band are THE DOGS D'AMOUR...
and this is a no-holds barred insight into what happens when four Englishmen
with a "gift" for excess descend on the most hedonistic city on the planet; not a pretty sight...
T MAY not be 1pm, but it sure is Dallas. Suddenly, a white youth comes staggering into the hotel foyer, blood pumping from several stab wounds in his chest. He collapses onto the tiled floor, gasping for air while the claret seeps out around him. The man behind the reception desk barely lifts an eyebrow before drawling, "Hey, the men's room is second on the left, dude..."Ah America.
The place where porn shops flaunt their wares as openly as possible, yet you're not allowed to be seen drinking liquor in public unless it's concealed in a brown paper bag; the place where, in some States, you can get married at 13, yet you can't be served alcohol in bars until you're 21; the place where you can get nicked for crossing a road in the wrong spot, yet no-one would bat an eye-lid if a Rock band threw a TV set out of the window. Seriously screwed up; the perfect place for The Dogs D'Amour...
"We were totally pissed in the bar last night, and we got out these felt-tip markers and started writing all
over the walls. Then I put a bar stool on the bar, stood on it, ripped all the ceiling tiles down and tried to climb up into the loft. Then I lost my balance and fell, pulling the curtain rail down as I went. The owner of the hotel just sat there going, 'Oh, I just love you crazy boys!'.. "
Main mutt Tyla drags hard on a cigarette and splutters a wheezy laugh through a cloud of gray smoke. It's his first tour of America, and along with fellow Brit hounds Jo Dog (guitar), Steve James (bass) and Bam Bam (drums), the roguish singer/guitarist is burning the candle at both ends... whilst putting a flamethrower to the middle as well! Drunkenness? Debauchery? Other extremely silly things? The Dogs have done the lot... and mostly before breakfast. It's a good job The Dogs seem to have more lives to play with than cats...
"We just seem to get into fights all the time," whines Tyla, slugging a huge early-morning Jack. "Me an' Bam have had three fights already... with each other! I also had a fight with the hat-stand in my room the other night, because I was so pissed. Then I went into one of our roadies' rooms and stuck a lighted cigarette down his shorts while he was asleep, just for a laugh! It was like the other day when I nearly set fire to our guitar tech's hair. He was furious and threatened to stab me!
"But Bam's the worst one, though. He caused another ruck last night when we went to a local club and he started throwing chairs at the band who were playing because they were crap. I mean, the guy's a nutter when he's had a few beers. The other day he walked into this place and there
were all these hard-case locals staring at him, so he picks up this knife, scores a huge cut across his arm and walks out with blood all down him. Just to prove he was as hard as they were! He was in agony onstage that night, though..."
FORTUNATELY The Dogs have managed to keep themselves onstage (just) for the duration of this introductory Stateside jaunt, something backed up by last issue's live review from Dallas, Texas. Setting off from Boston towards the end of March, the tipsy tikes (well, more like permanently-pissed pooches!) have slogged steadily from Montreal to Minneapolis and St. Louis to San Francisco, playing small clubs and living on a tour bus in the finest traditions of the Rock'n'Roll gypsy. And with their debut US album, 'In The Dynamite Jet Saloon', having sold over 100,000 copies in its first five weeks of release in the States ('A Graveyard Of Empty Bottles', the band's recent 10" acoustic minialbum, hasn't been released in the US), the hard work would appear to be paying off.
"The people have been great to us so far," says Tyla, "and I'm really impressed by the place. Everything is so big here; the cars, the office blocks the houses... even the tramps have bigger cardboard boxes!
"And they're so generous here as well. In England you get half cans of Skol in your dressing room, but here they give you a liter of Jack."
"The people here do make me laugh, though," adds Steve. "As we were driving into Dallas we saw a sign that said: 'See The Gun That Shot JR'. That summed up America for me. I mean, it's a soap opera for God's sake. No-one got shot, really."
"Yeah, the soaps here ain't true to life," points out Tyla in his best Brummie accent, "not like 'Crossroads'. I'd rather go an' see Benny's woolly hat than JR's gun.
"One thing we did see the other day, though, was the place where President Kennedy was assassinated: the School Book Depository on Elm Street: They've made the sixth floor, where Lee Harvey Oswald was supposed to have fired the shot from, into a museum... and they've even partitioned off the actual window from which he fired and kept it just how it was in 1963! Typical yanks, hanging onto every piece of history they can find."
"I'm surprised they haven't preserved the limousine Kennedy was traveling in," Steve barks, "with bits of his brain pickled in jars on the back seat."
"Yeah," howls Tyla, "'Buy a piece of the President's brain - as seen on TV! And now a word from our sponsors - WaNNa BUY A BIBLE?!' It's f**kin' madness over here! I saw something the other day on telly where if you sent a donation to help stop the war in Palestine you got a free Bible! It's hilarious."
"And yet despite all this religious stuff," Steve snorts, "everyone walks around with a gun! And you hear of statistics like, 'Someone gets raped every six seconds in America'...
...That's mostly in our hotel after the show, though," yelps Tyla. "No, I'm only joking. But we do get a lot of girls following us around. In Boston these girls who were trying to get back to the hotel with us crashed their car into our bus on purpose so we'd notice them! Nice girls, but why go for a bunch of scruffy bastards like us? I mean, we're not your usual hunky Rock stars are we?"
INDEED AS you're probably aware by now, the odd half of shandy has certainly been quaffed on this tour. But with big time success beckoning and a full touring and recording schedule penciled in for the rest of the year (Japan in May, work on the next album during June, UK tour in September and back to Japan in October) can The Dogs really last the distance? Or will they nudge the self destruct button like so many before them?
"Well, it did get a bit wild earlier in the tour," admits Tyla. "I was taking everything in sight: 'uppers', 'downers', you name it. One night in Detroit I took so much shit I had an asthma attack and had to be rushed to hospital. I was severely out of it. Apparently, my alcohol level was over double the danger limit! They gave me a shot of adrenalin every night so I wouldn't need to take any other drugs!
"But we're trying to look after ourselves a bit more," he continues, slinging another Jack throatward. "We give strict orders that drug dealers aren't to come near us, because we had this one guy hanging around us for ages, giving us all this Cocaine, and we couldn't get rid of him. If I'd have taken all that coke I wouldn't be around to finish the tour, so you've got to draw the line somewhere. Like, the other night I drank and smoked so much that when I woke up the next day it felt like my chest had fallen through my rib cage!
"But how on earth can you work the kind of hours we work without some kind of 'assistance'? So far I've had just one day off this year and I'm knackered - yet I've still got to get up early tomorrow, do 2,000 interviews, drive for eight hours to some far corner of Texas and then get up onstage and do a gig, Sometimes you need to get out of it, let yourself go...
"In any case, that's just how we are naturally, and we'd still be drinking too much and having a good time even if we weren't in a band," he adds with a mischievous smirk. "It's a weird existence, and people do
look at you a bit funny sometimes when you order a Jack Daniel's for breakfast. But we got ourselves into this mess, so I suppose we'd better learn to live with it! "