't make our families homeless just because we want to go on tour for a month....if we'd be 18 years old and lived at our parents place, no problemas! But we're in our early 30's now and the ugly bastard adult responsibility has crept upon us...
What further ambitions do you hope to achieve?
To make an even better record the next time I guess...! I'm a bit worried that it will be tough to top "III" as it feels right now with all the positive response we've got so far, but if we just do as we've done so far which is to follow our gut feeling it just might be done! A couple of days ago we recorded a video for the song "Glass Jar" and that's one thing we've never done before, so that's a good thing. And man. that was tough! We were all completely worn out after 9 hours of shooting! And of course it would be nice to sell 55 million albums, but that's not likely to happen in this millennium so... We just do the best we can and if good stuff are supposed to happen, it will...
Are you thinking about any new albums yet, how do you think a new album would sound in comparison to "III"?
Of course there's thoughts about a follow up to "III". But what will it sound like....That's a tough one to answer...I guess it might get a bit heavier, more in the vein of "Other Way Around" from the new album. The heavy down tuned riffs in that one was a chance we took and it turned out great. But don't expect us to change dramatically! We still haven't done the perfect Dogpound record and the search isn't over by far, so time will tell...
Do any of you do anything interesting in your spare time?
We have our jobs, kids, wives and girlfriends, houses and all that so there's not much spare time! We work in periods with Dogpound and when we do that we do it 110%. For example, I didn't' see my family for 3 weeks while recording "III" (and my girlfriend was 5 months pregnant at the time. We had a beautiful baby girl, Rebecka, in may!) And Hea didn't' sleep for three days at the end of the recording sessions...so when we work with Dogpound nothing else exists! And for me it never ends...I write songs all the time, trying to come up with material for the next record. You have to have a very understanding gf/wife to be living this life..and I'm blessed with one. The best!
In your opinion, what is the most important musical event in history?
Tough one! There's so many ground breaking moments in music history. From as far back as cavemen banged their sticks in each others heads and found that the sound that came out was cool to the phenomenon of Metallica being one of the, if not THE biggest band in metal today, which was totally unthinkable 25 years ago. But if I may list a couple of personal wow - moments that defined me as a guitarist they would be:
1: Hearing "Destroyer" by Kiss when I was 6. It made such an massive impact on me that it's still one of my fav records.
2. Seeing Ace Frehley and his smoking guitar on tv a year later. That was the moment I decided to become a guitarist. (Did I mention that I'm a Kiss fan? )
3. Hearing Randy Rhoads...amazing guy. I would have loved to see what he'd be up to today if he had lived.
But if I should give you a proper answer to your question it would be: The electric guitar. Without a doubt the most important thing to have happened. I mean, imagine Slayer doing "Angel Of Death" with a mandolin and a couple of ukuleles...Scary...
What is your opinion on how metal is put across these days? Is commercialising metal and selling to the masses a good thing, or should it just be kept for the true metalheads?
Metal has always been commercial. Since day one with Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin the album sales have been massive and the fans of metal been the most faithful of all music genres.Even though the face of metal has changed over the years the love for the music from the fans have never ceased...of course there are a million of sub genres that are for the "true metalheads", but metal has in my opinion always been commercial. It's an ugly word now days, but the way I see it is that if it's popular it's commercial. And everybody wants to be it, with the exception for a few...I find it's kinda stupid when a band gets a hit and their hardcore fans call them sell outs. There's no way in hell that the band could have known that they would get a #1 single or whatever. As long as you stay true to what you do and don't change your image and sound as soon as a new trend comes around I think you're safe. Or at least you should be!
Why should our readers check you out? Sell yourself to them.
If you want a band with melodic hooks that has a modern metal touch to it, we're your band! You can draw parallels to the 80's hard rock/metal bands in the way that we put a lot of emphasis on melody and vocal arrangements, but that's where the similarities end! We wouldn't put hairspray on even if our lives depended upon it...:) And of course, check out the brilliant review here on Metal Storm! It says a lot!
Do you have any last messages for the readers of Metal Storm?
Check us out at www.myspace.com/dogpoundsweden if you haven't heard us and if you have, do it anyway to keep updated with what's going on in the pound! And thanks a million to you Barry for the great review and for taking your time to do this interview!
Thanks go to Micke for his time doing this!