Part of the whole pre-punk Detroit/Ann Arbor scene that included incendiary garage-rockers like the Stooges and the MC5, the Dogs busted out of Lansing, Michigan, in the '70s, only to find themselves penniless and homeless on a 1979 European tour, which brought the band's burgeoning career to a premature end. But after regrouping in 2003, the band has experienced a revival, thanks in part to reissues and tribute albums honoring its legacy. Singer-guitarist Loren Molinare talked about the band's upcoming show here — its first-ever Cleveland gig.
The band got back together a couple of years ago. What made you want to continue?
We put the whole thing back together in 2001 when Dionysus Records approached us to do a best-of Dogs compilation CD. At that time, we knew that the full Dogs legacy from the '70s was just building on the underground. Our song "Slash Your Face" was on that first Killed by Death bootleg that came out in the late '80s and took it to the next generation of bands. It just kept building in Europe and Japan and the States. It was the perfect time for that best-of to come out. We started doing shows in L.A. and did a new CD with all original members in 2003. At that same time, this big fan of Detroit rock — this guy named Detroit Jack Waldron who lives in Tokyo where he's an English teacher — contacted us. He was working on the Dogs tribute CD. I kept hearing about it, and in 2007, I saw a mockup copy. He had 28 bands doing Dogs covers and liner notes by John Sinclair. We were blown away, and in October of 2007, we got to go to Tokyo and play with the cool Detroit-flavored bands there. They're such great fans of music there. We were blown away by all the Sonic's Rendezvous and MC5 and Stooges buttons. When we came back from there, we just went, "Wow, there's something going on."
What made you break up? I read that you came back from a European tour and were disgusted with the way the music scene had changed.
We toured England in '79, and the whole thing was so Spinal Tap. We ended up homeless and squatting in North London in the wintertime. We came back pretty devastated. We went to Lansing and then L.A., and we couldn't get a gig in the whole L.A. Black Flag/Circle Jerks scene. We just didn't fit in. We gave up on the dream and tried to get a girl singer in the band and go kinda like the Pretenders and changed the name. It was devastating and broke the band up. [Bassist] Mary [Dryer] and I put it back together in the late '80s and almost got signed. I joined another band called Little Caesar that did get signed. I ended up breaking the Dogs up. We ended it in the late '80s. But rock 'n' roll is an untamed beast, and we put it together again. It's been mind-blowing with what's been going on. There are a lot of bands coming back. Thank God for technology and bootlegs. Kids go searching out that kind of stuff. We just feel real honored to not be in jail or dead. We predated punk, so it's funny that we're included in the punk scene.
Yeah, when you started the band in 1969, punk rock wasn't really even a term. Did you think of what you were doing as punk or more of a garage thing?
With the MC5 and Stooges, it was just Detroit rock. The iron triangle to us was Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. There was that Midwest mentality. The factories that used to be there did something to the environment. We played Toledo and Columbus. We never got to play Cleveland, but we're totally hip to that whole scene there. I have a great history with the Pagans. My ex-wife was married to Brian Hudson of the Pagans, so we're almost like family. In fact, we're playing a Pagans song in our set now that will be fun to play at the Beachland.
How much were you part of what was going on in Detroit at the time?
By the time the '70s hit, that whole glorious East Town thing was over, and the punk-rock scene happened. We ended up moving to New York in '73. When the punk thing was going on, we weren't there. When we were there, we were playing high-school dances with Brownsville Station and the Rationals.
Do the Stooges belong in the Rock Hall?
Of course. You wonder why them and the MC5 have not been there a long time before. Maybe the guys in MC5 raised too much hell in the industry. I know Bill Graham was pissed at them for a long time. We were visiting some of the Hudson family a few years ago in Cleveland, and we went to the Rock Hall. It was cool because there was a poster of the Dogs and Television from a show at Max's Kansas City.
You had a song about John Sinclair. Would you consider the band a political group?
Yeah. You couldn't help it. I couldn't help it growing up in Lansing outside of Ann Arbor and Detroit with Sinclair and the White Panthers. Those [radical] newspapers would come out to our high school. It was rock 'n' roll, but it was politics. It was a turbulent era in America, and it all kinda tied together. We felt there was a political plot to take him off the streets. He was like the Johnny Appleseed of politics and rock 'n' roll.
Did you ever think you'd be celebrating the band's 40th anniversary?
Now, c'mon. I don't know how old you are, but when you're under 30, to imagine you could be 40 is something. It's mind-blowing. Time goes by fast. We feel honored and very lucky that we have the opportunity to still go play to an audience that appreciates what we did back then. The coolest part is that this isn't the Ronettes on a '50s revue or like Rocklahoma where there are classic bands from the '80s playing. Thank God we're relevant to what's still going on and kick ass. We're having a blast with it, and I think the best is yet to come.