1. And here we are, a Fungalised interview with this 'shroomed 'erbert requested to be good. First question then - introductions sir, what are The Popdogs about, what is their style, who makes up this intriguing unit and could you describe these fellow players in 4 words apiece one of which must relate to something fishy?
We're a Lincoln based, 5 piece original punky/powerpop band.
Myself (James Styring) Vocals - Swims slowly. Lives alone.
Tim Mckeating, Lead Guitar (backing vocals) - Spawns in gravelly shallows.
Phill Kay, Rhythm Guitar - Eats plankton, especially crustaceans.
Shaun Knibbs, Bass Guitar - Fixes to large sharks.
Martin Collins, Drums - Lies buried in sand.
*thanks to the Usborne Spotter's Guide to Fishes*
2. There are many influences running through the band - would you care to elaborate and also tell us about your own personal musical journey?
Imagine Buddy Holly in a Ramones t-shirt, playing through a Marshall Stack!
I was brought up listening to my parent's record collection, so I guess the first bands I heard would have been The Stones, The Kinks and The Beatles etc. Then punk exploded and I discovered The Pistols and The Clash...
But that sense of melody has stayed with me ever since, and is so important to what we do in The Popdogs.
3. For me, the vibe you make is, as the influences suggest, on the cusp of many genres but not quite slotting in, which in itself is a kind of norm these days. The question is with so much variety, so much talent - how on earth do you hope to rise above the cream?
I think if you're doing it for all the right reasons and enjoying what you do, then it becomes its own reward. Anything positive that comes from that, is a bonus. If your sites are too high, you set yourself up for a fall. We're realistic. There's a huge amount of luck involved in this, being in the right place, at the right time. But you have to buy a ticket to win, so as long as you're out there doing it, there's always a chance. You have to be passionate, committed and driven, in equal measure. Oh, and slightly mad.
4. Tell us about the song-writing process - from that initial sparked sperm, to the ensuing embryo to the final full on song?
Tim Mckeating (lead guitar) and myself write all the songs for The Popdogs. I've known Tim for many years and we've always been involved in music, in some way, either writing, recording or playing (or all three).
Tim will, more often than not, bring the initial guitar idea in, I then work on the melody and lyrics. We can then arrange it in to a finished song. We deliberately kept the songs short and to the point on the album - all around the 3-4 minute mark. We've never really changed our way of writing. It seems to work, so we just go with it. Sometimes a song will practically write itself. It's great when that happens. 'Honest Guy' from the album, was one of those. I think Tim nailed the solo first take. It became the blueprint for the rest of the CD.
5. It is quite convenient that this interview comes before the release of your new CD. Tell us a bit about this opening offering and if you were promoting this disc, what words would you use to sum up the content?
Yes, thank you very much Sir, perfect timing!
Our debut album 'Cool Cats For Pop Dogs' is released on 13th May.
It's a short, sharp blast of punky/powerpop, influenced by classic bands such as The Undertones and Buzzcocks.
If I were promoting the album (and I am!) I'd say, “Please visit The Popdogs on facebook or Reverbnation, where you can hear four of the tracks, read the reviews and make your own mind up!
6. What is your local scene like and who are some of the bands we should keep an ear out for?
We're based in Lincoln, which isn't known to be the rock 'n' roll capitol of the world. However, there's certainly a healthy music scene here, there always has been. But it would be unfair of me to mention any particular names, as Lincoln's full of great bands! Both bands and promoters work tirelessly, week in week out, to make things happen. It takes a great deal of hard work and commitment, but that's the same anywhere in the country. People who do it for the love of doing it.
7. Heroes and zeroes in life and music please as well as the best and the worst of thy CD, book and DVD collection?
Heroes to me, are really anyone who has the vision and focus to do things their own way. The great self-believers. So not just folks from the music world (though there are many) but anyone who has the courage and conviction to stand up and make a 'noise' That's how things get changed.
Zeroes would be the opposite of the above. There's very little point in complaining, if you're not willing to do something about it. And not just in politics, but every area of life..
Some of my favourite CD's will probably be obvious, if you listen to The Popdogs. The Beatles, The La's, The Sex Pistols, The Undertones..
But my collection includes everything from Hank Williams to Devo. I think you can take bits and pieces from most styles of music - good and bad, and be open to their influence. Even if you don't like it, listen and avoid it next time.
The same goes for my book collection. The vast majority are music related, but there's loads of other stuff. Robert Anton Wilson, David Icke, all the weird, thought provoking stuff..
8. What do you think about the current underground scene and the whole DIY ethos?
It's always been vital to a healthy music scene. The underground and DIY ethos are the lifeblood that keeps it all flowing.
Bands, ourselves included, are realising that they don't need a record company anymore. You can do it for yourself, be your own boss. It's incredibly liberating and a great way to work. Cut out the suits and middlemen. It becomes more about making great music, than making great piles of money, for someone other than yourself.
9. What message are you trying to get across with your music and what are your ultimate aims and ambition and also what experiences can you draw upon to help you achieve these plans.
There's no immediate message to what we do (we're saving that for our second album ha!)
If folks enjoy what they hear and leave a gig remembering a song or two, then we've done our job and are happy. I guess if you dig a little deeper, there's something there. I'd like to think there's more to us than just, 'got the girl, lost the girl, want the girl back' - though we do cover that as well!
It all depends on what you want from a three and a half minute, guitar driven, pop song!
10. And finally - push the band man - get us chomping at the bit, eager to get a Popdogs fix soon!
Ok, here goes!!
I've already mentioned, our debut album 'Cool Cats For Pop Dogs' is released on 13th May (both download and CD)
We play International Pop Overthrow Liverpool on Friday, 17th May. It's an American music festival, featuring some of the best unsigned (and signed) bands from around the world. It's in Liverpool for a week in May, and is always a fantastic experience! Most shows are free and David Bash works incredibly hard to make it all happen every year (it follows on to London after Liverpool). We couldn't think of a better venue than the world famous Cavern Club to launch the album!
I would recommend that folks make the trip to Liverpool - you'll certainly not regret it.
I would also ask you to check out The Popdogs on facebook for more info etc.
And please buy the album.