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Band Crush: Dogs on Television

June 1, 2010

Some bands can be labeled as “studio” bands and others as “live” bands. Dogs On Television seemed to have done what many bands struggle to do –accurately print their brand of grungy blues rock on their record to an emotional tee. The band worked tirelessly through winter’s blustery snowstorms in the tight confines of the Taylor Barefoot recording studio with engineer Shane O’Connor. Emerging from the smaller Boston area dive bars, DoTV plan to make 2010 the “year of the dog” with the upcoming release of their debut record. With his past solo efforts, frontman James Houlahan has the touring and promotional experience required to get any band off the ground and into the ears of the public. James explains the inception and vision of the future for DoTV:

BBC: First of all, I gotta ask about your name because it is certainly an original one. Where did the name Dogs On Television come from?

James: I work a day job at a publishing company where I write abstracts and assign research headings to articles in magazines, academic journals, newspapers, etc. Some of the headings are pretty amusing… one day I was looking at dog-related headings and they were cracking me up. Topics like “Dog Team Mail” and “Dogs in Television” and then I saw Dogs on Television and immediately knew that should be the name of our band. I could visualize an actual dog lying on top of a television… sort of an anti-metaphor. There’s really no deep meaning or abstract context to the name. People seem to like it.

BBC: Your songs are heavily blues based yet sonically adventurous. I imagine you had a great time recording your debut effort. Could you tell us about the recording process during your time with Shane O’Connor (recording engineer) and how you decided to take your songs in the direction that you went in?

James: It was a great experience. Working with Shane was cool… he has a talent for fleshing out ideas and getting things right. We wanted to capture some of the energy we tap into in live performance, and wanted a simple presentation of the band on this record. The mission of DoTV is to melt as many faces as possible. We dig playing loud, obnoxious uptempo rock songs. But I am really interested in coloring some of our tunes with strange noises and various sonic novelty. So we explored that a bit with this record. Live, I use a loop machine for the wacky noises. In the studio, we did things like connect a mess of guitar pedals together until they were emitting crazy awesome sounds… it was like being in a laboratory! We can’t wait to make another record. I think the sonic adventure is only going to get more intense as we keep playing.

BBC: You have been playing smaller, more intimate venues during your short time as a band. Where do you see yourselves going this year with the release of your record and how do you plan on getting there?

James: Well, I think we definitely want to get into some bigger rooms, and hopefully the CD will open some doors. Our music has a big sound and could definitely fill larger venues very well. We’re a bit below the radar on the local music scene right now, but once people hear us, we usually get their attention fast. We’re also hoping to share some bills with other new bands, pool our efforts. We also started working with a couple of outside booking/promo services, so hopefully that will push us into some cool opportunities. Eventually, DoTV would like to get on the college circuit. I’ve been there before and they actually (gasp) pay musicians reasonably! The bottom line is we hope to get out there into as many new situations as possible and get more people on board with us.

BBC: I understand that your drummer, Brian Arnold, who has been with you since the inception of your band is leaving Boston after the release of your record. It must be frustrating to lose a founding member with whom you’ve developed a bond. How do you plan on overcoming that loss, and what are you looking for in your next drummer?

James: It will be tough losing Brian. He’s been great for DoTV, and our sound has really evolved over time into a tight, well-oiled machine. It’s too bad that he has to leave town for family reasons, and we will miss him. We are not looking for a carbon-copy of him as a replacement… that would be silly. Overall, we are looking at this as an opportunity to change the sound of the band, hopefully for the better. Auditions have been going well, and we are looking for a drummer who can commit to our vision. We want someone confident, with a unique personality to their playing… someone who interacts well with the guitar and bass, and doesn’t just “keep the beat.” We need someone who is going to consider the big picture, musically speaking. Anyway, its tough finding a good drummer who has free time. And, a drummer is basically the most important part of any band. They set the tone, the feel, the vibe. But I think DoTV can bounce back from losing Brian.

BBC: What Boston bands are you currently crushing on?

James: Blackbutton is really great. They just put out a CD that totally rocks. The new project that Stephen Konrads has going, Sleepy Very Sleepy, is really cool… they have an intricate and hypnotic sound that I dig. Jaxon Boom is fabulous, so is Milquetoast. Nate Wilson Group is rockin’. And Tom Bianchi’s Baker Thomas Band is such a good time… there can be up to 9 guys at once jamming away! It’s like this freewheeling music circus! There’s also a bunch of people on their own that continually blow me away, like Dan Blakeslee, and Audrey Ryan, to name two off the top of my head… There’s a lot going on in this little city. It’s swimming with sonic excellence!

Listen to DoTV’s first single The Jailer here!

Dogs On Television release their record this Saturday at Church of Boston. Don’t miss this:

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