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English Dogs | Interview


Amid ongoing tussles over their band name, crossover metal-punk pioneers English Dogs are set to come to Ireland.

Matty Moore talks to guitaist Gizz Butt and vocalist Adie Bailey about why it’s more important than ever to keep their legacy alive – and touring with bands they influenced in the first place.

***

What’s In A Name

How goes it Gizz and Adie? You’ll be appearing on our shores in a matter of weeks but given the mini-shitstorm last time you were featured on Metal Ireland the first order of business here has to be to get your thoughts on Wakey Wakefield’s backlash to your last interview.

Have the two sides crossed paths or words since? What’s the situation at present with both bands using the name English Dogs?

(Gizz) OK let’s cut to the chase, Pinch has been granted the trademark to the name ENGLISH DOGS, so as Pinch is part of this line up, WE are the only English Dogs that can use the name legally.

Wakey may not give a shit and keep on using the name but because Pinch owns the rights to the name, any promoters, any agents or companies that are promoting Wakey’s band will be in breach of the law, and can have legal action taken against them.

If they want to put themselves at that risk then good luck to them! This line-up of the English Dogs – that is the CROSSOVER line up, the Punk-Metal Crossover English Dogs, owns the legal rights to the name. Ahem, I thaaaaaaaaaaangyoooo.

Riffs From The 80s

Wakey was pretty disparaging about ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ while Adie seemingly was unaware of his lineup having a record out around the same time as yours – and from a fan’s perspective both were worthwhile albums.

Are you working on a follow up effort to completely solidify your control over the English Dogs name?

Last time round a lot of the riffs were actually from the 80’s which is why it sounds like exactly where you left off. Have you begun any work on a second record for this incarnation of the band, and can we expect more of the same Metal Punk Crossover attack?

(Gizz) The Thing With Two Heads is an album that means a hell of a lot to us because we succeeded in making such an impossible thing happen. We even managed to incorporated period riffing and ideas.

You may know the story that a lot of the riffs came from an old tape recorded in 1986, a collection of riffs for tracks that were destined to follow the album Where Legend Began and to bring the sound of the band straight back in line with what some say is a historically impactful album- Forward Into Battle.

I’ve worked with Wakey before when we recorded the album Bow To None and I hope you can appreciate when I say I like what he did on the Mad Punx And English Dogs 12” but I am NOT a fan of his style.

Writing the Bow To None album solidified it for me. Wakey is not rock and Roll, he is Chas and Dave and we are poles apart! Therefore can you understand when I say that I won’t be listening to his band? I’m just not a fan!

What we have done is engineered our new album to fit with our 84-86 Crossover releases and we’re going to spread our Crossover message everywhere we can.

We’re not in a race to swamp the English Dogs discography with meaningless and mediocre songs.

To sum it up, there is no follow up being planned when the important duty at hand is to play the great songs of this genre that we have already released- our back catalogue from Forward into Battle, To The Ends Of The Earth and the latest album The Thing With Two Heads.

We’ve done the good work now it’s time to hit the stages and see some circle pit action. The new tracks “Hate Song”, “Freak Boy”, “Gorgonized”, “Turn Away From The Light” and “The Thing Will Arise” are powerful bastards of songs.

They are important as being anthems for the Crossover genre and we want to present them with all the force and frenzy of those early releases and truly represent that style.

I personally appreciate that English Dogs fans want to hear stuff like the Mad Punx tracks and I don’t have a problem with playing songs like “Psycho Killer” or “Free To Kill” because Pinch wrote the lyrics. Maybe we will. Let’s wait and see!

Metal-morphosis

Since last time we spoke to you as well Candlelight records have done a 2CD set of everything from the ‘To The Ends Of The Earth’ up to ‘Where Legend Began’.

Have you noticed a rejuvenation of interest in this era of your careers thanks to this, or any new fans who were previously unacquainted?

(Gizz) Metalmorphosis hadn’t been officially available for close to 25 years until the Metal Years CD boxset so it was fantastic for it to once more see the light of day! The master tapes had long since been lost so I had to make a fresh master using a near mint copy I had, a brand new Project Genie turntable and my Pro-Tools rig!

That master was made by me in my own home! There is a lot of love for To The Ends Of The Earth and Forward Into Battle and we were very much a witness to that when we supported Exodus on their 2016 UK tour.

The Metal Years CD outsold everything on the merch stand. The shows were all sold out and the promoter and crew of the Camden Underworld told us that we received one of the best ever crowd responses for a support band.

As far as I can tell the last protracted time you spent on the road was all the way back in 2012 when you spent nearly a solid month in the USA and Canada being supported by Toxic Holocaust, Havok and The Casualties.

How did that experience compare to the USA back in the mid-1980’s in terms of the turnout to shows, the kinds of fans (metalheads to punks ratio?), the logistics of touring, how America itself has changed in that time etc?

(Gizz) I was more than pleased at the turnout. Most of the shows were sold out, there were a few that had a 2000 capacity which had sold out, Santa Ana had gone over capacity. Chicago as well.

