(Rules of The Gauntlet: The artist (in this case Dogtablet) is sent a butt ton of questions ranging from standard to stupid from which they must choose at least 12 to answer and return them to us with a minimum of tear stains).
– Tell us about your new album.
– The new dogtablet album, “Feathers And Skin” is the first one I’ve been intimately involved in though it’s the third in total. It’s a Grimms fairy tale of a record, a sticky, dark-forest confection of a disc, an infection vector that slithers between muscle and bone, gently dislocating and dislodging. If you squint, it sounds like a broken, one-eyed Goldfrapp frenching Tom Waits while they both have illicit, marriage-detonating alleyway sex with sleepy Underworld under a half-lit Bauhausian tv sky. This record sounds like the memory of the girl in high school you had a huge crush on who suffered a harrowing car accident, and though intensely disfigured, she was still eye-wateringly gorgeous and majestic even in her brokenness. It’s the sound of seeing her again, years later, and you realize you’re still irredeemably attracted to her, your eyes drawn to her as she carries herself with a fragile grace through the abandoned car park.
– How often do you work on your music?
– All of the time. Literally. There isn’t a time when the music and the words aren’t floating and flitting through the ethers around our heads. That’s both a blessing and a curse. If it wasn’t for sleep, or the body breaking down, we’d be making music and writing words all of the time. As an artist, that’s exactly what you have to do. There’s just not enough time to get it all done, to get all of the noises and words and lights and sounds out of your head and onto the page, screen, canvas, world. You have to do it all of the time just to stay sane.
– What’s your philosophy or motto?
– Make art all of the time to stay sane. Life will kill you otherwise.
– What are your influences?
– Bowie. Magazine. Rusty hunks of metal. Chris Marker and “La Jette”. Lenny Bruce. Mean Streets. Herbert Huncke and JG Ballard. Iggy. Ryu (NOT Haruki) Murakami’s “Almost Transparent Blue”. Public Enemy. Gil Scott-Heron. John Singer Sargent. Roxy Music. TG. Janes Addiction. Christian Marcklay. Gordon Matta-Clarke. Mingus, Miles and Monk. William Gibson. Teeth and bones and Tarkovsky. Satie. Francis Bacon. Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa. Bataille. The Young Gods. Huysmans. Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders. Cremaster 5. Yourcenar. Ray Barretto. A Little History Of The World by Gombrich. Weather patterns and dusk. Night too. The occasional dawn, and the Pearl Bailey quote heard in Cap d’Antibes at the Valpolli mansion: “Darling, until a few years ago, I never knew there was but one eight o’clock in the day”. Samba. Wu-Tang, both of them. Berlin between ’62 and ’89. Blazing Saddles. Luniz “5 On It”. Dial tones. The Unknown.
– What are the two craziest things you’ve ever done?
– The two craziest things I’ve ever done. Well, I could tell you about the time when we were on tour with Nine Inch Nails and I decided I was tired of the hair metal guitarist who was filling in for us at the time (before SK8 and Geno came along, of course), so just as I was kicking him off the stage at The Ritz in NYC, in the middle of his absolutely unnecessary “solo”, I realized .. .. no, I can’t tell you that one because of the law suit. What about when we were on tour with White Zombie and I dove out of the van while .. no, I can’t tell that one either, the drummer would be pissed. Wait. Same tour, we were visiting Trent Reznor, at the Tate mansion, and our one of the musicians was in one of the outbuildings by the huge and brightly lit pool with two young Asian .. no, his “wife” would have a thing if I told that one! Wait. There was the camel that spit all over me, or the time I got my hand stuck in the thing .. no .. There was that time when I was naked on the roof of my ex-wife’s apartment building on the Lower East Side and .. no. no, her husband might not find this a good one to tell publically. Hmm, the GWAR tour when I nearly set the stage on fire during their show and punched a cop and then .. wait. There’s a lot of naked I could talk about, and the ass thing on the Berlin Wall .. when there was such a place, plus that night with your parents at the Cape .. no, better not .. can I get back to you on this one?
– Why does dogtablet make this style of music as opposed to polka or Japanese symphonic folk?
– I guess it’s that whole thing about being driven by inexplicable but powerful forces inside of you that have to be attended to, catered to, the demons that have to be fed. I love the fact that it’s full of counterpointing styles and isn’t simply one style, that it’s groovy dance tracks to sweat to and dark atmospheres to cry to and non-anthems to not chant to and poisoned shards of bone to pluck out of your eye. We make this music because we have to make this music. Certainly we tried to play polka, but our fingers are too fat to work the accordion keys. Japanese symphonic folk music would have been easier except I only speak Chinese. That’s why we got stuck being allocated to playing Mini Mono Blip Scree. It’s for people with fat fingers.
– Can you do an interpretive dance of your favorite tv program?
– I don’t watch tv and haven’t got a favorite show, but I’m doing my interpretive dance of “Skin Job”, the second single off of the “Feathers And Skin” record while staring at George Bellows’ painting “Stag At Sharkey’s”, except I’m waving my arms more than usual as you’re sitting so far away. The dance is a variant of Jules Feiffer’s “Dance To Autumn”.
– Why should people experience your music?
– People should experience our music because it’ll help them. Wanna dance ‘til you piss uncontrollably? Go for some dogtablet. Gotta get those tough stains out? Get dogtablet, side two. Want the perfect sound track for fucking deeply until damwn? Slide in that dogtablet. Need to start a war? Go dogtablet. About to break or heal your heart? Get some dogtablet in you. Molotov? dogtablet. Sunset? dogtablet. It’s the all-purpose music.
