The Dogs were born out of a sense of urgency and a desire for frontman Kristopher Schau to get every musical idea in his head down on tape. It was this that was the catalyst for the band’s formation back in 2011. Schau called a handful of friends to record a single: they got together one Tuesday, recorded the song on Friday and had it finished by Saturday. It’s this tireless work ethic that arguably defines them, having produced four albums in five years.
The Oslo-based six-piece is made up of musicians from a variety of bands. They combine to make an unholy and powerful mix of raw garage and punk rock with titanic riffs. Alongside singer and songwriter Kristopher Schau, famous for Gartnerlosjen, The Terrifieds and the appliance-bashing Hurra Torpedo stand five others. They are: Mads Martinsen (Mongo Ninja), Roar Nilsen (Pål Angelskår, El Doom) Henrik Gustavsen (Mono Sapiens), Christian Spro (Sweden) and Kenneth Simonsen (Shit City, The Devil And The Almighty Blues).
There has always been a degree of unconventionality in the way The Dogs go about their business. It is accompanied by an ever-present element of being on the absolute edge. Take for example the recording methods they used for their first single. They were bizarre but somehow seemed to work. The plan was to give everyone an unfamiliar instrument to ensure that a vital nervous energy was present on the recording. What could possibly go wrong? Well, apart from the drummer hitting the inside of his thigh instead of the snare drum so hard it bled, actually very little. A few studio sessions later and they had their first album, Set Yourself on Fire and Follow the Smoke, which was a chaotic and unbridled document of urgency and power.
Although there are no longer any musical novices, the philosophy from the early days is still in effect. Everything is still recorded “as live”. Well, almost everything anyway: the insanely loud volume makes simultaneous recording of the backing vocals and percussion a near-impossibility.
On stage is where the music comes to life with each and every single one of their tracks is ripe for live consumption. It’s no surprise at all that playing live is one of the best things about being in a garage rock band, but it’s even more important for The Dogs than most.
There have been many other highlights on the way, including an appearance on Netflix drama Lilyhammer. It was during the filming for the show that they acquired a famous fan; ‘Little’ Steven van Zandt, who plays exiled mafia underboss Frank Tagliano. Van Zandt, famous for playing in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, pronounced ‘Crime is Sexy’ as the “coolest” record of 2014. Not bad, not bad at all.
Their blueprint for the future is simple: record a new album every summer and release it at the start of the following year. The result of the summer of 2015 is their fourth full-length album, Swamp Gospel Promises. It follows in the substantial wakes of Black Chameleon Prayer (2015), The Tears Are Voodoo (2014) and debut Set Yourself on Fire and Follow the Smoke (2012).