Hollywood was sold out, Baltimore, New York, Portland. It was indeed a great success thanks to everyone involved. In comparison to the 80’s, there wasn’t any violence. I can’t recall ever seeing the police at any shows.

The whole audience was a mix of punks, old and young, metalheads, crossovers, in general everyone looked like how the music sounds! Very sleek and sophisticated of course! The biggest difference overall for me was that the audiences now are just as crazy, just as passionate and wild, but they’re not beating anyone up.

Not each other or any bystanders. They just have a clearer head regarding all that kind of thing. They know it was just a stupid fucking fashion.

[Someone forward that memo to these “crowd kill” HC bands please! – Matty]

People were telling them to behave like that back then. Newspapers depicted punks as violent and sometimes neo fascistic so some folk that were easily led felt that they should uphold that image.

I think the older punks and metalheads that didn’t agree with that have passed it down to their kids that you needn’t listen to that bollocks.

Peer Pressure

What about playing with your peers compared to playing to young bands whose music you had a big hand in guiding (Toxic Holocaust in particular in this case?)

(Gizz) Or in the case of some of us we end up joining our peers!!!! It was a blast for me to get up for a song with each of the bands throughout the tour. I’m just glad I’m still able to keep doing it.

How did the 3 dates back in June in The Underworld and Manchester Academy with Exodus compare to the bar venues you’re playing on the upcoming tour?

And how does doing a handful of dates at a time close to home compare to playing every day with long bus journeys in between cities like you do in North America (presumably with a lot of partying with the support acts)?

(Gizz) Each time we assemble for a run of shows there is always a challenge of getting together the material and the extensive practice needed for delivering it with all the might we can summon. It’s not easy- I know some will roll their eyes and say “I told you so..” but we like to rise to the challenge.

Bands like Exodus and Havok are highly skilled. Don’t we know it! We try to keep them on their toes! I’m not sure whether we do or not. What the hell. It’s something we love doing. Exodus and Havok are like brothers to us. We love ‘em.

Given your veteran status- a polite way of saying you are getting on a bit in years- does the latter set up suit you better? I see that you will be back stateside next Spring- who will you be taking on road with you and will you be visiting any different cities to last time?

Seeing as you have both English and American members which country is more difficult for the others to tour in terms of red tape? I know that both the UK and the USA have become increasingly bureaucratic recently when it comes to permits etc. for overseas bands.

(Gizz) We are up for getting out and playing anywhere where people are wanting to hear us as long as it’s promoted properly by someone that knows what they’re doing. It’s fine for us to go out and play small clusters of gigs.

I’m OK to go out for longer stretches of a couple of weeks or a month as long as we’re playing every night. I hate wasting money with days off. We have to make these things add up. We all have our own businesses running back at home.

The plan is get back out Stateside- initially West coast and later on East coast. Maybe the following year. We have to apply for visas of course which is very difficult and expensive.

We can’t make it work financially for the twins to come over here when we tour UK and Europe so we have Angus Mackman on bass (who also played in the band in 1993) and Phil Smith on rhythm guitar on this side of the world.

Spike T Smith (of Sacrilege fame) came in on drums in July 2014 when Pinch let us know that he was unable to tour for the foreseeable future. It’s hard having an international line up and sure it causes some complications but we make it work. This is a family.

Ireland Bound

I love the fact that on your way to Ireland on the ferry in a few weeks time you’re playing in Holyhead (pop. 11,000), the first gig of any sort I’ve ever heard of being held there. Are Welsh sailors big fans of Crossover?

It’s the birth place and hometown of Spike T Smith who has been drumming for the band since July 2014 (He moved to my home town of Peterborough in 1989). He has played with English Dogs on and off since 1987 when Pinch first left. We spotted him when his band Alternative Attack supported us in Halifax in 1985!

And then on to Ireland. I know Wakey and co. played here a few years ago but did English Dogs ever play here back in the 80’s, or have any of you played here with previous bands? Gizz I imagine you were here at some point during the Fat Of The Land era of The Prodigy. What do you expect from these upcoming Dublin and Belfast dates?

No, we never played there but I have personally played there with The Prodigy (and did some obviously huge and amazing shows), The More I See and Steve Ignorant (The Last Supper/Crass tour). This is a big deal for the English Dogs with it being our first time.

We feel quite honoured to be truthful and I quite fancy paying tribute by covering a song by one of our favourite Irish bands at the shows! (There are quite a few to choose from…)

Last but not least- Is it true the Christie brothers were born conjoined at the buttocks and each have one testicle? And if not how did this hideous rumour start?

Oh don’t say that! They have their differences. Craig is probably the more laid back guy and Ryan is pretty tough but both of them are really helpful kind and artistic people that really apply themselves. You can’t see the scars unless you’re really up close. The scars on the buttocks that is.

Interview by Matty Moore ::: 11/10/15

English Dogs play Fibber Magees, Dublin on Oct 23 and Voodoo, Belfast, on Oct 24.



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