– If you were facing unbeatable and fatal odds, what song would you listen to?
– If I was facing unbeatable and fatal odds, it wouldn’t be one single song. That’s far too binary. I’d have some Erik Satie “Gymnopedies” playing, but that would segue into Chopin’s “Nocturnes” via Roxy Music’s “Song For Europe” which would in turn fade into Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”. This then leads me straight into Thelonius Monk playing “Epistrophe” from the Live In Italy 1966 record, passing me right through Throbbing Gristle’s “Violencia, The Bullet” to shore up my defenses and which would lead me into Sinatra doing “Send In The Clowns” live at The Sands. This sets me up for a shift in the surge, bringing up notes of uncertainty and concern in my generals courtesy of side two of Bowie’s “Heroes” leading straight into Iggy’s The Idiot .. whole record. The uncertainly continues as The Soft Moon’s “Black” plays then I’d take a random cut or two from Fever Ray’s first disc via Television’s “Friction” tumbling through The Stones “Pass The Wine (Sophia Loren)” and falling face-first the arms of into Janes Addiction’s “Three Days” segueing into the up-tempo glory of Ray Barretto’s “Ritmo Sabroso” when I think the tide is turning my way. That would gird my loins for the next stage of battle which would have to commence with Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” mixed with “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On” carrying me full force into Public Enemy’s “She Watch Channel Zero?!”, Slayer’s “Piece By Piece” and Cobalt’s “Hunt The Buffalo” back-to-back with Jane’s again playing “Mountain Song” because ya gotta have the hits too. As the battle intensifies and I realize I’m not going to make it out alive, I redouble my efforts to the lilting sounds of Ghostmane’s “NOISE” and Neubauten’s “Kalte Sterne”. Lingua Ignota and ADULT. will be my armor as I fire Magazine’s “Shot By Both Sides”, Johnny Thunders, HIDE and Ministry’s “Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” at the enemy. They’re beating me back, but A Place To Bury Strangers and Author And Punisher shore up my defenses for a last assault with the help of The Swans “To Be Kind”. The tables finally turn against me, The Young Gods “Kissing The Sun” rages against the enemy in glorious resignation .. at which point the walls would be breeched and I’d retreat to the comforting sounds of Gil Scott-Heron’s “Winter In America” which then dissolves into the scratchy dislocation of “Where Did The Night Go”, as Michael Kiwanuka’s “Rolling” rolls up and into “I’ve Been Dazed” I draw my last breaths to Coil’s “Princess Margaret’s Man In The D’Jamalfna” which would carry me to the outro credits. Basically.
– What would you like to say to your fans?
– I’d say the same thing I always say: You make it happen in certain crucial ways. Without you, we make music in the dark. Making it in the dark isn’t a problem because so much creativity functions in isolation. An artist doesn’t make art to satisfy the audience but rather themselves. That’s as it should be. Without you though we perform in the dark. Once the art is made we must push it off the bridge and let it fly or fail as it must by its nature. What it does in the air of public absorption is another thing, and there’s no way the artist can control how it’s received. Your reception of it takes it to another level completely, one that we could never reach without you. Without you in the live context, the band would be playing in a huge empty room, it would be called rehearsal and it would suck. So, what would I say to our fans? Thank you. Keep coming back, there’s always more.
– Have you named your body parts?
– I’ve named AND labeled all of my body parts in Sharpie (so they’re easy to see in case of an accident), but you’ll have to step closer to see them all. Closer. Whoah there, cowboy. Not THAT close! Jeez.
– What are some of the unwritten rules of touring?
– Dude, I can’t tell you that with all these people standing around looking? I can tell you to bring a good book. Charlie Watts was asked, after 25 years of playing with the Stones, what it was like, playing with the Stones for 25 years, and he responded: “It’s like 5 years of playing and 20 years of waiting”.
– What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
– Okra, of course, same as you. You didn’t like it either, remember? It was in New Orleans after that crazy rain storm when we were out with KMFDM and it was a side dish to the ‘gator? Okra. Gelatinous and slippery and repulsive like snot. First and last time ever, thank you very much. The ‘gator was killer though.
– What famous musician would you play tennis against?
– I’d play doubles badminton against Chuck Berry because he’d have good reach with those long arms, and Mick Jagger because he could cover the terrain well with those hips, but my partner would be Iggy because, well .. it’s Iggy and he’d do whatever he needed to to win. Besides, of all of the people I’ve met in my life, I’d like to properly get to hang out with him instead of knocking him over in the doorway of Rays at 4 in the a.m. as I was coming out post-milk shake, knocking him flat on his ass. Not a highlight of my walking-around career, I’ll tell you.
– Do you have projects about to launch?
– Yes, there are projects in dogtablet world because we never stop working. You stop working and you die. Remember my motto: make art all of the time to stay sane. There’s a disc of remixes coming out in the next few months that’ll feature a whole host of unexpected and intelligent remixers on it. We’ll be releasing a series of remixes as well. The two seminal Chemlab records, “Burn Out At The Hydrogen Bar” and “East Side Militia” will be re-released by Armalyte Industries, and then there will be new Chemlab by the end of 2020. There will almost certainly be new dogtablet material by that time as well, and both bands might be out on the road playing in your backyard, so put on your pretty clothes and come see us. The Ladyboys will be playing live. Ether Of Souls will have new material out, and The Ultraterrestrials will be releasing our debut disc this year too. Make art all of the time to stay sane.
– What was the last song you listened to before doing this interview?
– The Five Satins “In The Still Of The Night” to remind me of my old goombah neighborhood, and the Transplants “Down In Oakland”.