I recently was introduced to the young Scottish band Dogtooth by a fellow indie music enthusiast and was immediately blow away by how talented these three Glasgow-area lads are. Their music is even more remarkable, considering their young ages – the oldest lad is 17.
Honestly, you would never know it by listening to “Rebel,” an energetic and invigorating anthem that has just a punch of punkiness blended with the Mod sound. These lads know who they are musically.
“Get In Get Out” is bright and bouncy and full to the brim with great harmonies. It definitely shows the lads’ more Mod side.
I was so impressed by these two tracks that I wanted to talk to the band – John Hewitson, vocals and guitar; Craig Morrison, bass; and Robert Lang, vocals and drums. It was easily arranged and this is the chat we had the other day about the trio’s auspicious start, their influences, aspirations and more.
You lads have a fresh sound … I really like the two tracks I’ve heard – “Rebel” and “Get In Get Out” … Tell me how the band came about and when …
John: Basically, me and Craig were at a scooter rally in Millport and I was sitting playing guitar with my parents, then Craig’s dad came to me later on that night and asked if I’d like to be in a band.
Had you met Craig before that day?
John: Nah, first time I’d met him, we just sat in the van and listened to music that night and it went from there.
Robert: Well, John and Craig met in Millport three years back at a scooter rally. I joined in a few months later at a studio we rehearsed at in separate bands. One day they needed a drummer, so I quit my band at the time and joined.
Robert — you quit a band you were already in? What made you think this would be better?
Robert: I could just tell right away the band had already had a drive which the band I was in didn’t. The music was more lively as well, which I liked. It just seemed like the right move, and it was.
I think it was too. The three of you make great music together.
When did each of you start playing instruments?
John: I got a guitar for my tenth birthday, was a serious game changer, all the stuff I thought I loved doing went out the window and I focused all my attention on playing.
Robert: I started playing in high school, but properly started playing in third year, so I’ve been properly playing for 3 and a bit years.
Craig: I started playing bass when I was 4 years old because my dad played bass and I wanted to do the same.
Are you all self-taught or did you have lessons?
John: I was self-taught mostly, but I’m getting lessons on theory side of things just now, scales n stuff.
Robert: I had lessons, I still get them as well as the place I work is a music school, I still get a few lessons a week.
Craig: I didn’t take bass lessons just picked it up from watching my dad.
Very impressive! Now, how does songwriting go? And how many originals do you have now?
John: We mostly sit and write together in the studio as a group, we have around seven now I think.
Robert: It usually just starts with an idea like a riff or something we all just kind of sit down and play away until it’s the way we like it. And seven, I think?
Craig: Seven professionally recorded and another couple in the pipeline.
You are in the studio now, working on an EP or album?
Robert: Hopefully getting an EP out soon.
How many tracks?
John: Gonna be six.
Craig: Six on the EP.
You lads think big, for sure! Are “Rebel” and “Get In Get Out” two of them?
Craig: Yes, both will be on it.
Can you tell me anything about the others?
John: There will be two unreleased tracks on it, the rest I think have been released one way or another.
I will look forward to hearing the whole thing. Do you have a date for it yet?
Craig: Sometime in May.
Great! Who are your musical influences?
John: Mainly more kinda indie bands — Catfish and the Bottlemen, Oasis, The Stone Roses, The View, Tame Impala, Sundara Karma, The Kooks … I could go on all day!
Craig: I’m pretty much the same as John.
Robert: Personally, I love The Beatles, they’re probably my favourite. I like lots more obviously bands like Oasis, Led Zeppelin, The Stone Roses, Supergrass, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Foo Fighters, The Specials, The Enemy plus lots more.
Any musical guilty pleasures that would make me laugh?
John: Duran Duran, Stevie wonder, The Cure.
Craig: The 1975.
Haha, you got me, but those are all talented, to be sure!
So how is the music scene where you are?
John: It’s alright, problem is people would rather pay £60 for one big gig than £60 for 10 smaller gigs.
Craig: Glasgow is always busy with live music.
Robert: It’s good. I suppose we get a really good support here.
Is your young ages ever an issue?
John: Some venues and festivals would prefer either over 16s or 18s.
Craig: Yes, festivals are a problem and some pubs.
Robert: Some venues have knocked us back but usually people are shocked when they hear our ages.
Yes, I was surprised by that. Your music is beyond your years!
What’s been your biggest show to date?
John: Barrowlands in Glasgow.
John: Nah, it’s a venue.
Craig: Barrowlands in Glasgow, and Armadillo.
How big are the venues?
Robert: There has been a few like the Armadillo and the Cavern, but personally I think it’s got to be the Barrowlands.
John: The Barrowlands holds about 2,100.
Craig: Barrowlands couple of thousand, Armadillo more than that.
That’s a proper venue! How often are you playing shows?
Robert: We’re playing about twice a week at the moment.
Have you got any festivals lined up for the summer?
Craig: We got offered Belladrum, but John’s on holiday then. We’re in for some others, but not confirmed yet.
Hopefully some come up for you.
Craig: Yes, that would be good.
Where do you want to play? Any specific places?
John: Hopefully we will get gigs like Glastonbury eventually, that’s the dream.
Robert: Big festivals all over the world.
Craig: Reading and Leeds Festival, and T in the Park.
John: Festivals in Spain and stuff would be good.
Yeah, those are some good ones! Keep applying, you never know!
Craig: And of course the USA!
Brilliant! I’ll keep you posted on any I know of.
What’s a dream gig? Who would you like to open for or play with?
Craig: Catfish and the Bottlemen.
John: Would love to open for Catfish and the Bottlemen, or The Stone Roses.
Robert: Catfish and the Bottlemen would be class.
All on the same page … Would be great if it happened.
Craig: It would be brilliant.
What do you lads do for fun when you aren’t playing?
John: I like listening to music and going out with mates.
Robert: Play drums, and play a bit of football and basketball.
Craig: Listening to music mostly.
What sets you apart from other bands?
Robert: I think our commitment. A lot of bands tend to get carried away with other things, but we’re very determined to go out and play music.
Craig: At the moment, our youth, and our sound. We’re very loud for a three-piece.
John: I think it’s the fact we still have a bit of the Mod scene attached to us.
What is your live show like for someone who has never been to see it?
John: Loud and lively.
Craig: We always get great feedback.
Do you have fans who come out to all the shows?
Craig: Yeah, we’ve got a great following.
John: Yeah, certain people never miss a gig.
Robert: We have a decent following quite a few regular faces.
That’s great to have regulars. Do you ever get nervous when you play?
John: It all depends on what gig it is for me.
Craig: Nah, I never get nervous.
John, is it location or size of the venue or something else?
John: Size of venue and how busy it is. I like a bit of nerves though, keeps me on my toes.
Oh, you need a thrill to wind you up a bit.
Have you gotten any good advice from any other bands?
John: Yeah plenty.
Any you can share?
Robert: Not any spoken advice, but just watching other bands has been a great influence on me personally.
John: Bondy, from Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Craig: Yeah, Bondy says he likes our music.
Dogtooth is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dogtooth.001/ and on Twitter at @DOGTOOTH4.